Despite paying attention to price, this is far from a sedate value fund. A generous helping of small and midsize companies in this all-cap fund, plus a healthy dose of technology stocks, give it both an upside and downside bounce.

Over the last year ending in mid-April, the fund shed more than one-quarter of its value. But Oppenheimer International Growth also shows flashes of performance brilliance in years such as 1999, when its posture pushed its total return over the 60% mark. Its performance ranks in the top 10% of international funds over the last three years, according to Morningstar.

Evans says four themes dominate the fund right now: mass affluence, new technology, restructuring and an aging population. He groups the 85 stocks in the fund around those themes, rather than traditional sectors.

New technology, which makes up about half of the portfolio, is a broad-based group that encompasses semiconductor, video-game, software and drug-delivery companies. Here, Evans' recent purchases include Japanese video-game makers such as Sony, Konami and Capcon, as well as Infogrammes and Ubisoft, both of France. These companies are launching "a new generation of more powerful games with better graphics and better memory," he says. And while their earnings have been soft recently, he believes strong demand for their new products makes their prospects over the next two to three years "extraordinarily good."

Restructuring plays account for 19% of the fund. Restructurings, prevalent in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the United States, helped boost corporate profits and still are kicking in Europe and Japan. Holdings in this group include Japan's Toshiba, which is shedding some of its less profitable businesses, and Great Britain's SSL, a producer of health-related products that is getting a facelift with new management.

Mass affluence, a theme that encompasses companies that make luxury and leisure items, accounts for 18% of assets. Germany's Porsche and French jewelry maker Van Cleef & Arpels are among the more recognizable names here. Ireland's Elan and Denmark's Neurosearch, two companies that make drugs for Alzheimer's disease patients, are set to capitalize on his last theme of an aging population, which accounts for the balance of the fund.

Geographically, Oppenheimer International Growth Fund has about two-thirds of its assets in European stocks and 20% in Japanese issues. Emerging markets, such as Brazil, Korea, Israel and India, constitute the rest.

Like many international fund managers, Mark Yockey of Artisan International is waiting for the foreign market tide to turn in his favor. "Foreign markets were crappy last year, and they're pretty bad now," observes the 44-year-old manager, who is based in San Francisco.

Artisan's investors, who have had to endure a 28% decline in the value of their shares over the last year, probably would agree. If they've been around long enough, they might take some comfort in years like 1999, when the fund rose more than 81%, or 1996, when a 34.4% return made it the top-performing international fund that year.

Yockey places much of the blame for the recent turmoil on the mirror effect that the U.S. downturn has had on foreign markets. Stock market fluctuations in the United States, he says, have a disproportionate effect on the rest of the world. But over the long term, he points out, markets in the United States and foreign countries have not always moved in the same direction.

First « 1 2 3 4 5 6 » Next