The hunt for the best match of growth and price is the Holy Grail of investing -- and for good reason. Stocks with great growth prospects are too often expensive, and cheap stocks too often have poor growth prospects.
But right now, it is possible to buy the best of growth and value ... as long as you know where to look.
A legendary investor spills the beans
In his most recent letter to shareholders, Third Avenue Value (TAVFX) manager Marty Whitman revealed that his fund, which is not an international fund, has more than half of its funds invested in foreign firms. That's because these names "appear to be much cheaper than U.S. issues" and at the same time "have much greater growth potential."
That's right, growth companies are on sale. But only if you look beyond the U.S. markets to Asia, South America, and yes, even Europe.
Know what you're looking for
When looking at foreign stocks, like Whitman, you want to focus not just on value as defined by cash flows, but also on the quality of the balance sheet. That way, you'll identify names that are both earnings growth stories at bargain prices and rock-solid long-term plays.
Korean steelmaker Posco
Two great places to start looking
Financial services are a great place to start digging. Banks in particular are intriguing, because they provide much of the grease that keeps any economy moving. Some domestic banks can provide you with this exposure, but if a focused, well-run, local bank is available, it is likely to grow much more quickly than an enormous multinational. Citigroup
Another place to look for bargains is consumer products companies that may be headquartered either domestically or in a mature foreign economy, but are focused on international expansion. Yum! Brands
Foolish final thoughts
The best opportunities in the market right now are companies leveraged to growth in international economies and increasing global trade. Some domestic companies offer a taste of the growing global economy, but the best opportunities will be found outside our borders.
In Motley Fool Global Gains, we search the world for investing opportunities. You can take a look at our ideas and best picks for new money now by joining Global Gains free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.
Nathan Parmelee is a Global Gains analyst and owns shares of Yum! Brands. He doesn't own shares in any of the other companies mentioned. Posco is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Third Avenue Value is a Champion Funds pick. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.