Brazil is undoubtedly one of my favorite countries in the world. Doing company visits there is always a pleasure — the people are warm and welcoming, and the nation's cultural and art scene is second to none. I love timing my business trips to coincide with the annual Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, a five-day extravaganza held before Lent in the Catholic calendar. This mesmerizing festival, overflowing with vibrant colors, music, and dance, epitomizes the rich cultural heritage and exuberant spirit of the Brazilian people. For me, it genuinely is the greatest show on Earth.
My recent trip took place shortly after certain Bolsonaro supporters' Congress attack in Brasilia in January. At that time, many questioned whether investors' confidence in the country would wane. Indeed, politics has always been a sensitive issue in Brazil, while poverty and education require attention from the ruling government. Nonetheless, Brazil continues to be an attractive market for investors, boasting highly innovative and well-managed companies. The growth prospects for numerous Brazilian companies remain appealing as exports and domestic consumption recover, as evidenced by the bustling economy I witnessed during my visit.
While in Rio, it wasn't just the Carnival attracting crowds. Museums were also teeming with people. I visited the Museum of Tomorrow, designed by Santiago Calatrava, a captivating institution featuring interactive and inspiring exhibitions about humanity, the universe and the future.
In São Paulo, the Museum of Art provides a unique experience, showcasing the works of the world's most celebrated artists, from the contemporary to the ancient. The innovative display method, which suspends artworks in rows, allows visitors to become fully immersed in the experience.
Also in São Paulo, the Pinacoteca is a must-visit museum. Established in 1905, it is the city's oldest art museum and is housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century building, showcasing unique works by Brazilian artists.
During my stay in São Paulo, I took part in an interview with Exame, a financial publication with a long history in Latin America, now owned by BTG Pactual, our fund distribution partner. One of the moderators, a native of Rio, was kind enough to have gifted me a hat and a personalized football team jersey.
At present, Brazilian stocks are reasonably priced. The IBOV is trading at a discount compared to developed and other emerging markets. Despite the global backdrop of rising interest rates and uncertainties, Brazil's market has its advantages. Its Central Bank has been raising interest rates more swiftly and decisively than other countries. Numerous companies have successfully deleveraged in recent years, rendering Brazil a hub for highly competitive businesses that are attractive to investors in both good and challenging times. If Lula can keep public spending under control with a sound fiscal policy, Brazil will become an even more enticing investment destination.
Brazil is a land of opportunities, artistic talent, and unforgettable experiences. From its alluring market and groundbreaking museums to its iconic landmarks and cultural events, Brazil has much to offer investors and visitors alike. Engaging with local communities further enriched my understanding of this dynamic nation. I look forward to more future adventures in this remarkable country.