If you've followed international stocks over the past few years, you've surely noticed a trend: foreign companies delisting their stocks from major U.S. exchanges.
In fact, well-known foreign companies such as British Airways, Fiat, and Bayer either announced or implemented their departure from the NYSE last year.
And we can expect this flight from New York to continue.
It's nothing personal; it's just business
Why, you ask? Put simply, the extra costs of following Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and various exchange regulations, as well as anemic trading volumes on U.S. exchanges, often outweigh the benefits for these companies.
But although some larger companies have also packed their bags, you're unlikely to see large foreign companies with high daily trading volume -- think China Mobile
The good news is that you still gain access to foreign companies that have delisted their shares. You can pick them up on the Pink Sheets.
Oh, the humanity!
The Fool typically discourages investors from patrolling the Pink Sheets, but using them to purchase quality foreign shares is an exception.
Even though companies can find it costly to follow SOX and other U.S. exchange regulations, we shouldn't forget that those regulations were designed largely to protect shareholder interests, by requiring greater disclosure and adherence to U.S. GAAP. In fact, it can be much more difficult to interpret financial statements and estimate a valuation for companies not listed on a U.S. exchange.
To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, therefore, each week we'll take a look at two top-rated foreign companies trading on the Pink Sheets, and we'll see how our 83,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, have rated them.
This week, we'll take a look at two top-rated foreign brewers.
Don't forget the other "football"
At first glance, the $13 billion German company's balance sheet appears downright atrocious, with just $441 million in cash and more than $3.6 billion in long-term debt. Inventory levels have also dramatically increased, from $1.5 billion in 2005 to the latest report of $2.3 billion. Most of these intimidating figures, however, largely have to do with Adidas' 2005 purchase of Reebok, when it assumed the latter company's debt and inventory.
Fortunately, Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer recently said the company is using its cash to reduce the debt load to between $750 million and $1 billion by 2010 and doesn't plan to make any other acquisitions in the near term. And reducing the debt by 2010 is certainly possible, since Adidas generated more than $700 million in free cash flow over the past 12 months.
Very few CAPS investors have rated Adidas, but of the 47 who have, 46 believe it will outperform the S&P 500. Many point to Adidas' strong positioning in the soccer world, particularly its popularity in soccer-loving emerging markets. The Summer Olympics in 2008 and the World Cup in 2010 could also be growth catalysts for Adidas.
With Adidas shares' 15% off their December highs and trading with a price-to-earnings ratio of 17 -- lower than both Nike and Under Armour
The game is rigged
The world's largest oil-rig maker, Singapore-based Keppel (OTC BB: KPELY.PK), is down in the dumps these days, having lost 28% of its value since its October high. Its most recent dip came, oddly enough, on the heels of a tremendous 2007 earnings report, in which the company said its net profit rose 50.6%, stemming mostly from strong growth in the offshore and marine group as well as its property unit, which are its two largest segments. In addition, the company announced that it will distribute a series of dividend payments: a final dividend of $0.10 per share, a special dividend of $0.20, and a "capital distribution" of $0.25.
With all of that good news, why are shares down? One reason could be that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs didn't like what they saw, especially regarding Keppel's offshore unit, stemming from a one-time charge on a Brazilian project. Both companies downgraded the stock.
Unlike Wall Street, CAPS players haven't been scared off. All 57 of the players who have rated Keppel think it will continue to outperform the market down the road. One of the Keppel bulls is TexasLonghorns, who had this to say last month: "Demand for offshore rigs isn't going down, and you sure can build them a lot cheaper in Singapore than here in the U.S. Who do you think [Transocean
Fool contributor Todd Wenning is ranked No. 448 out of more than 83,000 investors participating in CAPS. He does not own shares of any company mentioned. Under Armour is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice. Unit and Atwood Oceanics are Stock Advisor picks. The Fool's disclosure policy always has a five-star rating.