March 01, 2011 at 09:30 AM EST
Zacks Investment Ideas Feature Highlights: Alumina Limited, Westpac Banking, BHP Billiton and Coca-Cola Amatil

CHICAGO, March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights Features: Alumina Limited (NYSE: AWC), Westpac Banking Corp (NYSE: WBK), BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) and Coca-Cola Amatil (OTC: CCLAY).

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Invest in the Land Down Under

The Great Recession that severely affected economies around the world left Australia virtually unscathed. The country experienced just one quarter of negative GDP growth, which doesn't even fit the technical definition of a recession, and it actually managed to grow by 1.2% in 2009.

Its central bank has raised its key policy rate 7 times since late 2009 (it currently stands at 4.75%), and its unemployment rate is an enviable 5.0%. Moreover, its public debt as a percentage of GDP stands at just 22%, while other developed economies are rapidly approaching, or have already surpassed, the dangerous 90% level.

The world's smallest continent has a lot of things going for it, and savvy investors may want to consider these 4 great Australian stocks:

Alumina Limited (NYSE: AWC) is a leading resource company from Australia with a focus on alumina, the feedstock for aluminum smelting. It owns 40% of a joint venture with Alcoa called Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals, which is the world's largest alumina producer.

Shares are trading at 17x forward earnings, in-line with the peer group. It also pays a dividend that yields 2.5%. Alumina is a Zacks #2 Rank (Buy) stock.

Westpac Banking Corp (NYSE: WBK) is Australia's oldest bank, established in 1817. It provides a broad range of financial services to retail and institutional clients.

Unlike many banks in the U.S. and Europe, Westpac managed produced solid financial results in 2008 and 2009 thanks to prudent lending.

The company pays a dividend that yields a hefty 6.1%. It is a Zacks #2 Rank (Buy) stock.

BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) is a diversified natural resource company headquartered in Melbourne. It is the world's largest mining company in terms of revenue and the world's third largest company measured by market cap.

Based on current Zacks Consensus Estimates, EPS is expected to grow 42% in 2011 and 45% in 2012. Valuation is attractive with shares trading at 15x forward earnings, a discount to the industry average of 17x. It sports a PEG ratio of 1.0.

The company pays a dividend that yields 2.0%. It is a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) stock.

Coca-Cola Amatil (OTC: CCLAY) bottles and distributes The Coca-Cola Company (KO) soft drinks and other beverages.

Shares trade at 17x forward earnings, and its PEG ratio is a reasonable 1.7. It is a Zacks #2 Rank (Buy) stock.

The company pays a dividend that yields 1.6%. The Coca-Cola Company owns 30% of shares outstanding.

Conclusion

With tons of natural resources and one the freest economies in the world, Australia should continue to enjoy strong economic growth for years to come. These 4 stocks are a great way for savvy investors to capitalize on the growth in the Land Down Under.

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