T. Rowe Price is bullish on emerging markets bond funds. The company today announced that it launched the third in its suite of mutual funds focused on the debt of emerging economies. The new Emerging Markets Corporate Bond Fund invests in bonds issued by companies in more than 30 countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“Given the enormous investment opportunity in emerging market debt, we think most U.S. investors are underexposed to the sector. But that will likely change in the coming years as emerging markets continue to evolve and constitute a larger slice of the investable bond universe,” Mike Conelius, the portfolio manager of the new fund, said in a statement.
Conelius also noted that emerging market bond funds offer more direct exposure to the economic growth of emerging markets than sovereign bonds issued by these countries. The asset class “offers an attractive yield advantage over emerging markets sovereign debt and developed markets corporate debt with similar credit quality characteristics,” he said.
The funds also give investors access to the growth of emerging market consumers with less volatility than emerging market stocks, according to T. Rowe Price. “The expanding middle class in emerging markets,” it said in a press release, “has fueled a consumer base that now outspends U.S. consumers in total.”
The new bond fund has approximately 50% of its assets in investment-grade bonds. It invests primarily in bonds issued in U.S. dollars, but it may also hold bonds issued in emerging market currencies and other non-U.S. currencies.
The minimum initial investment in the Emerging Markets Corporate Bond Fund is $2,500 for Advisor Class shares available through financial advisors. The minimum initial investment is $1,000 for retirement plans or gifts or transfer to minors accounts.
The other two funds in the company’s suite of emerging markets bonds funds are The Emerging Markets Bond Fund and the Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond Fund, which were launched in 1994 and 2011, respectively. Conelius has managed the Emerging Markets Bond Fund since its inception in 1994.
Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price is a global investment management company with $554.8 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2012.
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