More than half of the world's market cap sits outside the United States, and the largest IPO in history now belongs to a Chinese bank, ICBC. This distinction could be temporary, depending on how Japan proceeds with its postal savings bank, but either way, we can clearly see that many of the world's most established and dynamic growth opportunities are not American companies.

Scouring the globe for value
Successful international investing requires many of the same skills required to evaluate a U.S. company. But in addition to understanding the fundamentals of a business, international investing requires understanding some of the things we take for granted here in the U.S., because we live and breathe them. A few of these factors are economic policy, political currents, corporate governance, accounting standards, and cultural aspects. In our recently launched Motley Fool Global Gains service, we take these factors and others into account to scour the earth looking for the most attractive opportunities for our subscribers.

I don't have a handful of thoroughly researched ideas to offer you here, but I am having fun mining our Motley Fool CAPS service to see what other investors are thinking. What is Motley Fool CAPS, you ask? It's a community-intelligence database that asks investors to rate stocks. In turn, every investor is ranked, as is every stock. So as more people participate and more time passes, we hope to be able to determine the best investor and the best stock in America -- and, potentially, the world ... though, admittedly, we'll have to roll this thing out of beta testing before we can start talking about global domination.

Six all-star foreign companies
The following three stocks all have been recommended by at least 10 CAPS participants, have a P/E ratio below 20, possess a market cap of more than $10 billion, and are rated as five-star picks, the highest possible, among the CAPS community. As you'll see, there are some easily recognizable names on the list.



Market Cap



$99.2 billion

Bayer (NYSE:BAY)


$57.8 billion

Diageo (NYSE:DEO)


$56.9 billion

And the following three companies have all the same qualities as those above, except with market caps of less than $10 billion. As you might expect, these companies aren't exactly household names.



Market Cap

Nabors Industries (NYSE:NBR)


$9.8 billion

Alumina (NYSE:AWC)


$7.7 billion

Siliconware Precision Industries (NASDAQ:SPIL)


$6.3 billion

In CAPS, you'll also find ratings on all of the exchange-traded funds that track the markets around the globe. In some cases, it is easiest to gain exposure to the Swedish economy, for example, through the iShares MSCI Sweden Index (AMEX:EWD) ETF. 

When you go digging for the world's best stock ideas in a volatile market, it's still crucial to do your due diligence. If you'd like to get started doing just that, come and see what our CAPS investors are actually saying about these companies. To do so, just follow the link to join CAPS today.

Nathan Parmelee is a contributing analyst to Global Gains and is No. 609 out of 30,893 raters in CAPS. At the time of publication, Nathan had no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. Diageo is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.