Although it’s an opinion coming from a biased source, most financial analysts will state without hesitation that the bulk of your portfolio should be geared toward stable U.S.-based companies. I don’t want to dive into an “America First” narrative, but when the smelly stuff hits the fan, your U.S. citizenship is worth its weight in gold. That said, you might want to broaden your horizons with European stocks.
As Reuters recently reported, a strong start to third-quarter earnings season has bolstered valuations for European stocks. Of course, nearer-term data always ebbs and flows so you don’t want to base your decision solely on the immediate print. Rather, the basic thesis for looking across the Atlantic is diversification. From stable established firms to more speculative fare, you’ll find a richness of opportunities saturated in one region.
One feature that American investors may appreciate is that European stocks are generally tied to politically stable administrations. Now, that’s not to say that Europeans don’t have problems. Indeed, some of their controversial issues such as immigration mirror that of contentious conflicts at home. However, based on the political stability index, European nations are far more stable on balance than the U.S. is.
Again, don’t read the above as an editorialized statement against the U.S. I’m simply reading off the data I have access to. Additionally, investors prefer some level of reliability or predictability, and a fractious political arena is not preferable. And because most of the region prides itself in its generally progressive ideals, buyers of European stocks can enjoy some constants in an otherwise variable space.
Finally, having some money abroad may hedge your bets against volatility at home. Granted, we’re living in a globalized economy so problems here can easily filter abroad. Nevertheless, the worst of potential domestically sourced red ink could be mitigated with international exposure.
Thus, here are some European stocks to consider:
- ASML (NASDAQ:ASML)
- NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI)
- Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VWAGY)
- LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (OTCMKTS:LVMUY)
- Roche (OTCMKTS:RHHBY)
- L’Oréal (OTCMKTS:LRLCF)
- Air France-KLM (OTCMKTS:AFLYY)
As with any investment class, just because something is different doesn’t necessarily making it any better. Before investing in European stocks, it’s imperative that you perform your due diligence. Check that, you should perform more due diligence since you may be dealing with companies that you’re unfamiliar with.
European Stocks to Buy: ASML (ASML)
Aside from the country’s robust “agricultural” industry and “window-shopping” sector, plenty of Americans don’t know much about the Netherlands. But that all changed with the novel coronavirus pandemic. Even if you didn’t suffer from Covid-19 directly, you almost certainly felt its effects with the supply chain crisis.
As I mentioned in an interview with CGTN America anchor Rachelle Akuffo, the supply chain crisis is a holistic, full-spectrum problem. While we consumers complain about not getting the products we need, we must also realize that manufacturers of in-demand goods are also experiencing their supply chain crisis regarding procurement challenges for critical commodities and chemicals. Of course, one of the most affected sectors is semiconductors, which naturally segues to ASML.
Based in Veldhoven, Netherlands, ASML specializes in the development and manufacturing of photolithography systems. Essentially, the company allows the world’s biggest chipmakers to mass produce patterns on silicon, giving them a competitive edge in whatever end applications they focus on. With the rush to procure semiconductor-based goods, ASML has veritably soared over the trailing year.
Yes, there’s an argument to be made that shares could be technically overbought. However, with no end in sight to the supply chain problem, ASML is easily one of the most relevant European stocks to consider.
NXP Semiconductors (NXPI)
Another Netherlands-headquartered chipmaking firm, NXP Semiconductors specializes in the automotive industry. That right there makes the company extremely relevant. As you know, the used car market has gone absolutely berserk, and it doesn’t seem to get any better. Consider a recent Washington Post article that described a sharp bidding war for a two-year old minivan as evidence.
Of course, the primary culprit is the semiconductor supply chain crisis. During the initial onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many automakers cut their production requests. In turn, semiconductor firms shifted focus to smartphones and other chip-hungry devices. When demand for cars spiked back up, automakers then begged for more supply, to which semiconductor firms gave them the one-finger salute.
Maybe that’s not literally how the last bit played out but the point is that companies like NXP are in the driver’s seat, making the underlying equity unit one of the most pertinent European stocks. But will it be this way indefinitely?
Here’s the brutal reality. Semiconductor firms prefer manufacturing chips for smartphones and tablets, because they’re more profitable compared to the older tech used in automotive chips. Therefore, NXP is relevant for now but watch out later for a possible inventory glut.
European Stocks to Buy: Volkswagen (VWAGY)
Ranked as the largest car company in the world last year, the quintessentially German Volkswagen is certainly enjoying unprecedented demand due to the broader impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. No longer do consumers even think about negotiating terms for new vehicles. It’s really come down to this: If you see it and you want it, you gotta buy it. Otherwise, someone else probably will.
But how long can this circumstance last? Admittedly, the extensive nature of the supply chain crunch could see car prices elevated across the board throughout much of 2022, perhaps into 2023. I hope not but hope has not been a successful strategy since the pandemic struck. Eventually, though, this too shall pass, which might initially bring fears toward holding VWAGY longer term.
But worry not. Volkswagen will likely remain one of the most relevant European stocks because of its transition to electric vehicles. For instance, the Volkswagen ID.4 is a sleek electric SUV that should provide ample competition to Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), especially because of its $40,000 starting MSRP.
Also, let’s not forget that Volkswagen owns Audi, which has aggressively stepped into the EV arena with its e-tron models. Therefore, things are looking great for VWAGY down the pipeline.
LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMUY)
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the foreboding nature of the crisis seemed to be a harbinger of doom and gloom. Finally, all those years of listening to Alex Jones and buying a bunker full of survival gear and MREs were going to be put to good use. Alas, Jones has been de-platformed and now I’m wondering about the shelf life of those MREs.
In all seriousness, though, NBC News reported that “Wall Street minted 56 new billionaires since the pandemic began.” While initially counterintuitive, we must remember that the folks who fought the virus made out like bandits. In addition, the crisis minted several new millionaires as people flocked to the stock market and even the cryptocurrency market, banking on mass euphoria.
It’s been such a great ride that people ought to consider European stocks that will benefit from newfound riches, particularly LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. One of the world’s most powerful luxury brands, LVMH have gained over 66% in the trailing year.
Of course, the risk is that the riches accrued are largely a façade, as it’s more of a wealth transfer to the rich from everyone else. But for now, LVMUY is a name to consider.
European Stocks to Buy: Roche (RHHBY)
While the U.S. tends to get credit for rolling out Covid-19 vaccines through former President Donald Trump’s administration’s Operation Warp Speed, in reality, the battle against the coronavirus was an international partnership. Certainly, European stocks related to the vaccination and treatment race benefitted, but with new infections generally fading across the world (at least for now), companies directly addressing Covid-19 might not continue rising.
However, the same probably cannot be said for Roche, a Swiss multinational healthcare company that has businesses under its pharmaceuticals and diagnostics divisions. While both are pertinent, the latter has been particularly vital due to the antibody-based test kits. Further, Roche has partnered with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) to develop an antibody cocktail. Currently, the European Union’s drug regulator is evaluating a marketing authorization for the therapeutic.
Of course, if the crisis worsens, the antibody cocktail would be beneficial to protect the economy and thus other European stocks. Even if the coronavirus merely lingered, Roche’s testing kit would be again proven important. Combined with the healthcare giant’s other businesses, RHHBY is an all-around solid investment in these strange times.
While the pandemic has overall been a massive headache for everyone, one benefit did arrive for the worker bees to make the crisis at least more tolerable: the great remote operations experiment. Because of the raging health crisis, it simply made sense for employers to have their team do what was necessary at home. Thanks to digitalization and connectivity solutions, such a protocol was possible.
However, companies have been increasingly asking their workers to return to the office, per the Wall Street Journal. For many organizations, the main motivation for in-person workers is greater productivity. Simply, the business functions better when people are together.
Plus, let’s be real: why should companies pay 100% salaries for only partial benefits for that cash outlay?
Yes, workers have threatened to quit — and many have — but this isn’t a sustainable circumstance. Therefore, those seeking relevant European stocks should consider beauty specialist L’Oréal. With more people pressured to come back to the office, premium beauty products should be in huge demand.
Further, those who want to get ahead will certainly come into the office to make a better impression on the boss — assuming the boss hasn’t flaked out too.
European Stocks to Buy: Air France-KLM (AFLYY)
Admittedly, the European stocks above are pricey affairs or have enjoyed significant momentum already. If you’d rather dial up the risk to accrue greater potential rewards, you may want to consider Air France-KLM. As I’ve mentioned before, airliners are terribly risky because of the Covid-19 crisis. Additionally, the sharp rise in air rage is worrisome for the industry to say the least.
At the same time, people have been cooped up in their homes for so long that they’re ready to reclaim their lives. That was another point I made in the aforementioned CGTN America interview: consumers missed out on various experiences, including that vacation they were planning on. Given that European destinations — especially France — top the most popular places to visit for tourists, Air France-KLM could benefit from pent-up demand or retail revenge.
Of course, one needs to be careful about this narrative. For instance, the World Economic Forum mentioned that post-Covid-19, Asian-Pacific nations have become much more competitive due to travelers caring much more about pandemic-related competence.
Still, Europe beckons because, you know, it’s Europe. So if you want to take a risk with your European stocks, consider flying with AFLYY.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.