3 Great Foreign Companies to Invest In Right Now

Sure, many U.S. stocks look cheap after the 2022 bear market; however, investors shouldn’t restrict themselves to just U.S. stocks. Because of a lack of familiarity on the part of U.S. investors and geopolitical turmoil overseas, even some of the world’s greatest, most competitively advantaged companies trade at bargain-basement valuations today — even bigger bargains than their U.S. counterparts.



3 Great Foreign Companies to Invest In Right Now


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3 Great Foreign Companies to Invest In Right Now

On that note, the following three stocks from Taiwan, France, and the U.K. all look like incredible deals today.

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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing

It’s always surprising to see how cheap leading semiconductor stocks can get whenever there’s a downcycle in the industry, considering the importance and growth outlook for semiconductors over the long term.

Yes, the chip industry is seeing a big inventory correction in both PCs and low-end mobile phones coming off the pandemic, but if one thinks about the rise of artificial intelligence, such as the recent release of ChatGPT, the energy transition to EVs and the smart grid, the Metaverse, and cloud and edge computing, all of these applications need lots and lots of semiconductors to work.

That’s why investors should take advantage of the fact that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE: TSM), the world’s leading chip foundry, can be bought at just 13 times earnings today.

TSMC has demonstrated technological manufacturing superiority cultivated over decades, with a lead in producing semiconductors at the leading edge, and a 60% estimated total market share of the foundry industry.

That dominance has allowed TSMC to raise prices to its chip designer customers this year, flexing its pricing power over the likes of even giant clients Apple and Nvidia. Growth and price increases enabled TSMC to grow earnings 70% and achieve a return on equity of 40% in 2022. And it’s quite possible the mission-critical TSMC will be getting a greater share of the profitability pie from the chip industry through this decade, since virtually all semiconductor companies outsource their manufacturing and virtually all leading-edge chipmakers use TSMC.

On last week’s fourth-quarter conference call, Chairman C.C. Wei touched on this topic:

The semiconductor [has] become more essential and more pervasive in people’s life. And the semiconductor industry value in the supply chain is increasing. And if we look at our customers’ performance, they are rising structural gross margin over the past five to six years, it continues to improve. That reflects what I just said, the semiconductors’ value has been recognized and also very important in our daily life. And so, we set out our pricing strategy to reflect all the values we share to customer, and customer, also, in their value for the end market.

Management predicts the semiconductor industry will contract about 4% this year, but even in a down market, TSMC expects to see “slight growth” in 2023, because of its technological advantages. Even with no earnings growth, the past two years — one “boom,” one “bust” — would see a two-year earnings growth rate of 35%. With its low-teens earnings multiple, it’s no wonder Warren Buffett was attracted to this market leader.

TotalEnergies

France’s TotalEnergies (NYSE: TTE) may be off the radar of U.S. investors more familiar with U.S.-domiciled oil and gas majors, but this is a high-yielding gem. TotalEnergies’ dividend yield is currently 4.62%, but when factoring in a special dividend paid to shareholders in December thanks to the past year’s high profits, that yield pops up to 5.14%.

That yield is also backed by a robust, diversified portfolio across not only integrated oil and natural gas upstream, midstream, and downstream operations, but also a growing renewables portfolio in solar and wind. The company used to be called just Total but changed its name in 2021 to TotalEnergies, reflecting its brand shift toward making the energy-focused transition.

While TotalEnergies still gets the bulk of its profits from oil and natural gas, the company has pivoted away from any fuel source that is overly carbon-intensive, even in its oil projects, and the renewables portfolio is growing quickly. This year, the company will devote 25% of capital expenditures to “decarbonized” technologies.

As a global energy producer, trader, and transporter, Total can run into hiccups. For instance, Total had to write off or sell some Russian assets last year. The company was also hit by windfall profits taxes levied by European governments.

Still, the company’s profitability has soared so much that shareholders are still getting their fair share. The LNG and refining businesses saw their profitability soar after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Russia by Europe, taking away those competitive oil and gas products. Return on average capital employed was an impressive 27.2% over the past 12 months, allowing the company to add more renewables, pay out the special dividend, repurchase stock, and de-lever its balance sheet.

That last part is especially noteworthy, as Total now has only about $5 billion in net debt as of Sept. 30, down from $24 billion one year prior.

Considering Total’s diversified portfolio, by both energy source and geography, its nearly debt-free balance sheet, and ample payouts to shareholders, the fact that the stock trades at just 5.3 times 2023 earnings estimates is surprising. It’s a bargain-priced energy stock U.S. investors should consider as part of their energy sector allocation.

Farfetch

Finally, luxury e-commerce leader Farfetch (NYSE: FTCH) had a terrible 2022, capped off by a Capital Markets Day in December that I think was widely misunderstood. Overall, the stock plunged 86% in 2022. Even after a nice bounce to start 2023, it still looks wildly undervalued.

Farfetch is the leading global e-commerce marketplace for luxury brands, and it also powers many brands’ direct-to-consumer websites. In addition, Farfetch owns the New Guards platform, which cultivates up-and-coming luxury brands, and also owns some brands outright itself. Each of these three businesses is high-margin in terms of gross and contribution margins, but Farfetch is unprofitable today, because of operating expenses and investments in growth.

The investing community sold off pretty much any unprofitable growth stock en masse last year. On top of that, Farfetch suffered from the shutdown of its Russian business, which was its third-largest market, and lockdowns in China, its second-largest market. Reporting in U.S. dollars, Farfetch’s results were also hit by the rise of the U.S. dollar. At its Capital Markets Day on Dec. 1, the company forecast solid growth and profit numbers to 2025, but those forecasts were probably conservative, given the myriad headwinds, and that disappointed some investors. Combined with tax-loss selling opportunities, the market subsequently sold the stock to bargain-basement levels.

So 2022 was a perfect storm. Yet already, those headwinds look to be reversing. Just after the Capital Markets Day, China suddenly reopened, and the dollar has weakened against other currencies. After February, Farfetch will have lapped the shutdown of its Russia business.

Despite a nice bounce off its lows, Farfetch still trades equal to sales. This is for a company that should grow at a 20%-plus rate for the next several years at least, and should show increasing profitability as it does. Although management’s 10% adjusted EBITDA margin forecast for 2025 may have underwhelmed some, Farfetch won’t be done growing and scaling by then, given the size of the luxury market and Farfecth’s competitive position.

Remember, luxury giant Richemont sold Farfetch’s main rival, Yoox Net-a-Porter, to Farfetch this past summer, taking a large stake in Farfetch in return at a much higher valuation. That seemed to consolidate the luxury e-commerce landscape in Farfetch’s favor.

The luxury industry is a resilient industry with pricing power and high margins; over the long term, Farfetch looks well positioned to capture a lot of this market, and its stock looks very cheap after a disastrous 2022.

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Billy Duberstein has positions in Apple, Farfetch, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, and TotalEnergies Se and has the following options: short January 2023 $210 calls on Apple. His clients may own shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Apple, Farfetch, Nvidia, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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