Argentina, Russia and Venezuela: Time to bet?

Turbulent and difficult times remain in financial markets. Volatility persists, and investors are confused.

With heavy losses accumulated in a wide range of stock markets, everything seems to be a "great opportunity" to buy, with attractive valuations that can not be missed for those betting on long-term investments.

That’s partially true. On one hand, many financial assets are heavily punished even though its economic fundamentals remain strong, so are the "pearls" to detect. On the other hand, many assets have suffered a deep sell-off but their weaknesses remain intact and would continue their downtrend.

With the U.S. economy growing at an annualized rate below 2%, the European Union deciding its continuity in the coming weeks and constantly emerging economies slowing, it is not irrational for investors feed their negative outlook for the second half of years.

Is it really so? Will there be room for distinguishing between good quality assets and so-called "junk"? Are we able to take additional risks?

Some numbers that can help make decisions ...

During the current turmoil, american assets have acted as major refuge for investors, not only the dollar per se or the Treasuries, but also in regard to the stock market.

After a bleak year 2011 for equities, equity markets on Wall Street resulted in yields almost "flat" in contrast to the sharp declines evidenced in other markets.

So far in 2012, history seems to repeat. While the S & P 500 gained 4.96% and 9.55% on Nasdaq, FTSE is down 7.9%, the Spanish IBEX -23.1% and -5.1% Brazilian Bovespa.

The big question to reveal is whether this situation can be extrapolated for the next semester or if current yields offered by some markets are extremely high to start taking risks.

We can find in  P/E approach some kind of explanation. U.S. stocks are trading at an average P/E of 14x, which is 19% more than their European counterparts and 25% more than BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

This leaves us as teaching: Global investors are willing to pay a premium in U.S. stocks over the emerging and European to get a rest on the "tranquility". How long are willing to pay this premium?

Consider the following table:

Considering the information in the table above, we can conclude:

In developed markets, Denmark and Switzerland are the most expensive, with P /E ratios of 17.7 x and 15.9x respectively.

In emerging markets, but with a significant degree of development, the Philippines and Chilean markets are the most overvalued, with a P/E of 19.3x and 17.8x.

Finally, within the emerging markets, Malaysia, Taiwan and Peru have the highest values of  P/E ratios.

Which are the cheapest measured by their price/earnings ratio?

Russia, Venezuela and Argentina.

It doesn’t impress me because the political risk inherent in these markets and the growing instability in economies heavily intervened by the government.

Is it time, then, close your eyes and make a full bet in these markets?

The time will give its verdict ...