Investment Recommendations 2015

Here’s a look at five of the year’s best investments:


India’s equity market is the crown jewel of globally diversified stock portfolios this year.

The Nifty 50 index of the country’s biggest companies was up 30.09% as of Dec. 24 on the strength of two separate but equally impressive tailwinds: The election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has promised major economic reforms; and, more recently, the huge drop in oil prices, which should significantly benefit one of the world’s biggest importers of crude.

“Cheaper oil prices are helping to lower India’s chronically high inflation rate and, given large government energy subsidies, aiding the country’s fiscal position,” Russ Koesterich, investment strategist at BlackRock Inc., said in a recent commentary.

Amaya Gaming Group Inc.

A one-day share price drop of nearly 20% would crush the yearly performance of most stocks, but not Amaya Gaming.

The Pointe-Claire, Que.-based poker giant is by far the best-performing stock on the S&P/TSX composite index so far this year, rising 254.7% despite taking a massive hit in early December when securities regulators started investigating the trading of Amaya’s securities related to its US$4.9-billion purchase of Rational Group Ltd., the owner of the popular PokerStars site, in August.

The company’s whopping year-to-date return, which is largely thanks to the very same PokerStars transaction that drastically expands the company’s international footprint, is more than double the none-too-shabby 114% gain netted by Sierra Wireless Inc., the composite index’s next best performer in 2014.

Consumer staples

Canadian consumer stocks trumped all other TSX sectors in 2014 and appear poised to net their best one-year performance as a group in more than a decade.

The S&P/TSX consumer staples index is up 45.5% heading into the final week of trading, led by outsized gains from the country’s big three grocers at a time when many of the biggest food retailers in the world are struggling.

Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Metro Inc. and Empire Co. Ltd., which owns Sobeys, all continue to book higher profits and better same-store sales despite intense competition from the likes of U.S. giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp.

U.S. dollar

Remember all that talk about the U.S. dollar collapsing under the weight of unprecedented stimulus measures by the U.S. Federal Reserve? That assertion certainly didn’t come true in 2014.

To the contrary, the greenback rallied more than 10% against other world currencies this year and it doesn’t look like it’s going to fail anytime soon.

Although the Fed has recently exited its quantitative-easing program and looks set to raise interest rates next year, both Japan and Europe continue to loosen their respective monetary policies, which only helps the greenback stay strong.

“Our guess is the US dollar has been driven higher since summer primarily by increasing anxieties about a fading global economic recovery,” said James Paulsen, chief investment strategist and economist at Wells Capital Management Inc. “As worries over a potential deflationary spiral have escalated, investors have been driven to the safe haven US dollar.”


Heavy coffee drinkers are no doubt miffed that their morning cup of joe is more expensive heading into 2015 than it was this time last year, but commodity traders aren’t complaining.

The price of prized Arabica coffee beans is up about 40% so far this year, topping 22 others listed on the Bloomberg Commodity Index.

The catalyst for the rally has been thin rainfall in Brazil, the source of about one-third of the world’s coffee, which has clipped output and raised concerns about next year’s crop.

“Brazil is to the coffee market what Saudi Arabia is to the oil market,” Harish Sundaresh, commodities strategist at Loomis, Sayles & Co., told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. “If Brazil falls off a cliff, it would definitely get the market worried.”

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