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BLOG: Euro 2020 – Which teams and funds should you be backing?

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Written by: Darius McDermott
11/06/2021
It might be 12 months late, but football fans can finally look forward to the start of Euro 2020 today.

The UK has three entrants for this feast of football in the shape of England, Scotland and Wales, with the former – dare I say it – among the tournament favourites.

There are reasons for optimism, not least because Gareth Southgate’s men reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia in 2018. However, it has been 55 years since England’s sole World Cup victory in 1966 and in that time there has been so much disappointment. Whether it was our gallant, but painful losses to the likes of Germany and Italy (and the rest) on penalties, to the shame of losing to minnows Iceland – who’s coach was a dentist.

Among the Iceland squad for that humbling in 2016 was goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, a film director who directed the video for Iceland’s entry in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. I’m a pessimist at heart when it comes to the England football team, but I will say that I think we have more chance of winning the Euros than we do of winning Eurovision anytime soon!

There are plenty of others in with a shout, and it’s an open tournament for those who want to take the opportunity.

Investing in Europe also appears to be an opportunity at the moment, having outperformed the likes of Japan Asia and other emerging markets so far in 2021*.

Yet it remains thoroughly unloved, with investors taking money out of European equities consistently this year.

Sentiment has not been on Europe’s side. The first five months of 2021 have been dominated by negative headlines as elevated numbers of Covid cases, new economic lockdowns, and a slow pace of vaccination have seen it heavily lag the US and UK when it comes to any potential recovery. There are also numerous political considerations from domestic elections, ongoing Brexit issues and the threat of rising inflation.

But there are reasons for optimism, a broad economic recovery/reopening would benefit Europe and its plethora of cyclical companies. Economic data is also stronger than many would have estimated, while a number of the companies in Europe have a strong global footprint – meaning their fortunes are not completely tied to the European economy. If, as expected, the European economy re-opens after the UK and the US, it could be the place to be in the not-too-distant future.

Chelsea’s European starting line-up

In the spirit of the tournament, and for those looking to increase exposure to Europe, here’s our suggestions for different ways to access the region – depending on whether you prefer a defensive or attacking stance to your portfolio:

Defence

In goal you could have the TwentyFour Dynamic Bond fund, which currently has almost 40% invested in Europe**. A solid income paying fund like LF Montanaro European Income, which has a focus on small and medium-sized firms, is also worth considering.

Midfield

I’d start with the Waverton European Capital Growth fund, a high conviction portfolio investing in reforming large and medium-sized European businesses. The managers focus on finding companies with five key attributes; aligned interests, earnings visibility, pricing power, cash generation and return on capital.

Another is GAM Star Continental European Equity, a 30-50 stock portfolio where the manager buys stocks at the point where they are either out-of-favour or where growth prospects are believed not to be fully reflected in the share price.

Attack

To add some excitement up front, we would suggest Baring Europe Select Trust which invests in small and medium-sized companies, or the Legg Mason IF Martin Currie European

Unconstrained fund, a high conviction portfolio of quality growth European equities, with no constraints on regional or country allocations. Manager Zehrid Osmani believes it is important to avoid short-term noise and focuses on a 5-10 year investment time horizon.

*Source: FE fund info, total returns in sterling, 1 January 2021 to 10 June 2021 (figures for MSCI AC Europe, MSCI EAFE Emerging Markets, MSCI AC Asia Pacific and the Nikkei 225)

**Source: M&G, View from the Desk, 30 April 2021

Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. You may not get back the amount originally invested, and tax rules can change over time. Darius’s views are his own and do not constitute financial advice.

Darius McDermott is managing director at Chelsea Financial Services & FundCalibre

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