Experts Sing Praise of European Dividend Stocks

Monday, 10 Sep 2012 08:03 AM

By Dan Weil

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With investors hungry for yield in a low interest rate environment, many are starting to look at European dividend stocks.

The thinking is that with much of Europe in recession or heading toward one, investors can obtain shares in profitable companies at bargain prices. And many of Europe’s blue chip corporations earn much of their revenue overseas.

While the eurozone gross domestic product slid 0.2 percent in the second quarter from the first, some of the damage has been overstated, Will James, a stock fund manager at Standard Life Investment, tells MarketWatch.

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

“It’s not as bad as the headlines suggest,” he said. “You have companies across Europe that have very strong balance sheets and don’t have to go to the debt markets.”

Among the stocks James favors are oil companies Eni (E) of Italy and Total (TOT) of France. Both have increased their dividends this year; Eni now yields 4.5 percent and Total 4.9 percent.

To be sure, given Europe’s financial crisis and slow economic growth, investors should be cautious.

“There are some excellent higher-yield companies around, but one has to be discerning about risk,” Julian Pendock, chief investment officer at London-based Senhouse Capital, tells MarketWatch.

If you decide on domestic dividend stocks instead, you will likely face less risk. But remember that many U.S. blue-chip dividend shares have posted outsized gains over the past three years.

So now may not be the best time to buy them.

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

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