When looking for "the next big thing," it's imperative to cast a wide net.
Consider this: In 2011 the world's growth domestic product (GDP) totaled $69.9 trillion. Of that only about $15.1 trillion came from the U.S market. That means close to $55 trillion in economic activity took place outside the United States.
Take Israel for example. You might never have considered it, but Israel is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world.
Israel, with a $242.9 billion GDP in 2011, consistently posts higher growth numbers than the United States. In fact, since the beginning of 2005, Israel's quarterly growth rate has slipped beneath the United States' only twice, and it has exceeded it by more than a full percentage point every quarter without fail since the end of 2007.
Long-term, these results show up in the stock market. The Israeli market is best measured by the TA-25, which tracks the largest 25 companies on the Israeli stock exchange.
In the past 10 years, the total return on the TA-25 has been an incredible 225.3%. This works out to 12.6% compounded annually, far and away above the 7.8% annualized return for the S&P 500 during the same period.
The difference in performance during this period is striking: $100,000 invested in the S&P 500 turned into $211,731. That same investment in the Israeli market would have yielded $328,212, a difference of more than the initial investment.
Of course, a country's stock exchange is only as good as the companies that are listed on it, and right now I want to take a look at one of my favorite Israeli-based companies: SodaStream (Nasdaq: SODA).
SodaStream is effectively a soft-drink company with a twist. Instead of yeast, the company uses carbon dioxide cartridges to give soda pop its fizz. A special countertop machine the size of a blender mixes concentrate in special reusable bottles.
Unsurprisingly, the machines and the flavorings are flying off the shelf. I like the device because it has a variety of sugar-free options. And the stuff is actually cost-effective versus name brands such as Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and Pepsi (NYSE: PEP), after the cost of the machine has been recouped.
For families that drink a lot of soda, these savings can be appreciable -- or at least perceived as appreciable -- which might push a consumer into the roughly $100 purchase.
The thing that I like most about this company is that it has a long history of profitability. Even during the financial crisis, the company made money. And most recently, in 2011, it turned a roughly 10% net profit on $289 million in revenue.
Given its sales and earnings this year alone, I think the shares have a fair value of $1.2 billion (30 times anticipated 2012 net earnings of $40 million). That's 50% upside for this year's results, which are already largely achieved.
The best part is, even though the company is based in Israel, you can invest in it without even leaving the U.S. stock market. As you might have noticed from the Nasdaq ticker symbol, you can buy shares of SodaStream just as easily as you would shares of General Electric (NYSE: GE) or Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).
Risks to Consider: Of course with investing, nothing is 100% certain. International stocks are subject to the same volatility as stocks that trade in the United States.
Action to Take --> But that said, if you're ignoring what can be found in foreign markets like Israel, then you could be missing out on some of the market's biggest game-changing opportunities... including companies like SodaStream.