Don't Let Fear of a 'Grexit' Keep You Out of European Stocks

By: Joseph Hogue of Street Authority

After nearly three years of extremely weak economic growth, the European Central Bank is finally delivering on Mario Draghi's pledge to do "whatever it takes" to get the region back on track.

The central bank is set to pump $64 billion into the economy through monthly bond purchases through September 2016. The quantitative easing program, alluded to in September, formally announced in January and started on March 9, may already be having an effect on the economy in terms of sentiment.

Q4 GDP growth of 0.3% beat expectations, and manufacturing data showed signs of life in March. Exports to the United States could get a big boost this year on a massive depreciation in the euro versus the U.S. dollar.

All things considered, I would say it could be a very good year for European stocks, and possibly most of 2016 as well.

There is one fly in the ointment. Greece is back in the headlines as officials were said to have informally approached the IMF to delay repayment on the country's debt but were denied. Thanos Vamvakidis, head of European G10 FX strategy at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research, said the country may run out of money if a reprieve is not granted at the meeting of eurozone finance ministers on April 24.

How do we act on what could be a great opportunity in European stocks without running the risk that a "Grexit" wipes out returns? Continue reading "Don't Let Fear of a 'Grexit' Keep You Out of European Stocks"

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This Forgotten Icon is About to Make a Big Comeback

By: Joseph Hogue of Street Authority

No matter how well run a company is, sometimes there is nothing management can do to avoid steep losses. Sometimes these outside forces are so strong that investors write a stock off altogether and wonder if the industry will ever be profitable again.

Few industries were hit as hard by the Great Recession as recreational vehicles. The plummeting stock market could not have come at a worse time for baby boomers approaching retirement, and fear over retirement savings caused motorhome shipments to drop more than 50% between 2007 and 2009. Even when gasoline prices fell during the recession, they quickly recovered, making cross-country trips unrealistic for many Americans.

One company has been a symbol of the industry for more than 50 years, but it came close to bankruptcy during the recession. Now shares look ready to move higher as some of the forces that worked against it change in its favor. Continue reading "This Forgotten Icon is About to Make a Big Comeback"

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A Presidential Order That Could Save Energy Drillers

By: Joseph Hogue of Street Authority

In his six years in office, President Obama has stressed his support for strict environmental regulation. He has expanded powers for the Environmental Protection Agency and has repeatedly deferred approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline System.

One key stat: The number of oil and gas leases approved during the first three years fell by more than 40%, compared to the final three years of President Bush’s administration. Drilling permit approvals on federal lands fell by a similar amount.

In addition to the regulatory headwind, falling oil prices are also impeding drilling permit activity. Against this one-two punch, some analysts are questioning the emergent theme of U.S. energy independence and shale production.

But is an unlikely supporter about to throw the sector a lifeline? Continue reading "A Presidential Order That Could Save Energy Drillers"

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The End Of BRICs... Here's How To Profit

By: Joseph Hogue of Street Authority

The days of dartboard investing in emerging markets are over.

Over the two years ended April 2008, a basket of these markets, as represented by the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (NYSE: EEM), surged an impressive 60%. You could have invested in any number of these economies and seen solid returns.

This group of markets eventually swooned and rebounded, but it's increasingly clear that the days of heady returns are gone. In the two years to 2015, the fund lost 11% and individual country funds are posting huge disparities in returns.

As an emerging markets analyst and an expatriate living in South America, I see the shifting economic environment first hand and it's not just down here. The Russian market is crumbling and stocks of African countries have not done any better.

Yet you can't paint these markets with a broad brush. Some markets, notably China and India, have done very well over the last year. The iShares China Large-Cap fund (NYSE: FXI) has risen 14% and the WisdomTree India Earnings ETF (NYSE: EPI) has zoomed 38% higher in that period. Continue reading "The End Of BRICs... Here's How To Profit"

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After The World Cup, Nothing Can Save Brazil

By: Joseph Hogue of Street Authority

Shares of Brazilian companies listed on U.S. exchanges have made a remarkable comeback since March. The reasons given in the financial press would be comical if they were not so ridiculous.

For instance, one pundit says the World Cup, though well over budget and a spectacular failure for the home team, will mean faster economic growth in the second half of the year.

That's just a sample from a list that goes on and on... but nobody's acknowledging the economic reality that is poised to bring stocks down again.

Stocks Bounce -- But Not For Long
In November, I examined the country's deep fiscal problems and predicted lower economic growth on higher rates. Since then, analysts have downgraded estimated 2014 economic growth to just 1.2%, down from expectations well above 2% last year. In March, the country's debt was downgraded to BBB- (one level above junk) by Standard Poor's, and the government will likely miss budget targets this year.

Shortly after my article came out, Brazilian stocks plummeted, with the iShares MSCI Brazil Fund (NYSE: EWZ) falling 18% in just three months. Shares of Petrobras (NYSE: PBR), forecast to be the hardest-hit for its role as state-controlled piggy bank, fell almost 38% over the period.

While Rousseff's approval ratings have been dropping, investors are underestimating the power of her political base and the government's ability to manipulate the electorate with social programs. The government has boosted cash transfers to the poor and increased tax exemptions. Price controls have lowered electricity by 30% and bus fares by 20% over the past year. Continue reading "After The World Cup, Nothing Can Save Brazil"

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