That time appears to be now.
Make no mistake: The region is still a mess. Unemployment is punishingly high, demand is down, banks have capital concerns and the eurozone debt crisis will likely be flaring up again and again for years to come. But data coming out of the eurozone and European Union have finally turned a corner. As improbable as it seemed just a few short months ago, the region is finally — slowly — working its way out of recession.
At the same time, European stocks are dirt-cheap after years of being shunned by investors the world over. That has the smart, patient money moving into European equities in a big way. Indeed, legendary value investor Bill Nygren scours the globe sussing out bargains suitable for his five-star Oakmark Global Select Fund (OAKWX) — and guess what? More than 40% of Nygren’s portfolio is currently allocated to European stocks.
Mutual funds offer an excellent way to gain diversified exposure to a wide swath of blue-chip European companies — especially those that don’t trade on a U.S. exchange. With that in mind, we screened for great European equity mutual funds — ones that, among other characteristics, had to be cheap (expenses of 1% or less), open to new investors for a few thousand bucks, and have a track record of market-beating returns.