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The Next Big Investment Theme: Billions of Women

Women in emerging markets are becoming wealthier and their greater spending power represents a significant investment opportunity, according to a new report from Portuguese bank Espirito Santo.

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The bank looked at emerging market female consumers, their increasing purchasing power, participation in the workforce and the increasing wealth being 'owned' by women everywhere.

Women who influence between 60 and 80 percent of all consumer decisions, represent a huge opportunity, Martins Soares, lead emerging markets analyst at Espirito Santo told CNBC.

According to the report "Emerging Markets Women Aiming Higher", investors should be able to play this convergence and the structural change in emerging economies via the equity markets.

Soares told CNBC that the bank worked with 75 analysts around the world, asking them to identify individual stocks out of a list of 600 that played on the purchasing power of women in their region.

"We asked our analysts what stocks under your coverage could fit the emerging market growth angle and where the female was the decision-maker, the main client, the main supplier," Soares said.

The firm came up with 15 stock recommendations in sectors such as food, apparel, financial services, healthcare, consumer durables, real estate and telecoms.

Among the stocks are: Brazilian shopping malls operator BRMalls, apparel maker Inditex, which owns the Zara brand, French cosmetics giant L'Oreal, Indian consumer goods company Marico, which makes oils and creams.

"The size of the opportunity of the 13 economies that we analyzed today represent a third of the world economy but in five years' time, they'll be half of the world's economy," Soares said.

"That's where the angle is, it's both a sizeable and a fast-growing opportunity," Soares said, adding that increasing female affluence is being accompanied by lower fertility, higher education, and more access to information and technology.

But he also admitted concerns as global growth slows and as stocks that have rallied begin to look expensive.

"Clearly there are some headwinds, for example, our consumer analysts in India think consumer stocks are over-valued…we left the recommendations to the micro-level."

But Soares pointed out, emerging market women are adopting western models of consumption, making this theme an even bigger opportunity.

"Regardless of the obstacles [emerging market women] will eventually overcome these obstacles and they will mimic what we've seen in other countries."

"We've had investors playing the emerging market growth stories and the consumption growth stories — but now they can play a faster and more sizeable opportunity with these stocks."

Contact Europe: Economy

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