The chart below (click on the chart for a larger view) shows the annual returns for the MSCI EM Latin America Index between 1988 and 2011 and also indicates 5-, 10-, 15-, and 20- year annualized returns. During 24 full calendar years of its existence, the Index increased in value for 16 years and decreased in value for 8 years. The largest calendar year gains were achieved in 1991 and 2009 when the Index soared 149.66% and 104.19%, respectively. The largest calendar year losses were recorded in 1998 and 2008 when the Index soared 35.11% and 51.28%, respectively. 2011 was a bad year for Emerging Markets equities in general and particularly so for Latin American equities, as the MSCI Latin America Index dropped about 19.15%.
The largest 5-year gain was recorded between 2003 and 2007 when the Index soared 688% for an annualized gain of just over 51% per year during that time period. There were only two 5-year periods during which the Index lost value - those between (a) 1994-1998 when the Index lost 1.74% per annum, and (b) 1998-2002 when the Index lost 7.85% per annum. During the 5-year period ending in 2011, the Index rose about 6.84% per annum, a respectable return for a period of time that overlaps with the 2008 financial crisis during which the Index dropped over 67% between May 30, 2008 and November 21, 2008.
There are 15 different 10-year periods shown in the chart below and the Index gained value during each of those 10-year periods. The largest 10-year gain occurred between 1988-1997 when the Index gained 1,489%, or 31.87% per annum.
There are 10 different 15-year periods shown in the chart below and the Index gained value during each of those 15-year periods. The largest 15-year gain occurred between 1991-2005 when the Index gained 1,390%, or 19.74% per annum.
There are 5 different 20-year periods shown in the chart below and the Index gained value during each of those 10-year periods. The largest 20-year gain occurred between 1988-2007 when the Index gained 8,229%, or 24.75% per annum.
Unfortunately there is no ETF currently available that tracks the MSCI EM Latin America Index. As I previously stated, the closest proxy that I have been able to locate is the iShares S&P Latin America 40 Index ETF (symbol: ILF), which tracks an index of stocks trading on the exchanges of four Latin American countries - Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.
Latin American stocks are historically volatile, but they can provide quite a kick to investment returns during a bull market. Someone holding an ETF tracking Latin American stocks may want to consider consider periodically rebalancing the position to (a) lock in capital gains after years during which those stocks have soared, or (b) increase a position after a year during which the Index dropped in value.
*** I have updated this chart to include returns for 2013 in another post.