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Corporate results confirm Latin America's recovery.

Sales of large companies grow, in some countries consumption begins to pick up, some indexes are rising. All that means, in a few words, that the region is starting to move. Now is the time to get out and seek opportunities and be part of the growth.

A few days ago, Latin Trade calculated the sales and profits in the first semester of 2017 of the region's 1,000 largest companies whose shares are traded on public stock markets. The results made it clear that sales have grown substantially and that only one sector, oil and gas, had lower sales revenues compared to the first half of last year. Mining companies, food and beverages, and pulp and paper all showed outstanding revenue increases.

Companies are also improving their profitability. In fact, the return on assets (ROA) is coming back to the levels of 2014. Outstanding examples are the highway concessionaires and airports which racked up gains in profits of between 30% and almost 130% in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina.

Similarly, Latin Trade's index of Multilatinas, a compilation of data on a group of multi-nationals based in countries within the region, went from a huge decline of 14% in the first half of 2016 to a recovery of 3.4% in the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, based on data from national statistics, the FocusEconomics consultancy reports that regional GDP grew by 1.1% in the second quarter of the year, the best performance of the last three years.

Numbers reflecting better times appear more frequently. The opinion poll of the economic research center Fedesarrollo shows that consumption in Colombian households is rising. Moody's credit rating agency raised its rating of Honduran sovereign debt from B2 to B1. Even in hard-pressed Brazil, the Central Bank's index of economic activity has increased by 1.4% over the last 12 months.

All that good news still has to be consolidated, but there's no doubt that the needle is pointing in the right direction. It's a near-certainty that December will finish the year with improved indicators compared to last year.

This review aims to suggest to the CEOs who still suffer from survivor's syndrome that the time has come to get back to looking for opportunities. In spite of the lamentable news of earthquakes, hurricanes, projected election outcomes, and cases of corruption, Latin America is becoming a good market again. It's time to change the message and to understand that we are returning to the world of the two speeds, in which some--the quickest --will have the opportunity to take off toward a level of higher prosperity. There won't be any miracles, but it's the moment to take advantage of urbanization, the demographic advantages, and macroeconomic stability. Tighten your seatbelts, this is a take off.

The Caribbean, that region of contrasts, where countries with the region's highest incomes coexist with the poorest, needs us now. The time has come to decide among ourselves what to do about their vulnerability to nature's forces and to take action together, admittedly difficult, in the face of this situation. Failure to do so will have a cost that no one wants to have on their conscience.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR

sgutierrez@latintrade.com

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Title Annotation:LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: A NEW PHASE
Author:Gutierrez, Santiago
Publication:Latin Trade
Date:Sep 1, 2017
Words:534
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