7 Ideas for a Global Portfolio

Originally published on U.S. News and World Report, March 4, 2016.

Let's assume globe-trotting is your thing, but you don't feel like getting out of your easy chair today. Or watching the Travel Channel. Or even surfing the Internet. But you have nothing against sojourning to the Land of Dough, courtesy of your investment portfolio – because it's always fun to stuff money into a suitcase.

Having circled the planet in search of investment opportunities, here we present seven picks representing all seven continents, including Antarctica. And while we can't guarantee a flight free of turbulence, we can say that these stocks at the very least will make for some sexy sightseeing, and merit investor attention in 2016.

Africa: Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (ticker: GDX) - With this exchange-traded fund priced at nearly $19 a share, now's the time when gold truly glitters. At the same time that the rest of the market hit an early 2016 pothole, GDX jumped: It's up more than 50 percent since January 19. It's the most popular and actively traded gold miner ETF, and 10 percent of its assets are in South African firms. "This is the elite gold miners' global exposure, and offers broad diversification by deposit, operations, and geography," says John O'Donnell, chief knowledge officer of the Online Trading Academy in Irvine, California. "And when inflation eventually returns, gold will soar in price." Meanwhile, Chinese and Russian central banks are raising their gold stockpiles – that's another sign that GDX, as the old-timey miners say, stands to hit pay dirt.

Antarctica: Carnival Corp. (CCL) - OK, so you're just as likely to find a business – any business – based on this cold continent as a penguin hedge fund manager. But one company derives part of its revenues from its Antarctic adventures. "Via their Holland America subsidiary, Carnival is the most prominent of the various lines offering cruises to Antarctica," says Paul Mazzarulli, co-founder and managing partner at Diomedes Maritime Limited, a maritime and commodity advisory firm with offices in London, New York and Connecticut. Carnival is the life of the party, you might say: "It's the largest player in the industry, carrying 48 percent of passengers and earning 42 percent of the revenue in the cruise sector," Mazzarulli says. And Carnival's haul only promises to increase; the trade publication Cruise Market Watch estimates that by 2018, an estimated 24 million passengers will board as part of their vacation plans.

Asia: Alibaba Group Holding (BABA) - It's been a mixed bag for this Chinese e-commerce behemoth. Alibaba set a record for its $25 billion initial public offering in September 2014, but enthusiasm has since waned, with the stock dropping 24 percent. Meanwhile, China's economy is dancing on a high wire these days – though arguably, the gyrations of Shanghai are now felt far beyond Asia. And with an enormous market cap of $182 billion, Alibaba stands poised to keep its foothold in the growing Internet marketplace. It's up 13 percent over the last month – a lucky number, perhaps, since 13 analysts rate BABA a "strong buy," with six split evenly between "buy" and "hold."

Australia: Australian sovereign debt bonds - Though some in the Land Down Under were abuzz in early 2015 over mounting federal government debt, Australia still boasts an AAA rating, ahead of the U.S. (AA+) by way of Standard & Poor's rankings. Moody's gives it an equally prestigious Aaa. "They have the benefit of being one of the higher-yielding developed sovereign bond markets," says Brendan Murphy, director and senior portfolio manager, global fixed income, at Standish Mellon Asset Management. As for the future, Mellon (a part of BNY Mellon) expects the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates. Though it would move yields below 2 percent, "this would translate into significant price gains on top of the bond's yield."

Europe: Marine Harvest (MHG) - If you think something's fishy with this company, you'd be spot on. Based in Norway, Marine Harvest is the world's largest producer of Atlantic salmon – and ready to spawn. "We believe Marine Harvest will use any market disruptions – and its strong balance sheet – to its advantage through further consolidation of a fragmented industry," says David Marcus, portfolio manager of the Evermore Global Value Fund (EVGIX). And forget about swimming with the sharks: "Marine Harvest, in our opinion, has a shareholder friendly, best-in-class management team and counts Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen as its largest shareholder," Marcus says. "The stock trades at around 11 times our 2016 estimate of earnings and yields 5 percent in dividends."

North America: Suncor Energy (SU) - Yes, energy stocks have taken a beating. Yes, this Calgary-based oil and natural gas company cut 1,700 jobs in 2015. But considering how much gasoline prices have plummeted – 50 percent since July 2014 – Suncor stock has weathered the stormy market better than most. Its stock dropped 17 percent over the last year, but is up 16 percent since mid-January. It's also not going anywhere soon, as Suncor ranks No. 134 on the Forbes Global 2000 list. And its market cap currently sits at $38.7 billion – comparable to where it was in October 2011.

South America: Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF) - Saying the name of this Argentine oil company three times fast can be almost as tough as trying to figure out why this stock belongs in your portfolio. "This is a classic contrarian value investment," says Charles Sizemore, a Covestor portfolio manager and chief investment officer at Sizemore Capital Management in Dallas. "YPF is in the most-hated industry in the world right now, energy, and in arguably the most hated country." But it could be worse – it could be based in North Korea – and with the stock down 50 percent since July 2014, YPF now qualifies for that coveted "buy low" basket. "It's sitting on one of the largest undeveloped natural gas fields in the world," Sizemore says. "The Vaca Muerta field is roughly the size of Belgium and has enough oil and gas reserves to make Argentina a regional energy power."

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