(Reuters) - BlackRock sees opportunities to invest in emerging markets debt, despite the rising U.S. dollar and an expected increase in U.S. interest rates this year, executives said Thursday.
Given the amount of deleveraging in some emerging markets countries over the past several years, and the unpredictability of other markets, like the European credit market, investors should consider emerging markets debt, BlackRock’s bond managers said at a breakfast roundtable Thursday morning in New York.
Traditionally when the Fed moves, the thinking is that investors have to get out of emerging markets, but that is no longer true, said Rick Rieder, chief investment officer of fundamental fixed income and co-head of Americas fixed-income at BlackRock.
“We think you can create opportunities in more stable parts of the world,” Rieder said.
Specifically, BlackRock sees opportunities in India, Indonesia and Mexico, which it views as high-quality countries with strong balance sheets, said Amer Bisat, an emerging markets portfolio manager in BlackRock’s fixed income group.
“We are happy to take on the interest rate risk in these local markets,” he said.
The firm also sees opportunities in the sovereign credit of countries like Mexico, Indonesia as well as Slovenia, Bisat said.
Meanwhile, the firm is short or underweight Venezuela, Ukraine, South Africa and Turkey, which have deteriorating credit.
To be sure, emerging markets is facing an “inhospitable environment,” Bisat said.
Headwinds include collapsing commodity prices; a deterioration in global trade as more developed countries rely on emerging markets less; an increasing cost of capital and the rising value of the U.S. dollar, Bisat said.
The spread between emerging markets growth and developing markets growth has dropped from seven percent in the mid 2000s to two percent currently, he said.
But many emerging markets countries have stronger balance sheets than they have had in the past 30 years and are better equipped to deal with these challenges, Bisat said.
“There are buckets of value that are actually quite interesting,” he said.
Still, the foreign exchange market as the U.S dollar rises in value will continue to be a headwind for emerging markets, Bisat said.
“We have so far continued to play the emerging markets FX for the short side,” Bisat said.
(Corrects day in first and second paragraphs)
Reporting by Jessica Toonkel; Editing by David Gregorio