More easy money flowing from the Bank of Japan, along with additional corporate governance reforms, could spur Japanese stocks again in 2016, said Heidi Richardson, head of U.S. Investment Strategy for iShares, a family of exchange traded funds from BlackRock.
"Japan looks really attractive from a valuation standpoint if you compare it to the U.S. or European marketplace," said Richardson. "If we look at the aggressiveness of the quantitative easing and the stimulus from the Bank of Japan, I think they are geared for growth this year."
The EWJ is not currency hedged, so for investors seeking exposure to Japanese stocks while controlling currency risk, Richardson recommends the recently launched iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI Japan ETF (DEWJ) . "DEWJ manually adjusts the currency exposure and decides whether you should be hedged or unhedged," said Richardson.
Richardson is also bullish on European stocks, saying that Europe remains squarely in a monetary easing cycle, which is in turn jumpstarting the region's credit growth and overall business cycles. She suggested exposure through the iShares Currency Hedged MSCI Germany (HEWG) - Get Report , down 7.5% year-to-date, because that nation's exports will be helped by the weak euro.
"Germany is really geared for growth," said Richardson. "The inflation numbers came out positive and they are reflating that system."
Along those lines, Richardson cites the iShares Currency Hedged MSCI Eurozone (HEZU) - Get Report , down 6.7% so far in 2016, as another smart way to play an improving Europe that is being backstopped by ECB President Mario Draghi's drive to do anything possible to lift the continent's economy.
"Draghi is really going to be aggressive," said Richardson. "We anticipate further quantitative easing and stimulus measures in Europe this year."