Bob Haley has been doing international investing for a long time. The founder of Advanced Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon, Haley said his firm has been at it quite a while and were already at about 15–20% international when it began to devote particular attention to international investing around 1997–1998.
“We started doing more international investing [then] based on my sense of how investing was becoming more and more global and how much of the world’s stock market values were in the U.S. in the ’90s compared to the mid-’80s,” Haley said. “When I started in ’82, my memory is that U.S. stocks were about 70% of global market share, and by the late nineties it was closer to 50/50. Based on that and emerging trends, I felt it was unwise to limit [investing] to U.S.-based companies,” he said.
Hale said he had a good feel for that, because “We manage money ourselves. We do use some mutual funds and ETFs,” he adds, “but also a lot of individual securities and to do that we do a lot of research, not just on companies, but on global trends.”
While the firm sticks to U.S. exchanges to do its investing, buying ADRs for the large foreign companies it wants, ETFs and mutual funds allow it to take advantage of smaller companies abroad and in areas in which Haley is not comfortable picking stocks.
Currently, AWM is not focused on any particular region or country, although “a couple of years ago we were over-weighted in emerging markets.[A]t the moment no particular region interests me as much as making sure we’re diversified by size—small, mid and large—and value,” he said.
However, he does have some insights to offer. “I don’t understand Africa or the Middle East, so we don’t invest there. At one time we had a fair amount in India, [but we] pulled out a couple of years ago and I don’t want to go back. As for the rest … Banco de Chile has really been a nice bright spot. Another one is Lan Chile—an airline [formerly LAN] that’s now called LATAM Airlines Group. It’s come down a lot this year, but we’ve held it a long time and it’s worked well for us over the long term,” he said.
Further, Westpac Banking Corporation, from Australia and Australian index fund EWA have been on the buy list for the past several months, Haley said. Several years ago, the firm bought New Zealand Telecom. “I think they’ve delisted from the NYSE, and we haven’t been buying it lately, but at one time it had a very attractive dividend. The earthquake hurt things, but it’s a captive market and a regulated industry, [as well as a] high dividend,” he said. Australia is an economically sound bet, he believes, because “it’s English-speaking and has commerce with the U.S., England, and Europe, but it’s easy to get to China and Asia.”