International Growth Opportunities Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

As the global economy continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still opportunities for investors, says Franklin Equity Group Portfolio Manager Don Huber. He has an eye on international companies able to navigate the crisis period—particularly those in regions where recovery is happening faster.

People have been spending much more time at home these days. For investors, however, we believe looking for long-term opportunities outside one’s home market is more important than ever. Many investors—whether consciously or subconsciously—tie a country’s economic growth to growth of companies based there. And in light of today’s greater economic uncertainties, that bias may prove detrimental. Certainly, there are plenty of companies that are growing their profits, sales and cash flow much faster than the gross domestic product growth rate in the country in which they are based. And many of these international companies are truly global in nature and not tied to the fundamentals of their domestic economy.

We have found opportunities in technology, e-commerce, semiconductor and health care across the globe, and also in companies that are leaders in niche industries. For example, one of the leading suppliers of cathode materials for rechargeable batteries used in hybrid and electric cars is a Belgian company. One of the leading global suppliers of implants for people with severe and profound hearing loss is Australian.

When people think about e-commerce, they tend to think about companies like Amazon or some of the Chinese titans, but e-commerce is growing rapidly around the world. We see good potential in Latin America, where e-commerce is growing off a much lower base than the United States or China and therefore offering compelling investment opportunities.