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What makes the perfect portfolio?

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Are you a beginner at investing? Are you looking to build a portfolio of shares, but don’t know where to start? Well, let’s go in search of the perfect portfolio.

First, let’s think about the fundamentals. What determines whether a stock will rise or not? In one word, profitability. You need to invest in businesses that are likely to make strong earnings now and for years to come. You also want long-term investments that will trend steadily higher. Are these stocks that you can buy and forget about?

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Go where the profits are

You need to consider where in the world the growth will be. Although you may know less about other regions, you need to be brave and look beyond the shores of the UK. And, wherever possible, think contrarian: when you genuinely believe in the prospects for a company, buy when others are selling.

Let’s look at the world today. The fastest growing economies in the world are emerging market economies. The two emerging engines of the world economy are China and India. The low salaries paid in these countries, combined with a highly skilled workforce, will produce a whole new range of global titans that will rake in the profits. Investing in these giants will be a key part of your portfolio.

There’s now a broad range of emerging markets funds, and I favour investment trusts in particular. Unlike unit trusts, investment trusts are listed on the UK stock market, and so can be traded like a common-or-garden share. Most emerging market investment trusts are now trading at a substantial discount, meaning you can buy them for less than their net asset value (NAV). This can add to your returns.

These are the picks

So, pick number one: Fidelity China Special Situations (LSE: FCSS). This is the leading China fund, and trading at a whopping 15.77% discount to NAV. The original Fidelity Special Situations was run by renowned fund manager Anthony Bolton and achieved an annual return of 19.5% over 28 years. Could Fidelity China achieve something similar? It just might.

Then, pick number two: JP Morgan Indian Investment Trust (LSE: JII). There are fewer options for investing in India, but this is the leading investment trust. And with a discount to NAV of 12.9%, again this is unduly cheap, and thus a strong buy.

Then, pick three: I would choose a few carefully selected UK companies with a large stake in the future. One clear trend is a boom in global consumerism. Another is growth in emerging market financial services. And another is the rising demand for healthcare services. Next is a global retailer that looks cheap at the moment. My contrarian instincts draw me to banks with a substantial business in emerging markets, such as BGEO and HSBC. And AstraZeneca is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Pick a handful of these businesses for your portfolio.

Invest one third of your money in China, one third in India, and one third in these well-chosen British firms. Sprinkle well with cash, and wait, very patiently, for the bull market to get underway. In a few years, your investments should be blooming.

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Prabhat Sakya owns shares in Fidelity China Special Situations and JP Morgan Indian Investment Trust. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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