The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage. NEW YORK ( InvestorPlace) -- In July, some soccer fans were surprised as star footballer Carlos Tevez debated departing the Premier League's club in Manchester, England, to take up a spot on the roster of a team based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Why would a top player even think of abandoning the bright lights of Europe's soccer scene for a second-tier market? However, this is not a new trend. As the Financial Times reported a few weeks ago, soccer salaries in Brazil have been soaring as the pay scale in Europe has flatlined. Younger stars are sticking it out in South America before heading to the "big leagues" such as the Premiership or Spain's La Liga -- if they go at all. If this keeps up, Europe might become the second-tier market before long.
Also see: Why should you care if, like me, you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who couldn't care less about soccer? Because this trend says a lot about Brazil, its middle class and the region's economy in general. A booming middle class has money to burn on TVs, cell phones, expensive foods -- and yes, even soccer tickets. The result is big growth in just about every corner of Brazil's economy. So how can you get in on this boom? Here are three big reasons to bank on Brazil, and stocks to watch that are sharing in the nation's success: Hewlett-Packard Embodies What's Worst in Corporate America Also see: Earlier in the year, Wal-Mart ( WMT) announced plans to invest almost $760 million in Brazil this year to open 80 stores. These companies are spending money with the hopes of making even more money. 5 Stocks Buffett Wouldn't Touch No Matter What Price Also see: 4 Big Name Spinoffs That Wall Street Would Love to See Now
The iShares MSCI Brazil ETF ( EWZ) is the largest non-U.S., single-country ETF, with about $10.5 billion in assets under management as of this writing -- up $1 billion in about a year's time and growing all the time. The fund covers mostly large-caps and Brazil's biggest-name brands, and it is a great way to give investors exposure to the booming market. Its popularity speaks of how highly Wall Street thinks of Brazil. And if you're a super Brazil Bull, there's even a leveraged ETF just for Brazil, the ProShares Ultra MSCI Brazil Fund ( UBR) that seeks to deliver 200% of the daily performance of the MSCI Brazil Index -- but obviously this is a much more aggressive play.
Also see: Take beverage giant Companhia de Bebidas das Americas ( ABV), or Ambev for short. This beverage giant is a consumer staples stock that in America would normally be considered a sleepy play that is conservative and recession-proof but not altogether sexy. Yet Ambev boasts explosive growth potential. Its second-quarter net profit leaped 20% according to ABV earnings a few weeks ago. And share prices are up more than 7% so far in 2011 and over 50% in the past 12 months -- compared with a slight loss for the Dow since January and only 11% gains in the past 12 months. 6 Cheap Tech Stocks That You Should Avoid Also see: Although other consumer staples stocks like Coca-Cola ( KO) also have outperformed the market -- a slight gain in 2011 and about 20% returns in the last year -- they still are well behind the "sleepy" staples stocks of Brazil. The Colonel Invades Kenya - KFC Opens in East Africa Jeff Reeves is editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here. Follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.