Mad Money

Latin America Is Always a Trade


Listen to Cramer: No matter how good the fundamentals are of a Latin American stock in which you’d like to invest, it will always be a trade. The reason is simple – every institutional investor on Wall Street treats Latin American stocks as trades, not investments. And these are the guys who move the market.

More Rules for the Average Investor

Fundamentals mean nothing in this situation. As long as Wall Street believes that Latin America is always a trade, then that will be true. Home Gamers just need to stay one step ahead of the Street.

Actually, the Street believes has a lot of preconceived notions about Latin America – and they’re not necessarily true. Example: Latin American stocks are levered to the U.S. Federal Reserve – We raise rates, the stocks get crushed. Now, for the most part, rates in the U.S. have absolutely nothing to do with the performance of businesses in Latin America, but that fact doesn't matter. What matters, Cramer says, is that everyone out there running money was trained to believe that Latin American stocks are levered to our business cycle, so they will traded the stocks like that, even when they’re wrong.

Wall Street can be really, really wrong. But since the big institutions are the guys who decide what a stock is worth at the end of the day, it doesn't matter that the Street's wrong. The only important factor is what the Street believes.

A perfect example of this principle in action is Cramer’s call on BanColumbia in August of 2005. He recommended the bank at $19 and change, and by March of 2006 it had doubled. Cramer did say to take profits on the way up – and you always should – but he didn’t tell Home Gamers to cash out and put their money elsewhere. The result? By June CIB had dropped to $23. Still up from the buying point, but nowhere near close to the gains investors could have enjoyed if they got out at the top.

Bottom Line: It's not an appetizing rule, but given the way the Street works, it's a good one – Latin American stocks should always be treated as trades, because no matter what they say, that's exactly how your fellow investors are treating them.

Questions? Comments?