Alliance Bernstein (NYSE: AB) is an investment manager whose global reach extends to 46 locations in 21 countries around the world. The company formed in 2000 when Alliance Capital, in business since 1971, acquired securities firm Sanford C. Bernstein, which brought aboard a significant private client base. With $479 billion in assets under management (AUM), Alliance Bernstein offers a broad selection of mutual funds, eight of which delve into markets beyond U.S. borders. While some funds are new to the scene, five of the portfolios have track records greater than 10 years, the longest belonging to the 34-year-old AB Global Thematic Growth Fund ("ALTFX"). Along with ALTFX, the following two funds warrant examination for portfolios seeking growth and diversification through global equity exposure.

AB Global Thematic Growth Fund ("ALTFX")

The oldest fund in the Alliance Bernstein fund group, the AB Global Thematic Growth Fund ("ALTFX") originated in March 1982. The fund garnered three stars from Morningstar for the three-year period ending March 31, 2016, holding a high risk to average return value. A world stock fund with approximately half its weighting in U.S. issues, ALTFX's net currency exposure comprises 59.48% U.S. dollars, followed by 9.32% and 7.49% in the euro and Japanese yen, respectively. As of July 11, 2016, the fund manages $60.28 million. 

Roarty also manages ALTFX, which holds $627 million in AUM and has an annual expense ratio of 1.45%. Fund management observes little indication of a pullback in the U.S. economy, as the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) composite for manufacturing rose a healthy 2.3 points in March 2016, buoyed by new orders for exports. While Roarty sees domestic strengthening, his view contrasts with that of Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen, who expressed concern over foreign economic weakness and its effect on U.S. growth prospects.

AB International Growth Fund ("AWPAX")

Investors with long-term time horizons were rewarded by the performance of the AB International Growth Fund ("AWPAX"), which returned an average of 5.30% for the 15-year period ending April 22, 2016, outpacing both the Morningstar foreign growth category and the Morgan Stanley Capital International All Country World Index Ex-U.S. (MSCI ACWI EX-US) over the same time frame. The fund's short-term gains have not fared as well. AWPAX suffered a 10.36% loss for the year, along with a -0.10% average annual decline in 10 years, with both periods ending April 22, 2016. As of July 11, 2016, the fund runs $45.6 million under its management. 

The fund began operations in June 1994 and has been steered by Daniel Roarty since November 2011. With the majority of its holdings in the United Kingdom and other developed European markets, AWPAX received contributions from French electric supplier Schneider Electric SE (SU.PA), the world's largest manufacturer of low- and medium-voltage equipment. Fueled by domestic consumption, Roarty sees modest growth for Europe over the next year, despite low March 2016 readings in the Purchasing Managers' Index.

AB Asia ex-Japan Equity Fund ("AXJAX") 

The newest addition to the Alliance Bernstein fund family, the AB Asia Ex-Japan Equity Fund ("AXJAX") began operations on Dec. 3, 2015. With $5 milllion asset under management, weightings by country include a 31.78% weighting in South Korea, 27.39% in China, and a combined 26.87% of holdings in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Predominantly investing in large Asia Pacific issues without Japanese exposure, AXJAX also looks toward mid- and small-cap issues to bolster returns that started off favorably, with a 4.65% year-to-date gain as of April 22, 2016. A 3.27% position in South Korean giant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (005930.KS), which holds over 200 patents related to graphene development, plays to expected strength in consumer cyclicals for 2016.

Managed by Stuart Rae, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate in physics from the University of Oxford, AXJAX forecasts a 6.3% growth rate for China, citing increased investments in infrastructure channeled through local governments as a reason for cautious optimism. Weakened demand for Korean exports, especially automobiles and electronics, may spur continued monetary easing by the country's central bank. Fund management believes the Bank of Korea (BOK) will lower rates over the next year by 0.50% to awaken slumbering global appetites for the nation's products.

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