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Why it may be time to wade back into Emerging Asia

Leslie Shaffer
Thursday, 15 Aug 2013 | 6:26 AM ET
Jakarta, Indonesia
Bay Ismoyo | Stringer | Getty Images
Jakarta, Indonesia

"Taper terror" following news the U.S. Federal Reserve is set to begin slowing its asset purchases spurred an en masse stampede of funds from many regional markets and currencies – most notably in Indonesia and India.

Emerging markets equity exposure in August fell to its lowest level since November 2001 as fund managers globally fled the segment and piled into developed markets, according to a survey from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

But as the dust begins to settle, some managers are calling attractive re-entry points.

(Read more: Fund managers shun this most 'hated' asset class)

"Investors should consider using the valuations in emerging market bonds after the selloff as an attractive entry point," writes Ramil Toloui, global co-head of the emerging markets portfolio management team at Pimco, which has around $2.04 trillion under management.

"We see value in the higher yields available on many emerging market bonds, both in local currency and U.S. dollars," he says in a note.

Global bonds are now indicating the market expects significant interest rate hikes for some emerging market countries, even as interest rates there are likely to mostly remain on hold or even be cut, he says, offering potential capital appreciation if the rate hikes don't materialize.

He also expects global investors to move away from lopsided allocations to developed countries and into emerging markets, providing emerging-market asset-price support for years ahead.

(Read more: Buy Europe; Sell Emerging Markets: JPMorgan)

Citigroup has also said it sees value in emerging Asian equities, even as the market consensus is to underweight the region. In a report this week, it notes that global PMIs are showing gradual improvement.

"Asia is an EPS revisions outperformer and due to its open economies will benefit most from the improving PMIs," it said.

Indeed, Credit Suisse notes that in two of the past three years, Asia ex-Japan shares have rallied more than 20 percent in the second half of the year. While the lack of quantitative easing is a negative difference this year, the region's valuations are more attractive with price-to-book at 1.49X, compared with 1.54X in August 2012 and 1.93X in August 2010, it said.

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