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Look to Mexico for Cell Phone, Retail Stocks

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With unemployment rising in the US, fewer immigrants are mailing checks home to their families in Mexico. But oil production and exports of cheap manufactured goods are propping up the Mexican economy. That should help keep Mexicans shopping in stores and buying cell phones. Also, millions of people are moving from subsistence farming to urban jobs, further boosting the economy.

To find the best stocks, look for companies with high returns on equity and durable market niches, says fund manager Simon Hallett. Such companies can deliver growing earnings for years to come. For an extra layer of protection, stick with big businesses that have strong balance sheets. High-quality companies can survive periods when the economy slows. His favorite Mexican stocks include…

America Movil S.A.B. (AMX). This is a big provider of wireless phone service. Sales should continue climbing as more Latin American consumers race to buy cell phones. Recent share price: $27.84.

Wal-Mart de Mexico S.A. (WMMVY). This retailer operates 147 Wal-Mart Supercenters. As a low-cost competitor, it should take market share away from less efficient chains. Recent share price: $23.10.

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Source: Bottom Line interviewed Simon Hallett, portfolio manager of the Harding Loevner International Equity Fund (HLMIX). It had annualized returns of 4% for the five years through October 31, about two percentage points above the average for foreign large-cap growth funds. Date: December 3, 2008 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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