Times have changed in emerging markets. Materials and energy companies used to be key components of developing markets, but the focus has shifted to technology and consumer companies such as internet powerhouses Tencent and Alibaba. More recently, emerging markets are bouncing back after a tough stretch the past few years. Currencies have strengthened, commodity prices have stabilized and some structural reforms are taking root. Investors should take advantage of attractive emerging market valuations, but be prepared for volatility in 2017.
The slowdown in China's economic growth injected volatility into global markets in 2016, but a "long landing" seems more likely than a hard landing. The transition from an investment-led to a consumer-led economy has been underway for two decades, and in 2015 services represented the majority of China's economy for the first time. In addition to a growing middle class, China's economy is also supported by aggressive stimulus and a healthier property market.
India is a bright spot in emerging markets. But when it comes to being an economic powerhouse, India may just be getting started. The country still lags much of the world in owning items such as refrigerators and air conditioners, but modernization is progressing at a relatively rapid rate so global appliance companies such as Bosch and Whirlpool should benefit. Additionally, a swelling workforce makes it likely India will continue to be a massive market for consumer companies around the world.
Mark Denning, Portfolio Manager