Think Globally, Invest Locally: Baltimore


Cashing in on foreign companies can be a risky business for investors. But in this era of globalization, no investor wants to be left behind. Sometimes finding local companies who are beginning to hit their stride in foreign markets can be a much safer bet. Baltimore is a great place to find three such companies.

Crab is king
Old Bay is the go-to seasoning for many crab-loving residents of Charm City. This is great news for McCormick (NYS: MKC) , the Sparks, Md.-based company that produces Old Bay, among a slew of other spices and seasonings. McCormick is the No. 1 spice provider in the U.S., but it's the company's increasing dominance in foreign markets that makes it particularly attractive. McCormick is also the No. 1 spice and seasoning choice in Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, and China.

McCormick refuses to rest on its laurels, however, and has recently made moves in Poland and India to continue growing its international presence. A 55% increase in its dividend over the last five years makes this a great stock for investors focused on global growth.

Uniform success
Despite the stiff competition from the likes of Nike (NYS: NKE) and Adidas (OTC: ADDYY), Under Armour's (NYS: UA) gear has exploded in the U.S. since the company's inception 15 years ago. Now that it has proved it can compete at home, the company is taking its show on the road.

Baltimore-based Under Armour's moves abroad have been very strategic, targeting athletic teams for sponsorships and supplier contracts in highly visible sports. For example, the company is the official performance product sponsor for Canada's Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, as well the official supplier of performance apparel to the Hannover 96 soccer team in Germany and the Welsh Rugby Union in the United Kingdom. Under Armour also maintains a license agreement in Japan, using a third party to produce and sell its brand to professional soccer and baseball teams. Japanese licensed sales surpassed the $100 million mark in 2010.

These relationships build upon the company's tremendous brand and offer a great deal of exposure to foreign markets.

Suited for change
Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (NAS: JOSB) is relatively new to the international game. After performing well at home in the face of a recession, Jos. A Bank has a leg up on close rival Men's Wearhouse (NYS: MW) . This great domestic performance gave the Hampstead, Md.-based company the boost it needed to open up its Internet channel to foreign countries.

In May, Jos A. Bank expanded its website to 90 countries in an attempt to take advantage of a broader customer base, including domestic customers looking to place orders for friends or family abroad. Right off the bat, the company received orders from more than 10 countries. Comparable store sales only increased 0.1% for the first quarter of this year, but direct marketing sales increased 22% over last year, reinforcing the importance of ramping up its Internet availability. All told, Jos A. Bank achieved earnings growth in 38 of the past 39 quarters and is a reliable performer.

Foolish takeaway
I'm happy to bypass the difficulty of keeping tabs on foreign companies thousands of miles away in favor of brushing up on U.S. companies doing business abroad, and now is a great time to dig into a company's international initiatives.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorAimee Duffyowns shares of Under Armour. The Motley Fool owns shares of Under Armour.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Nike, Under Armour, and McCormick, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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Originally published