Where the growth is now (hint: not the U.S.)
Everybody is talking about a U.S. recession...but there are still plenty of good investment opportunities if you look at the rest of the globe.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's easy to get depressed about the outlook for stocks if you look only at what's going on in the United States.
But any smart investor should have a portfolio that it is globally diversified. And now more than ever, there is a case to be made for broadening your investment horizon.
Even as more and more experts talk up the increased likelihood of a U.S. recession, there have been plenty of headlines that illustrate the rest of the world is still in decent economic shape. That should help both shares of large U.S. multinationals, as well as foreign firms.
Earlier this week, Coca-Cola reported solid quarterly profits thanks largely to healthy soda sales internationally.
China's government reported Friday morning that its trade surplus grew nearly 23% in January, further proof that exports of Chinese-made goods are continuing to drive that nation's robust economy.
And Berkshire Hathaway, run by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, disclosed in a regulatory filing yesterday evening that it acquired a small stake in British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.
"We get bombarded with headlines that make it seem like the world is coming to an end," said John Snyder, manager of the John Hancock Sovereign Investors Fund. "But beyond those headlines, many companies are doing reasonably well, particularly those with international exposure."
That has led Snyder to not only big U.S. multinationals such as United Technologies (UTX, Fortune 500) and Emerson Electric (EMR, Fortune 500) but also to firms based outside of the U.S. that have shares listed on American stock exchanges, such as Israeli generic drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) and French oil giant Total (TOT).
"Companies are saying that the U.S. economy is slowing but that's more than offset by what's going on in Europe, Asia and Latin America," Snyder said.
David Lazenby, a portfolio manager with Batterymarch, a subsidiary of Legg Mason which runs the Legg Mason Emerging Markets Trust mutual fund, also thinks investors should not assume that a U.S. recession would trigger a global recession too.
"There is evidence to justify ongoing strength in economies as well as markets outside the U.S.," Lazenby said.
Lazenby said he thinks that companies with ties to booming commodities such as oil and iron ore will continue to benefit from strong demand globally.
Lazenby added that there are even some global banks worth owning since they have not been tarred by the subprime mortgage crisis. Two that he owns in the fund are Brazil's Banco Itau (ITU) and South Africa's Standard Bank.
Even one high-yield bond fund manager I spoke to yesterday said that he's finding more bargains these days in corporate debt from outside the United States.
Greg Hopper, manager of the Julius Baer Global High Income fund, said that he's been increasingly seeing more opportunities in Europe. He owns bonds of Danish telecom Tele Danmark and Greek telecom Hellas.
Simply put, international companies offer better value and growth potential right now than many American firms.
According to data from Thomson Baseline, shares of foreign companies with a market value of at least $1 billion that have shares listed in the U.S. are trading at about 16 times 2008 earnings estimates.
That's the same P/E as S&P 500 companies, but the non-U.S companies are set to post much faster earnings gains - 36% growth this year versus 23% for S&P 500 companies.
So go ahead and dust off your passport. It's time to do some globetrotting in order to juice your portfolio's returns.