When you buy a stock, you're making a statement. You're saying: This is the best place in the world for me to put my money.

Hey -- you said it, not me. After all, you could have named any ticker for your broker and you'd be buying a different stock.

So when you buy a stock, make sure it's the best place in the world for your money.

What counts
There are tens of thousands of publicly traded companies worldwide for you to choose from -- and you may not be aware of the opportunities hiding under rocks in Uzbekistan. (And no, I'm not pumping a tiny Asian mining stock.)

Rather, what I'm getting at is that while there are tens of thousands of stocks that you could buy, the number of companies actually worth owning is much, much smaller. In fact, any company worth owning will have at least these three traits:

  1. A significant competitive advantage.
  2. A home country that respects property rights.
  3. An attractive valuation.

What matters
For instance, consider what has made Japanese automaker Honda (NYSE:HMC) a far better investment than its American rival Ford (NYSE:F) over the past few decades. With lower legacy costs and an earlier and more consistent focus on producing top-quality products, Honda built a competitive advantage that let it win in the marketplace.

On the flip side, in spite of its tremendous power in the Russian energy market, shares in oil giant Lukoil carry significant political risk. After all, Russia essentially repatriated Yukos, renegotiated a major contract with Royal Dutch Shell, and generally plays fast and loose with property rights. That risk of losing your entire investment on a government whim makes Lukoil a more precarious investment than American majors such as ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX).

Of course, there's also the matter of what you get for your money. China seems to have woken up to the national benefits of capitalism and the respect for property rights, and that has set off an investment boom throughout the country. Unfortunately, as this table shows, that boom has priced some Chinese stocks (Ctrip.com) significantly higher than similar companies (Expedia and Priceline.com) that operate elsewhere:

Company

Market Cap
(Billions)

Revenue
(Billions)

Earnings
(Millions)

Price to
Sales

Price to
Earnings

Ctrip.com (NASDAQ:CTRP)

$3.4

$0.1

$37.9

26.6

89.1

Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE)

$9.7

$2.4

$257.0

4.1

37.7

Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN)

$3.4

$1.3

$79.3

2.7

49.2

Find your perfect match
Go ahead and ignore the companies where lousy business, atrocious politics, or outrageous valuations make them unworthy of your investment cash. By doing so, you can significantly cut down on the prospects you have to sift through to find the best stock in the world to own.

It's from those that remain that our team at Motley Fool Global Gains determines what businesses from around the world are worth buying. If you need a little help in looking beyond the border to find your next investing match, join Global Gains free for 30 days. There is no obligation to subscribe.

At the time of publication, Fool contributor Chuck Saletta did not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Ctrip.com is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. Priceline.com is a Stock Advisor pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.