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Shopping International Funds for European Bargains

While it can invest anywhere, Manning & Napier World Opportunities has 67% of its assets in Europe. During the past 10 years, the fund returned 9.1% annually outdoing 95% of peers in the foreign large blend category. Manning & Napier buys a wide range of stocks, including shares with strong growth profiles and depressed names that sell at big discounts.

Lately portfolio manager Marc Tommasi has been finding unusual bargains among growth stocks.

"Because there is a healthy dose of fear in the marketplace, you can get well-positioned businesses at really good valuations," he says.

Tommasi likes companies with dominant positions that are poised to grow for years. A favorite holding is Adidas, the German maker of athletic footwear and apparel. Helped by a large advertising budget, the company is expanding around the world and maintaining its dominant position.

Another holding is Qiagen, a German producer of sample technologies that are used by medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies to process DNA. The company has developed tests that will help doctors determine whether a patient is predisposed to contracting a disease.

Cambiar International Equity has 61% of assets in Europe. During the past five years, the fund has lost 2.1% annually, outdoing 77% of foreign large blend peers. Cambiar seeks high-quality stocks that are priced below their historical levels.

A holding is Saipem, which builds offshore oil facilities. When European stocks collapsed in 2011, the shares fell to a price-earnings ratio of 11, says portfolio manager Jennifer Dunne. That seemed like a bargain because the stock had traded at multiples in the high teens.

"There was no way that this kind of high-quality franchise could stay at 11 times earnings," says Dunne.

Dunne also holds Syngenta (SYT), a Swiss maker of insecticides and genetically modified seeds. The company has been spending heavily to expand the seed business. That has held back the multiple, but Dunne argues that the big expenditure will result is increased earnings.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Stan Luxenberg is a freelance writer specializing in mutual funds and investing. He was executive editor of Individual Investor magazine.
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