The world's economies are out of sync -- just in time to give investors looking for a way to escape the anticipated 2007 slowdown in the U.S. economy a profitable place to park some money.The economies of China, India, Europe and even Japan are set to outgrow the U.S. economy next year, and those stock markets are likely to outperform Wall Street. But if you want a piece of that global action, you'll need to put some chips on the table -- global blue chips, that is. In 2007, at least, cyclical global commodity producers of coal, iron, copper, etc., and industrial-infrastructure plays in construction equipment or power plants, should take a back seat in your global portfolio to the shares of overseas companies with a global reach that do most of their business in the thriving domestic-consumer economies of China, India, Europe and Japan. In this column, I'll name 10 global blue chips to own for 2007.
U.S. No Longer DrivesAfter years in which the U.S. powered the global economy, it's now the turn of the rest of the world to drive the pace while the U.S. economy takes a breather. Europe has trailed the U.S. in economic growth for as long as I can remember, but in the second and third quarters of 2006, growth in the European Union actually outpaced growth in the U.S. economy, and projections call for the European Union to do the same in 2007.
Markets Have ChangedThis economic performance is likely to hold up even if the U.S. economy slows. There are two reasons: First, in the past five years, global export patterns have changed so that Europe is now as big a customer for China as the U.S. is, and intra-regional trade in Asia is more important than trade with either of those faraway markets. Second, the domestic economies of Asia have grown to the point where most growth in China and India -- and Japan -- now comes from spending by domestic consumers. For those two reasons, I've emphasized companies that derive the bulk of their revenue not from exporting to the slowing U.S. economy but from the domestic markets of Europe and Asia. I've chosen to focus on big companies in this list because:
- The shares of big companies provide a little more safety in what is likely to be a volatile year.
- It's hard for U.S. investors to follow anything but the biggest overseas companies, and I'd prefer that you be able to do your own due diligence on as many of these as possible rather than take my recommendations on faith.