Philip van Doorn

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Aug. 17, 2020, 9:38 a.m. EDT

Buy in Europe, where stocks have been ‘brutally beaten up,’ says fund manager

The decline in the dollar also helps American investors holding overseas stocks

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By Philip van Doorn, MarketWatch


Everett Collection

Three things have led Systelligence CEO Kevin Miller to begin shifting money at his fund-management firm to European stocks and away from U.S. stocks: The decline in the dollar, the underperformance of European equity markets this year compared with the U.S., and expected volatility heading into the November elections.

The WSJ U.S. Dollar Index /zigman2/quotes/210673925/realtime XX:BUXX -0.13%  is down 8.8% since its closing high on March 23.

Here’s a comparison of performance for the MSCI Europe Index (in U.S. dollars) and the S&P 500 Index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.53% in 2020 with dividends reinvested):


FactSet

Miller and his team manage about $635 million through the six E-Valuator funds, which have stated allocations between stocks and bonds, as listed below. They are meant to be an alternative to target-date funds, which allocate between equities and bonds depending on when the investor expects to retire, but which can also have vast differences in those allocations. (Miller said that among 57 funds with 2020 targets, equity allocations ranged from 12.4% to 60.1% at the end of 2019, according to data provided by Morningstar.)

The E-Valuator funds allow the investor to decide how risky an allocation to take in a broad, global, “fund of funds” investment, and decide when to change their allocation by moving into another fund.

As the U.S. stock market neared its bottom in March, the equity components of the E-Valuator funds were moved more into U.S. stocks with an emphasis on mid-cap and small-cap exposure. Then in the first week of July, Miller decided to “take a portion of the gains off the table” and reduce overall equity exposure slightly, he said during an interview.

“Within the past few weeks we have pivoted and put more money overseas. The dollar is weak enough now, and the international markets have been brutally beaten up for a long period. A little heartbeat from them would be a sizable gain from our perspective,” Miller said.

“If you are holding an international security and the dollar goes down, you are getting a premium just in the currency exchange,” he added.

Miller expects the dollar to continue its decline.

“Every time you come out with more stimulus and print more money, your currency will get weaker,” he said. He also likes the European exposure as we head into what may be higher volatility in the U.S. before the elections in November.

When moving the portfolios’ equity allocations, Miller will use passive and active vehicles. Here are five that he listed as providing exposure to European stocks:

• FlexShares International Quality Dividend Dynamic Index Fund /zigman2/quotes/203346255/composite IQDY +0.65%  

• iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF /zigman2/quotes/201724702/composite IXUS +0.70%  

• Vanguard Total International Stock ETF /zigman2/quotes/208636337/composite VXUS +0.81%  

/zigman2/quotes/210673925/realtime
XX : WSJ Index
88.69
-0.12 -0.13%
Volume: 0.00
Oct. 1, 2020 4:07p
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/zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime
US : S&P US
3,380.80
+17.80 +0.53%
Volume: 2.33B
Oct. 1, 2020 4:07p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203346255/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE Arca
$ 23.20
+0.15 +0.65%
Volume: 38,251
Oct. 1, 2020 12:25p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201724702/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 58.75
+0.41 +0.70%
Volume: 1.69M
Oct. 1, 2020 4:00p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208636337/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 52.59
+0.42 +0.81%
Volume: 2.59M
Oct. 1, 2020 4:00p
loading...
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