Strategists at U.S. investment bank Citi remain bullish on prospects for European equities in 2013, recommending that investors choose companies with defensive growth characteristics and which are seen as "world champions" in their sector.
Citi strategists also forecast that the pan-European STOXX 600 index could end 2013 at 290 points and end 2014 at 315 points - representing cumulative gains of around 20 percent from its current levels of around 277 points.
"'Don't give up on Europe' should have been the 2012 motto for investors. It felt tough but European equity returns beat the U.S. and emerging markets," they write in a research note.
"Our equity strategists remain bullish. They target 20 percent plus returns in 2013-2014 and expect a further re-rating to be driven by reducing macro risks and increasing investor and corporate confidence," they add.
Citi's "Focus List" for top European stocks features Swiss industrial group ABB, brewer AB-InBev, UK bank Barclays, drugs group Bayer, energy company BG Group, miner BHP Billiton , French bank BNP Paribas and media group BSkyB.
Others on the list include catering and services company Compass, food company Danone, Italian utility Enel, corrective lenses company Essilor, Spanish clothing retailer Inditex, British insurer Prudential Plc and fashion group PPR.
Mining equipment and tools group Sandvik, German software company SAP, agrochemicals company Syngenta and car group Volkswagen complete Citi's European stocks "Focus List."
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