Editor's note: As part of our partnership with PBS's Nightly Business Report, TheStreet's Gregg Greenberg joined NBR Monday (watch video and read transcript here) to discuss which European stocks still intrigue money managers despite the debt crisis.
Europe may be falling apart as a solution to the debt crisis grows more elusive each day, but despite the turmoil, fund managers still say there are strong stocks to be found across the Atlantic.
The faltering euro will help exports at technology giant
, says Audrey Kaplan, portfolio manager for the
Federated InterContinental Fund
. In addition, she says the so-called "German
" will benefit from the European Central Bank's recent decision to lower interest rates, allowing Siemens to reinvest in its businesses.
"They are already operating as number one or number two in every business area in which they compete, so we are big fans of Siemens," says Kaplan.
The $585 million fund, which garners 3 stars from Morningstar, has lost 9% over the past year due to the turmoil in Europe, placing it in the 50th percentile for all funds in Morningstar's foreign large blend category. But over the past ten years, the fund has returned an average of 8.5% annually, outpacing 95% of its Morningstar rivals.
Another German pick in her portfolio is chemical-maker
, which she says is positioned well even if things deteriorate further in the eurozone.
"We just met with their CFO last week and their outlook was better than we even anticipated," says Kaplan. "They have good long-term growth opportunities, and they have levers available to them if the economy does slow. They've managed through crisis periods before."
Outside of Germany, Kaplan is a fan of Scandinavian stocks like Norway's
, because of the region's rich natural resource base and low debt-to-GDP economies. "Norway is very stable, and Statoil's businesses and energy markets are going to be stable for long-run investors."
Kaplan says German exporters will not be the only ones positively impacted by a weakened euro. Mining companies will also benefit from the currency's deterioration, including London-based
"Mining is still operating at peak capacity right now, and there is going to be demand because the emerging markets are still expected to grow greater than 5% a year for the next two years," says Kaplan.
Export-driven industrial giants aren't the only European stocks attracting money managers, however. Ralf Scherschmidt, portfolio manager for the
Oberweis International Opportunities Fund
, is looking at smaller companies that hold impressive market share within their respective niches.
Scherschmidt believes digital labeling represents the wave of the future in retail, which is why he owns shares of Swedish digital label maker
, whom he calls the industry leader.
Scherschmidt says the high-tech labeling system benefits both grocery store chains and their customers.
"It has a significant value proposition to grocery store chains because it can centrally change prices in an instant," Scherschmidt says, reducing labor costs as clerks no longer have to traverse the entire store to reprice thousands of items. He adds that from the customer standpoint, retailers have been experimenting with shopping "happy hours," where store owners can lower prices on selected items during less crowded times.
Scherschmidt's $16 million fund, which garners 2 stars from Morningstar, has lost 2.4% over the past year, placing it in the 16th percentile for all funds in Morningstar's Foreign Small/Mid Growth category. Over the past three years, the fund has returned an average of 22% annually, once again outpacing 84% of its Morningstar rivals.
Another stock in his portfolio is German car-part maker
, which he says controls an 80% market share in the emerging markets.
"They are benefiting from the increased demand for cars in India, China and Brazil." And while the stock has taken a beating recently due to fears of an economic slowdown in these areas, Scherschmidt says, "The company recently reported numbers showing revenue growth rates of over 50% and earnings growth of over 100%" in the emerging world.
--Reported by Gregg Greenberg in New York.
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