5 ASX shares to profit from a falling Australian dollar

Some Australians are no doubt concerned about the health of the local currency.

Since 4 January, the Australian dollar has fallen from roughly US72.9 cents to just US69.35 cents today, representing a decline of nearly 5%. It’s less than 0.5% away from falling to its lowest level since 2009.

The fall in the Australian dollar has coincided with a number of other unfortunate factors, including speculation of a potential global economic crisis in the wake of collapsing share markets, falling oil prices and a slowdown in China, which is also Australia’s biggest trade partner.

All things considered, some economists are forecasting a pretty bleak year for the Australian economy and share market alike. Given that the Australian dollar is falling at the same time as this is happening, with some ‘experts’ suggesting there is little hope for a recovery in the foreseeable future, it’s understandable that so many Australians think a weak currency is something to be dreaded.

For those Australians who import most of their goods, or like to make regular trips overseas, a weak Australian dollar isn’t such a great thing. It makes it more expensive to purchase international currencies (such as the US dollar, as highlighted above) making those items (or trips) considerably more expensive.

But in reality, a weak currency is actually a good thing! It’s something that the Reserve Bank of Australia has been gunning for over a long period of time and it will help the local economy in its hour of need.

While a low Australian dollar makes it more expensive for us to import items, it makes it less expensive for foreign consumers or businesses to acquire goods and services from us. In other words, it will provide a boost for exports while it should also make trips to Australia (by foreign tourists) considerably cheaper. That means more money being brought into and spent in Australia, putting more cash in our pockets.

What’s more, it will also provide a boost for Australian companies which report their earnings in US dollars. For companies such as Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD) and ResMed Inc. (CHESS) (ASX: RMD), it makes sense to do this because they generate so much of their income in that market. But when those earnings are repatriated to Australia, the weak Australian dollar leads to greater returns for local shareholders.

Some economists think the Australian dollar could fall as low as US50 cents, and mightn’t regain its strength until the Reserve Bank of Australia is in a position to increase interest rates again. That could still be a few years away.

While some investors will look to invest in US stocks to take advantage of the falling Australian dollar, others can simply invest in ASX-listed companies with US operations, including those two mentioned above. Other companies that you could consider include Altium Limited (ASX: ALU), CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) and Cochlear Ltd (ASX: COH).

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman owns shares of Altium. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Altium. 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.

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