Zermatt Valley and the Matterhorn, Switzerland. Shutterstock photoZermatt Valley and the Matterhorn, Switzerland. Shutterstock photo

About five years ago, my youngest daughter decided that she would like to spend a year studying in Switzerland. My wife and I agreed and in November that year, we went to visit her in Lausanne. Were we in for a shock! Not because she spoke to us only in French, but the prices.

Oh my goodness. Croissants and coffee for the three of us was $80. Dinner with her roommate tagging along was $400. The next morning before we made our exit, and before we ran out of money, she took us for crepes and coffee at a hotel overlooking Lake Geneva which was once home to Lord Byron, $100. After saying our farewells, not only to our daughter but to the country, we got an immediate pay raise upon entering France.

So where is all this leading? Well, after that trip I never looked at Switzerland as an investment destination, but since five years has now elapsed and I am finally over the shock, I decided to do some research. Switzerland is synonymous with banks, bakeries, insurance, and consumer goods with world renowned names, which in some cases trace their history back hundreds of years; however, I have never looked upon them as stocks to purchase.

I really wanted to stay away from the well-known names like Nestle, UBS, Swiss Re, and Novartis, and I found some lesser known entities that may be of interest to investors.

The first is Emmi AG (EMMN:SW) which is a food products company specializing in dairy. They own a couple of brands well known to U.S. consumers, like Benecol and Redwood Hill Farms, which produces goat milk products. Very good for you.

Barry Callebaut AG (BARN:SW) is one of the world’s largest cocoa producers, with plants located in about 30 countries including the U.S. in Pennsauken, NJ. Go pay them a visit.

Straumann Holding AG (STMN:SW) is a company that develops and sells dental implants around the world. With the constant bombardment of TV advertising from Clear Choice (no relationship), this company struck a chord with me.

Last is Ypsomed Holding AG (YPSN:SW) whose products include diabetes monitoring equipment and pen injectors, similar to the type being hammered in the press right now made by Mylan Labs. I don’t believe that there is any connection between the two companies, but this is certainly a company that may be able to take advantage of the recent kerfuffle.

So there you have it, four companies all having nice YTD returns with great upside potential, and it didn’t cost you a single Swiss Franc. However, if you do want to experience $110 crepes and coffee (adjusted for inflation), write to me and I will provide you with the name of the hotel.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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