There's Money in Europe's 'Fear': Pros
Caught in the throes of a recession, and in some areas depression, Europe is in chaos with an uncertain future ahead — just the way David Marcus likes it.
The CEO at Evermore Global Advisors is happy to watch as investors run away from the continental turmoil, presenting a chance for him to swoop in and pick through the wreckage.
"Where there's fear, panic, crisis and stress, there's also typically opportunity. For us, it's business as usual," Marcus said during a chat at this week's Charles Schwab Impact 2012 conference.
His comments could seem ill-timed to the casual observer.
After all, data confirmed Thursday what many had suspected, that Europe indeed is in recession. (Read More: Euro Zone Slips Into Second Recession Since 2009)
Capital Economics followed the news by saying that the economy probably will see negative growth of 2.5 percent in 2013 "as the peripheral debt crisis drags on." Even stronger economies in Germany and France could see business surveys move into contraction mode.
All of which is fine with Marcus.
"Our fund is a global fund. Today the largest allocation is European markets. We want to go where there's fear, stress, panic and distress. That's what Europe has," he said. "If you yell 'fire!', I run in. I want to go where you're seeing the panic. Amongst the rubble there are great opportunities."
Marcus helps run the Evermore Global Value fund, a fairly new and relatively weak performer among its peers, which he attributes to being "early" on his European call.
He believes a strategy of looking at individual companies rather than countries is a winning approach to capitalizing on the euro zone turmoil. (Read More: Cracks in France…as Southern Europe Moves Ahead)
"Valuations are incredibly compelling," he said. "Europe is just over 45 percent of our portfolio. As a global fund, we probably have the highest allocation toward Europe than any other fund."
In terms of companies, he cites Vivendi as an example of a great buying opportunity.
The entertainment giant is "a big disjointed conglomerate, full of disparate media assets, and for the last decade it's been a value trap."
But the company is now in the midst of a reorganization that has included a new CEO, an investor revolt, and consequently a likely new direction away from telecommunications and toward media.
"It's a snapshot of what you can find in Europe in all shapes and sizes," Marcus said.
And he's not alone in taking a company-specific approach toward European investing.
Joseph Moran, head of wealth management at Oppenheimer Funds, also is on the hunt for bargains across the zone.
'We think there are some great things in Europe, not by country, more by company," Moran said. "Across-the-board there are great finds. That's where our due diligence comes in, finding those companies."
Moran said he is focusing specifically on technology and in particular networking and distribution.
"More critical is how we deal with this next generation, which is immensely connected," he said. "The way we fundamentally look at things, company-specific, there are good opportunities out there. There are lots of corners, all over the world."