Time ripe for Canadian investments

The Dow, the NASDAQ, the Nikkei, the Hang Seng, the DAX. Eat our dust, you guys. Canada, our home and native land. That’s the place to be in 2000.

The TSE 300 recently hit a new record. If this were a hockey game, the fans would be chanting “We’re number one.” And we are. No one else comes close. All the major U.S. indexes are under water so far in 2000 (although the S&P 500 is only marginally). Tokyo is down, Hong Kong is down, Mexico City is down, London is down. Only continental Europe is doing well, although nowhere near as well as we are.

Why, after years of wandering in the desert, have we suddenly risen to the top of the heap? Well, you could point to the energy sector, which has been riding the wave of high oil and natural gas prices. Petro-Canada (TSE: PCA), which we recommended less than a year ago at $21.95, is currently trading in the $28 range, and still looks cheap at this level.

No NASDAQ effect

Or you could mention the fact that our market wasn’t the beneficiary (and the victim) of the kind of rampant speculation that drove the NASDAQ to incredible gains in ‘98, ‘99, and the first two months of this year. Almost every profesonal money manager will tell you that there is a lot more value to be found in Canada these days than in the U.S., even with the gains we’ve recorded.

You might also give a nod in the direction of some of our top manufacturing companies, such as Bombardier and Magna, which have been delivering strong performance. Or note that the bank stocks have staged a comeback.

Then, of course, there’s Nortel Networks (TSE: NT). This stock has a huge influence on the various TSE indexes. In fact, no other stock market in the developed world is so influenced by a single stock. The fact that the stock price has been strong and that the TSE indexes recently hit a record is hardly a coincidence.

Nortel is driver

Still, there has to be a supporting cast and at the moment we have a pretty good one. So while Nortel is the driving engine, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that a lot of other Canadian companies are producing fat returns for investors.

There’s no reason to expect the pattern will be any different for the rest of this year. It’s too soon to say that the 21st century belongs to Canada, but we’re off to a good start.

So when you’re planning your investing strategies for the balance of 2000, think Canada first.