With the U.S. stock market en route to what will essentially be a push for 2011, the culmination of this wild year of range-bound volatility can concurrently be seen as a victory and a defeat. For those geared towards extending a bull market that is now nearly 3-years old, a flat year will surely fail to meet their lofty expectations for new highs. Similar disappointment can be found amidst legions of ''active fund managers" who got whooped by the benchmarks again this year, where, by some estimates, the passive indexers beat 70-80% of them.
On the flip side, when compared to the double-digit declines of major indexes in Europe and Asia and most of the rest of the world, our flat year looks and feels great (at least on a relative basis). Regardless of what Standard & Poor's says, or how large our deficit grows, America is still the world's preferred safe haven destination, and that is doubly true when viewed from within. The main byproduct of this ''outperformance" is that more investors than ever are seeking refuge, and a pinch of dividends, in so-called large-cap multinational companies. (So prevalent was this talking point amongst strategists this year that I had to condense the name to LCMN's).
Few would argue that LCMN's aren't a crowded trade, and yet, even fewer seem willing to give up on this standing room only idea. It is for that reason alone that you should listen to the attached clip with Bill Greiner, the CIO of Scout Investments in Kansas City, who is at least offering some alternatives, including one he calls "The 3 C's" -- Canada, Chile and Colombia.
In describing our neighbor to the north as stable, fundamentally strong and AAA rated, Greiner says investors can feel comfortable committing capital to the this play on raw materials and natural resources, calling it "a fertile area for investment." For the record, after leading the S&P 500 (^GSPC) for most of the year, the Canadian benchmark TSX Index (^GSPTSE) has lagged sharply in the 4th quarter.
If you haven't given up on the gold story, Greiner says the Agnico Eagle (AEM) "is a very high quality, low cost producer."
As far as the other two C's, Greiner's regional affection for ''all of South America" gets even more focused as he outlines the case for his two favorites. To hear him speak of "radical changes" and ''economic powerhouses" is only part of the Chilean (ECH) and Colombian (COLX) story.
"These are countries that are really on the mend," he says, explaining that their export growth is simultaneously fueling a domestic consumer growth story as well.
What do you think? Are the LCMN's ripe to under-perform in 2012 or will the flight to quality keep them aloft yet again?
Feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @MattNesto too.