Latin American Markets May Be A Mess, But This Stock Is Irresistible

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During my entire 35+ year career, Latin American markets have been something of a mess.

There have been flashes of greatness, but inevitably, something happens to send the market spiraling lower once again. In other words, Latin American countries have been emerging markets that never emerged.

I can go through example after example, but then this would quickly turn into a book, and I have beach plans with the granddaughter this week—so there is not enough time.

But from time to time, the mess in Central and Sought America will give us a gift in the form of a stock so cheap you must take a shot.

Let me show you…

I am not talking about super speculative companies that are all stories and no profits.

Over the years, I have taken profitable shots with Latin American oil giants, leading banks, food companies, real estate firms, and mining companies. And we have seen markets like Brazil and Chile triple and quadruple in a relatively modest timeframe when political and economic conditions were briefly favorable.

Yes, Latin America is a mess. There are times when you just cannot help letting the phrases “banana republic” and “tinpot dictator” cross your mind as you consider that region of the world. However, mess and inefficiency can occasionally create huge opportunities for patent-aggressive investors willing to engage in a touch of speculation.

One of the biggest messes in South America for the last decade has been Brazil.

Brazil is a community-rich nation whose young population has a median age of 36. Two of the largest cities in the world, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, are in the country, which also has a rich history of arts, music, and literature.

It should be the poster child for emerging economies that joined the developed world. Instead, Brazil is an annual contender for the most politically unstable and most corrupt nation on the planet.

As big as the mess is, though, the population still needs to eat. This is where Companhia Brasileira de Distribuição (CBD), one of the nation’s largest grocery and convenience stores, comes into play.

The company’s stock has sold off by 44% in the last month, and the stock is now trading at levels not seen since 2016. CBD spun off its Colombian grocery stores earlier this month, and the market is not a fan. It is also selling its gas station operations to raise cash.

The quote services all show a fat 9% dividend yield. Ignore that: dividends are paid annually, and I doubt we’ll see a huge payout next May.

But the company is slowly but surely getting its act together. In the most recent quarter, total sales were up by more than 17%, while same-store sales growth was 6.4% year over year, and online sales grew by about 10% in the quarter. Debt is being reduced via asset sales, spin-offs, and repayments. A return to more normal returns on equity and capital would lead to returns of several times the current depressed stock price.

I would not buy a lot of CBD stock. If the company returns to normalized profits and the post-spinoff company recovers fully, a small position will compensate you with huge gains.

At the current price, the stock is a call option on the Brazilian consumer, economy, and stock market.

Best of all, it is a call option with no fixed expiration.

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