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These Funds' U.S. and Foreign Exposure May Surprise You

The location of a company's headquarters doesn't tell the whole story.

Karin Anderson, 09/08/2011

Over the past 10 years, domestic large-cap funds' regional exposure has changed quite a bit. In mid-2001, 99% of the typical U.S. large-cap fund's portfolio was invested in stocks domiciled in the United States. In July of this year, that level dropped to 92%. This drift reflects relaxed mandates and domestic-fund managers' increasing willingness to hunt for stocks outside the U.S. And to some extent, it highlights the hunger for higher growth rates found in many emerging-markets countries.

Clearly, U.S. equities still grab the lion's share of large-cap portfolios. But there's more to the story. A fund's overall economic exposure can vary significantly from where its holdings are domiciled.

In this article, we'll look under the hood of two U.S. large-cap funds with successful, concentrated strategies to get a better picture of their economic exposures from a geographic standpoint. For contrast, we'll perform the same test on a concentrated foreign large-cap portfolio as well as a world-stock fund.

To estimate a fund's economic exposure, we take the percentage of each holding's reported revenues from the U.S. and overseas and adjust for its position size in the portfolio. These estimates are rough, as some firms group revenues from the U.S. under "North America" or "Americas," but the results are still interesting. 

U.S. Funds' Foreign Exposure
The managers at Jensen JENSX, a U.S.-focused large-growth fund, generally invest in about 30 companies that have delivered returns on equity of at least 15% in each of the past 10 years. They have always owned firms headquartered in the U.S., officially giving it zero exposure to foreign-domiciled funds. 

But shareholders' exposure is actually much broader. We estimate that 47% of this portfolio's underlying revenues come from outside the U.S. Consider, as examples, that the last annual reports for top holdings PepsiCo PEP, 3M MMM, and Emerson Electric EMR indicated that more than 50% of their revenues came from foreign countries. In fact, these companies' robust sales in emerging markets is a key reason why the Jensen managers own them.

Similarly, large-growth fund Marsico Focus MFOCX owns just one foreign-domiciled stock--Chinese internet firm Baidu--but around 44% of this portfolio's underlying revenues come from outside the U.S. Bigger positions in Apple AAPL and Wynn Resorts WYNN, which get more than half their sales abroad, help swing the fund's economic exposure that direction. But so does its stake in small-cap consumer electronics firm Harman International Industries HAR, which got an eye-popping 80% of revenues from overseas in its last fiscal year.

The fund's managers use a macroeconomic and bottom-up driven approach and are partial to firms that get a good chunk of their business from emerging-markets countries. This compact portfolio of around 30 holdings sometimes takes the direct route: It has had more than 10% of the portfolio in foreign-domiciled stocks at times. But whether it owns such firms or not, it's clear that it tends to be greatly exposed to foreign economies.

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