The international investment philosophy at Baldwin Investment Management, LLC has a growth bias and thus generally seeks out companies located in countries whose economies are performing more robustly as measured against all non-US economies. For some time this has meant having quite a large “emerging” markets content in the portfolio, as it is these economies that are expanding rapidly. These countries include Mexico, India, Brazil, Taiwan and others.
For many reasons, including economic, business and social structures, countries in the so called “developed” markets like Great Britain, France, Germany have not allowed the growth exhibited by emerging market companies. Only recently have some of these developed markets become less fettered by burdensome regulation – recognizing that in order to compete successfully internationally with companies in the United States of America (and emerging countries) the rules had to be changed.
The strategy Baldwin follows has a top down perspective – i.e. first, find fast growing economies and then buy the biggest and most liquid stocks in those economies, anticipating that as the economy continues to blossom so will the companies and their stocks will increase in value. We do not invest in secondary issues in emerging markets, believing that there is too much risk associated with those names. Rather, we want to be involved in companies which are the best researched and most liquid names in a particular market, already recognizing that the market has some degree of illiquidity.
We want to invest in select companies before substantial institutional money (i.e. pension funds) focus on a market or a name and let those funds drive up the prices of our ideas.
Currency does not weigh heavily in our decision making process. One of benefits of international investing is to diversify from dollar investments to hedge against its movement. In certain situations like in Hong Kong there is no currency risk as their currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar. This circumstance is unusual, as most currencies in the world float today.
Country and company research is fundamental and technical. We depend upon reports from investment research houses like Morgan Stanley, Cazenove, Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch and UBS. After we have set our sights on a particular country, a fundamental “bottom-up” analysis unearths focus companies.
Stocks are sold if either the country or company supporting the analysis changes for the worse. Turnover in the portfolio is relatively low (approximately 25% per year) as the portfolio is managed in a tax sensitive fashion.