Africa: A Basket of Buys

06/05/2014 10:00 am EST

Focus: GLOBAL

Benjamin Shepherd

Analyst, Breakthrough Tech Profits, Global Income Edge and Personal Finance

Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the IMF, is expected to outgrow the world's advanced economies by a margin of more than 3%, notes Benjamin Shepherd, editor of Global Investment Strategist.

Most of that growth is underpinned by a growing African consumer class that is creating strong domestic demand for goods and services.

It's currently estimated that—of the one billion people on the continent—about 300 million Africans are considered middle class consumers with annual incomes of more than USD5,000.

African infrastructure spending is also providing strong support for domestic economies. About $55 billion is being spent on infrastructure projects across the continent, a sum expected to rise to about $90 billion by the end of the next decade.

Despite domestic political challenges, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa has remained strong for years now, even in the wake of the global recession.

With strong growth forecast to continue for, at least, several more years, Africa remains one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world.

For a diversified play on African growth, Market Vectors Africa Index (AFK) holds a basket of 112 companies across 17 countries.

While its exposure to the financial sector is relatively high at 39.3% of assets, the remainder of its portfolio is spread across the energy, materials, and consumer staples in line with the region's economies.

With an expense ratio of just 0.81%, it is one of the cheapest, broad-based African funds available. It also offers an attractive 2.54% yield.

While the S&P 500 (SPX) has returned just 1.3% this year, Market Vectors Africa Index is up by nearly 7%, making it one of the top performing regional funds, so far, in 2014.

And while it can be highly volatile depending on the tide of economic news or conflicts on the continent, given that Africa is one of the last under-penetrated markets in the world, it should provide solid growth for years to come.

Market Vectors Africa Index rates a buy up $41 for long-term, risk-tolerant investors.

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