U.S. stocks have had a tough year and as of today the NASDAQ is back in the 20% bear market zone. It stings . . . but the pain is shared throughout the world. Only a handful of national markets are in positive territory and among them, only a few key companies are holding them up.
It’s a lot like the situation we have here, where ExxonMobil (XOM) is a rare ray of light and Chevron (CVX) is the brightest spot on the Dow industrials. There isn’t a lot of joy out there unless you’re in the biggest energy companies around the world.
Where are the markets where the energy winners are shining? Outside the Middle East, which is challenging for U.S. investors to get into, I could list the hot spots without pausing for breath: Chile, Norway, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil.
That’s it. Just about everything else in the world is down 10-20% or more. Those local markets just don’t have the right mix of resilient stocks and economic exuberance.
And only a few stocks in those markets are doing well enough to distract me from XOM and CVX here at home. But the list contains a few surprises.
Chile, for example, isn’t known for its oil. But it’s a global lithium powerhouse and one of my favorite stocks, SQM, has been a revelation this year.
Argentina has let its oil industry ebb and flow. I’m not thrilled with local producer YPF right now . . . it’s a great company but lags XOM for my attention. The real winner here supporting the Buenos Aires exchange is TGS, which runs the country’s major gas pipelines and keeps the lights on.
Then there’s Brazil. I’ve talked about my reluctance to get too closely involved with Petrobras (PBR). We don’t need it. The real winner here is a little company called Sigma Lithium (SGML) . . . you can figure it out. It’s doubled YTD.
Norway is a little more obvious. Equinor (EQR) runs the North Sea and will be a key factor keeping the lights on for Europe this winter. It’s a world-class company and it’s why Oslo investors are in the money this year.
And then there’s Indonesia. Not known for its oil, but the name to watch is Indonesia Energy (INDO), which vows to change the sprawling country’s role in the global energy landscape. It’s singlehandedly keeping stocks afloat in Jakarta . . . and that’s a good thing.
Five countries. Five stocks. No real need to look at anything else right now unless you’re simply hunting something exotic or willing to hold on for months or years.
But I promised you six, didn’t I? Monaco is too little to have a stock exchange, but it has some world-class companies that trade elsewhere. Scorpio Tankers (STNG) is the best. They don’t drill the oil. They transport it.