In today's world, most companies span several regions and sell across the world. As my Foolish colleague Morgan Housel notes, 10 years ago, less than a third of S&P 500 revenue came from overseas. Today, more than half of the S&P 500's growth comes from overseas.

And that number is growing. The truth is, investors regularly underestimate how much demand comes from abroad. More importantly, for large, multinational corporations that have already established a presence in their home markets, much of their future growth comes from abroad.

With that in mind, today we're looking at design software maven Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE). We'll examine not only where its sales and earnings come from, but how its sales abroad have changed over time.

Where Adobe's sales were five years ago
Five years ago, Adobe generated approximately 44% of sales in the United States.

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Where Adobe's sales are today
Long story short: they haven't changed.

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

That's surprising, as most companies continue to see outsized growth in international markets. However, like other software makers, Adobe's software is easily pirated. This not only depresses growth rates in developed countries, but it also creates difficulty finding meaningful growth in emerging markets with poor enforcement of intellectual property laws.

Competitor checkup
One last point to check is how Adobe's footprint compares to some of its peers across the broader software and technology industry:


Geographic Area With Most Sales

Percent of Sales

Adobe United States 44%
Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN) United States 72%
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) United States 44%
Magic Software (Nasdaq: MGIC) United States 55%

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

The amount of overseas exposure here differs, but varying business models also have to be taken into account. For example, while Nuance might have higher United States exposure, its language solutions will only grow in relevance as large U.S. businesses prosper overseas.

Apple might compete with Adobe in numerous audio and visual design segments; its overall growth comes from booming iPhone, iPad, and Mac demand in international markets. I chronicled what's driving its growth in an article published yesterday.

Magic Software is much smaller than Adobe, but recently came into focus thanks to its technology that creates an application platform which allows varying business applications to seamlessly work across mobile devices. That's a model that can scale and see increasing sales across different geographies, so long as Magic's core product is well-received by businesses.

Finally, while Adobe's international sales have kept up with U.S. demand, seeing outsized international returns like many of its S&P 500 peers may be difficult. Adobe had hope that Flash -- and the Platform business unit it's in -- would give the company a powerful growth alternative to traditional packaged software. However, the mobile powers that be have moved against Flash, and Adobe's bet on its mobile business looks like a shaky growth driver currently.

Keep searching
If you're looking to stay updated on Adobe, or any other companies listed above, make sure to add them to our free watchlist service, My Watchlist. It's free, and it helps you constantly stay updated on news and analysis on your favorite companies.

Eric Bleeker owns no shares of any companies listed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Nuance Communications, and Adobe Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple and a diagonal call position in Adobe Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.