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Investing

How to Profit in Today's Economy: Tap Into Global Growth

Invest in emerging markets and the domestic companies that sell to them.

What it's all about. Fifty years ago, the U.S. produced half the world's goods and services. Now the figure is 25%. But that's not the end of our world. In 2009, the U.S. sold more than $1 trillion worth of stuff to other countries -- from jets to coal to movies. In 2010, U.S. exports are on track to hit $1.2 trillion. That's our ticket to prosperity in an increasingly competitive world.

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Why it's different this time. Even as the U.S. economy matures, the rest of the world is expanding. Think of our share as a narrower slice of a bigger pie. The export surge confirms that the U.S. economy has plenty of vigor and plenty of customers for the goods we produce. For instance, the United Arab Emirates is on pace to double its imports from the U.S. this year, to $22 billion, led by airplane engines, cars, computers and telecommunications gear -- all of them big-ticket items. And manufactured exports have risen even as the number of manufacturing jobs has fallen.

Despite the shaky stock market, U.S. companies are bound to benefit from this trend. The percentage of profits they derive abroad is rising steadily, and overseas earnings of nonfinancial firms in Standard & Poor's 500-stock index now make up 2.5% of U.S. gross domestic product. President Obama is on a mission to double exports in five years.

How you can profit. Boost your stake in U.S. firms that sell to rapidly expanding emerging markets. Companies related to agribusiness, such as Deere (symbol DE), are in a sweet spot, as is the aviation industry -- think Boeing (BA) and General Dynamics (GD). And General Electric (GE) is de-emphasizing financial services and reasserting its position as a leading maker of heavy industrial equipment, such as airplane engines.

You should, of course, invest in emerging-markets stocks themselves. Goldman Sachs predicts that developing markets' share of the global economy, now 37%, will reach 59% by 2030. Emerging markets' share of global stock-market capitalization will jump from 13% today to 31% in 2030, Goldman says. The best way to own these companies is with T. Rowe Price Emerging Markets Stock (PRMSX), a member of the Kiplinger 25.

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