Recent volatility in the emerging markets hasn't made all bank mutual fund executives skittish about their investment potential.
Last week, Chase Manhattan's global mutual funds group unveiled its Vista Latin American Equity Fund. Nearly half the equities in the portfolio are drawn from Brazil, a country that has been particularly hard hit by recent turmoil originating in Asia.
Targeting individual investors, the fund follows roughly 600 companies, including some in Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and Colombia, said Wayne Perkins, a Chase vice president and senior portfolio manager.
Latin American markets and in particular the Brazilian arena have been volatile, Mr. Perkins conceded. But that presents buying opportunities, he said.
By taking a long-term perspective and focusing on equities that are "very inexpensive by a number of measures" and "showing strong earnings growth," Chase anticipates decent returns, said Mr. Perkins.
The fund-45% of which is weighted in Brazilian equities-is meant to give U.S. retail investors access to Brazil, said Mr. Perkins. Relative to the number of its public companies, Brazil has only a few American depositary receipts listed on U.S. exchanges, he said.
Government reforms in Brazil have helped stabilize its equity market in recent weeks, said Paul Wargnier, who covers Latin America for BT Alex. Brown Inc.
Mr. Wargnier, a managing director and equity strategist, said that for the week ended last Thursday, Brazilian stocks had posted a 6% gain. That's an improvement over the 40% decline during the two weeks spanning the end of October and early November, when fallout from Asia roiled Latin American markets, he said.
Elsewhere, State Street Corp. has been increasingly getting involved in emerging markets but is stepping somewhat cautiously, said James Francis, a portfolio manager at its State Street Global Advisors arm.
The Boston-based banking company had been scheduled to launch what it dubs a "pre-emerging" market fund in recent weeks, but the timing coincided with market volatility, Mr. Francis said.
Aimed at institutional investors, the commingled fund is structured to track stocks from countries like Botswana, Ghana, Ecuador, and Bangladesh.
State Street Global Advisors had intended to launch the fund in November but postponed it at the behest of worried clients, said Mr. Francis. The company now hopes to launch it this month. "It's definitely going to open up," he said, "but we're not trying to push our clients into it."