Do you remember the old commercials for brokerage firm E.F. Hutton back in the 1970s and early 1980s? They always ended with the announcer saying, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen."
In every advertisement, a pair of affluent-looking friends or co-workers would be discussing investments in some noisy setting, like at a party or on a city sidewalk. As soon as one of them delivered the line, "My broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says...," there'd suddenly be total silence and the camera would pan back to show everyone within earshot leaning over, straining to hear.
That's exactly how it is now for another investment guru who has far outlasted E.F. Hutton, which ended up merging itself out of existence more than 20 years ago. This expert, widely considered the "Dean of Emerging Markets," is the executive chairman of the emerging-markets group at Templeton Investments, where he has worked for nearly 25 years. He oversees about $50 billion in a variety of diversified and region-specific mutual funds that cover the entire emerging-markets spectrum.
I'm referring to Mark Mobius.
It's easy to see why Mobius has the "E.F. Hutton effect" on people when you check out the performance of the mutual funds he manages. The closed-end funds Templeton Dragon (NYSE: TDF) and Templeton Emerging Markets (NYSE: EMF), for instance, have returned an average of 20% and 17.6% a year, respectively, in the past 10 years. The open-end fund Templeton China World A (TCWAX) has averaged a 17.3% return in the same period.
These funds invest mainly in more advanced emerging markets such as China, Brazil, India and Taiwan, to name a few. If you like emerging markets, but don't want to own individual stocks and prefer areas where sustained growth seems much more certain, then consider the Templeton funds I mentioned above. Oppenheimer Developing Markets (ODMAX) and DFA Emerging Markets Portfolio (DFEMX) are two other top-notch possibilities.