Overall, global markets continued their recovery this week. The combination of dollar weakness and a "decoupling" of the U.S. economy and stock market from the rest of the world mean that 2007 is shaping up to be another strong year for global stock markets. Five out of seven of our positions are profitable, with most profits ranging between 7.36% and 12.96% in a little over two months. MICC is up 0.25% since we bought it slightly more than a week ago.
All of our positions remain BUYS at current levels, except for Cognizant Technology (CTSH) and Home Inns & Hotels Management Inc. (HMIN), which we are moving to a HOLD this week.
COGNIZANT TECHNOLOGY (CTSH)
Cognizant, our New Jersey-based global IT and business process outsourcing service provider, will announce results on May 2 before the market opens. This announcement should give us a better sense of how Cognizant is dealing with increased wage pressures in India. The stock is a HOLD at its current price levels.
HOME INNS (HMIN)
Reports from China continue to indicate that Home Inns is one of the best operations in China, with the company’s blue/yellow signs now a fixture in all major cities. Led by a savvy senior management team, Home Inns also is far ahead of its competitors in terms of expansion and building brand awareness. The company also announced last week that it will be going back to shareholders for additional funds to finance its breakneck expansion. The company plans to sell about 1.5 million American depositary shares, to be underwritten by Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch & Co. and CIBC World Markets.
Despite its long term prospects, Home Inns — the most speculative of our picks — is trying our patience, as the stock price continues to drop. With the stock now approaching our stop price, let’s move this stock to a HOLD.
MILLICOM INTERNATIONAL (MICC)
Having participated in Millicom’s conference call with investors yesterday, I can confirm that the company is continuing on its remarkable growth trajectory. Revenue expanded by 86%, and EBITDA is up 74%, compared with Q1 of 2006. Group EBITDA margins were a very strong 44%.
Millicom also introduced per second billing in some of its Central American and African markets. And, the company is on schedule to increase overall revenues over the next six months. The integration of the business in Colombia is going well and EBITDA margins should approach group levels quicker than expected. Millicom has also launched the Tigo brand in several markets in Asia and Africa. In addition, the company’s network expansion is on schedule in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Overall, Millicom is just hitting its stride in terms of growth. I continue to be impressed by the quality of Millicom’s senior management and the strength of its business concept. BUY Millicom on any dips.
ICICI BANK (IBN)
ICICI Bank continues its strong recovery. It now is up 7.36% since our recommendation and is approaching its record highs achieved back in January. Like the hedge fund manager who put all his money into ICICI Bank’s stock, and just retired to the beach, I continue to be very bullish on this stock. As long as you can stomach occasional 20%+ corrections, this stock is a strong BUY.
ISHARES MSCI SWEDEN INDEX (EWD)
I recently attended a seminar at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in London. The topic? Tax planning for Swedes who now feel they can repatriate to Sweden as a result of the tax cuts implemented by the new Swedish government. There is no better example of how quickly changes in tax policy can affect personal behavior. Look for lots of business and capital to return to Sweden over the next few years.
Sweden is our lowest risk — and so far, best performing — recommendation, up almost 13%. It remains a strong BUY.