The MSCI All Country World Index pulled in 23.44% for 2013, its highest gain since 2009. This was almost as high as the S&P 500, which soared 32.31% for the year, its own greatest rise in more than a decade.
Fueled by continued accommodative support from monetary policymakers in the United States, Europe, and Japan, global developed equities rallied during the final quarter of the year. From a regional perspective, the best performing equity markets in the MSCI EAFE Index were all eurozone markets, including Germany, Finland, Spain, Ireland, and Italy. Each gained over 10% in the quarter (measured in US dollars). The biggest laggards included New Zealand and Australia (the only markets to post negative returns), followed by Singapore, Portugal, and Japan. Every sector in the Index posted positive returns this quarter.
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There are opposing views on the attractiveness of Europe, however. Charles De Vaulx of the widely followed IVA Worldwide Fund commented in his fourth quarter letter:
“Finding opportunities in European equities remains difficult and has been for some time, however, we added one small position in a stock in Finland this quarter as well as one in France. We will continue proceeding cautiously in this region as many of the stocks we view as high quality remain expensive, with a number of them trading at all-time highs, and we still think it remains unclear how stable the economic recovery in Europe is.”
“I think Europe is going through some of the structural readjustments that it needs to make itself more valuable. It needs more labor market flexibility. It needs a little bit better control of fiscal situation in the various countries. So I think it’s a place where there’s a lot of interesting change occurring right at the moment.”
You can screen for the stocks these and other top international investors are holding using the GuruFocus All-In-One Screener. Using these screener settings, we see that the most popular international stocks among gurus are Nestle (XSWX:NESN), British American Tobacco Plc (LSE:BATS), Novartis AG (XSWX:NOVN), Toyota Motor Corp. (TSE:7203) and Roche Holding AG (XSWX:ROG).
Nestle SA (XSWX:NESN)
Nestle is the most-owned stock of global investment gurus, with 11 keeping shares in their portfolio. Oakmark’s David Herro (Trades, Portfolio) has the largest stake, at 0.23% of its shares outstanding, or 7,482,000 shares. He increased his position by 3.79% in the fourth quarter. The MS Global Franchise Fund (Trades, Portfolio) is the most committed, with 10.3% of theor assets in the position, at 867,856 shares. It also increased its position by 0.61% last quarter.
Nestle’s share price rise 2.38% in the past 12 months:
Nestle SA was founded in 1867 and is headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland. Nestle SA has a market cap of $212.19 billion; its shares were traded at around $65.80 with a P/E ratio of 20.00 and P/S ratio of 2.22. The dividend yield of Nestle SA stocks is 2.03%. Nestle SA had an annual average earnings growth of 6.00% over the past 10 years.
British American Tobacco Plc (LSE:BATS)
Eight gurus hold British American Tobacco Plc shares, with a combined 7,482,338 owned in total. MS Global Franchise Fund (Trades, Portfolio) has committed the most to the stock, making it 10.1% of their portfolio, with 1,125,064 shares. Tom Russo (Trades, Portfolio) has the largest position, with 0.25% of shares outstanding or 4,746,338 shares.
British American Tobacco Plc is a holding company which owns, directly or indirectly, investments in the numerous companies constituting the British American Tobacco Group of companies. British American Tobacco Plc has a market cap of £62 billion; its shares were traded at around £32.87 with a P/E ratio of 16.30 and P/S ratio of 4.14. The dividend yield of British American Tobacco Plc stocks is 4.19%. British American Tobacco Plc had an annual average earnings growth of 11.00% over the past 10 years. GuruFocus rated British American Tobacco Plc the business predictability rank of 2-star.
Novartis AG (XSWX:NOVN)
Novartis has seven gurus holding it, having a combined 5,502,391 shares among them. Vanguard Health Care Fund (Trades, Portfolio) has the largest percentage invested, at 1.4% of the portfolio, or 5,502,391 shares, increased by 38% last quarter. The firm’s position is also the largest chunk of the company held by a guru, at 22% of shares outstanding.
Vanguard Health Care’s holding history:
Novartis AG was incorporated on Feb. 29, 1996 under the laws of Switzerland. Novartis AG has a market cap of $178.32 billion; its shares were traded at around $73.50 with a P/E ratio of 22.40 and P/S ratio of 3.52. The dividend yield of Novartis AG stocks is 2.17%.
Toyota Motor Corp. (TSE:7203)
Toyota appears in six gurus’ portfolios, with 11,601,000 shares held. Hennessy Japan Fund (Trades, Portfolio) has 5.2% of their portfolio invested in the stock, with 30,800 shares held, after increasing the position by 12.82% last quarter. David Herro (Trades, Portfolio) has the largest position with 0.37% of shares outstanding, or 11,601,000 shares held, after increasing it by 70.15% last quarter.
Toyota Motor Corp. is a limited liability, joint-stock company, which was incorporated under the Corporation Act of Japan. Toyota Motor Corp has a market cap of ¥18,416.98 billion; its shares were traded at around ¥5,762.00 with a P/E ratio of 13.20 and P/S ratio of 0.74. The dividend yield of Toyota Motor Corp stocks is 1.93%. Toyota Motor Corp had an annual average earnings growth of 17.30% over the past five years.
Roche Holding AG (XSWX:ROG)
At a total of six, Roche Holding AG was the most purchased international stock of gurus, who gave it a combined portfolio weight of 18.8%. The most committed buyer was the Tweedy Browne (Trades, Portfolio) Global Value fund, which devoted 4.5% of its total assets managed to buying 984,000 shares of the company. Primecap Management has the largest stake, with 1.2% of shares outstanding, at 10,374,512.
Primeccap Management’s holding history:
Roche was founded in 1896 and is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland and is a pharmaceutical and diagnostics company. Roche Holding AG has a market cap of $227.32 billion; its shares were traded at around $265.60 with a P/E ratio of 24.30 and P/S ratio of 4.90. The dividend yield of Roche Holding AG stocks is 1.80%.