Markets

Christopher Langner is a markets columnist for Bloomberg Gadfly. He previously covered corporate finance for Bloomberg News, and has written for Reuters/IFR, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and Mergermarket.

Donald Trump has said much about rewriting trade agreements, prompting investors to steer clear of the likes of Brazil and Mexico in the aftermath of the U.S. election. But investors should pause before selling, or buying. If his words are taken at face value, stock markets in Japan and South Korea could stand to lose more.

Japan's Topix rallied as much as 5.5 percent Thursday while the Kospi Index rose 2 percent. Brazil's Ibovespa, meanwhile, closed 1.4 percent lower on Wednesday and shares in Mexico dropped 2.2 percent.

That's topsy-turvy, considering the biggest component of the Topix is Toyota Motor Corp., which could face a backlash in a Trump administration. Consumer discretionary stocks, which include carmakers, and industrial companies comprise more than 40 percent of the benchmark, and both are likely to face higher export barriers.

South Korean automakers are treading even more dangerous waters given a lot of the vehicles that they sell in America are produced elsewhere. What's more, Samsung Electronics Co. accounts for 18.7 percent of the Kospi, and Trump has pledged to force Apple Inc. to produce the iPhone in the U.S.

True, Trump is said to use a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, but as Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Caitlin Webber pointed out, that won't exempt the company from facing higher costs to sell its handsets in America.

In fact, almost 55 percent of the Kospi is made up of industrial, consumer discretionary, and information technology firms, many of which rely heavily on exports to the U.S.

Upside Down
Companies that manufacture things abroad and sell to the U.S. dominate the Japanese and Korean stock indexes, while Mexico and Brazil are mostly skewed toward raw materials and internal consumption plays that could benefit from Trump's promise to invest in infrastructure
Source: Bloomberg

Some 23 percent of Mexico's Bolsa, by contrast, consists of two companies that depend mainly on the local market. Coca-Cola bottler Fomento Economico Mexicano SAB has diversified into convenience stores and beat estimates in its latest quarterly report. Its products generally don't suffer too much in an economic downturn and, if anything, stand to gain if more Mexicans return home. A similar logic applies to America Movil SAB, Latin America's largest local mobile operator.

What Lies Beneath
Japan and Korea rallied while Brazil and Mexico tanked after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election
Source: Bloomberg
Note: Indexed to Nov. 1, 2016 for comparison.

Then there's Cemex SAB, which comprises almost 8 percent of the gauge. Mexico's biggest producer of cement has plants in America and would be a winner from Trump's promise to rebuild infrastructure. In other words, one third of the Bolsa could actually see better earnings thanks to the President-elect.

Brazil is a similar case. Raw materials and energy companies are 30 percent of the index and if roads and hospitals are being built in the U.S., the commodities they sell will be in high demand. Another 34 percent comprises financial firms, which depend largely on domestic business.

Investors tend to react on instinct when something as unexpected as the victory of Donald Trump happens. Eventually, as they look more closely, reason prevails.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Christopher Langner in Singapore at clangner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Katrina Nicholas at knicholas2@bloomberg.net