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International and Global Stock Funds

Beginner’s Guide to International Mutual Funds

Chris Dumont Oct 06, 2014



See also Quiz: Which Country Has a Higher GDP?


How International Equity Funds Can Be Used in a Portfolio


Whichever route you choose to go down, be sure you are familiar with How to Research Mutual Funds.


Types of International Mutual Funds


  • Global Funds
    As the name suggests, these funds invest throughout the world, including the investor’s home country.
  • International Funds
    These mutual funds are any funds outside an investor’s home country. For example, from an American’s perspective, it would be any funds not based in the U.S.
  • Regional Funds
    Regional funds are designed to focus on a specific geographic region. Rather than buy a mutual fund that invests all over the world, an investor could buy multiple regional funds.
  • Country Funds
    These mutual funds focus on a single country, with the benefit being that the mutual fund would be specialized in that single country.
  • Global Sector Funds
    Rather than focus on geography, global sector funds focus on a particular sector of the economy in international countries. This is great for gaining exposure to sectors rather than strictly countries.


Benefits of Owning International Markets Through Mutual Funds


  • Diversification
    Diversification helps reduce the risk with any single investment. While there will always remain systematic or market risk with any investment, unsystematic, or specific risk, will decrease. It smooths out returns during periods of unpredictability.
  • Professional Management
    Portfolio managers manage mutual funds. They rebalance the portfolio to match the investment objectives of the fund and decide what stocks to buy and sell for a modest fee. This is beneficial to those investors with little time or expertise to maintain their own portfolio.
  • Convenience
    The mutual fund manages everything and thus the investor can sit back and enjoy a maintenance-free investment as long as they are invested.
  • Liquidity
    International mutual funds can be bought or sold without worrying about a spread or how liquid the market is. They only take one day to settle when their net asset value is calculated at the end of the day.


Other Considerations


See also the 7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Mutual Fund

Furthermore, there can be political risk, especially with emerging markets. The political stability of a country’s government can have a great impact on the value of the investment. Governments can change certain laws or there could be social unrest, which affects investments in those countries. Higher inflation can also decrease potential returns. Lastly, being overweight in one country, even outside of an investor’s domestic market, can be just as vulnerable as concentrating investments at home.

That being said, investors willing to take on the risk can certainly add to their returns. International mutual funds are split into so many different types, so being diversified in this way can limit the risk associated with any one investment.


Popular International Mutual Funds


  • China Region: Oberweis China Opportunities Fund (OBCHX)
  • Diversified Emerging Markets: Harding Loevner Frontier Emerging Markets Fund (HLFMX)
  • Diversified Pacific/Asia: Fidelity Pacific Basin Fund (FPBFX)
  • Europe: T. Rowe Price European Stock Fund (PRESX)
  • Foreign Large Blend: Artisan International Value Fund (ARTKX)
  • Global Real Estate: Third Avenue Real Estate Value Fund (TAREX)
  • India Equity: Matthews India Fund (MINDX)
  • Japan Stock: DFA Japanese Small Company Portfolio (DFJSX)
  • Latin America Stock: Deutsche Latin America Equity Fund (SLANX)
  • Pacific/Asia Ex-Japan Stk: Matthews Pacific Tiger Fund (MAPTX)


The Bottom Line


To be vigilant, investors should set a target, monitor the allocation, and continually rebalance while keeping an eye on any developments within the portfolio. International mutual funds may not fit with a conservative person’s investment portfolio, but looking outside their domestic market may reward those investors seeking additional returns especially as global trade continues to expand and the world’s economies grow. Despite short-term volatility, historically, international equity markets have had favorable prospects for continued growth. International mutual funds can capitalize on that potential.

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