The Top Ten Countries to Invest in Right Now

Recent hot spots are looking cold. What country will deliver the big gains we’ve seen in other international markets?

To answer this question, we devised a proprietary system that considers each country’s GDP forecasts, inflation and its overall market volatility and earnings multiple. The results offer a look at the Top Ten countries to invest in today:

10. Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has made great economic progress since it emerged from behind the Iron Curtain and subsequent divorce from Slovakia. Its high dividend yield and low inflation put it on our list, but its high volatility and P/E keep it from the upper echelon.

P/E Rank: 26
Dividend Yield Rank: 4
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 22
Volatility Rank: 34
Inflation Rank: 8

9. Qatar
This small Middle Eastern country — an area the size of Connecticut that juts from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf — is home to just 1.6 million people. It boasts an average dividend yield of 6.7%, and ranks No. 1 in projected growth for 2009 and 2010. Market volatility and inflation are high, though, and rank near the bottom of the list.

P/E Rank: 11
bi207 Rank: 3
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 1
Volatility Rank: 38
Inflation Rank: 39

8. New Zealand

New Zealand’s modern economy produced a GDP of $115 billion in 2008. The country scores well for its low volatility and high average dividend yield, but its high P/E and small growth prospects hold it back.

P/E Rank: 37
bi28 Rank: 5
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 32
Volatility Rank: 2
Inflation Rank: 14

7. Pakistan
With an inflation rate above 20% and significant internal strife, Pakistan is certainly not a place for risk-averse investors. The bright side is that this country of 172 million scores points for its high dividend yields and its low P/E ratio.

P/E Rank: 12
Dividend Yield Rank: 6
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 17
Volatility Rank: 13
Inflation Rank: 42

6. Canada

The first of only three G8 countries to make the cut, low inflation and healthy scores in all other categories puts Canada high on the list. Slightly higher-than-average market volatility keeps our northern neighbor from a higher rank.

P/E Rank: 15
Dividend Yield Rank: 23
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 21
Volatility Rank: 29
Inflation Rank: 1 (tie)

5. Italy
Another G8 country, Italy has the seventh largest economy in the world. The country’s ranking is dragged down by its less-than-stellar growth prospects in the coming years, but its low P/E, high dividend yield and low inflation make it an attractive place to invest.

P/E Rank: 13
Dividend Yield Rank: 14
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 20
Volatility Rank: 30
Inflation Rank: 9

4. Colombia
Colombia has been plagued by drug trafficking in recent years. Despite those difficulties, the country’s economy has seen a robust expansion, reaching as high as 8.2% in 2007. This high growth and low volatility have pushed it into the top five, but an inflation rate near 8% has kept it from an even stronger performance.

P/E Rank: 23
Dividend Yield Rank: 20
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 13
Volatility Rank: 3
Inflation Rank: 26

3. France

France sports an attractive P/E ratio, a healthy dividend yield and one of the lowest inflation rates on the planet. Still, the country’s poor growth prospects in coming years keep it from the top spot on the list.

P/E Rank: 14
Dividend Yield Rank: 10
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 33
Volatility Rank: 22
Inflation Rank: 1 (tie)

2. Venezuela
Venezuela has country-specific risks we don’t measure here, and those risks mean it’s not for the faint of heart. On paper, however, its low P/E, high dividend yield and low volatility make it an interesting prospect, if not an outright contender. The down side: Inflation is high, and the country’s growth prospects aren’t stellar.

P/E Rank: 2
Dividend Yield Rank: 1
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 25
Volatility Rank: 1
Inflation Rank: 46

1. Spain

Low inflation and a high dividend yield give Spain the top spot on our list. With its $1.6 trillion economy, the country’s growth prospects are low in coming years, but its low volatility and P/E score help make up for that shortcoming.

P/E Rank: 10
Dividend Yield Rank: 7
Est. 2009/2010 Growth Rank: 37
Volatility Rank: 17
Inflation Rank: 3

Make sure to check out the ten worst countries to invest in.