Barron's

The Evil Twins of Emerging Market Debt

25 January 2015
Russia's Gazprom and Brazil's Petrobras are rattling their bond investors, but will probably pay in the end.

Emerging Markets: Sizing Up Debt’s Evil Twins — Barron’s

   By Craig Mellow (Jan. 26, 2015)

 

Petroleo Brasilieiro, better known as Petrobras, and Gazprom are terribly managed companies at the heart of the less-than-brilliantly-run economies of Brazil and Russia, respectively. Both have huge debts, which have become tougher to repay, thanks to diving energy prices and internal factors — a corruption scandal that is paralyzing Petrobras, and international sanctions that are keeping Gazprom out of bond markets.

But could either of these national champions actually default? Not likely, and that may spell opportunity for fixed-income investors who can hold their governance noses. “These credits are priced at distressed levels, while we foresee that they will repay,” says Max Wolman, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management in Scotland. “We are buying selectively.”

Bargain Hunting in Emergng Market Oil Stocks

12 December 2014
Emerging market oil shares have fallen hardest during the recent price collapse. Some could bounce back fast when crude recovers

Barron’s

 

Dec. 13, 2014

It’s a decent bet that the price of oil will rebound sooner or later from its current five-year low, and oil company stocks with it. Emerging-market petro-shares have been beaten down hardest over the past five months of crude free fall, and might be expected to bounce back accordingly — some of them anyway.

Emerging-market oil probably conjures visions of Russia and its sanctions-afflicted state behemoths Gazprom and Rosneft. But the developing world is full of big, liquid oil names, from China to Brazil. Their shares have been more volatile than those of U.S. or European peers. ExxonMobil (ticker: XOM) has lost 10% of its value since crude oil began its swoon on Sept. 1. Petrochina (PTR), China’s biggest energy company, has shed 30%.

Why Polish Stocks Can't Win

07 November 2014
Poland is an easy country to like, a hard one to make money in.

 

   (FROM BARRON'S 11/10/14)

  

Poland is an easy country for investors to like. The most populous by far of the ex-Soviet satellites, it has admirably anchored Eastern Europe's smooth transition to freedom and relative prosperity. Poland's gross domestic product has grown sixfold since 1990. Sticking to balanced budgets and conservative consumer lending, it was the only state in the European Union to avoid recession after 2008. Following a lackluster 2012-2013, growth is accelerating again to near 3% this year, positively tigerish by European standards. "Poles work hard, save a lot, and move forward cautiously but steadily," summarizes Timothy Ash, head of emerging market research at Standard Bank in London.

Luck and Courage Move India Forward

03 November 2014
Stocks are expensive, but India is still the most interesting emerging market
Modi points the way forward?

(FROM BARRON'S 11/3/14)

   By Craig Mellow

 

A combination of good luck and courage has rekindled economists’ optimism about India just as the halo surrounding Narendra Modi, its new, purportedly pro-business prime minister, is beginning to fade. Good luck has come in the form of diving oil prices, which are easing the import burden that placed India on Morgan Stanley’s “fragile five” list of particularly troubled emerging markets last year. The courage is Modi’s. He took advantage of the price cut to eliminate diesel-fuel subsidies and raise regulated natural-gas prices by a third, saving India’s beleaguered budget close to 1% of gross domestic product and untangling a major market distortion.

India’s Market Outruns Modi

31 October 2014

A combination of good luck and courage has rekindled economists’ optimism about India just as the halo surrounding Narendra Modi, its new, purportedly pro-business prime minister, is beginning to fade. Good luck has come in the form of diving oil prices, which are easing the import burden that placed India on Morgan Stanley’s “fragile five” list of particularly troubled emerging markets last year. The courage is Modi’s. He took advantage of the price cut to eliminate diesel-fuel subsidies and raise regulated natural-gas prices by a third, saving India’s beleaguered budget close to 1% of gross domestic product and untangling a major market distortion.

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