Kenneth Fisher and two other major money managers are making aggressive stock plays in Russia, where turmoil and problems persist but valuations are at the lowest levels of the 50 major markets, Bloomberg reports.
“Russia in some ways today is just a levered play on the world,” said Fisher, who thinks we are in the early part of a global rally. “Early in a bull market, Russia is going to run more.” A big reason is that Russian stocks fell disproportionately last year, with the RTS Index plunging 72 percent in 2008, according to Bloomberg. The RTS Index fell as low as 2.6 times earnings earlier this year. Now, even after a big rally, shares are still selling for just 5.7 times trailing 12-month earnings.
Fisher isn’t alone.
Templeton Asset Management Ltd. Executive Chairman Mark Mobius says that “Russian stocks are still of good value. They have risen dramatically from their low point but they are still a long way from their previous high.” And BlackRock’s Plamen Monovski is also high on Russian firms. “A lot of things were priced for bankruptcy,” Monovski told Bloomberg. “All you need in Russia is a rally in commodity prices and the outlook for the economy changes pretty quickly.” Russia is the main “overweight” holding in BlackRock’s emerging-market funds, Monovski said.
Russia definitely presents potential problems — corruption, a lack of transparency, tensions with former USSR republics. But the low valuations and rebound in oil prices have Fisher, Mobius, and Monovski feeling bullish, according to Bloomberg.