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Charlemagne's Gems: how much delight is left in Turkey?
by Julian Mayo on Mar 05, 2013 at 09:09
Investing in the Turkish stock market is rarely a smooth ride, but one that has been very profitable for those investors prepared to live with the volatility.
A recent visit confirms our bullish expectations on the country’s outlook, even following the market’s 50%-plus gain last year.
Istanbul has always been where East meet West and is both an Asian and a European city, but rarely in its long and fascinating history has it felt more like a stagepost between two very different worlds. To its west is Greece, with its economic and political turmoil, and the rest of stagnant Europe.
Arriving in Istanbul is like entering a new world, full of growth and opportunities. This is clear from the moment one lands at the city’s main airport, which is bursting at the seams - unsurprising, given that passenger numbers through TAVs airports have grown from 23 million in 2006 to 72 million last year, a compound growth rate of 21% per annum.
Tourist arrivals in Turkey have risen from 9.6 million in 2000 to 29.3 million in 2011, and the country is now the sixth most visited on the planet.
Turkey’s demographics are also very different from Europe.
Its population of 74 million – half of whom are less than 29 years old - is growing 1.6% per annum. The number of urban households is forecast to grow from 13.4 million in 2010 to 15.1 million in 2015.
This all adds up to growing demand for cars, for fridges and for real estate. Car sales have doubled in four years and white goods sales are two and a half times what they were a decade ago.
Yet the economy is booming from a very low base. Household debt to GDP is still only 20%, compared to 67% in neighbouring Greece, an EU average of 71% - and a terrifying 101% in the UK.
Per capita spending on electronics is only two-thirds that of Greece while shopping centre floor space is a mere one-third.
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