NEW YORK (The Street) -- If you're searching for holiday bargains, European and Asian stocks are on sale.
Both markets have been pounded recently while U.S. stocks have been rallying, so price-to-earnings ratios are some 20% below American stocks. There are several conservative, low-cost European and Asian large-cap exchange-traded funds that offer a relatively cheap way to diversify and grab some upside potential.
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Certainly, investor sentiment is in their favor. The Euro Area Sentix Investors Sentiment index made its biggest leap of the year this month -- to minus 2.5 from minus 11.9 in November -- near the positive ground where foreign stocks were rising earlier in the year. There is already instant financial gratification. Dividend yields abroad are nearly twice those of the U.S., roughly 4% versus 2%.
Philip J. DeAngelo, managing director of Focused Wealth Management, sees half of a modest 10% foreign allotment coming from one issue that has a basic blue-chip hue to it: iShares International Select Dividend ETF (IDV) . The shares suffered a smackdown over the summer after a good two-year run, but he sees a lot of potential for the shares to recover the spring in their step.
Not that he's in a rush. It's a European-centric basket of 100 of the highest dividend-paying foreign multinationals that offer a robust 6% yield. IDV is also relatively undervalued by comparison to similar U.S. corporations. Its price to earnings, book and sales ratios, are from 10% to 50% lower. In all, he sees a relatively safe long-term holding where "you're being paid to wait" for the recovery.
Mark Ungewitter, vice president and investment officer at Charter Trust Company, has a similar world view. He is seeing some of the best (under) valuation abroad in years, as viewed through depressed price to sales ratios.
His picks are two Vanguard ETFs as his foreign vehicles "for the long term. They're very cost effective."One is the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK) , a European-based index fund, while the other is the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) , a global index fund. Both were pinned last summer like IDV, have inflation-beating yields and had their fees slashed last year to a very low 0.12% and 0.18%, respectively.
VWO may contain more risk than would suit most conservative tastes, including having a significant stake in troubled Brazil. But in the end, Ungewitter is won over by its broad Asia holdings, particularly the fund's sizable stake in China's strongest banks. China can do something U.S. banks can't do -- lower interest rates -- and he thinks that ability to make money cheaper and stocks more attractive in China will help power the fund's recovery.
At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.