A New Conventional Wisdom?

Five Myths of International Investing

Why U.S. investors shouldn’t ignore international stocks

March 11, 2016 — BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Many U.S. investors are ignoring or avoiding international stocks, often due to some common misperceptions. A new paper from Fidelity Investments, “Five Myths of International Investing,” examines and debunks that prevailing conventional wisdom.

“Having a globally diversified portfolio shouldn’t be a foreign concept,” says Tim Cohen, chief investment officer at Fidelity Investments. “Many U.S. investors incorrectly assume that having international exposure is too risky.

On the contrary, international stocks within a globally balanced portfolio can provide enhanced diversification and increase the potential for better risk-adjusted returns over the long term.”

  • Myth 1 – International investing is too risky
    Reality: In combination with U.S. stocks, international exposure can actually lower risk in an equity portfolio. Over the past 60 years, a globally balanced hypothetical portfolio of 70% U.S./30% international equities has produced better risk-adjusted returns (Sharpe ratio)1 and lower volatility than an all-U.S. portfolio.
  • Myth 2 – U.S. stocks usually outperform foreign stocks
    Reality: Historically, the performance of international and U.S. stocks is cyclical: One typically outperforms the other for several years before the cycle rotates.
  • Myth 3 – U.S. multinationals provide adequate international diversification
    Reality: While U.S. multinationals may provide some exposure to foreign markets, they still offer only a fraction of the currency diversification offered by overseas markets.
    Having a globally diversified portfolio shouldn’t be a foreign concept
  • Myth 4 – Investors should hedge their currency exposure
    Reality: While it might sound good in theory, the effort and expense involved in currency hedging might not be worth it. Since 1973, currency hedging has detracted from returns in 54% of quarters, and helped in only 46% of quarters.
  • Myth 5 – Index funds beat active funds in international
    Reality: Investing in companies overseas comes with political, liquidity, and currency risks, all of which can create price inefficiencies within individual stocks. Taking advantage of these inefficiencies requires specialized local knowledge, careful research, and efficient trading. Active managers can maneuver a portfolio to take advantage of these inefficiencies and have a demonstrated ability to outperform their index, producing significantly greater excess return compared to passive strategies.

Balance check

Even investors who had a well-diversified portfolio of global stocks may find their allocation out of balance after several years of U.S. stocks outperforming international markets.

Now may be an ideal time to re-examine stock allocations and add more international equities to your investment mix, especially actively managed strategies.

For more information on the “Five Myths of International Investing,” please visit here.




About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity’s goal is to make financial expertise broadly accessible and effective in helping people live the lives they want. With assets under administration of $5.0 trillion, including managed assets of $2.0 trillion as of January 31, 2016, we focus on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers: helping more than 25 million people invest their own life savings, nearly 20,000 businesses manage employee benefit programs, as well as providing nearly 10,000 advisory firms with investment and technology solutions to invest their own clients’ money. Privately held for nearly 70 years, Fidelity employs 45,000 associates who are focused on the long-term success of our customers. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit https://www.fidelity.com/about.
Views expressed are as of the date indicated, based on the information available at that time, and may change based on market and other conditions. Unless otherwise noted, the opinions provided are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Fidelity Investments or its affiliates. Fidelity does not assume any duty to update any of the information. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s own goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk.