BOSTON (TheStreet) -- "Great fortunes" can be made in European stocks that have been battered during the debt crisis that threatens the eurozone, according to David Marcus, manager of the Evermore Global Value Fund (EVGBX)."We really like to talk about historical periods where you see that great fortunes were made during panics," he said during an interview at the Schwab Impact investment conference in San Francisco. "Investors took advantage of the panic and crisis, and were buyers when others were sellers. They did remarkably well over time. And so, I don't know if we're at the bottom here, but surely we're closer the bottom than we've been." Started in January 2010, the Evermore Global Value Fund has underperformed the benchmark MSCI All Country World Index. The fund is down about 10% since its inception, compared to a 4% rise on the MSCI All Country World Index. Marcus said his fund will lag the major market while the European situation gets sorted out, and that any gains won't come overnight. That said, his conviction is starting to pay off, with the fund up about 4% in October amid the flurry of headlines about a European rescue plan. Marcus argues, though, that investors are paying too much attention to negative headlines and aren't drilling deeper into individual companies. "Investors are in panic mode. They're freaking out. They're leaving Europe in droves," he said. "For us, we've been investing in Europe for 20 years, and I think today there are more opportunities than ever before. ... That's why we have more of a focus on Europe today than anywhere else. You want to buy when everyone hates them, which is now." Two of Marcus' favorite European stocks are French conglomerate Bollore and Spanish media company Promotora de Informaciones ( PRIS.B), also known as Grupo Prisa. Marcus said Bollore has a stake in a variety of different industries, from electric car batteries to newspapers and broadcasting. He likes the company for its ownership of African ports and container terminals. "You're buying this cheap French company that gives you enormous exposure to emerging Africa, which is the biggest driver of their earnings," Marcus said. "Most investors just hear that it's a French company and they forget about it. Our view is that, when you drill past the headlines, you're getting huge value at barely 50 cents on the dollar."
Grupo Prisa, meanwhile, is navigating through an operational and financial restructuring, but Marcus said investors are focusing too much on the company's newspaper business. "When people see the newspaper business, they're nervous. Of course it's a dying business," he said. "But they're also the largest pay TV company in Spain. People are not getting rid of their cable. It's one of the last things they'll get rid of, even in a recessionary environment." Marcus sees the biggest opportunity with Grupo Prisa in its education business, which gives investors enormous exposure to booming Latin American countries like Brazil and Chile. "It's a cheap undervalued company in Europe and I'm getting huge exposure to this emerging environment," he said. "So rather than me going into emerging markets paying huge prices, I can buy distressed Europe and get that for a lot less." Of course, Europe is not without its risks. In the past week, investors have seen the market surge and swoon on a number of different headlines out of the region. They included contradictory reports that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou would step down (he eventually did) and that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi would step aside (which he later denied). Marcus tells investors that Europe is not a case where they should be betting the house on a quick recovery. "I don't know if we're at the bottom here, but surely we're closer the bottom than we've been. It's been so bad in the European markets," he said. "We like to call it a nibbler's market. You take a small bite today. If tomorrow things get worse, you have more resources to nibble tomorrow. I don't know when it actually will end, but I know we're getting valuations we have not seen in so long. You have to take advantage of it." -- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Robert Holmes.
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