5 European Stocks Rising Despite Debt Mess

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Just because Greece can't get its financial house in order to help get the sovereign debt crisis resolved doesn't mean European companies are dead in the water.

Many companies based there that are international in scope are prospering despite the challenges, as are their stocks.

And this at a time when most of those companies' shares, beaten down in 2011 because of concerns over the debt crisis precipitating a prolonged European recession, can be had on the cheap.

Supporting the view that European stocks are worthwhile, S&P Capital IQ says that "Europe is a region (that) is critical to global portfolio diversification for its significant contribution to international market cap.

"After all, developed Europe represents 42% of the total foreign (non-U.S.) market cap," it said.

Indeed, Europe has been showing signs of renewed investor activity this year after more than a year of sovereign debt blues. The MSCI Europe Index is up 8.5% this year, versus the S&P 500's 7% gain.

Here are five top-rated European-based companies' stocks that should be long-term, solid investments:

Volkswagen ( VLKAY)

Company profile: Volkswagen is the world's second-largest automaker, with aspirations to be No. 1. Its brands include Volkswagen passenger cars and commercial vehicles, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Scania, SEAT and Skoda.

Investor takeaway: Its shares have gained 27% this year. It has a market value of $50 billion and a dividend yield of 1.42%. The Wolfsburg, Germany, auto maker reported that it delivered 5.1 million passenger cars worldwide in 2011, up 13% from 2010. U.S. sales jumped 26% last year and that was when the economy was struggling.

Adidas ( ADDDF)

Company profile: Germany's Adidas is the world's second-largest provider of athletic footwear and apparel. Its five brands include: Adidas (73% of sales), Reebok, TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, Rockport and Reebok-CCM Hockey. Its three-stripe shoes and gear is one of the world's most recognized brands.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 17% this year. U.S. analysts don't cover the company. Sales should boom in this, a summer Olympics year, especially if Adidas-sponsored athletes win gold medals.

France Telecom ( FTE)

Company profile: France Telecom, the primary telephone service provider in France, has a virtual monopoly, but France accounts for only about half of the firm's sales. It also operates in Spain and Poland and provides communications services worldwide.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are down 2.8% this year, but that shouldn't deter investors. The $41 billion market value company's shares carry a huge, 9.03% dividend yield, and its strong cash flow is expected to be able to continue this sort of return. Early this month, the company sold its Austrian operations for $1.7 billion. S&P has a "buy" recommendation on its shares with a four star rating out of a possible five.

BASF ( BASFY)

Company profile: BASF, based in Germany, is one of the world's largest and most diverse chemical companies. Its product line includes: specialty chemicals, plastics, performance products, agricultural products, oil and gas production and gas distribution.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 14% this year and almost 20% in the past three months. It has a $56 billion market value and has a dividend yield of 2.64%. S&P found one "buy" rating, one "buy/hold," and three "holds," in a survey of analysts. Given its size and geographic and product diversity, BASF will weather economic cycles and prosper as the economy recovers.

Rio Tinto ( RIO)

Company profile: The U.K.-based Rio Tinto is one of the world's largest mining companies producing aluminum, copper, diamonds, energy products such as coal, gold, industrial minerals and iron ore.

Investor takeaway: Its shares have a market value of $76 billion and carry a 1.51% dividend yield. Morningstar says "Rio Tinto is one of the direct beneficiaries of the increasing appetite for natural resources in China." S&P has a "strong buy" recommendation on its shares and gives the company its top rating of five stars. It has a $78 price target on its shares, which is a 28% premium to the current price.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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