Last week, U.S. stocks reached their high water marks for the year. Then on Friday, they were in freefall after UK voters narrowly voted to leave the European Union. The historic vote will have far-reaching political, social and economic ramifications.
Stock markets around the globe were reeling amid the uncertainty surrounding Britain's departure from the EU, which will influence everything from mortgage rates to foreign currency exchange.
Still, even if my portfolio wasn't directly in the line of fire, there was plenty of collateral damage. Bank lenders and businesses that rely on cross-continental trade were among the hardest hit.
The ripple effects of this vote will be felt for many months to come. As is typically the case in turbulent times, cash is flowing into reliable safe harbors like gold and U.S. government bonds. From my vantage, the biggest upshot for us is that the current turmoil will likely stay the Federal Reserve's hand and rule out any further interest rate increases for the time being.
That may actually benefit rate-sensitive groups like utilities, which I hold in my High-Yield Investing portfolio.
Actually, a number of my holdings swam against the tide and delivered positive returns. Among them was CME Group (Nasdaq: CME). The firm's derivatives exchanges are buzzing with activity right now as traders react to the news by placing bets on stocks, commodities, currencies and everything else. Chairman Terry Duffy told CNBC viewers that volatility helped double the company's normal trading volume.
But if there's one thing I want you to take away from today's essay, it's this... Just because the Brexit situation has caused turmoil in global markets doesn't mean you should shy away from the market -- especially when it comes to overseas companies that pay high yields.
Imagine going to a supermarket and shopping in just half of the aisles, or opening a restaurant menu and limiting your dinner choices to the entrees listed on just one of the pages. Obviously, you'd be missing out on quite a bit.
That's essentially what investors with no foreign exposure are doing with their portfolios. That might have been fine in decades past when overseas markets were poorly regulated economic backwaters and most of the world's stock market capitalization was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
But that's certainly not the case today.
According to the World Bank, the United States accounts for just one-third of the world's stock market value. That means two-thirds (more than $40 trillion) resides overseas. In fact, 80% of the world's publicly traded companies are foreign-based -- so there are far more potential opportunities outside our borders than within.
Consider this: Just four of the world's 20 most powerful banks are based in the United States. So if you limit your portfolio to domestic stocks, then you automatically eliminate the other 16 banks from consideration. And that's a mistake -- if for no other reason than the fact that HSBC Holdings (NYSE: HSBC), for example, offers a yield of 8.3%, while JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) offers a yield of just 3.1%.
If you look at the world's 30 largest retailers by sales, only 11 call the U.S. home, whereas 19 are headquartered in foreign countries from Australia to the Netherlands.
If you don't have any overseas exposure, then you can't benefit from a pharmaceutical powerhouse like AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) -- which sports a robust dividend yield of 6.4%, double the 3.2% of U.S. counterparts like Merck (NYSE: MRK). More than half (11) of the 20 biggest money-making pharmaceutical companies are based outside the United States.
You'll find that the story is the same across many other industries.
Any way you slice it, reaching beyond our borders can dramatically expand your pool of high-yield candidates.
For now, I am not making any portfolio changes. But I will be exploring all of the ramifications of the Brexit (both positive and negative) in the weeks to come. And I'll be looking for quality overseas companies that have been unfairly grouped in with the selloff as potential portfolio additions in High-Yield Investing.
Remember, the best time to pick up quality assets at great prices is when there is blood in the streets. So after this indiscriminate selloff, be ready to profit from panic and lock in higher yields.
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