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Gain International Exposure With Bank of Nova Scotia

Part of the problem that many Canadian banks have is that they are too focused on Canada. When times are great, this means that the banks are making plenty of money. However, when times are bad, an over-reliance on one region can be detrimental to a bank’s profits.

One bank that stands out from the bunch because of its international operations is Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS)(NYSE:BNS). Unlike the other banks, Bank of Nova Scotia has a huge operation in Latin America, among other countries around the world.

Because of this, I am a big believer that investors should buy Bank of Nova Scotia if they are in need of exposure to other parts of the world.

All told, Bank of Nova Scotia has operations in over 50 countries. The bulk of those are in countries like Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and others that could, over the coming years, develop thriving economies. And what’s really quite nice for the company is that these operations are already growing incredibly well.

Its commercial loan growth grew 11% year over year in Q1 2015. On top of that, its residential loan growth expanded by 13% year over year. These aren’t insane numbers, but what it shows is that the business is definitely growing in these international markets.

And this is important because if the housing market cools, every bank is going to suffer. About 50% of Bank of Nova Scotia’s loans are mortgages and 80% of those are in Canada. Naturally, that concerns investors. But whereas other banks don’t have the international exposure, Bank of Nova Scotia does, so it’ll be able to offset that with potential profits in other regions. And before you question the possibility of these regions offering good profit, consider the fact that Mexico’s population is four times that of Canada. There are a lot of potential clients down there.

To top it all off, Bank of Nova Scotia also pays investors a lucrative 4.42% yield. This factors out to $2.72 per share per year. The thing about dividends is you want them to be safe. Consider the dividend as your salary. You don’t want pay cuts every year at your job, so you don’t want pay cuts for your dividends. So long as Bank of Nova Scotia stays diversified, I am confident that the dividend won’t be cut.

Should you buy?

I’m a fan of the bank. Concerns of bad loans are overblown. Oil loans account for only 3% of its portfolio, and of its bad loans, 2% are oil related. Further, because of its diversification, it is able to stomach any changes in Canada’s economy.

Because of this, I think you should consider starting a position in the company. With its high yield, you’ll be able to accrue a significant amount of dividends. If you ask me, this company has “core holding” written all over it.

But don't just take my word for it ...

The truth is, reading this article alone about whether you should invest or not is insufficient. What you should do is get a complete understanding on all the banks before making your decision. And Fool has just the tool for you to do that.

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Fool contributor Jacob Donnelly has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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