Patient investors have been waiting for European equities and the relevant exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to start outpacing U.S. stocks. That could happen this year, but with several national elections scheduled in some of the Eurozone's largest economies, investors may want to consider a lower-volatility approach to the European stock market.

The iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol Europe ETF (EUMV), the European answer to the popular iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA ETF (USMV), gives investors access to European stocks with reduced volatility. EUMV debuted nearly three years ago but remains unheralded among Europe ETFs, as highlighted by its mere $23.8 million in assets under management. Still, conservative investors looking for Europe exposure would do well to focus on EUMV's utility, rather than the ETF's size, at a time of expected upside for the region's stocks. (See also: 3 Ways to Trade the Rise in European Volatility.)

"Since mid-2016, Eurozone growth has steadily strengthened and is now receiving a boost from an unexpected global trade rebound," said BlackRock, Inc. (BLK) in a recent note. "France has picked up momentum to join Germany and Spain as a growth engine. Italy's economic data are starting to turn up after a long funk that has stoked an anti-establishment mood. Bank lending is slowly recuperating. Efforts to clean up bad loans at Italian banks, along with capital raisings, may help unclog the credit channel and unleash better growth."

Germany, France and Italy, the Eurozone's three largest economies in that order, combine for 22% of EUMV's weight. With elections looming for France and Germany, and possibly Italy, EUMV could be an idea for investors looking to avoid Eurozone political volatility. (See also: Euro to Strengthen Against Dollar After Election Season.)

Investors should note that EUMV, which tracks the MSCI Europe Minimum Volatility Index, is not a dedicated Eurozone ETF. Like traditional Europe funds, EUMV allocates a significant portion of its weight – 46 percent – to British and Swiss stocks. Defensive consumer staples, telecom and utilities stocks combine for 37% of EUMV's sector weight, indicating that the ETF follows a sector-level blueprint seen with some U.S. low-volatility strategies. As expected, EUMV's exposure to higher-beta energy, materials and technology names is lower relative to standard European equity benchmarks.

EUMV could be a way for apprehensive investors to nibble at European stocks at a time when many market participants are shying away. "We find that the market appears very downbeat on Europe’s growth prospects," said BlackRock. "A big reason we are positive on risk assets in Europe is because the market is not reflecting the region's better economic performance and outlook. Backing out growth expectations from moves in bond yields and equity indices, we see the market pricing GDP growth of just 1% in the Eurozone's big four economies in the year ahead. That compares with our BlackRock GPS forward view of 1.4%." (See also: European Growth Slows on High Inflation, Unemployment.)

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