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A 2014 Game Plan for Europe ETFs


On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs reiterated its bullish view on European equities for 2014.

Noting that European equities remain cheap, Goldman Sachs’ Peter Oppenheimer told CNBC his firm is “pretty optimistic of equity markets still” while noting that “there’s been a big period of outperformers of equities relative to government bonds. We expect that to continue.”

Late last month, Goldman revealed an overweight view on European and forecast a 12% increase for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. [Goldman Bullish on Japan, Europe ETFs]

With an ample number of diversified Europe ETFs to pick from, investors looking to follow Goldman’s Europe call should drill down on Oppenheimer’s comments and ETFs before hitting the buy button. For example, Goldman’s chief European economist, Huw Pill, told CNBC that “he remains bullish on the U.K.’s prospects because of steady stimulus efforts from its central bank. He said countries that did not embrace reforms may suffer in the long term.”

Some popular diversified Europe ETFs, such as the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK) and the iShares Europe ETF (IEV) feature large combined allocations to the U.K. and Switzerland, which diminishes some of the risks associated with investing in the Eurozone. For example, IEV’s combined weight to the U.K. and Switzerland is almost 47%.

Those ETFs and others like them help investors skirt the controversy associated with the PIIGS nations, but U.K. and Swiss stocks are a bit pricier than their Eurozone equivalents. [Attractive Valuations Lurk Among Europe ETFs]

Investors looking for more pure exposure to the Eurozone may need to pack some patience. Goldman is tepid in its near-term outlook for Spain, but is more bullish on the Eurozone’s third-largest economy 18 months out. However, the bank said it sees less progress on reform in France and Italy, the Eurozone’s second- and third-largest economies. Regarding France and Italy, Pill told CNBC “I think there’s concern over the medium term.”

Still, data out Tuesday indicate Italy’s recession has ended and it is worth remembering that, in some instances, it is the most controversial names that outperform coming out of a crisis. That could shine a light on an ETF like the SPDR EURO STOXX 50 Fund (FEZ) , which excludes the U.K. and Switzerland in favor of a heavy tilt toward France, Germany, Italy and Spain. [Settling the Large-Cap Europe ETF Debate]

FEZ is up 7.2% in the past three months compared to 4.9% for VGK.

Oppenheimer thinks the euro will rise 1.1%, according to CNBC. Investors that think the common is due to decline and spark the region’s exporters can consider the WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (HEDJ) , which is 69% allocated to Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Investors looking for a hedge against declines in the euro, sterling and Swiss franc should consider the db X-Trackers MSCI Europe Hedged Equity Fund (DBEU) , which debuted in early October.

iShares Europe ETF