Earlier this month, I argued that American investors are overlooking some great international companies and thus missing out on some great growth opportunities. One of these companies is London-based beverage company Diageo (NYSE:DEO).

You may not have heard of Diageo before, but you certainly know some of its brands: Smirnoff, Jose Cuervo, Guinness, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, just to name a few.

So you know some of the brands it manages, but there are myriad other reasons why you should get to know Diageo, including:

  • Its 3.8% dividend yield
  • Its 32% return on equity
  • Its 30% EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) margin

If these metrics don't compel you to at least do further research, I'm not sure what will.

There are only three other U.S.-listed mega-caps with a dividend yield greater than 3%, 30% ROE, and 30% EBIT margins -- CNOOC (NYSE:CEO), Petroleo Brasileiro (NYSE:PBR), and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) -- and, interestingly enough, all three are foreign companies.

Diageo's largest competitors are Constellation Brands and Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO), but neither company can compete with Diageo in terms of scale, dividends, margins, or ROE.

Second round's on me
Despite such excellent financials and a large competitive advantage, only five Wall Street analysts actively follow Diageo's stock. Some of the big firms like Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER) keep their eyes on Diageo, but because the stock only trades about 300,000 shares per day on the New York Stock Exchange, there isn't strong investor demand for a large Wall Street following . yet.

This isn't the case in Motley Fool CAPS, our new community-investing database, where 210 investors have rated Diageo to either "outperform" or "underperform" the S&P 500.

CAPS investors are overwhelmingly bullish on Diageo -- fully 98% of those following the stock rated it outperform. And, if the past offers any prologue, the bulls will win in a landslide. Over the past 10 years, Diageo has returned 15.1% annually versus the S&P 500's 8.6%. To put that in real dollar figures, a $1,000 investment in Diageo in November 1996 would have left you with $4,080 today, while the S&P would have netted you a still-respectable $2,281.

International player
Diageo is a true multinational company with assets and revenue streams diversified across the globe. For instance, the company generated 31% of its fiscal year 2006 revenues in North America, 16% in Great Britain, 25% in Europe, and 28% in the rest of the world. Revenue growth has been particularly strong in the North America and Asia Pacific markets.

If you're interested in learning more about Diageo, read what other investors are saying right now on Motley Fool CAPS. While you're there, I also invite you to rate Diageo outperform or underperform and add your thoughts to the vibrant discussion.

Go here for the complete list of contenders in our CAPS international-stock tournament.

Todd Wenning does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Diageo and GlaxoSmithKline are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. The Fool's disclosure policy reminds you that 21 means 21.