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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The best performing markets for 2008

I think the best performing Asia Pacific markets in 2008 - in order of performance - are likely to be Vietnam, the Philippines and China.

China is getting pricey, but Vietnam is just opening up, and although the country will suffer from a softening US and global market, its growing from a small base and offers considerable savings to investors trying to reduce costs. This market has overcome its lack of policy change, and is starting to allign itself with western regulatory practices.
Unfortunately the poorly developed capital market remains an obstacle.

The Philippines has for a long time been a laggard in the global competition for capital. I am expecting that to change for several reasons:
1. Continued inflows of remittances because of a weaker USD
2. Continued strength in food (commodity) prices offsetting a stronger peso
3. Subdued impact of high oil prices because of the stronger peso
4. Subdued inflationary pressures because of the stronger peso
5. The adoption of a petrol tax will help to support domestic demand as well as improving local infrastructure
6. Buoyant gold and copper prices - the principal mineral exportas
7. Continued support for local property market
8. Continued demand for call centres & the associated investment/capital inflows
9. The Philippines I think will benefit somewhat from a growing local dynamism as a result of enhanced regional integration. The ASEAN efforts to deregulate air travel I think has the potential to enhance tourism inflows. 'Though tourism still remains poorly supported at grassroots levels.

There will come a time when the peso will come under pressure from the large capital inflows, particularly since the Philippines fails to address its poor productivity. There is a poor work ethic here based on a social fabric of entitlement and disempowerment than undermines personal initiative and opportunity.
The biggest obstacle in this market is the poor disclosure standards and the lack of data disclosure.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) Index has pulled back as a result of a weaker global and US outtlook, but I can see this market trading higher in the next 12 months because there is no end to the shift in productive capacity from the west to east. A slow down will cease alot of new investment,but it will not undermine the substitution of high cost manufacturing capacity for cheaper capacity in China, nor will it prevent growth in other markets. I see modest gains in 2008, which will see it test its previous highs.

Andrew Sheldon
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Investment Strategy

If you are investing for the long term, you still need an investment strategy. Dont be fooled by the rhetoric of fund managers. The reason they advise you to 'buy & hold' is because they dont want to compete with you in sell-offs. Markets and industrial sectors are cyclical, so they demand trading to get the best returns. Fund managers actually cant hope to match the performance of small investors (if you are half good) because they have to manage huge amounts of funds and charge you a fee besides.
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