BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Investors looking to play the better-than-expected economic growth in eurozone countries might be smart to buy U.S. companies like McDonald's (MCD - Get Report) and Philip Morris (PM - Get Report), which derive a large chunk of their revenue from European countries.
Eurozone gross domestic product, or GDP, rose to 0.8% in the first quarter, up from 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2010. The acceleration came thanks to Germany and France, which reported growth of 1.5% and 1%, respectively.
Surprisingly, both Spain and Greece, which have been mired in debt crises, reported positive GDP figures. For Greece, which has been particularly hard hit, it was the first positive GDP figure since 2009. Following the release of the GDP report, the euro gained ground on the dollar, rising to $1.43.
U.S. companies with a big exposure to Europe could see some short-term benefit from the GDP numbers, says Paul Nolte, director of investments with Chicago-based Dearborn Partners."The fact that it came in above expectations is certainly a good thing," Nolte says. "The eurozone still has the same issues that they had prior, as the weaker countries are still weak and the stronger countries are still strong. This is marginally better for U.S. companies that export over there, although it's not the boon you'd like to see." On the other hand, Jay Suskind, senior vice president with Duncan-Williams in New Jersey, says that the European GDP report isn't the panacea for the problems in Europe. "This number is from the last quarter, and you've had a lot of issues lately in Europe," Suskind says. "You've had Greece, the euro has been softening, and Jean-Claude Trichet has been less hawkish, which signals that he sees more weakness in Europe than is out there. If this was the beginning of a new growth cycle, I'd certainly take a look at multinational companies with business in Europe. But I'm not so sure this time." For U.S. investors looking to quickly capitalize on the report, one way would be to look at U.S. companies that generate much of their sales from the region. The 10 companies with the highest quarterly geographic segment revenue from Europe are presented below, ranked by the percentage compared to total quarterly revenue.
10. Edwards Life Sciences (EW - Get Report) Company Profile: Edwards Life Sciences is a provider of products and technologies designed to treat advanced cardiovascular disease. Current Share Price: $89.29 Revenue from Europe Segment: $139.5 million, or 34.5% of total revenue, according to Edwards Life Sciences' latest earnings release. Overall, the company had $404.5 million in revenue during the first quarter.