Focusing your investing efforts on companies that you have familiarity with has obvious advantages. On the other hand, it's also a good idea to make an effort to broaden your horizons and look for opportunities that are lesser known before they hit the mainstream.
To help put readers on to some intriguing companies that aren't all widely known yet, we asked three Motley Fool contributors to profile a foreign company that will soon be making bigger waves on American shores. They selected Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), CD Projekt, and Embraer (NYSE:ERJ) -- three promising foreign companies that operate in very different industries and are currently flying under most American investors' radar.
Inching toward legal marijuana
Demitri Kalogeropoulos (Canopy Growth): Well, that didn't take long. Less than two weeks after Congress passed the Farm Bill, which allows for the cultivation and manufacture of hemp for producing products that use cannabidiol, Canopy Growth has found a home base in the United States. The Canada-based company announced in mid-January that it had secured a New York State hemp license and plans to build a large processing plant there. The factory should produce tons of hemp extract per year and will cost between $100 million and $150 million to build.
Marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, of course, which bars Canopy Growth from manufacturing or selling the product in this country. For the time being, it can only focus on the much smaller cannabidiol and hemp niches.
Yet this is a dynamic situation, and management sees the potential for greater market access happening perhaps sooner than many investors think. In any case, Canopy Growth is right now using its significant assets, including a recent $4 billion investment from imported beer giant Constellation Brands, to ensure that it can quickly ramp up a production and distribution network if -- and when -- this massive market becomes accessible to it.
A hot-handed Polish video game developer
Keith Noonan (CD Projekt): If you asked video game analysts and fans to name the industry's top-performing stocks in recent years, there's a good chance they'd neglect to mention CD Projekt. The Polish developer and publisher trades on the Warsaw stock exchange under the ticker WSE: CDR and has seen its valuation climb more than 1,000% over the last five years.
Strong business performance and a promising growth outlook have powered CD Projekt's industry-leading gains, but investors should know that investing in foreign markets introduces some extra risks and dynamics to consider. In addition to concerns about business performance, things like currency fluctuations, higher trading fees, and political events can have a significant impact on returns.
Investors can find lower-risk exposure to CD Projekt through a a variety of gaming-focused exchange-traded funds that are listed domestically, but the stock is also the sixth-largest holding in the iShares MSCI Poland ETF (NYSEMKT:EPOL) -- weighted at roughly 4.5%. Unlike the video game stock, the iShares fund trades on a domestic exchange and can be easily accessed by American investors who might be interested in exposure to some of the Central European country's leading companies.
Some of the same international investing risks remain with the iShares Poland fund, but it could be worth a look. Poland is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, and having spent a significant amount of time there over the last couple of years, I think it's a growth market that has a lot of promise.
CD Projekt has delivered a string of big successes to become one of the county's top tech and entertainment players. The company's Witcher franchise has risen in prominence with each subsequent release, and its most recent installment had helped push the franchise's total lifetime sales north of 33 million units as of last March. Solid performance for the company's GOG digital game distribution platform has also added momentum.
Now, CD Projekt is readying its next big entry into the role-playing-game genre, and there's considerable excitement surrounding the project. Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most anticipated upcoming releases in the industry, and it has the potential to be a huge success when it releases later this year or in 2020. With Cyberpunk 2077 on the horizon, Netflix developing a television series around The Witcher, and the company's GOG digital platform in a healthy state, American investors might be hearing a lot more about CD Projekt in the not-too-distant future.
Ride momentum from a deal with Boeing
Rich Smith (Embraer): Chances are, you already know Embraer. Brazil's "national champion" in the field of airplane manufacturing has sold planes to most of the major U.S. airlines -- American, Delta, and United included. What you may not know, however, is that very soon Embraer is going to become largely a U.S. company.
The reason: After months of hemming and hawing, the Brazilian government in January finally agreed to approve a plan by Boeing (NYSE:BA) to acquire an 80% ownership stake in Embraer's commercial airplanes business for $4.2 billion. Once this deal is consummated, Boeing will have a vested interest in promoting Embraer's business -- and its airplanes -- to U.S. airlines. After that happens, chances are good you'll be seeing a lot more of Embraer in years to come.
But this has implications not just for travelers, but investors as well.
How? It goes like this: Currently, Embraer stock costs about $3.7 billion. This is the value of both the 80% of its commercial business that Boeing is buying, the 20% that it isn't, and Embraer's business jet and defense divisions -- which Boeing also isn't buying. After Boeing makes its investment, Embraer can expect to receive a cash infusion worth more than its entire market capitalization (at least, before deducting fees and expenses, and before factoring debt into the picture). In an instant, Embraer's enterprise value could fall to just about zero. Yet with viable business-jet and defense businesses, and 20% of a profitable commercial business as well, Embraer stock will be worth much more than $0.
As it's already listed on the NYSE, I think Embraer stock is worth a serious look.