Europe: Never So Cheap Since 1983

by: Uncle Scrooge

The global financial crisis that began in 2007 will be remembered in history books as the "Great Recession"; as at mid 2012 U.S. equities have recovered most of their losses and investors who had been bold and bought quality equities in the spring of 2009 have been handsomely rewarded; actually, the stocks of some high quality companies such as Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) are hitting new highs, never seen since the tech stocks bubble of the turn of the century. Here in Europe things are not so rosy since the Euro crisis is still unresolved and investors are afraid the Eurozone may fall apart, bearing catastrophic consequences.

As a contrarian investor I am still convinced that the worse is behind us, and, whatever the results of the impending Greek elections, the summer of 2012 is presenting us with a great opportunity for buying high quality European stocks at fire sale prices. According to Ian Harnett of Absolute Strategy Research, European equities are trading on a cyclically adjusted P/E ratio of just 11, near the bottom of its range over the past 30 years; if we compare average dividend yields at both ends of the Atlantic Ocean, EU equities offer a 4.1% yield while the U.S. market is paying just 2.2%.

What follows is an updated list of high quality European stocks with a market cap of at least $10 Billion and currently trading with a P/E ratio below 10

Banco Santander (NYSE:SAN) (STD) is the largest financial group in Spain and Latin America, the largest bank in the eurozone by market capitalization, and the fourth largest in the world by profits; it is headquartered in Madrid, Spain. The market cap is $52 Bil. The P/E ratio is incredibly cheap at 4.7 and the dividend yield is 13% but the company is very out of favor due to the dreadful economic situation in Spain.

BASF (OTCQX:BASFY), founded in 1865 in Ludwigshafen, Germany, is the largest diversified chemical company in the world. It comprises subsidiaries and joint ventures in more than 80 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, Americas and Africa. The company is currently expanding its international activities with a particular focus on China. It has a market cap of $65 Bil. The P/E ratio is 9.4 and the dividend yield is 4.6%

BMW (BAMXY.PK) is a German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1917 and is headquartered in Munich ; It is one of the top automobile producers in the world. It has a market cap of $43 Bil. The P/E ratio is 7.2 and the dividend yield is 4.1%

Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) is a global banking and financial services company with its headquarters Frankfurt, Germany. It employs more than 100,000 people in over 70 countries, and has a large presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and the BRICs. It has a market cap of $35 Bil. The P/E ratio is 8 and the dividend yield is 2.5%

Deutsche Boerse (OTCPK:DBOEY) is a marketplace organizer for the trading of shares and other securities. It was founded in 1993 and its headquarters are in Frankfurt, Germany. It employs more than 3,200 workers, servicing customers in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. It has a market cap of $10 Bil. The P/E ratio is 9.4 and the dividend yield is 5.8%

Eni (NYSE:E), founded in 1953 in Rome, Italy, is one of the largest integrated oil and gas companies. This is one of my top portfolio holdings and I plan to further increase my position in the near future, since at these prices I see a 40% upside potential. It has a market cap of $75 Bil. The P/E ratio is 7.4 and the dividend yield is 6.5%.

Enel (OTCPK:ENLAY), is an Italian multinational electric utility company, the third-largest in Europe by market capitalization. It was founded in Rome in 1962. It has a market cap of $31 Bil. The P/E ratio is very attractive, only 5.6. The dividend has been reduced to cut down debt, but is still expected to be at least 40% of earnings so the yield at these prices should be at least 6%

GDF Suez (GDFZY.PK) is a French multinational electric utility company, which operates in the fields of electricity generation and distribution, natural gas and renewable energy. It has a market cap of $50 Bil. The P/E ratio is 9.5, the dividend yield is 8.7%

Munich RE (OTCPK:MURGY) is a reinsurance company based in Munich, Germany. It is one of the world's leading reinsurers. ERGO, a Munich Re subsidiary, is the Group's primary insurance arm. This one is a favorite holding of Warren Buffett, with Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B) holding a 10% stake in the company. It has a market cap of $23 Bil. The P/E ratio is 7.5 and the dividend yield is 6%.

Total S.A. (NYSE:TOT) is a French multinational oil and gas company. Its businesses cover the entire oil and gas chain, from crude oil and natural gas exploration and production to power generation, transportation, refining, petroleum product marketing, and international crude oil and product trading. It has a market cap of $104 Bil. The P/E ratio is 6.7 and the dividend yield is 6.8%.

Vinci (OTCPK:VCISY) is a French concessions and construction company with headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison. It employs over 179,000 people and is the largest construction company in the world by revenue. It has a market cap of $24 Bil. The P/E ratio is 9.3 and the dividend yield is 5.5%.

Beware that while these stocks are indeed trading at attractive valuations, there is no guarantee that prices will not fall further or that the dividends will not be cut, so invest carefully and always do your own research before committing meaningful sums.

Disclosure: I am long E, OTCPK:ENLAY, STD.

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