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By Courtney Goethals Dobrow | 08-13-2010 04:47 AM

Maisonneuve: Look to the Chinese Consumer

Travel, food, and technology names look attractive as China's domestic consumer market grows, says Schroders' Virginie Maisonneuve, a subadvisor for Vanguard International Growth.

Courtney Dobrow: Going back to the Eurozone, how are you thinking, obviously, when you say Eurozone there is a lot of countries like Germany that's stronger with some other weaker countries, and how in terms of portfolio positioning is that playing out?

Virginie Maisonneuve: Absolutely. Europe absolutely is many different parts, like the U.S. would be or like China would be; it's really not uniform. We're still very cautious about Southern Europe. Greece, we have nothing in Greece, we have nothing in Italy, we have nothing in Portugal, we have nothing in Spain. I'm still very cautious, because I think that the level of debt in some of those countries is such that we'll probably need to see further restructuring.

On the other hand Germany, countries like Germany or France have actually done quite well. If you look at the exports out of Germany, they have been a very strong contributor to GDP growth. In addition, the consumer in those countries has actually supported or being through the crisis in a relatively immune way. And then you look at Eastern Europe, which I'm still very cautious on, with unemployment in countries like Poland at very high level really and within the emerging markets, I much prefer China, India and Brazil.

Dobrow: Speaking of China with concerns about growth, I know it is a big portion of the portfolio--where are you focused or I know there are some technology names in the portfolio?

Maisonneuve: I think again the overall environment in China is for a slowdown. The first quarter GDP growth was close to 12%, which was very strong--that was the result of the stimulus measures that were put in place by the government following the crisis, the global financial crisis, and they have been very successful to the point that the growth was in excess of what was anticipated, and clearly ahead of the new five-year plan that will be put in place starting next year.

The government wants growth to be much more -- would be reined in, if you want. So, we've put measures to take away some of the stimulus, which has led to a slowdown in the second quarter, a slowdown I believe in the third quarter, and I think that growth in China will probably trough in the third quarter and stabilize in the fourth quarter, which again, will be quite positive in terms of perception because China is really an engine of growth globally.

Within that I like the consumer very much in China. I think that the focus of the next five-year plan will be not only on the carbon neutral economy, but also the consumer. So, marginal growth [will be] getting away from exports towards the domestic consumer, and within that I like travel, I like food, I like technology, some of the stocks in that area and I think those are very long-term trends.

Dobrow: Okay. Within Brazil it's – most people when you hear Brazil you think commodities. What do you like in Brazil outside of that area?

Maisonneuve: We like commodities, but we also like the financial sector. In general, we've looked at the financial sector in emerging markets really as more of a way to play the consumer, and in Brazil, it is the same because you're in a country where people are starting to buy their first house, they are starting to get credit card at a much larger level. It's very basic financial business, but it's actually quite lucrative and frankly, much safer than what we are seeing in some of the developed markets…

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