A Bet On Brazilian Banks

Nicholas Vardy

Nicholas Vardy has a unique background that has proven his knack for making money in different markets around the world.

My skepticism of Chinese banks notwithstanding — whether in Brazil, Korea, India or Austria — investing in banks that provide the loans, credit cards and mortgages to the emerging middle classes is one of the best and safest long-term bets around. Look back at the five and ten year charts of almost any "top three" bank in a fast-growth emerging economy and you’ll find several five and ten baggers.

This week’s Global Bull Market Alert pick is in the banking sector in Brazil. Two of the top five holdings in Templeton’s Emerging Markets Fund — a long-term, value-oriented fund — are also Brazilian banks. But here’s why I think Unibanco (UBB), the third-biggest bank in Brazil, is also a terrific short-term trading play.

First, Unibanco’s fundamentals are strong and improving. In the first nine months of 2006, its net income was up 22.9%, its average equity reached 24.8% and its efficiency ratio improved from 52.5% to 48.5%. Those numbers are impressive by any bank’s standards.

Second, trading at a P/E of about 10.8, Unibanco is the cheapest among its Brazilian rivals. More importantly, its Price Earnings to Growth (PEG) ratio is .94. That means you’re getting a bargain, based on its future projected growth. A PEG ratio of < 1 is a screaming buy.

Third, Brazil is the most overlooked, under appreciated and cheapest of the BRIC countries. Ironically, Brazil has never had its economic house in better order. It’s paying off its debts. Inflation is at its lowest level in decades. And Brazil’s currency has appreciated by 65% against the U.S. dollar since the end of 2002, giving U.S. dollar investors a strong boost to their returns.

Exclusive  Current Supply Chain Issues for Investors to Consider

Finally, 2007 just might be Brazil’s breakout year. It’s off to a good start. The Bovespa — Brazil’s stock exchange — broke through the 45,000 level for the first time yesterday on the news that Brazil’s foreign trade surplus in 2006 reached a record $46 billion.

A word of warning, though. Brazil is traditionally one of the world’s most volatile markets. It sells off quickly (and steeply) during inevitable hiccups. Historically, Unibanco’s stock has been about twice as volatile as the overall U.S. market. But investors who have held on during the inevitable periods of volatility in Brazil have been richly rewarded.

So buy Unibanco (UBB) at market today, and place your initial stop at $83.00. For potentially even bigger short term gains, buy the April $95 calls (UBBDS.X).


China Life (LFC) continues to roar ahead, closing up almost 7% in Hong Kong yesterday. Expect it to open strongly in New York as well today. The company also announced a rather confusing stock split of 8:3. That means for every 3 shares of China Life you owned, you now own 8. Move your (split-adjusted) stop to $45.75.

The China ETF (FXI) jumped 6.6% last week, and the options are up over 55%. Move your stop to $105.80. The Austrian ETF also jumped 2.6%. Move your stop to $35.25. The Swedish ETF was up 1.2%. Move your stop to $30.80.

All of our current positions are profitable. Thanks to our huge gains in Millicom (MICC- up 54.56%) and China Life (LFC- up 63.44%), our average stock gain stands at a whopping 24.86%

share on:

Like This Article?
Now Get Our FREE Special Report:
Alternative Investing: Investing in Timber

Stock Investor editor Paul Dykewicz reveals why investing in timber may be one of the best long-term portfolio strategies you'll find today.

Get Access to the Report, 100% FREE

share on:


Dr. Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

Product Details

  • Forecasts & Strategies
  • Home Run Trader
  • Fast Money Alert
  • Five Star Trader
  • TNT Trader

Bryan Perry

A former Wall Street financial advisor with three decades' experience, Bryan Perry focuses his efforts on high-yield income investing and quick-hitting options plays.

Product Details

  • Cash Machine
  • Premium Income PRO (exclusively for subscribers of Cash Machine)
  • Quick Income Trader
  • Breakout Options Alert
  • Hi-Tech Trader

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker,
financial journalist, and money manager. As well as a book author and regular contributor to
numerous investment websites, Jim is the editor of:

Product Details

  • Successful Investing
  • High Velocity Options
  • Intelligence Report
  • Bullseye Stock Trader
  • Eagle Eye Opener

Bob Carlson

Bob Carlson provides independent, objective research covering all the financial issues of retirement and retirement planning. In addition, Bob serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Fairfax County (VA) Employees’ Retirement System, which has over $2.8 billion in assets.

Product Details

  • Retirement Watch
  • Retirement Watch Spotlight Series
  • Lifetime Retirement Protection Program

Jon Johnson

Jon Johnson's philosophy in investing and trading is to take what the market gives you regardless if that is to the upside or downside. For the past 21 years, Jon has helped thousands of clients gain success in the financial markets through his newsletters and education services:

Product Details

  • Investment House Daily
  • Stock of the Week
  • Technical Traders Alert
  • Rapid Profits Stock Trader


Used by financial advisors and individual investors all over the world, DividendInvestor.com is the premier provider and one-stop shop for dividend information and research.

Product Details

Popular tools include our proprietary Dividend Calendar, Dividend Calculator, Dividend Score Card, and many more.

  • Dividend Investor