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This Bond Fund Adeptly Navigates Emerging Markets

Emory Zink

Emory Zink: Currency volatility and headlining political risks have kept emerging markets in the news. And while most of the recent discussion has been rather dismal, for an investor with a longer time horizon looking for diversifying emerging-market debt exposure, now may be a good time to consider your options.

T. Rowe Price Emerging Markets Bond (PREMX) has been helmed by Mike Conelius for more than 20 years. In that time frame, the portfolio has evolved to take advantage of opportunities in the emerging-markets debt space.

While the majority of holdings remain dollar-denominated sovereigns, the portfolio includes local-currency sovereigns and corporate debt as complements to that core, which helps the team better implement positions. 

Conviction investments keep the portfolio dynamic. An overweight to Ukraine has benefited from recent debt restructurings that were in favor of bondholders. And the fund remains committed to Brazil, with investments in sovereigns and government-backed companies--in particular, Petrobras (PBR).

The process that Conelius and his team have in place--a top-down macro view combined with thorough, bottom-up security selection--has worked well. Over the three- and five-year trailing periods, the fund has performed in the top quarter of its peers. With one of the lowest expense ratios in its category, this fund provides solid performance, navigating an often fragmented and challenging investment landscape. For these reasons, the fund earns a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Bronze.