My guest this week is Harvey Sawikin, a co-founder and lead portfolio manager at Firebird Management, which manages funds dedicated to investing in emerging market equities. Emerging markets are often a blind spot for investors of all types: most of us have never traveled to the far east or eastern Europe, where many of the thousands of emerging market public equities operate.
I’ve been very lucky to travel quite a bit in Asia and the Middle East, but never to eastern Europe, where Firebird focuses its investments. Harvey and I discuss his 24 years of experience evaluating emerging and frontier market countries, industries, and individual stocks. We discuss his experience buying privatization vouchers in Russia, banks in the Baltics, and how today’s emerging market opportunity set compares to the past.
Like so many of these conversations with investors who have earned significant excess returns, its clear investing opportunities in emerging markets are often disguised. Finding them requires risk, hard work, discipline, and a dose of luck and timing. Please enjoy my conversation with Harvey on Emerging Market Opportunities.
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2:26 – (First Question) – Most memorable travel experience since the beginning of Firebird
5:41 – How Harvey got interested in emerging markets investing, specifically, Eastern Europe and Russia
10:00 – How does the landscape for emerging markets today compare to when he first started
12:30 – What are the factors of an emerging market to look at and why do some not pan out
15:04 – Do countries have to meet minimum criteria before Harvey and his team will even start to do work on an emerging market
17:33 – How does Harvey distinguish between frontier and emerging markets
18:37 – Thoughts on the access points that regular investors have into emerging markets, such as ETF’s and Mutual Funds
23:48 – How does Harvey think about risk exposure when constructing a portfolio
25:56 – Looking at the bottom up part of the equation, what factors within a company or sector are considered as part of the investing decision
31:05 – Dividends in emerging markets
33:09 – How do US equities stack up as an investment against fixed income
36:52 – How do US equities stack up as an investment against emerging markets
39:38 – What type of investor allocate funds to emerging markets
42:37 – The value of travel in understanding emerging markets
50:19 – Biggest mistakes that emerging market investors make
54:49 – What in today’s markets has the smell of opportunity
55:53 – Harvey’s interest in Via
56:58 – Interest in buying gold coins
1:00:05 – If Harvey could only choose one country to visit, business or pleasure, where would he go
1:01:09 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Harvey
1:01:38 – Education of Rick Green, Esquire