Aside from buying stocks on the cheap, managers also curb volatility by hedging the entire portfolio against the U.S. dollar, effectively neutralizing any impact from currency fluctuation. "Some people argue that it's not necessary to hedge because, over the long-term, the performance of hedged versus unhedged portfolios is about the same anyway," Browne says. "That's fine if you're willing to wait 20 years for things to even out. But our investors want to lower their volatility immediately, and that's what our hedging strategy does." As for any upside the fund might sacrifice by swearing off currency bets, Browne says he prefers that returns come from the local stock markets rather than currency fluctuations.

Unlike many managers of foreign-stock funds, the team at Tweedy, Browne usually stays close to home. "We call managers of foreign companies, but we don't think it's necessary to camp out on their doorsteps," says Thomas H. Shrager, an analyst and one of the firm's managing directors. "We're focusing on a company's financial position or product, not trying to get a warm and fuzzy feeling from the CEO. And we don't buy stocks with astronomical valuations. Expectations are low, and the numbers, not the CEO, are going to tell most of what we need to know."

Even though the fund's global mandate gives its managers the leeway to invest in American companies, domestic businesses account for only about 12% of assets. Since the fund's inception, in fact, Tweedy, Browne Global Value never has invested more than 15% of its assets in U.S. companies. "When we started the fund, we wanted to have the flexibility to move into the U.S. if stocks were cheaper than in other countries," says Shrager. "But that hasn't happened yet, and we don't have any plans to add to our U.S. positions."

Europe represents the largest geographical chunk of the fund, weighing in at 55% of assets, followed by the Pacific Rim, at 20%. Japanese companies represent just over 12% of the Pacific Rim allocation. You won't find many emerging markets here. This cautious bunch sticks to countries where you can feel safe drinking the water.

Of the fund's five largest holdings, Browne is most excited about Germany's Merck KGaA. The stock has been held back, he says, because investors think the company isn't focusing enough on its pharmaceutical division. But a new president recently initiated a restructuring program that disposed of noncore business units, and that, combined with the new president himself, should revamp its image and bring its valuation more in line with other pharmaceutical stocks.

Never mind the widely publicized tech-company layoffs or the gyrating stock market. Or concerns about much of the world sliding into a recession. Or the other litany of economic woes about which we keep hearing. George Evans, manager of the Oppenheimer International Growth Fund based in New York, says that over the long term, the world is entering an era of what he calls "mass affluence" that will overpower any short-term setbacks in the stock market.

"Quite simply, the world is getting richer," he says. "Per capita income is getting higher here and in Europe, and Singapore's per capita income is higher than the U.K.'s. Overall, the growth in affluence is exceeding population growth."

But what about those nasty negative earnings reports that keep dogging the stock markets of the world? "At the moment, all investors really seem to care about are next quarter's earnings," says the 41-year-old Evans, who has managed the fund since 1996. "We're interested in whether a company can grow earnings over the long term. Right now, we're picking up stocks at bargain prices because of the panic. Two to three years out, I believe they will be substantially higher."

Although he's a bargain hunter, Evans says he doesn't really fit into the "growth at a reasonable price" camp. "The GARP guys like to buy stocks with above-market earnings growth at slightly below-market price-earnings ratios," he says. "We buy on downturns and market overreaction to bad news. I call it GASP-growth at a stupid price."

His style isn't easy to categorize, he says. "It's not like we look for companies in a particular sector with the lowest price-earnings ratios, or anything like that. We just want to find companies that are selling at bargain prices compared to where we think they can be two or three years out. There's really no formula."

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