The iShares MSCI France Index Fund (NYSEArca: EWQ) was little-changed in U.S. trading Tuesday morning after Moody’s stripped the country of its triple-A rating.
The credit rater cited France’s diminished long-term economic growth outlook, fiscal situation and susceptibility to “future euro area shocks.”
On Monday before the Moody’s downgrade, Russ Koesterich at BlackRock, which manages EWQ, upgraded France to overweight from neutral. Separately on Monday, the firm named Koesterich its chief investment strategist.
“The main reason is because French equities are now looking attractively valued. At a price-to-book multiple of 1.14, France is 14% below its 5-year average, and is offering a 31% discount to the MSCI World Index, and a 15% discount to Germany,” he wrote at the iShares blog.
“True, France’s growth prospects look lackluster, with a forecast of 0.4% (recently revised downward) by the European Commission and IMF. Still, in our view, the ’recession discount’ is already priced in,” he added.