Herro Sees Dip as European Buying Opportunity

David Herro, whose Oakmark International I fund has beaten 99% of its peers over the past 10 years and 98% of its peers over the past year, says the recent heating up of the Greek debt crisis hasn’t turned him off to European stocks.

“They’re going to be impacted in the short term; in many cases the share price have been hit 5, 10, 15, 20 percent in the last couple week alone,” Herro tells Morningstar. “[But], has what we’ve seen [during the May 7 plunge] caused the companies’ fundamental business value to drop that much, as much as the market is saying they’ve dropped? I think generally speaking the answer is no.”

Herro says that currency depreciation may actually help a lot of companies in Europe, where more than 50% of growth and a third of revenues come from developing countries. A deflationary environment will make global or exporting companies’ products and services more price-competitive overseas, and they will also gain from the profits they make in other stronger currencies. “If you’re an exporter or a global company, all else being equal, operationally, things are good for you,” Herro says. “However, if you are a company that is dependent on European consumer spending alone, you’re probably going to be in a little bit of trouble.”

The recent market dip has led him to do some “nibbling”, Herro says. “It’s one thing I have learned is you don’t just rush in,” he said. “You don’t just pile all in at once since things look cheap. It takes a while for these things to get digested.”

Herro says he’s been gradually buying shares in firms that he sees as unfairly hit. “That is, their share prices are down a lot more than the corresponding declining intrinsic value — if any, by the way. In many instances there hasn’t been a decline in intrinsic value,” he explains. One firm he’s been keying on: Spanish bank Banco Santander.

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