The world economy is on two different tracks.
On one track, the developed world is experiencing economic contraction and stagnant growth. Countries throughout Europe have stumbled into recession due to austerity measures. Japan persists on its decade-long path of lackluster growth. And the U.S. economy, while rebounding, continues to underperform its potential, recording growth of only 2.2% in the first quarter of 2012.
On the other track, the developing world is recording robust economic growth. Spurred by the twin tailwinds of easy external financing and a dramatic uptick in commodity prices, output from Latin America grew by 6.5% in 2010 and 4.5% last year. And the emerging markets in Asia continue their dramatic upward ascent, led by China and India, which are expected to record growth rates this year of 8.2% and 6.9%, respectively.
The corporate poster child of this two-track system is Yum! Brands, the U.S.-based owner of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC. In 2011, the company's same-store sales declined by 1% in the United States but grew by 19% in China. Over 70% of its operating profit is now generated abroad. And its shares have outperformed those of its principal competitor, McDonald's, which derives a full 40% of its revenues from Europe, by a staggering 28 percentage points over the last five years.
With this in mind, it should be no surprise that the world's smartest investors are choosing companies with less exposure to the developed world and more to emerging markets. Last week, I disclosed the proportion of revenue that five leading technology companies get from Europe. Now, in the table below, I disclose the proportion of revenue that these same companies, with one addition, get from Asia.
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|Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM )||76%||$100||Add|
|Intel (Nasdaq: INTC )||66%||$132||Add|
|Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL )||26%||$499||Add|
|IBM (NYSE: IBM )||25%||$230||Add|
|Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL )||17%||$131||Add|
Source: All geographic sales data other than Qualcomm's and Apple's are from the respective companies' most recently filed quarterly reports. Qualcomm's and Apple's, the latter of which excludes sales from its retail division, are from the companies' most recently filed annual reports.
Foolish bottom line
While diversification is no cure-all, thanks in part to places like Europe, it is one component of successful modern investing. For a handful of stock ideas to get you started down this path, in turn, check out our free report about three American companies set to dominate the globe. To get your free copy while it's still available, click here now.