Even if Chinese stocks stay on the menu for the foreseeable future, investors with an appetite for global companies really have to ask themselves what they’re really looking to find. Most of the real action takes place right on Wall Street.
I’m not biased. I love all the world’s enterprise. In the past, I’ve worked with some of the richest people the world has ever produced, shuttling back and forth from New York to their family headquarters an ocean away.
Work and planning, location and luck built their fortunes just like anything in Silicon Valley. However, once they made their money at home, what they were really interested in was bringing the money to New York and investing it in U.S. companies.
The math speaks for itself. As you know, index funds operate on market capitalization, with bigger companies getting a bigger piece of the overall portfolio. Take a global fund and its holdings reflect the amount of money circulating around the world, country by country and company by company.
The one run by MSCI, the gurus in international investing, is stacked over 60% to U.S. stocks. It’s loaded with the usual suspects: Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), Tesla (TSLA) and Alphabet (GOOG), as well as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), NVIDIA (NVDA) and JP Morgan (JPM).
You need to go all the way down to No. 10 on the list of holdings before finding a company based anywhere but the USA. And it’s Taiwan Semiconductor, which trades here as TSM anyway and only weighs in at 0.65% of the overall portfolio.
The eight biggest companies in the world are the exact same ones that dominate U.S. index funds. They account for a staggering 15% of all investable global equity. . . so if you think you’ve been having trouble finding diversification here at home, imagine how investors around the world feel about their domestic opportunities.
It’s not until you get down to Nestle before MSCI feels the need to actually leave Wall Street and buy a stock that doesn’t trade here. After that, a few truly foreign names start popping up in the list: ASML in the Netherlands, Tencent in China, Samsung and so on.
So if you want to get something more exotic in your portfolio, you have to go fairly far down the global food chain to get it . . . or else pick niche spots off the beaten path. I’d start by allocating about 8% of a standard portfolio to a Japan ETF like EWJ and maybe another 5% to EWL, which reflects the Swiss market and will get you Nestle.
After that, you can start going a little farther out on the map if that’s what you want. But if you just want investment results, remember that my old clients were busy trying to get hooked up with Wall Street companies . . . and not the other way around.