What: The Australian Dollar (A$) -> US Dollar ($) (AUDUSD) cross fell more than 1% overnight, to below US70 cents. This as China’s economic, share market and currency concerns sent global markets into a tailspin.
So what: China’s currency volatility, coupled with a potential rough landing for the economic superpower, is particularly bad news for the Australian dollar.
Australia’s largest resources companies have been significant contributors to our economy over the past two decades, as China’s insatiable appetite for raw materials (steel, copper, aluminium, coal, etc.) drove demand for our exports.
However, if the Chinese economy grinds to a halt, my guess is the pain in the mining sector will continue to worsen. And a weaker mining sector means less foreign investment. We’ve already seen a big part of capital expenditure dwindle away in recent years, and the dollar fell from over parity with the USD to its current level thanks to these factors.
Plain and simple, less demand for Aussie dollars means our currency heads lower. This theme will play out until – as usual – markets overshoot or foreign investment in Australia becomes so much more compelling. The purchasing power of cashed-up American companies looking for Australian assets has improved significantly over the past three years. Just look at Asciano Ltd (ASX: AIO). The rail and port operator is currently the subject of a takeover battle between two parties backed by North American investors. That could take some time.
Now what: A falling currency isn’t all bad news for Australians. Indeed, international accommodation and your imported electric goods will become more expensive. But there is a way for savvy Australian investors to benefit.
For example, Australian businesses which are exporters of services or goods to foreign markets, or those that conduct a majority of their business internationally, also stand to benefit. Take, for example, Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD), the international arm of Westfield shopping centres.
It reports revenue in US dollars and has key assets in London, Los Angeles and New York. Therefore, investors in Westfield Corp get a two-pronged tailwind of improving UK and US economies, and a stronger US dollar.
Cochlear Ltd (ASX: COH), the hearing aid manufacturer, and ResMed Inc. (CHESS) (ASX: RMD), a global leader in manufacturing devices for treating respiratory conditions, will also be net beneficiaries. Finally, with operations in 20 countries and investments in US dollars leveraged to increasing interest rates, Computershare Limited (ASX: CPU) is one to watch in 2016.
More research is needed on these four blue chip companies, but with many pundits tipping further falls in the Australian Dollar (A$) -> US Dollar ($) exchange this year, it mightn’t be too late to pop these four shares on your watch list.
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Motley Fool writer/analyst Owen Raszkiewicz owns shares of ResMed, Cochlear and Computershare.
Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Computershare. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.