A digital makeover for a country the size of China doesn't happen overnight. The Middle Kingdom has around 200 million households with cable subscriptions, and local broadcasters won't put a digital-signal unscrambler in the last cable box until 2015.

That slow process hides the outsized market for those smart cards -- which means that you can get shares of card builder China Digital TV (NYSE: STV) for less than 10 times trailing earnings today. Most investors just haven't seen this boom coming yet.

In the U.S., the digital TV switchover was a boon for electronics retailer Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) and next-generation TV builders such as Panasonic (NYSE: PC) and LG Display (NYSE: LPL). Even Circuit City might have gained from the change, if it weren't already on its corporate deathbed at the time.

Drawing a bead on the Chinese markets for consumer electronics and home-entertainment retailers is tough to do from over here, because we can't just hoof it down to the nearest strip mall to get a feel for how it's going. I wouldn't know whether plasma sets from SVA Information Industry are outselling panels from NIVS IntelliMedia Technology Group (AMEX: NIV) or the other way around, or how to invest in the local stores to which the Chinese are flocking to upgrade their living rooms.

But China Digital TV holds a better-than-61% market share of those all-important smart cards, which makes it a terrific proxy for the entire digital switch. And the thunder has already started to roll. This stock is a Rule Breaker for a reason.

In the just-reported first quarter, China Digital saw sales jumping by 37.7% year over year to $19.3 million. A heart-stopping 44% of sales fell all the way down to the bottom line as $8.5 million of non-GAAP earnings, or $0.13 in terms of GAAP earnings per original or depositary share. That's the kind of high-octane growth we're talking about here.

China Digital TV's low overhead costs left the company wondering what to do with all the money coming in. It decided to pay a two-part special dividend of $2, which puts high-yield champions Chimera Investment and American Capital Agency to shame. And for you dividend lovers out there, I wouldn't be surprised to see the special dividend repeated, in order to share more excess cash in the next few years.

This might be the easiest bet on China's emerging middle-class spenders today. There are other ways to invest in that trend, though; for example, you can find out more about a Chinese consumer brand that's set to challenge Nike on the global stage by grabbing this free report. The Great Wall doesn't look like a barrier to business anymore.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended China Digital TV Holding and Best Buy. The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy. 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. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.