Australian Stocks: Seeking Safety Down Under

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(By Becca Lipman. Data sourced from Finviz.)

Looking for markets without heavy exposure to Europe? Look to Australia, the nation down under with a growing GDP, low unemployment rate, and rock solid fundamentals keeping the country well hedged against the global financial crisis.

"The nation’s gross domestic product expanded more than economists forecast last quarter, driven by rising consumer spending and a rebound in exports after natural disasters disrupted coal mining at the start of the year. The economy will grow by 1.8 percent this year, the Washington-based IMF said last week," reports Bloomberg.

Of course, Australia is not completely immune to the global economy's fiscal woes. GDP growth is partially fueled by demand for the nation's iron ore, coal and natural gas from developing nations, including China and India. Slowing or stagnant growth in these regions - a possible result of the global issues - are sure to affect their export business.

Inside Australia, the natural resources industry is benefiting while "other industries including tourism, education and manufacturing struggle. The so-called two-speed economy has prompted economists to debate whether Australia is suffering “Dutch Disease,” whereby companies extracting natural resources are prosperous while other industries are wiped out."

All the same, the country is better leveraged than most. And since it is both growing and relatively stable it appears to offers investors more protection from market volatility.

If you're looking to protect your portfolio from market turmoil and are considering investing in Australian stocks, we would like to help you form a starting point for your own analysis.

Here we list the five biggest Australian stocks by market cap listed on the American Stock Exchange. Do you think these names offer the protection nervous investors are looking for?

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1. BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP): Industrial Metals & Minerals Industry. Market cap of $183.88B. Price as of 9/27 at $72.19. BHP Billiton is a leader in the global natural resources industry. The Group has high-value and industry-leading positions in aluminium, metallurgical coal, thermal coal, copper, ferro-alloys, iron ore and titanium minerals and also has substantial interests in oil, gas, nickel, diamonds and silver.

2. Westpac Banking Corporation (WBK): Foreign Money Center Banks Industry. Market cap of $58.39B. Price as of 9/27 at $102.23. Westpac Banking Corp. provides a broad range of banking and financial services. The company offers general banking services to retail, commercial, and institutional customers and provides investment management and insurance. For institutional and international clients, Westpac provides working capital loans, trade financing, foreign currency loans, leveraged leasing, project finance loans, and interest rate and currency products.

3. Alumina Ltd. (AWC): Aluminum Industry. Market cap of $3.38B. Price as of 9/27 at $5.85. Alumina Limited's principal activities are mining, processing and marketing of minerals, metals, fertilizers, exploration for minerals, investments in companies producing metals, minerals and chemicals. Alumina Limited also owns interests in a network of mines, refineries, and smelters in Australia, the United States, Guinea, Suriname, Jamaica, Brazil, and Spain. In addition, it owns and operates a shipping operation that transports alumina, aluminum, and raw materials worldwide.

4. InterOil Corporation (IOC): Oil & Gas Refining & Marketing Industry. Market cap of $2.64B. Price as of 9/27 at $46.3. InterOil Corporation is engaged in the exploration, appraisal, and development of crude oil and natural gas properties primarily in Papua New Guinea. The Company is also engaged in the distribution of refined products under its branded name InterOil Products Limited; and in the refining and liquefaction of jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline, naphtha and low sulfur waxy residue. InterOil Corporation is based in Cairns, Australia.

5. Samson Oil & Gas Limited (SSN): Oil & Gas Drilling & Exploration Industry. Market cap of $205.48M. Price as of 9/27 at $2.39. Samson Oil & Gas Limited is an Australian based oil & gas company holding extensive development and exploration acreage in the USA. Samson is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, ASX Code SSN. Samson's business strategy is to create value by focusing on the USA energy sector and in particular exploration for and production of gas.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Investing Ideas , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: AWC , BHP , IOC , SSN , WBK

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