Vanguard International Growth (VWIGX). Most of this fund's assets are in developed markets, with about a quarter of the portfolio in emerging markets. Those emerging markets holdings were a drag on performance in 2008, but the fund rebounded dramatically in 2009, returning more than 40 percent. Among its largest holdings are Chinese Internet tycoon Baidu and Brazilian mining company Rio Tinto. Over the past 10 years, the fund has returned an annualized 5 percent. Its annual fees are 0.49 percent.
Manning & Napier World Opportunities (EXWAX). This fund's 9 percent annualized gain over the last decade ranks it near the top of its category, but what's more noteworthy is its history of guarding the downside—losing 20 percent less than its benchmark MSCI EAFE Index during market downturns, according to Morningstar. European stocks account for more than half of the fund's assets, and less than 10 percent of assets are in emerging markets. The fund invests in companies of all sizes. The average market capitalization of companies in its portfolio is $12 billion, compared with a category average of $30 billion. The fund's annual fees are 1.17 percent.
Scout International (UMBWX). James Moffett differs from other most fund managers in this category in that he invests in a handful of stocks in debt-ridden Eurozone countries like Greece. He also doesn't invest in China. About half the fund's assets are in developed Europe, and another 15 percent are in Japan. The fund's turnover ratio is only 12 percent. The fund has returned an annualized 7 percent over the past 10 years. Its annual fees are 0.97 percent.
Thornburg International Value (TGVAX). This fund is one of the most concentrated offerings on the list. It holds about 60 stocks from developed markets in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, and has an above-average allocation to emerging markets relative to the category. The fund's long-term results are impressive: Since its 1998 inception, it has posted an annualized 9 percent return, outperforming 166 of the 170 foreign large-cap funds that have been around that long, according to Morningstar. Top holdings include healthcare companies Novartis and Israel's Teva Pharmaceuticals. Its annual fees are 1.33 percent.
American Funds EuroPacific Growth (AEPGX). With almost 300 stocks in its portfolio, this fund is among the most diversified on the list. It also has a low turnover ratio of 26 percent. Management will invest at least 80 percent of the fund's holdings in Europe and Asia, according to the fund's prospectus. The fund is heavy on telecommunications and healthcare stocks, such as America Movil and Novartis. Over the past 10 years, the fund has returned an annualized 6 percent. Its annual fees are 0.85 percent.
Vanguard Total International Stock Index (VGTSX). Over the next few months, this index fund will begin tracking the MSCI All Country World ex-USA Investable Market Index (its former benchmark is the MSCI EAFE + Emerging Markets Index). Among the biggest changes: Canada will make up 8 percent of the index, and the fund will track close to 6,000 stocks, including some smaller companies. The fund has a rather large allocation to emerging markets stocks, which make up about 20 percent of total assets. The fund has returned an annualized 5 percent over the past 10 years and charges annual fees of 0.27 percent.
Vanguard Tax-Managed International (VTMGX). As its name suggests, the fund takes special care to minimize taxes. It's run like an index fund, but management will, at times, make changes for tax purposes. Management also trades infrequently to keep trading costs low. (The fund's turnover ratio is just 9 percent.) The portfolio is heavily weighted in Japan and developed countries in Europe. Over the past decade, the fund's 4 percent annualized return lagged its peers somewhat because of its lack of exposure to emerging markets. Its annual fees are 0.20 percent.
Corrected on 12/16/10: An earlier version of this story misstated the return of the average foreign large-blend fund. The return was a half of a percentage point lower than the MSCI EAFE Index.