Commentary by William Blair – Rising markets: localized alternatives


Whereas we’re supportive of the general outlook for rising markets (EM), there’s a nice disparity within the tempo and stage of their restoration from the financial disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whereas gross home product (GDP) expectations for all rising international locations have dropped considerably as a result of pandemic, this delta is considerably smaller for international locations like China that have been among the many first to expertise widespread infections. and implement measures to manage the pandemic.

China’s path to financial restoration gives a little bit of a roadmap for what recoveries may appear to be in different rising international locations which might be later within the epidemic / halt / restoration cycle. Consequently, we’re seeing increasingly alternatives in lagging international locations reminiscent of India, Indonesia and Brazil which might be simply rising from the pandemic and coming into their restoration phases extra considerably.

Looking for sustainable progress alternatives within the midst of evolving MEs

Whereas some MEs are nonetheless closely depending on uncooked supplies and exports, know-how has change into as central to MEs as it’s to developed markets. This improvement underpins a big a part of our portfolio positioning and the place we discover alternatives for sustainable worth creation in MEs.

Development and Asia are extra vital in EM

The drivers of worth creation over the previous decade have modified, reworking the form of rising equities as an asset class. The MSCI EM Index has gone from being closely reliant on power and commodities to being pushed by IT, media and shopper firms.

This variation is mirrored within the chart under, which reveals that the 4 largest constituents of the index in 2020 – Alibaba, Tencent, TSMC and Samsung – account for nearly 1 / 4 of the index weight. As famous in our earlier article, we discover that present valuations in rising markets don’t totally mirror the index’s shift to increased progress sectors.

The transformation of Reliance Industries is a microcosm of change in MEs at massive. Reliance was initially an oil and gasoline infrastructure and power firm, however over the previous decade the corporate has invested closely in telecommunications and different much less commodity-oriented areas. As a part of this shift, Reliance constructed a wi-fi and fiber-optic community in India after which got down to reap the benefits of e-commerce, fintech, and social media alternatives from the broad shopper base. that she constructed because of this deployment.

Nation weights within the index have additionally modified considerably, transferring to Asia on the expense of Latin America and the Europe, Center East and Africa (EMEA) area.

Specifically, the weighting of China is anticipated to extend. Along with China’s robust financial restoration from the pandemic, firms reminiscent of Alibaba and Tencent proceed to have important enlargement potential. Chinese language A shares have change into a lot bigger and supply what we see as an enormous alternative for each basic and technical causes. The inclusion of Chinese language A shares within the MSCI EM index is anticipated to result in extra inflows, as lively and passive traders have higher entry to mainland Chinese language equities.

E-commerce, healthcare and FinTech supply thrilling alternatives

The elevated significance of know-how and rising shopper spending dominate the panorama for progress investments in EMs. Past these mega-trends, we’re notably centered on the next sectors and themes in our seek for high quality firms providing sustainable progress.

The primary sector / theme is e-commerce, which is without doubt one of the most compelling tendencies shaping EMs. Fueled primarily by Alibaba, China reveals the potential for e-commerce penetration in different rising international locations. As proven within the chart under, e-commerce penetration in non-Chinese language rising international locations is considerably decrease than developed markets, however main investments in digital infrastructure have expanded cell knowledge protection and elevated smartphone adoption. in rising international locations.

Along with these longer-term elements, the pandemic has prompted extra customers to buy on-line in rising and developed markets. In our opinion, a part of the enchantment of investing in e-commerce firms in rising international locations is that many governments in rising international locations are creating obstacles for Amazon and different overseas gamers; this reduces value competitors and helps the event of “native champions”, reminiscent of Reliance Industries in India and Journal Luiza in Brazil.


One other sector / theme is well being. We’ve discovered thrilling funding alternatives within the healthcare trade for a few years, and the pandemic has solely strengthened our perception in healthcare as a long-term, high quality progress sector in ME. .

We see well being spending as an extension of an total improve in shopper spending in rising international locations. As proven within the graph under, per capita well being spending continues to be very low in rising international locations in comparison with developed markets. As disposable revenue will increase, we anticipate to see important will increase within the well being and wellness spending of ME customers.

Lastly, we see alternatives in shopper and monetary (fintech) applied sciences. We imagine that the buyer sector will proceed to expertise structural progress, fueled by rising disposable revenue in rising international locations. We additionally like the truth that the sector affords publicity to fintech, which we see as probably the most enticing facet of financials.

Harnessing the massive potential of digital funds and different features of fintech are, in our view, the one avenues to sustainable progress in EM monetary markets. We’re selectively including to our broader monetary providers publicity in India as we search to reap the benefits of bettering financial situations within the nation.

Broadening alternatives for high quality progress traders

As we assess the longer-term panorama for rising market equities, we see an increasing alternative, stuffed with main firms with super progress potential.

Our funding strategy focuses on figuring out firms with traits of sustainable worth creation, together with these with main return on invested capital (ROIC) profiles and sustainable aggressive benefits.

The graph under reveals that EMs embody a disproportionate share of firms from the primary quintile by way of sustainable worth creation. Moreover, the share of prime quintile firms domiciled in MEs has elevated over time – a development that we anticipate to proceed.

Given the broadly divergent views of EM sectors, international locations and corporations, we imagine lively administration is paramount. Whereas the asset class as an entire now appears to be like enticing, passive publicity would power traders to carry much less enticing sectors, international locations and corporations with extra perilous financial progress prospects.

We imagine the flexibility to efficiently navigate rising market equities requires intensive expertise and bottom-up analysis to capitalize on alternatives and handle threat on this dynamic asset class.

ATdd McClone, CFA, Associate, is a portfolio supervisor with William Blair’s International Equities staff.

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