5 Buys on Brazil’s Rising Middle Class

For investors in need of protection from the capricious whims of governments around the world, the winning strategy is buying BRIC. Well, more specifically, BIC.

Cramer has been legitimately worried about the damage that governments can do to the average portfolio, which is why he has dedicated this week to investing themes that transcend even the reach of presidents, legislators and central bankers. Between the European Union fighting against numerous potential sovereign defaults and the US debating financial regulation, investors must find new places to put their money.

So far, after three days this week, two out of three of those themes have involved BRIC countries: the booming middle classes of China and India. During Thursday’s "Mad Money," Cramer added a third: Brazil. Newly moneyed citizens give rise to increased spending, whether it’s on homes, appliances, clothes or credit. And where there’s growth, there’s investing money to be made.

Brazil’s middle class has grown to total 49% of the total population, climbing 10 percentage points in five years. Its share of the national income, 45%, is for the first time in history larger than the combined income of the wealthiest 10%. The days of extreme income disparity are slowly being left behind, and a real middle class is emerging.

Brazil’s economy—at 9% during the first quarter, the fastest growing of any major country—is driving the trend, too. And on Wednesday, the Brazilian central bank raised interest rates, another sign that the economy is strong and rebounding from the global downturn. Don’t forget about the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, either, both of which take place in Brazil and invite even more foreign investment.

The best investments in the long-term growth of Brazil’s middle class come from the banks, utilities and food and beverage sectors, Cramer said.

With consumer lending doubling in the last five years and Goldman Sachs predicting that loan growth could expand another 25% over the next three years, Cramer likes Itau and Banco Bradesco . ITUB is down about 16% since April, giving investors a great entry point.

Brazil’s utilities sector offers something its US counterpart can’t these days: growth. That’s because a rising middle class uses more and more power. In this group, Cramer’s favorite is CPFL Energia , which offers a 7% dividend yield and controls 13% of that growing electricity market.

For a value play, Cramer recommended Gafisa , the cheapest of the large homebuilders in Brazil and the worst-performing stock among its peers, down 25% so far this year. Home buying is also a part of being middle class, and the industry itself has official government support, Cramer said. He thinks the stock is ready to run exactly because it has been left behind by investors.

In the consumer space, there’s AmBev , the world’s fifth-largest brewer, third-largest Pepsi bottler and the sole bottler of Pepsi in Brazil. Not to mention, ABV bottles beer brands that control nearly 70% of the market. Cramer expects this stock to keep pushing higher as the middle class expands. In the meantime, investors can collect that 3.6% dividend yield.

Of course, any take on Brazil would be remiss without at least a mention of Vale and Petrobras , the country’s top mining and oil companies, respectively. And Cramer is bullish on both—especially PBR’s coming secondary offering—but neither is a play on the growing middle class.

Cramer’s bottom line: The Brazilian middle class is rising, and it will not be stopped. Not by any government.

“So immunize your portfolio against political anti-shareholder actions,” Cramer said, “with one of those stocks.”

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