For the first time in years, Iraq news is moving the markets again. Turkish stocks took a beating on Wednesday, with the iShares MSCI Turkey ETF (TUR) shedding 5.2%.
The apparent reason? Armed militants from the terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”) seized the Turkish consulate in Mosul, taking the consul and his staff of nearly 50 people hostage. This follows a separate incident in which ISIS kidnapped and held for ransom about 30 Turkish truck drivers working in Iraq.
The fear is that Turkey will get pulled into what is now a low-grade civil war in Iraq.
Could it happen? Of course. But as an investor, it is not something I’m particularly worried about. In fact, I would even view it as a potential opportunity.
I genuinely hope that the Turkish citizens are returned without bloodshed. But let’s say that the situation deteriorates and Turkish tanks roll across the Iraqi border in retaliation. What then?
A Turkish invasion of Iraq would, at least temporarily, stop the internal instability that caused investors to dump Turkish stocks and other financial assets this time last year. Nothing unites a divided country like an external enemy.
Furthermore, Turkey’s military is the largest in Nato after that of the United States, and unlike American soldiers—who have a difficult time winning the “hearts and minds” of locals due to being Western and predominanatly Christian—Turks are coreligionists with the Sunni Muslims they will potentially be invading. So, a Turkish invasion is unlikely to devolve into a messy quagmire.
Finally, let us remember that while terrorism is an awful thing for a country to have to endure, its effects on the financial markets tend to be short-lived.
Action to take: Go long Turkey via the iShares MSCI Turkey ETF (TUR). Take an initial one-half position, and wait another 1-2 weeks to see if the situation escalates. If we see more short-term weakness in Turkish stocks, so be it. We can average in at a lower price with the second half of the trade. And if this week marks the low, no worries. We’ll end up buying the second half of the position at a slightly higher price. Plan to hold for 6-12 months and use a 15% stop loss on your average cost basis.
About the author:
Mr. Sizemore has been a repeat guest on Fox Business News, quoted in Barron’s Magazine and the Wall Street Journal, and published in many respected financial websites, including MarketWatch, TheStreet.com, InvestorPlace, MSN Money, Seeking Alpha, Stocks, Futures and Options Magazine, and The Daily Reckoning.