TipToe Through The Tulips
The case for increasing European investments is getting stronger, as we evaluate the fundamentals, valuations, and to a lesser extent the technicals. Throughout most of the region, we are seeing improvement in the economic data and most importantly, in corporate earnings. After a strong fourth quarter 2016 based on MSCI Europe earnings up 28%, earnings growth may be positive for the first time since 2013, albeit just barely, on a year-over-year basis. More importantly, earnings expectations for 2017 have been improving. Valuations for European stocks are relatively attractive based on forward-looking earnings estimates, though they still seem expensive based on trailing earnings. The technical picture, the last components in our investment process, is decidedly mixed. On an absolute basis, European equities appear to be close to breaking out. However, relative to U.S. stocks, European equities have stalled, at least temporarily. Much of the relative performance between U.S. and European equities will likely depend on currency markets, which in turn are likely to be largely driven by political actions in both regions.