William Blair Emerging Markets Small Cap Growth Strategy


Inefficient Markets Provide Alpha Opportunities

Under-owned segments of emerging markets, such as frontier and small-cap equities and China A-Shares, provide global investors with opportunities to pursue alpha.


Small-cap exposure

Emerging markets small cap portfolio of 120-175 stocks diversified across region, industry, and corporate lifecycle.

Uncovering growth opportunities

Dedicated small-cap analysts seek to identify undiscovered small-cap companies with strong management teams and unique capabilities.

Disciplined investment approach

Combines deep fundamental research with systematic inputs to consistently identify alpha opportunities.


Emerging Markets 28% World ex-US 42% United States 30%
  • Emerging Markets 28%
  • World ex-US 42%
  • United States 30%


Emerging market stocks make up approximately one third of our global small-cap universe but represent a much smaller percentage of the typical investor’s portfolio.

Source: FactSet, MSCI ACWI Small Cap and William Blair Eligibility List as of 12/31/2019.


Consistent philosophy, process

William Blair has over 20 years of experience investing in emerging markets with the same philosophy and process.

Long experience in China

We have been investing in China since 1996 and in China A-Shares since 2013.

Significant AUM

We manage $12.0 billion in emerging market securities across all strategies, $8.2 billion in dedicated emerging market strategies, and $5.8 billion in Chinese equities (including $1.2 billion in China A-Shares) across all strategies as of March 31, 2020.

Emerging markets make up a disproportionate percentage of our quality growth universe: 49%

As of March 31, 2020


Innovation Driving EM Performance

Global investors should focus on how technological disruption is creating investment opportunities in emerging markets

China: The 800-Pound Gorilla

It may have been a strategic mistake for the Trump administration to walk away from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), because it damages U.S. influence in the region.

Shaking Things Up in Emerging Markets

A key outcome of the GICS review on the MSCI Emerging Markets Index will be that the index’s IT weighting will decline by nearly half.

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Any statements or opinions expressed are those of the author as of the date of publication, are subject to change without notice as economic and market conditions dictate, and may not reflect the opinions of other investment teams within William Blair Investment Management, LLC.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only and not intended as investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Investment advice and recommendations can be provided only after careful consideration of an investor’s objectives, guidelines, and restrictions.

Factual information has been taken from sources we believe to be reliable, but its accuracy, completeness or interpretation cannot be guaranteed. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein are based upon proprietary research and should not be interpreted as investment advice, as an offer or solicitation, nor as the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. Statements concerning financial market trends are based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate. William Blair does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your tax and/or legal counsel for specific tax questions and concerns.

Investing involves risks, including the possible loss of principal. Equity securities may decline in value due to both real and perceived general market, economic, and industry conditions. The securities of smaller companies may be more volatile and less liquid than securities of larger companies. Investing in foreign denominated and/or domiciled securities may involve heightened risk due to currency fluctuations, and economic and political risks, which may be enhanced in emerging markets. Investing in the bond market is subject to certain risks including market, interest rate, issuer, credit, and inflation risk. Rising interest rates generally cause bond prices to fall. Sovereign debt securities are subject to the risk that an entity may delay or refuse to pay interest or principal on its sovereign debt because of cash flow problems, insufficient foreign reserves, or political or other considerations. High-yield, lower-rated, securities involve greater risk than higher-rated securities. Currency transactions are affected by fluctuations in exchange rates; currency exchange rates may fluctuate significantly over short periods of time. Different investment styles may shift in and out of favor depending on market conditions. Diversification does not ensure against loss. Any investment or strategy mentioned herein may not be suitable for every investor. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

The MSCI ACWI IMI Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures large, mid, and small cap representation across developed and emerging markets. The MSCI ACWI ex-US IMI Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures large, mid, and small cap representation across developed and emerging markets, excluding the U.S. The Value and Growth Indices are a subset of the Index that adopt a framework for style segmentation in which value and growth securities are characterized using different attributes. Multiple factors are used to identify value and growth characteristics. The MSCI ACWI Small Cap Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures small cap representation across developed and emerging markets. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of emerging markets. The MSCI World Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based benchmark that measures the investment grade, U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market, including Treasuries, government-related and corporate securities, mortgage-backed securities (agency fixed-rate and hybrid ARM pass-throughs), asset-backed securities and commercial mortgage backed securities. The Russell 2000 Index is a market capitalization-weighted index designed to represent the small cap segment of the U.S. equity universe. Index performance is for illustrative purposes only. The indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested in directly.

Alpha is a measure of an investment's return in excess of the market's return, after both have been adjusted for risk.

Beta is a measure of the volatility of an investment relative to the overall market, represented by a comparable benchmark.

Half-life is a statistical measure of the time required for the discrepancy between price and value to contract by half of its starting value. Fundamental value estimates are based on the Dynamic Allocation Strategies team's proprietary research.

P/E Ratio is a measure of valuation which compares share price to earnings per share, calculated using estimates for the next twelve months.

Standard deviation is a statistical measurement of variations from the average.


The William Blair Earnings Trend Model captures information about short- and medium-term changes in analyst estimates in an attempt to anticipate future estimate changes and stock performance. The score combines measurements of earnings revisions, momentum, and earnings surprise.

The William Blair Valuation Model combines varying metrics used to characterize the relationship between the stock’s trading price and its intrinsic value. By going beyond using only one or two measures, the model attempts to build a more holistic version of a stock’s worth vis-a-vis the market. The score combines measurements of earnings/cash flow based, asset-based, and model-based factors.

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