Discover an entire world of compelling investing opportunities in our "Best International Stocks" series.
Where in the world can you find the best international stock? I bet you're thinking China, India, or maybe even Brazil. True, these countries have captured the love of U.S. investors because of their exploding growth potential. But stocks from these hot investing locations consequently command lofty valuations that make even most growth investors cringe.
This is why I'm convinced that better international opportunities lie in less-hyped countries like Turkey, where I discovered my international stock pick, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri
If you've tracked Turkey's economy during the last few decades, you're undoubtedly wondering if I'm crazy. True, the country has been fraught with turmoil and hyperinflation. But things have begun to improve as the International Monetary Fund intervened and implemented an economic reform plan to improve the country's chances of acceptance into the European Union.
According to The Economist, inflation is expected to continue easing from its current 8% rate, reaching 4% by the end of 2009. And while higher interest rates and inflation have slightly hindered growth recently, GDP should average 5% annually over the next five years. Simply put: Turkey's economic environment is looking much healthier.
So what's the best way to profit from the stabilization and rapid growth of this developing country? By investing in the dominant player of its wireless telecommunications industry.
Can you hear me now?
Roughly 85% of the Turkish population has access to mobile telephones. Turkcell has already attracted 60% of that market. Yet, competition from Avea and Vodafone
But the company is planning to implement new pricing strategies to maintain its competitive edge, and it currently holds much stronger brand-name recognition with its superior quality of networks. Further, Turkcell has diversified outside of Turkey via its 41% stake in Fintur and 55% ownership of Astelit. These international operations have granted the company access to the Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Georgia, and Russian markets.
Let's talk financials
Turkcell's operating margins averaged nearly 20% during the past five years, a figure that blows away U.S.-based players like Sprint Nextel
While continuing to build its extensive network, it has managed to whittle down its debt, which currently clocks in at $140 million, versus $2.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet. Even better, the company has exhibited strong cash flow generation.
Of course, like any investment, Turkcell is no stranger to risk. To begin with, its three largest shareholders -- TeliaSonera, Cukurova Group, and Altimo -- are in a three-way battle for ownership. The dispute became so heated last year that the CEO resigned, leaving Turckell void of a leader for nearly six months. Furthermore, the Turkish government regulates minimum and maximum pricing.
Perhaps the largest risk is that Turkey could regress back to the days of economic woes. The country still holds a significantly large account deficit. And the lira has continued to appreciate, making imports expensive. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is dedicated to keeping Turkey's economy stable, but given its volatile past, Turkey remains vulnerable to overall global weakness.
Still, Turkcell remains in a dominant position in its industry and is a respected brand with its customers. Thus, even amidst economic risk, I think Turkcell is a superior long-term investment.
Dial in to Motley Fool CAPS to voice your opinion on whether Turkcell will outperform. We'll tally the votes and then let you know in a few days what the community believes is the overall best international stock.
Turkcell has gained more than 64% since Bill Mann recommended it nearly a year ago to Global Gains subscribers. Find out what other market-beating stocks the newsletter has selected with a free 30-day trial.