Investors should stop worrying about the eurozone, and they should start buying European stocks and stocks with high exposure to Europe based on the weakness caused by panic over the euro’s fate. Over the last several years, the bloc’s leaders have shown again and again that they will indeed do “whatever it takes” (as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi famously said) to keep the eurozone intact. Meanwhile, the fundamentals of the euro zone’s economy remain quite strong.
As a result, investors should buy stocks that have retreated recently on worries about the eurozone’s outlook and that stand to benefit from the continued strengthening of the bloc’s economy. Booking Holding Inc (NASDAQ:BKNG) stock (formerly Priceline stock), Deutsche Lufthansa AG (OTCMKTS:DLAKY) stock, and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA Unsponsored ADR stock (OTCMKTS:LVMUY) stock all fit the bill.
The crisis in Italy was the latest event that caused panic about the eurozone’s fate. But the Italian president’s decision to refuse to accept the anti-euro economy minister originally nominated by the country’s populist parties once again proves the truth of Draghi’s statement.
What most American investors simply do not understand is that the E.U. in general and the eurozone, in particular, are still viewed by Europeans as insurance against the kind of wars that caused unimaginable (to Americans) suffering and deprivation in most countries on the continent for hundreds of years.
And of course, the last major war on the continent, World War II, was the worst one. European leaders believe that the break-up of the eurozone could lead to the type of economic woes that was one of the causes of World War II, so they are determined to avoid that situation. The eurozone’s very expensive bailout of its weak members over the last eight years or so illustrate the extent of the determination of its leaders to avoid a break-up.
Booking Holdings Stock
The eurozone’s economy expanded 0.4% last quarter. That may not sound like much, but it still represented “healthy “ year-over-year growth of 2.5%, according to economic consultant Arthur Donner.
Moreover, as Donner pointed out, “most economists expected that there were only temporary factors behind the Q! moderation and that the economy would continue to expand strongly for the rest of this year.” And importantly, the bloc’s unemployment rate inched down again to 8.5% in April from 8.6% in March, representing its lowest level since December 2008.
Finally, as I noted in a previous column, the European economy “has the room to continue growing above potential rates for some time, with unemployment falling further and inflation increasing only very gradually,” the E.U. stated.
These favorable economic trends will likely cause Europeans to travel much more. That should significantly raise the revenue and profits of Booking Holdings, as “more than 80% of (the company’s) bookings are international, primarily in Europe,” research firm Argus Research reported in March.
Those increases, in turn, should cause Booking Holdings stock to climb significantly. After retreating about 5% since early March, Booking Holdings stock is trading at a reasonable price-to-earnings ratio of around 21.
Deutsche Lufthansa Stock
Like Booking Holdings stock, Deutsche Lufthansa stock should get a big boost as more Europeans obtain jobs, leading to increased traveling by the continent’s residents. Indeed, there are already signs that this trend is taking hold. In April, the number of passengers on the airlines jumped 9.1% versus the same period a year earlier, while its revenue rose 6% year-over-year. For the first four months of the year, the airline has set records in capacity, capacity utilization and number of passengers.
In the first quarter, Lufthansa’s revenue fell less than 1%, but its bottom line was impressive, as its adjusted EBITDA jumped 5.6%. Moreover, it served 13% more passengers than last year’s first quarter and its revenue per seat kilometer jumped 11% year-over-year.
In 2017, Lufthansa’s revenue jumped 12.4% and its EBITDA surged 32% compared with 2016.
Meanwhile, the airlines’ trailing price-earnings ratio is a paltry 4.4, while its trailing price-to-sales ratio is just 0.3. Moreover, the airlines should benefit from continuing drops in fuel costs, given the recent decision by Saudi Arabia and Russia to pump more oil.
Louis Vuitton Stock
The luxury France-based fashion house has already seen increasing demand for its products, prompting it to open at least two new factories in its home market later this year and enabling its organic revenue to surge 13% in the first quarter of 2018. In 2017, Louis Vuitton’s profit from recurring operations jumped 18% and its free cash flow surged 20%.
Those upbeat trends should continue as the economic recovery in Europe proceeds. Indeed the company plans to open a third new factory in France by 2020 “in order to help Louis Vuitton meet the increasing demand for its leather goods,” Fashion United reported in March.
According to Reuters, the worldwide luxury products sector is expected to expand 5% this year, “outpacing fashion as a whole.”
Moreover, Louis Vutton is benefiting from strong demand in the fast growing market of China, and its trailing price-to-earnings ratio of around 28 isn’t too high, given its growth. Despite the company’s strong Q1 performance, Louis Vutton stock is around 5% below its 52-week high of $73.60 after a small recent pullback. Finally, in addition to the great growth outlook, Louis Vuitton stock has a dividend yield of nearly 2%.
As of this writing, Larry Ramer did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.