Tuesday, July 1, 2008

E-Mail From a Friend in Russia

This morning I got an e-mail with some Cyrillic letters in the "from" field. At first I thought it might be international spam, but it turned out to be a message from a friend of mine named Beck (his American nickname) who is originally from Uzbekistan, but came to the U.S. for his bachelors and masters degrees, and subsequently got a green card. After a short stint in the cubicles of corporate America, he left for greener pastures: Russia. Now he works for an investment firm in Moscow, and he offered this bit of advice about investing there:

Think about it, US is not a very attractive market in terms of investments now due to economic situation and falling dollar. Russia, on the other hand is booming economically, and there are thousands of undervalued stocks to invest in.

I agree with him about the unattractiveness of the broad U.S. market now, but I am still a little wary of investing in Russia directly. I do own shares of a T.Rowe Price mutual fund that has holdings in Russia (TREMX) and has more than doubled over the last 3 years. Of course, Russia is benefiting from the secular bull market in commodities, but there are ways to benefit from that secular bull market while taking on less political risk, in my opinion (e.g., investing in selected Canadian or Australian companies).

Then again, he's there, and I'm here, so perhaps there are aspects to the Russian story he sees that I don't. If I learn more, I'll post it here.

Here is a link to the English-version website of Beck's firm, Broker Credit Service, if anyone would like to check it out.

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