Course 305: Choosing an International Fund, Part 1
Does It Concentrate in a Specific Region or Country?
In this course
1 Introduction
2 Does the Fund Own Emerging-Markets Stocks?
3 Does It Concentrate in a Specific Region or Country?

While you are examining a fund's country exposure, get a feel for whether the fund prefers a few markets or a particular region, or whether it casts a wider net. Morningstar clumps international funds that focus on a single region into one of the following regional categories: Europe stock, Latin America stock, Japan stock, Pacific/Asia stock, China region stock, and Pacific/Asia ex-Japan stock.

However, funds can overweight particular countries or regions and still land in the broad foreign-stock category because they have enough variety among their holdings to avoid being classified as regional funds. For example, Oakmark International OAKIX and Columbia International Value housed 25% and 30% of their assets in Japan, respectively, in early 2011. The average foreign large-blend stock fund, by comparison, holds 18% in Japan.

Note that a good dose of any single region or country (especially volatile Japan) can deliver uneven results. Largely due to its hefty Japan stake, Columbia International Value has returned far less than most of its peers following the financial crisis of 2008. If you are looking for a smoother ride, find funds that own stocks from a wide variety of markets.

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