American Funds Portfolio Manager Jim Rothenberg discusses the health of companies based around the globe and finds reasons for optimism, as well as some concerns, going into 2014.
Kevin Clifford: I observe your global travel schedule this past year was as heavy as it’s ever been. As you traveled: Impressions? Themes that are shaping the way you think about building portfolios these days?
Jim Rothenberg: Well, I think I’ve been surprised by a couple of things. One is that it doesn’t really matter where you go in the world, you can find companies that are doing well. They’re either doing well because where their home base is, is not [as] important as where their business is, or it’s the question of innovation — of finding and doing something new and interesting, something that really resonates with customers, with people. And so I think there are those kinds of opportunities both here, in Europe and in the emerging world, and Southeast Asia and even Latin America.
I think there are some macro trends that are a little hard to unravel. I think what’s going on in China is hard to unravel. We have to worry about the quality of the data; we have to worry about the integrity of a lot of the information we get there. We do have some real concerns in certain parts of the world. I think Brazil’s economy is shakier than it was a year ago. I think Japan has a sense that there’s something going on, but we don’t know that it’s not just pumping money. And even in the countries along Southern Europe — Portugal, Spain — there are some signs of life; even [in] Greece, there are little flickers here and there. So I think there’s reason to be optimistic, but I think it’s mostly about the resilience of people, business, countries — that they’re beginning to try to deal with the problems and put their house in order.
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