Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. European companies, beaten down by their nations' economic woes, could be bargain-priced right now. Want to add some to your portfolio? The Vanguard MSCI Europe ETF
ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins. The Vanguard ETF's expense ratio -- its annual fee -- is a very low 0.14%. (Vanguard is known for low fees.) It also recently yielded a hefty 4.8%, thanks in part to the depressed prices of its component stocks.
This ETF has delivered returns close to those of the MCSI EAFE index, beating it slightly over the past three years and underperforming it over the past five. As with most investments, of course, we can't expect outstanding performances in every quarter or year. Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver.
With a very low turnover rate of 6%, this fund isn't frantically and frequently rejiggering its holdings (as many funds do).
What's in it?
Some European companies had strong performances over the past year. Based in Denmark, Novo Nordisk
Many other companies didn't do as well last year, but could see their fortunes change. Telefonica
Oil giant Total
The big picture
A well-chosen ETF can grant you instant diversification across any industry or group of companies -- and make investing in and profiting from it that much easier.
If you'd like to invest in a very promising energy stock, but aren't totally sold on Total, check out our special free report, "The Only Energy Stock You'll Ever Need." It will introduce you to a compelling contender for your portfolio.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see her holdings and a short bio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Total. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.