- Most major emerging markets' currencies have adjusted more than a 20%
- There is a big spread in absolute and relative valuations across the emerging universe, offering the best value, growth and yield combination
- The relative growth ratio between emerging and developed markets seems to be correlated with the relative stock market performance
The emerging markets' tide is turning
Looking at emerging market equities, there is reason to believe the tide is about to turn for the better. It is, however, likely to be a divergent and volatile process but 2016 should be a good opportunity to selectively start to build up exposure to emerging markets again, especially as the downside risks have fallen.
There are four main reasons behind our careful optimism.
First, emerging markets have not wasted the crisis. Most major emerging markets' currencies have adjusted more than the EUR, which has dropped 20% against the USD over the past five years. Similarly, the current account adjustment has been significant and especially important in economies like Turkey, Poland and India that use to run large deficits.
Second, emerging markets offer the best value, growth and yield combination. There is a big spread in absolute and relative valuations across the emerging universe, but most emerging markets are expected to trade lower than their respective five-year valuation average in 2016 with emerging markets at a 15% compared to 5% for developed markets. Emerging markets are not only cheaper in absolute and relative terms than developed markets, they are also expected to have higher earnings growth and dividend yields.
Third, the EM/DM growth ratio will re-accelerate. The relative growth ratio between emerging and developed markets seems to be correlated with the relative stock market performance. IMF expects emerging markets' growth to gradually accelerate from 4% this year to 5.3% in 2020 while developed markets' growth will stay flat around 2% over the same period. This means that the DM/EM growth ratio, which has fallen during the past five years, is set to start a five-year re-acceleration in 2016.
Finally, US rate hikes tend to be supportive for emerging market equities. Perhaps contrary to popular perception, emerging market assets tend to outperform the year after a US rate hike. The reasons are very basic but nevertheless fundamental; economies adjust and markets discount the rate move ahead of time, and the reason for hikes – that the US economy is doing rather well – is supportive for emerging economies.