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Emerging markets: a world of opportunity

Katherine Renfrew
Portfolio Manager, Nuveen
Anupam Damani
Portfolio Manager, Nuveen
Barton Grenning
Portfolio Manager
Beautiful Horizon
Despite being investable asset classes for decades, emerging markets debt (EMD) and emerging markets equities (EME) remain poorly understood— and thus underrepresented in U.S. portfolios. Both EMD and EME offer a large, diverse array of opportunities. The EMD market, now valued at more than $22 trillion, includes government and corporate bonds issued in dozens of currencies. The EME universe has grown to just north of $6 trillion, or nearly 12% of the world’s total stock market capitalization, with thousands of companies in developing countries across the globe.

Executive summary
  • Emerging markets (EM) debt and equity assets tend to be under represented in U.S. investors’ portfolios. 
  • The long-term case for EM exposure remains strong. Strategic allocations to these assets may provide diversification benefits, enhanced return potential and compelling yield.
  • Even with heightened uncertainty about the U.S./China trade dispute, attractive EM investment opportunities are still available— but selectivity and active management are key.


Emerging markets represent an expansive investment
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1 IMF World Economic Outlook database, April 2019.

2 Barnes, P. “Why Emerging Markets Have Better Demographics,” Market Realist, 6 December 2016.

3 Pezzini, M. “An emerging middle class,” OECD Yearbook 2012.

4 Kharas, H. and Hamel, K., Brookings Institute. “A global tipping point: Half the world is now middle class or wealthier,” 27 September 2018.

5 Source: JPMorgan.

6 Source: Bloomberg, L.P. GDP-weighted quarterly calculation encompassing 68 EM countries.

7 EM earnings were subsequently upgraded in early April 2019, but only by 0.2%.

8 Source: FactSet.

This material is provided for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute a solicitation of any securities in any jurisdiction in which such solicitation is unlawful or to any person to whom it is unlawful. Moreover, it neither constitutes an offer to enter into an investment agreement with the recipient of this document nor an invitation to respond to it by making an offer to enter into an investment agreement. 

This material may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature. Such information may include projections, forecasts, estimates of yields or returns, and proposed or expected portfolio composition. Moreover, certain historical performance information of other investment vehicles or composite accounts managed by Nuveen may be included in this material and such performance information is presented by way of example only. No representation is made that the performance presented will be achieved, or that every assumption made in achieving, calculating or presenting either the forward-looking information or the historical performance information herein has been considered or stated in preparing this material. Any changes to assumptions that may have been made in preparing this material could have a material impact on the investment returns that are presented herein by way of example.

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by Nuveen to be reliable, and not necessarily all-inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Company name is only for explanatory purposes and does not constitute as investment advice and is subject to change. Any investments named within this material may not necessarily be held in any funds/accounts managed by Nuveen. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader. Views of the author may not necessarily reflect the view s of Nuveen as a whole or any part thereof. 

Past performance is not a guide to future performance
. Investment involves risk, including loss of principal. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. Changes in the rates of exchange between currencies may cause the value of investments to fluctuate.

This information does not constitute investment research as defined under MiFID.


A basis point is a common unit of measure for interest rates and other percentages in finance. One basis point is equal to 1/100th of 1%, or 0.01% (0.0001). Yield is the income return on an investment, such as the interest or dividends received from holding a particular security. Earnings per share (EPS) is the portion of a company’s profit allocated to each share of common stock. Earnings per share serve as an indicator of a company’s profitability. Option-adjusted spread (OAS) is the measurement of the spread of a fixed income security rate and the risk-free rate of return, which is adjusted to take into account an embedded option. Price/earnings ratio (P/E) is the ratio for valuing a company that measures its current share price relative to its per-share earnings (EPS). JPMorgan Emerging Markets Bond Index Global Diversified limits the weights of those index countries with larger debt stocks by only including a specific portion of these countries’ eligible current face amounts of debt outstanding. MSCI Emerging Markets Index captures large and mid cap representation across 24 EM countries. The index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country. MSCI USA Index is designed to measure the performance of the large and mid cap segments of the US market. The index covers approximately 85% of the U.S. free float-adjusted market capitalization. The MSCI World Index is a broad global equity index that represents large and mid-cap equity performance across 23 developed markets countries. It covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country. S&P 500® Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure the performance of the broad domestic economy.


A word on risk

All investments carry a certain degree of risk and there is no assurance that an investment will provide positive performance over any period of time. Debt or fixed income securities are subject to market risk, credit risk, interest rate risk, call risk, derivatives risk, dollar roll transaction risk, and income risk. As interest rates rise, bond prices fall. Equity investments are subject to market risk or the risk that stocks will decline in response to such factors as adverse company news or industry developments or a general economic decline. Non-U.S. investments involve risks such as currency fluctuation, political and economic instability, lack of liquidity and differing legal and accounting standards. These risks are magnified in emerging markets. Investments in small and mid-cap companies are subject to greater volatility than those of larger companies. Investments in debt securities issued or guaranteed by governments or governmental entities are subject to the risk that an entity may delay or refuse to pay interest or principal on its sovereign debt because of cash flow problems, insufficient foreign reserves, or political or other considerations. In this event, there may be no legal process for collecting sovereign debts that a governmental entity has not repaid. Credit risk arises from an issuer’s ability to make interest and principal payments when due, as well as the prices of bonds declining when an issuer’s credit quality is expected to deteriorate. Interest rate risk occurs when interest rates rise causing bond prices to fall. Income could decline during periods of falling interest rates. Investments in below investment grade or high yield securities are subject to liquidity risk and heightened credit risk.


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