as part of our
Mexico is the closest emerging market to the US, after all, it's
right next door but it hasn't been getting much attention from
A major reason is Mexico's close linkage to the economic
behemoth to its north. Mexico doesn't just catch cold when America
sneezes; it comes down with a nasty case of pneumonia.
Americans consume about 70 percent of Mexican exports, so any US
recession brings Mexican growth to a grinding halt. Investors
concerned about another major slowdown in the US are usually
hesitant to look for opportunities south of the border.
The brutally violent narcotics wars in Mexico also haven't
helped, dominating the headlines and scaring off not just investors
but also tourists.
All of these concerns are legitimate, but they're also
overblown. While the US economy struggles with several headwinds, I
continue to believe it will muddle through with modest growth,
reducing the risk of a Mexican contraction.
Moreover, most of Mexico's gang violence is confined to the
country's northern border states of Baja California, Chihuahua,
Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, where the cartels are battling for
control of lucrative trafficking routes into the US. Further south,
the country is generally peaceful, with most Mexicans simply going
about their daily lives.
A number of positive factors are at work down south. Mexico has
been a major beneficiary of rising global wages. While Chinese
labor costs have been rising by between 12 percent and 14 percent a
year over the past five years, Mexican wage growth has quietly
averaged between 3 percent and 4 percent (see "The Pay Advantage
Although wage growth in Mexico is not as impressive as in other
parts of the world, it's maintaining a healthy enough level to
create a growing consumer class. Higher fuel prices and unfavorable
exchange rates have pushed up shipping costs, prompting many
manufacturers to shift production back to the Western hemisphere.
As a result, unemployment in Mexico is currently at its lowest
point in more than 3 years.
These trends have been driving healthy growth in domestic
consumption, helping offset export weakness in the past several
quarters. In the second quarter of 2012, Mexican gross domestic
) grew by 4.1 percent, with the country's services sector
contributing 4.4 percent, reflecting robust domestic demand.
The fundamentals of the Mexican economy are also extremely
attractive. Credit as a percentage of GDP is only about 20 percent
compared to about 50 percent in Brazil, Latin America's largest
economy. That makes Mexico less exposed to another global credit
crisis that could result from a turn for the worse in Europe, as
well as leaving plenty of room for future growth.
And despite a spike in July to 4.5 percent, inflation in the
country has been holding steady between 2 percent and 4 percent,
well within the Banco de Mexico's target band, which reduces the
near-term risk of an interest rate hike.
Finally, several economic reforms ranging from liberalizing
labor markets to incentivizing private investment in
are in the legislative pipeline and expected to become reality over
the next year.
Here's a look at my favorite play in Mexico, the "forgotten"
) is an excellent play on the virtuous cycle of rising consumer
A Spanish-language television powerhouse, the company is the
largest broadcaster in Mexico and wholly owns or has substantial
interests in both cable and satellite television providers. It also
owns a vast library of Spanish-language programming content.
To place any television advertisements in Mexico, it's hard to
avoid Grupo Televisa. An estimated 70 percent of television viewers
tune in to its networks during primetime hours, allowing the
company to command a premium and growing ad rate as more
advertisers seek to tap rising Mexican incomes.
The company is doing an excellent job of monetizing its content
library, recently inking a deal that provides programming access to
), which is pushing its services into Latin America.
Grupo Televisa is garnering growing content revenue, as it
exports more programming to Univision, a dominant Spanish-language
television station in the US.
The company's pay-television services are also enjoying
substantial growth in Mexico, where cable and satellite television
services have only penetrated 45 percent of the market.
Sky, Grupo Televisa's satellite television service, has seen
explosive subscriber growth since it began offering low-priced
subscriptions that allow access to a greater depth of content than
its competitors. The service is popular with Mexican families with
expanding disposable incomes and should prove a major growth driver
for the company for years to come.
While Grupo Televisa's aggressive acquisitions have dampened
earnings in recent years, annual revenue growth has averaged more
than 10 percent over the past five years and earnings should soon
The stock is currently trading at just 19.9 times earnings, a
discount to its historical ratio of 22 times. Learn how to uncover
undervalued stocks like Grupo Televisa with
this free report