Thai and Philippine funds have done well for two years running, with the MSCI Thailand index up 17 per cent in the review period and the MSCI Philippines index up 41 per cent. Unsurprisingly, the top equities fund is invested in the Philippines, and the remaining top four are Thailand-focused.
The countries’ stories are about newfound political stability and growth. Investors who have been spooked by China’s declining economic growth are converging on Southeast Asia.The Philippines received its first sovereign investment grade rating, last month, from Fitch, a credit agency. Thailand has bounced back from the 2010 protests that pitted supporters of ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra against his opponents.
The country settled down with the 2011 election of Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, as prime minister.”Thailand has had lots of political back and forth , but with Yingluck in power, we are seeing a lot of stability.
A lot of the rhetoric has cooled down,” says Tai Hui, the chief market strategist for Asia at JP Morgan Funds.Medha Samant, an investment director at Fidelity, which manages a top-five equity fund focused on Thailand, says the country is benefiting from an investment boom, with applications for foreign investment rising 40 per cent last year.
“The politics are stable. There has been a big anti-corruption clampdown and the economy performs well, in terms of wage rises, and the next leg up should be infrastructure,” says Samant.