Those of you who’ve been around these parts know that I’m a sucker for relatively unknown foreign stocks — we’ve suggested a few of them in the past to the Irregulars, including some relatively hard-to-trade picks that I still like like Nagacorp in Cambodia and Lonrho in Africa, and we’ve uncovered many more from a variety of globe-trotting newsletter flacks.
And you also might remember that I wrote some about Myanmar in early May, since it’s become the emerging market “flavor of the month” now that some of the “early adopter” folks have tired of Mongolia — at the time, I wrote about a few fund investments you can make as plays on the Thai market, which I still think is likely to be the earliest and easiest-to-trade beneficiary of Myanmar’s gradual emergence on the world stage after 50 years of self-imposed hibernation.
Myanmar (many folks still call it Burma, and there’s some debate about the name internationally) is, unlike some repressed regimes (we’re looking at you, North Korea), rich in natural resources — they have great agricultural potential, particularly in forestry with their tropical hardwoods, as well as oil and gas and probably lots of other stuff that no one has had much of a chance to look for yet.
It’s also home to an extraordinary poor and still very repressed population, so no one is going to get rich anytime soon by selling Nikes or toothpaste to the Burmese — but there are plenty of companies trying to move in and position themselves to help Myanmar raise their GDP (and line their own pockets, of course) by producing and exporting some of those natural resources.
So can we line our own pockets as well? That’s the question — and it’s still a very open one, the situation is very fluid and the gradual opening of the country to outside influences is no slam dunk, either when it comes to human rights or to trade and investment.
But it’s always fun to check out some possibilities — so when Jeff Opdyke started pitching a couple Myanmar stock ideas in email ads for his Emerging Market Strategist, I thought it was worth a look.
And I’m typing as I go on the research here today, so I should warn you up front that Opdyke is a proponent of investing “on the edge” to some degree ...