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Holly LaFon
Holly LaFon
Articles (8163) 

Tom Russo’s Favorite Stocks with Emerging Market Growth

June 18, 2012 | About:
Tom Russo, partner at Gardner Russo & Gardner overseeing $5 billion, has an investing strategy that bypasses all of the turmoil in the U.S. and abroad: looking for companies that have superior brands, long-term growth objectives and operations in emerging markets where their products are becoming affordable. He interviewed in Barron’s this weekend and talked about his favorite stocks. Three of them are Nestle (NSRGY), Diageo (NYSE:DEO) and MasterCard (NYSE:MA).

Nestle (NSRGY)

Tom Russo mentions in his Barron’s interview that he first invested in Nestle in 1987, which is a typical holding period for him. From the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012 he bought 10,566,775 more shares.

When Barron’s asked: “What portion of Nestlé's profits come from the developing world?” Russo responded:

About 35%—and it has grown from 25% four years ago. What's intriguing is to look at where Nestlé is committing capital. Two years ago, Nestlé said it was taking its developing-market organic capital spending from a billion to 2½ billion. On top of that Nestlé spent $12 billion to buy Pfizer's [PFE] nutritionals business and $3.5 billion to buy China's leading confectionary company and a local beverage company.

His comments about Nestle’s developing market potential are echoed in the company’s first-quarter 2012 financial results. “As anticipated, 2012 is already confirming itself to be a challenging year. In many developed markets where consumer confidence is low, the trading environment is subdued whilst in most emerging markets, conditions remain dynamic and rich in growth opportunities,” Paul Bulcke, Nestle CEO said.

The company’s business grew 13% in emerging markets, compared to 3.1 percent in developed markets. Its investment into emerging markets is what has enabled the European company to grow 5.6 percent overall while European organic sales grew 2.3% and real organic growth was 0.2%.

Moreover, the$11.85 billion purchase of Pfizer’s nutrition business Russo mentioned has expanded their global reach in infant nutrition. Eighty-five percent of the business’ sales are in emerging markets, most of which have large, fast-growing populations.

Nestle has produced an 8.1% revenue and 11.8% EBITDA annual growth rate over the last 10 years.

Diageo (NYSE:DEO)

Russo favors beverage and spirits businesses in his portfolio. These companies are also benefiting from emerging-market growth. London-based Diageo is his largest spirits business. He owns 414,363 shares at March 31, 2012.

He says what he likes about the liquor business in his Barron’s video: “Pernod Ricard, Diageo, and Brown-Forman are all investing against current results to deepen their offerings, deepen their distribution, deepen their advertising message, and deepen their on-premise promotions. They are doing all these things today to spark demand for the future.”

He also notes their expansion potential, particularly in China. Diageo’s organic net sales increased 7% in the nine months ended March 31, 2012. While sales in Europe dropped 1%, sales in the Latin America and Caribbean region jumped 18%, and were up 12% in Africa and 10% in Asia Pacific.

Its Asia Pacific growth was due to its premiumization strategy in Scotch in the emerging Asian markets. The company also acquired Meta Abo Brewery, the second-largest beer company in Ethiopia, and commissioned a new brewery in Moshi, Tanzania, to meet demand for its premium products and consolidate its position as the top beer and spirits company in East Africa. Diageo has invested more than 1 billion pounds over the last five years to build growth in Africa.

In the last ten years, Diageo has grown revenue at a rate of 2.9 percent annually, and EBITDA at 14.8 percent annually.

MasterCard (NYSE:MA)

In payment systems, Russo likes MasterCard as a company that is “willing to redeploy Western-market cash flows into the expansion of those brands in the developing worlds…” MasterCard operates in 210 countries and territories by processing billions of payments worldwide.

In 2011, MasterCard expanded its global operations by forming joint ventures with Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) to advance the development of mobile financial solutions in Latin America. Big increases in online shopping were seen across numerous international markets in 2011, however. Thailand had the most online shoppers at 80%. The biggest increases occurred in the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia, which were all up double digits. Others – India, Singapore and Korea – all saw double-digit declines. The market for all types of mobile payments combined is expected to double to $600 billion globally by 2013, according to research MasterCard cites by Juniper Research.

In February, MasterCard announced its Mobile Money Partnership Program to help 2.5 billion unbanked people get access to formal financial services through their mobile phones. Through partnerships with platforms in those areas, they have enabled consumers to use their mobile phones to pay at millions of brick and mortar and online merchants, transfer funds and pay bills.

The company continues to derive more of its revenues from outside the U.S. In 2011, it generated 39.6% of its revenue from the U.S., in 2010 41.6% and in 2009 42.4%.

In the last five years, MasterCard has produced 14.6% revenue and 41% free cash flow growth annually. Tom Russo became an investor in the third quarter of 2008 and after numerous subsequent purchases owns 811,402 shares as of March 31, 2012.

See more of Tom Russo’s portfolio here. Also check out the Undervalued Stocks, Top Growth Companies and High Yield stocks of Tom Russo.

Rating: 3.3/5 (12 votes)


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