High earnings growth potential, stock return volatility and structural shifts from re-globalisation offer enticing opportunities in Emerging Markets (EM) for active investors.
Although global EM have underperformed developed markets amid Covid-led lockdowns in China, the war in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions, BlackRock believes EM remain a source of alpha with unique economic and political cycles across many countries.
“Finding opportunities in this type of market regime can be difficult, but… EM are positioned to provide diverse and real alpha,” said Belinda Boa, head of active investments for Asia Pacific and chief investment officer of EM at the US fund house.
Supportive market and macro shifts
While the responses of EM to the pandemic were varied, these economies generally saw little balance sheet expansion and made more benign initial rate cuts compared with developed markets.
EM central banks were also quicker than their developed market peers to act against rising inflation – resulting in positive real interest rates today across various economies.
Driven primarily by domestic demand, the growth differential between earnings in EM versus developed markets are projected to grow by 61% by 2025 from 2022 levels, according to Refinitiv Datastream MSCI data as of May 2023.
“Building off this, one of the main trends we believe will continue to fuel alpha opportunities are the structural shifts in EM,” explained Boa.
In particular, BlackRock expects the redistribution of supply chains to benefit EM in the long run.
“We also think it’s important to keep an eye on ‘resource nationalism’,” explained Boa, “where commodities linked with renewables are seeing a focus from policy makers.”
As a result, countries like Indonesia will likely see a move up the value chain, while other, like South Korea and India, are now positioning themselves for supply chain diversification.
By contrast, in China, the once-promising growth story has been dampened as traditional growth drivers have cooled, demographic headwinds have strengthened and geopolitical relations with the US present complications, added Boa.
Yet despite these challenges, a focus on China should not be ignored, she added.