(Dow Jones) The European debt crisis has sparked weeks of stock market worries, and
now concerns about Asia are adding to declines. But some financial
advisors, focusing on the burgeoning strength of the U.S. economy, have
seen this spring's troubles as a buying opportunity.
Over the past month, fears about the debt problems of Greece and other nations have roiled U.S. markets, with the Dow posting a loss of more than 10%.
The declines have sparked worries for many on Main Street. In the first 12 days of May alone, U.S. investors yanked about $12 billion from stock mutual funds and $1 billion from bond funds.
Financial advisors seem to be counseling clients not to follow that trend.
"Economically I think we're on the right track," says Roman Franklin, a financial planner in DeLand, Fla. "The market got a little overheated."
Franklin's clients typically have between 2% and 15% in international stocks and bonds, depending on the investment climate. They've been at the low end of that range since he sold foreign holdings at the start of the year. But in the past several days, he's been snatching up shares of Templeton Global Income (GIM), a $1.2 billion closed-end fund that targets sovereign debt. If the stock market falls another 3% to 4% he'll start buying the $248 million SPDR S&P Emerging Markets Small Cap (EWX), too.
"We're not worried about a double-dip recession at all," Franklin says.
Burbank, Calif.-based advisor Mark Gleason has been reducing his clients' U.S. fixed-income holdings "across the board" and buying U.S. and foreign stocks, which he thinks appear attractively valued. Among the vehicles he's picked: the $4 billion Tweedy Browne Global Value Fund and the $68 million Templeton Frontier Markets Fund, whose market fundamentals, such as a price-to-earnings ratio of 7.7%, he finds especially attractive.
Stocks "have been beaten down," he says. "We see good value. It may take a while for that value to be recognized."
One big brokerage firm, Wells Fargo Advisors, has also been encouraging its advisors and clients to take a bullish view. Despite market fears, the "world is not in a recession, but in the early stages of a solid economic expansion that is gaining momentum (even in Europe)" notes a recent report from Wells Fargo's Investment Strategy Committee. Although the report suggests political indecision about how to resolve European debt problems could slow growth, it doesn't predict another bear market.
"Assuming we continue in an economic recovery, we believe investors should spend 2010 preparing for the second leg up in this cyclical bull market, which we expect to form in 2011."
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