Many investors rarely think about Brazil as a place to put their investment dollars. They think Brazil is just a country that goes crazy over soccer and has a wild ‘Carnival’ every year in Rio. But Brazil is so much more. They may have the best economy in the Americas.
Brazil has made great strides under current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula. Lula took office on January 1, 2003 and he has, since being in office, run a very orthodox fiscal policy. The country has maintained fiscal and trade surpluses for the better part of his presidency.
Brazil’s highly capable central bank has followed a very strong monetary policy. They have maintained high levels of real interest rates, which prevented the economy from overheating and creating an over-expansion of credit â€“ unlike the policies of others like the Federal Reserve.
In late April, the Brazilian central bank cut their interest rate from 11.25% to 10.25%. This leaves them plenty of room to cut interest rates further, if necessary, to stimulate the Brazilian economy. Again, this distinguishes the Brazilian central bank from the Federal Reserve and others, who have left themselves virtually no room to cut interest rates further.
Also, Brazil has long pursued a strategy of achieving energy independence from foreign oil. Brazil started its own ethanol program â€“ based on its rich sugar crop and offshore oil exploration using deep-sea drilling methods. Itâ€™s achieved a remarkable degree of energy self-sufficiency â€“ again setting it apart from much of the rest of the world.
Brazil, unlike the United States and other economies, is not over-levered â€“ It has a prudent fiscal and monetary policies, balanced and diversified trade, along with a coherent energy policy. It leaves the country well positioned for the future.
There are a number of ways investors can participate profitably in the Brazilian economic story. The way to get the broadest exposure to Brazil is through two exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The first ETF offers exposure to Brazil’s largest companies â€“ iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (NYSE: EWZ). The second ETF offers exposure to small companies in Brazil â€“ Van Eck Brazil Small Cap (NYSE: BRF).
Fortunately for investors, a large number of individual Brazilian companies trade here in the US in the form of American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). The list of high-quality Brazilian companies include:
â€¢ Commodity companies â€“ Petrobras (NYSE: PBR), Vale (NYSE: VALE), CSN (NYSE:SID)
â€¢ Banks â€“ Banco Bradesco (NYSE: BBD), Itau Unibanco Banco Multiplo (NYSE: ITUB)
â€¢ Consumer goods â€“ AmBev (NYSE: ABV), Brasil Foods (NYSE: PDA)
â€¢ Utilities â€“ Electrobras (NYSE: EBR), CPFL Energia (NYSE: CPL), Companhia de Saneamento Basico (NYSE:SBS)
Savvy investors will put some money into Brazil. Then with the profits they make, maybe they can visit Rio during Carnival.