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5-star Thornburg Investment fund manager's top EM picks

Emerging markets with the greatest potential are relatively easy to identify, Lewis Kaufman of Thornburg Investment Management said Wednesday.

"The easiest places, I think, to make money right now are the current-account surplus countries, places like Korea, places like the Philippines, where you actually have current-account surpluses, or countries with manageable current-account surpluses, Mexico," he said on CNBC's "Halftime Report."

Kaufman, who is portfolio manager of the Morningstar five-star rated Thornburg Developing World Fund, oversees $1.5 billion in assets.

Slightly riskier countries could also be worth a look, he added.

Kaufman said that India and Indonesia are worth watching, as they have narrowed their current accounts, while Turkey and South Africa are areas to avoid.

"I think if you lean against the grain, you want to invest in countries that are deeper into the cyclical adjustment process, countries like Indonesia, India, even Brazil, if we don't get electricity rationing," he said.

"The reality for Brazil is they've raised interest rates substantially. They've taken their medicine. You've got interest rates in the 10s, among the highest real interest rates in the world. The current account, I believe, is under control and they've slowed consumption. That is the medicine that other emerging markets need to take, so actually absent electricity rationing in Brazil, I'm relatively optimistic."

China presents a different picture.

"In China, the problem is fiscal, and so what I think you're entering is a period of slower growth in China," he said. "Whether that means a disorderly slowdown or a more orderly slowdown remains to be seen. Unless you have some sort of stabilization in growth rates in China, it's hard to be overly optimistic about the emerging markets until then."

By CNBC's Bruno J. Navarro. Follow him on Twitter @Bruno_J_Navarro.

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