investing

3 Great Global Funds

Invest around the world with these top no-load stock funds.

One of the nice things about global funds is that their managers, not you, decide how much to invest at home and how much to place overseas. Here are three top no-load global stock funds:

Oakmark Global Fund (symbol OAKGX)

Oakmark Global Fund, managed by Clyde McGregor and Rob Taylor, has compiled a terrific record, returning 12.1% annualized over the past ten years through December 3, compared with 3.0% for the average global stock fund. Sticklers for value, McGregor and Taylor hold 40 stocks, ranging from Snap-On, a U.S. maker of tools, to global giants such as Credit Suisse.

Oakmark has no direct investments in emerging markets, since they don’t find valuations compelling, but Taylor notes that they tap into the high growth through holdings such as Toyota Motor, which generates 35% of revenues in the developing world. McGregor, who also co-manages Oakmark Equity & Income (OAKBX), relishes his freedom to roam: "It's a joy for a fund manager and the logical way for someone to think about investing."

Harding Loevner Global Equity (HLMGX)

Harding Loevner Global Equity, with more of a bias toward growth companies, looks for industries that support high and rising profit margins. For instance, says Simon Hallett, Harding Loevner's chief investment officer, the firm took a shine to the industrial-gas industry, dominated by four titans that enjoy consistently high returns. Global Equity bought two: Praxair, a U.S. firm, and France's Air Liquide, the global leader.

In agribusiness, Harding Loevner’s pick is Monsanto, the dominant producer of high-tech seeds, and in retailing Hallett likes Tesco, a U.K.-based supermarket chain that has been more successful than Wal-Mart at running store chains in Asia and Europe. The fund gained 4.7% annualized over the past ten years.

Wintergreen Fund (WGRNX)

Other than its steep annual expense ratio of 1.94%, it's hard to find much fault with David Winters's Wintergreen Fund, which returned an annualized 7.2% over the past five years, beating the average global fund by four points per year (Wintergreen launched in 2005). Winters is superb at identifying executives -- such as those who run Switzerland's Richemont and England's British American Tobacco -- who focus on increasing shareholder value.

Winters sees only advantages in thinking and investing on a global basis. “It gives you more possibilities, a bigger pool in which to swim,” he says. Over the past five years, he notes, allocation to U.S. stocks has slipped from 65% to 30% as he finds better opportunities abroad in that larger pool.

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