Once upon a time, emerging markets presented themselves as a sure growth opportunity to investors -- but that reputation has diminished as fear and turmoil make their way through global markets, leaving few as stable as they were.
BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are the largest global regions of once-booming economies that are now cooling off.
"We just think our economy and the potential European recession for next year does not bode well for the global economy," said Chip Cobb, portfolio manager at Bryn Mawr Trust in an interview with CNBC. "We like the emerging markets, but we think they're going to be lackluster until Europe gets its act together."
The main drawback for these countries is their reliance on foreign demand. Export-driven economies will quickly feel the impact if larger nations cut down on orders.
CNBC reports The Russell World Emerging Markets Index was down 4.1% in November, and down nearly 14% for the year. This is in contrast to a three-year return of a "robust" 21%.
BRIC countries are falling more than 20% from their early July peak.
So, which markets stand a chance? According to some market pros, the smaller countries of South America, Asia, and elsewhere remain reliable as long-term plays.
Emerging markets will likely continue to grow, just not as impressively. Other markets will still require exports, and most of these nations are undergoing internal changes of their own -- mainly in the middle classes -- that show promise of economic shifts.
Concerned investors may want to update their opinion of emerging markets as an easy and rapidly growing investment opportunity, but there are still opportunities to be found.
For ideas on stocks that might be bucking the trend in BRIC nations we compiled a list of U.S.-traded BRIC companies and searched among the names for those with the highest levels of institutional buying.
Institutional buying (net purchases from mutual funds, hedge funds, pensions, and bank trust departments) signals that sophisticated investors believe there is more upside than downside to the names.
The "smart money" thinks these BRIC stocks have the momentum to push even higher -- do you? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)
1. Isoftstone Holdings Limited (NYS: ISS) : Provides various information technology (IT) services and solutions in the Greater China and internationally. Market cap of $491.06M. Country: China. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 10.8M, which is 36.47% of the company's 29.61M share float.
2. E-Commerce China Dangdang (NAS: DANG) : Operates as a business-to-consumer e-commerce company in the People's Republic of China. Market cap of $368.61M. Country: China. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 5.5M, which is 19.75% of the company's 27.85M share float.
3. MakeMyTrip Limited (NAS: MMYT) : Provides travel products and solutions in India and the United States. Market cap of $878.87M. Country: India. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.3M, which is 15.61% of the company's 8.33M share float.
4. Home Inns & Hotels Management (NAS: HMIN) : Develops, leases, operates, franchises, and manages a chain of economy hotels in the People's Republic of China. Market cap of $1.44B. Country: China. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.7M, which is 15.26% of the company's 24.25M share float.
5. China Kanghui Holdings (NYS: KH) : Develops, manufactures, and markets orthopedic implants and associated instruments. Market cap of $350.25M. Country: China. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.1M, which is 11.41% of the company's 9.64M share float.
6. TIM Participacoes (NYS: TSU) : Provides mobile telecommunications services through global system mobile (GSM) technology to business and individual customers in Brazil. Market cap of $6.10B. Country: Brazil. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 11.1M, which is 10% of the company's 110.95M share float.
7. Sohu.com (NAS: SOHU) : Engages in the brand advertising, online gaming, sponsored search, and wireless businesses in China. Market cap of $1.99B. Country: China. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.7M, which is 9.05% of the company's 29.82M share float.
8. Simcere Pharmaceutical Group (NYS: SCR) : Develops, manufactures, and markets branded generic and proprietary pharmaceuticals in China. Market cap of $398.86M. Country: China. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.2M, which is 8.21% of the company's 14.62M share float.
9. Ctrip.com International (NAS: CTRP) : Provides travel services for hotel accommodations, airline tickets, and packaged tours in the People's Republic of China. Market cap of $3.58B. Country: China. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 10.0M, which is 7.54% of the company's 132.65M share float.
10. Shanda Games (NAS: GAME) : Engages in the development and operation of online games in the People's Republic of China. Market cap of $1.26B. Country: China. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 4.0M, which is 5.70% of the company's 70.22M share float.
Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.
Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman does not own any of the shares mentioned above. Institutional data sourced from Fidelity.
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