Some strategists and hedge fund managers are betting on big upside for European equities despite rising political risk associated with the April presidential election in France.
European stocks are benefiting "tremendously" from a weaker euro, and right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen is more likely than not to lose the election, said Boris Schlossberg, BK Asset Management's managing director of foreign exchange strategy.
"I've got to bet at this point she's not going to win. I think there's a huge amount of fear that's already been priced into the trade. And I like the European stocks even more than I like the euro itself. The euro has, maybe, perhaps other factors behind it. I would be much more favorable towards going long European stocks," Schlossberg said Wednesday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."
Polls show that Le Pen, a nationalist who supports a French exit from the euro zone, is favored by about 25 percent of voters. That has rattled the market, said Schlossberg. Indeed, the euro has lost 1.5 percent against the U.S. dollar in the last month, and with the French election apparently in mind, the European Central Bank on Thursday decided to keep interest rates at zero precent.
The FTSE 100 index fell sharply after Britain's decision to leave the European Union last June, but recovered and rose 7.5 percent in one month's time. A milder story played out in U.S. markets following the U.S. presidential election last November; S&P 500 futures plummeted overnight as President Donald Trump's rose to victory, and then climbed 6 percent over the next month.
Schlossberg warned, however, that if Le Pen gets past the first round voting on April 23 to advance to a possible May 7 runoff between the two top vote-getters, then "all bets are off."
"That could put the whole European experiment very much under risk," he said.
On Wednesday, influential investor David Tepper told CNBC he was long European equities.
"I could lose my behind, but that's life, if it goes the other way. But the odds are the odds. There's the upside that people aren't recognizing," Tepper said on Squawk Box."
Investors will find ample buying opportunity over the next month in European equities, said Larry McDonald, head of global macro strategy at ACG Analytics and editor of financial newsletter "The Bear Traps Report."
"Buy French stocks on dips," McDonald said Wednesday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."
"Even if [Le Pen] wins, if the government there is going more conservative, it's a better risk-reward in French equities, and they're very, very cheap to U.S. equities," he added.