One of the ABCs of investing in emerging markets has been BRIC. The acronym, coined by Goldman Sachs economists in 2001, stands for Brazil...

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One of the ABCs of investing in emerging markets has been BRIC.

The acronym, coined by Goldman Sachs economists in 2001, stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China, and the four countries have been at the center of some big gains since.

Now, though, a new acronym is gaining traction, but for less auspicious reasons. Meet the PIGS: Portugal, Iceland, Greece and Spain. These European economies have been struggling amid rising inflation, and Spain has been suffering from a sharply weaker real-estate market.

Citi Investment Research analyst Ronit Ghosel, though, takes exception to Greece’s inclusion, saying Hellenic debt relative to gross domestic product is significantly lower than the other countries’.

Profit perspective

Exxon Mobil (XOM) on Thursday reported the biggest-ever profit from operations for any U.S. company, at nearly $12 billion. Its earnings over the past 12 months, $43.64 billion, are also a record, according to Standard & Poor’s senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt.

To put this in perspective, it’s more than the $42.46 billion produced by the economy of Qatar in 2007, according to the World Bank. The Arab nation ranked No. 68 in the world that year for gross domestic product, and it too derived much of it from petroleum. Exxon Mobil’s mammoth quarterly profit nevertheless disappointed investors, who had been anticipating even bigger numbers. They, as well as weaker crude prices, knocked down the company’s shares by 4.7 percent the day Exxon Mobil reported its earnings.

The Associated Press