Ensure Your Stocks Have International Flavor

If you’re buying stocks right now, you better make sure the companies you’re considering have a significant portion of their total revenues coming from abroad. There just isn’t the kind of growth at home that can enable companies to grow at a pace that will get investors excited. This is especially the case with larger- cap companies.

A few decades ago, large equipment companies like Caterpillar, Inc. (NYSE/CAT) and Deere & Company (NYSE/DE) realized that they had better expand into international markets or risk losing out to domestic equipment manufacturers. Both of these companies have been extremely successful at expanding their operations in developing economies and international sales are now making up around half of total corporate revenues.

Deere has made significant infrastructure investments in South America, and recently announced an expansion in Russia. That country’s economy has significant exposure to agriculture and forestry, which just happens to be John Deere’s specialty.

The company plans to build an eighty-million-dollar central operations center just south of Moscow, which will include a distribution, replacement parts and training facility. The first stage of the development is a new 98-acre facility that will house a 322,000-square-foot replacement parts distribution center.

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In 2002, Deere opened a forestry sales branch in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and, in 2003, the company opened an agricultural sales branch office in Moscow. Currently, Deere has a network of 13 dealers in Russia’s most important agricultural regions.

So, while demand at home is slow, demand for heavy equipment in international markets is robust.

I hope that business schools put some effort in to studying companies like Caterpillar and Deere. The fact that both of these companies can keep achieving record financial growth is a testament to their international business skill.