By William Patalon III
Money Morning/The Money Map Report
What's the name of the world's best-selling beer?
Hint: It's not Budweiser. And it's not Bud Light.
It's called Snow Beer, and I'll wager that most U.S. investors haven't even heard of it before.
If they haven't, it's not a surprise. You see, Snow Beer is only sold in China, where the greed-bottled brew is a ubiquitous denizen of any retailer that carries beer. According to beer-market-researcher Plato Logic Ltd., more than 6.1 billion kiloliters of Snow Beer was sold in 2008, up 19.1% from the year before - easily outselling such former worldwide leaders as Bud Light and Budweiser.
What may be a surprise is the fact that China is now the largest beer market in the world, having surpassed the United States way back in 2001.
"To many investors, China is an old, worn-out 'been there/done that' investing story," says Money Morning Investment Director Keith Fitz-Gerald. "And some folks are downright scared of it. They got burned jumping into the "China Rush" back when China was the hot, next-big thing - and they jumped out for good. What those skeptical investors don't realize is that they only experienced the first chapter of the China story."
Says Fitz-Gerald: "Ironically, the worldwide financial crisis marks the beginning of the second chapter of China's rise to economic dominance, as well as its emergence as a global economic superpower."
Welcome to the new game of post-financial-crisis global investing, where the rules have changed completely, and where there are $300 trillion in profit opportunities - if you know where to look.
Global Investing Web Summit
In fact, these new profit plays are the focus of a free-of-charge Money Morning Web summit that Fitz-Gerald will host on Thursday afternoon. The 4 p.m. event - "The $300 Trillion 'Recovery' That No One's Talking About" - is planned as a half-hour streaming video session in which Fitz-Gerald will address the changing rules of global investing, as well as a number of potential investment ideas that investors might wish to study more closely.
But the greatest benefit for investors who take the time to watch and listen to the free Web summit might be a perspective on globalization that they won't be able to get anywhere else. Fitz-Gerald, a former professional trade advisor, is a well-known expert on global market trends who actually lives in Asia for part of each year. He heads an investing trip to Mainland China every year and in each of the past two years has actually written a multi-installment for Money Morning readers.
It's that time actually spent on the ground in China - and the high-level contacts that he's nurtured as a result - that's enabled Fitz-Gerald to provide Money Morning readers with unique and independently conceived insights on China that just aren't freely available.
Let's take a look at some of the new rules of the global investing game that the Web summit will address - as they relate to China.
The Market Investors Can't Afford to Ignore
Far too many investors view China as a near-term investing bubble. In doing so, they miss the real point: China is probably the single-biggest profit opportunity of this generation - if not of our lifetimes. But it's a long-term opportunity, and one that admittedly will experience some ups and downs - and even some major bumps - along the way.
But any near-term risks are dwarfed by the long-term growth potential China poses. For one thing, China is using the global financial crisis as an opportunity to transform itself - both from an internal and external standpoint.
There's plenty of long-term growth potential from an internal standpoint alone.
China's leaders understand that they can no longer afford to allow their economy to function as an export-only machine - whose fortunes rise or fall depending upon the health of such trading partners as the United States. So they're transforming the economy into one where there's actual domestic demand from China's consumers.
That creates a massive opportunity. China's emerging middle class is already a major economic force. Estimates of its size right now range from 100 million to 247 million, although one prediction says it could reach 600 million by 2015. For some perspective, consider this: The entire U.S. population is about 300 million.
Right now, about 35% of China's economic activity is consumer driven. But households there save 35% of their wages. In the United States, by contrast, consumer spending drives 70% of the economy and the household savings rate is in the low single digits most of the time.
Consider this: As China's economy evolves into more of a domestic/consumer-driven market, there's plenty of fuel to keep driving an economy that - even now, tempered a bit by the global malaise - will advance at about an 8% clip through the rest of this year. And that's considered a conservative estimate.
That bullish outlook is one reason that China's stock market has outperformed its U.S. counterpart in recent years [See accompanying graphic for additional insights]
Just think what will happen as China's worker wages continue to advance, even as that country's consumers save less and spend more, meaning that a greater percentage of China's overall economic growth will be consumer driven.
Even as China makes that shift internally, however, that country will continue to become a bigger and bigger force in the global economy.
As we noted above, the global downturn is viewed inside China as a major expansion opportunity.
China's companies are capitalizing on the weakness being experienced by the United States and Europe, and are working to grab market share away from their wheezing Western rivals.
And with U.S. stock prices still well below their record highs, expect to see cash-rich foreign firms - including those from China - buying market share, needed technologies or winning products by purchasing companies outright. The next round of U.S. takeovers will be made by foreign companies.
China has the financial firepower to make this happen: It's foreign reserves are an all-time-world record of $2.1 trillion, meaning it will be able to help its companies finance deals that are deemed strategic in nature.
"The global blue chips of the future may well be companies whose names you have trouble pronouncing, with corporate headquarters in cities that are on the other side of the world," Money Morning's Fitz-Gerald says.
But don't let that deter you. When it comes to profitable investing, the name of the game is ferreting out the most-promising profit plays - no matter where they are - while also managing risk.
And in the new global reality, one of the biggest risks is the risk of getting left behind - by failing to capitalize on the next round of global trends.
"Emerging" Profit Plays
Although his Thursday Web summit will focus a great deal on China, it won't ignore the other developing investment opportunities that investors need to know about.
Take the emerging markets of Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, for example.
According to a 2008 report by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School, the World Bank estimates that the global middle class is likely to grow from 430 million in 2000 to 1.15 billion in 2030. Muhtar Kent, chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) since July 2008, says this opportunity is the equivalent of adding a city the size of New York to the world every three months.
In 2000, developing countries such as Brazil, India, China and others were home to 56% of the global middle class. By 2030, that figure is expected to reach 93%. China and India alone will account for two-thirds of the expansion - with China contributing 52% of the increase and India 12%, the World Bank said.
Among the biggest winners will be the multinational companies that are able to conceive, develop and market products and services that are "tailor-made for the burgeoning ranks of first-time consumers," Wharton faculty and analysts found.
It goes without saying that the other winners will be the investors who find those companies while they are still undiscovered gems - and who then stick with them, understanding, as they do, the magnitude of the profit opportunity that stands before them.
And there will be plenty more to come.
[Editor's Note: The global economic recovery will create an estimated $300 trillion worth of global-investing-profit opportunities. To find out how to capitalize and profit, you just need to know where to look.
And for that, you need a guide. In a free Money Morning Webinar this week, Investment Director Keith Fitz-Gerald will detail the "$300 trillion global recovery that nobody's talking about" - a recovery that will create some of the most profitable investment opportunities that we'll see in our lifetime. Fitz-Gerald will outline this opportunity, as well as some specific companies global investors might want to consider. To find out more about this free Webinar, please click here.]
News and Related Story Links:
Money Morning Web Summit:
Money Morning Special Report:
Airbus Deal Shows Investors That China Profits Are Cleared For Takeoff.
University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School:
The New Global Middle Class: Potentially Profitable - But Also Unpredictable.
Money Morning "View From China:"
Rise of China's Middle Class
About the Author
Before he moved into the investment-research business in 2005, William (Bill) Patalon III spent 22 years as an award-winning financial reporter, columnist, and editor. Today he is the Executive Editor and Senior Research Analyst for Money Morning at Money Map Press.