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How did the stock market do in 2010? Depends.

Which stock market are you talking about?

Are you referring to the United States, where the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) climbed 15%, or Spain, which was down 19% for 2010? How about China, where the iShares FTSE 25 (FSI, news) was up just 3.5% for the year, or India, up 21% for the year? Then there's Chile, which was up 47%, while Brazil was up only 8%.

Last year, like most years, how you did as an investor depended very much on where you did your investing.

Now that 2011 has arrived, what are you going to do next? Invest in the world's best stock markets, of course. But how do you find them?

Today, I'll give you my take on how to separate the best from the rest in 2011. Below you'll find my five picks for countries to overweight in your stock portfolio in 2011.

A world of choices

Once upon a time, investors didn't have much choice about where they put their money; they invested in their home market. When my mom and uncle took me to buy my first shares, I put my money in the New York Stock Exchange. A friend's parents had bought him shares that traded on something that sounded kind of shady called the American Stock Exchange. The Nasdaq? Never heard of it.

Image: Jim Jubak

Jim Jubak

Today, you've got a choice. You can buy an exchange-traded fund that gives you ownership of the Indian market -- or Brazilian or South African. You can buy shares in hundreds of foreign companies that trade in U.S. markets as ADRs (American Depositary Receipts). You can even buy shares directly on some foreign exchanges. (Although after running the Jubak Global Equity Fund (JUBAX) for the last six months, I can tell you that it's still not easy to buy direct from many of the world's stock exchanges.)

You've got a choice, and the choice matters.

First, here's what not to do when deciding what countries to buy: Forget about going with growth and simply plunking down your money in the markets that represent the world's fastest-growing economies. You see, everyone in the world has read those same growth forecasts. They know that 2011 economic growth rates in China, India and Brazil, for example, are projected to be better than 9%, 8% and 7%, respectively. That's why India's stock market is among the most expensive in the world right now, with China's not so far behind.

And, of course, what everyone thinks will be true in 2011 can turn out not to be when projections translate into real returns. That's why China's stock market was up just 3.5% last year, even though China's economy grew by more than 10% in 2010.

The U.S. makes my list

The stock markets you want to overweight in your portfolio are those where investors entertain lots of fears and doubts that you think are overblown. One of the reasons the U.S. market did so well in 2010 is because most people were worried about a double dip and projecting end-of-the-year growth at just 1% or so. When expectations are that low, 2.5% or 2.7% growth in gross domestic product looks like Mount Olympus. And, surprise, U.S. stocks delivered a 15% gain for the year.

What markets would I put in this category of likely overachievers this year?

First on my list: I would include the United States again. Not so surprisingly, unemployment of almost 10% can dampen the spirits, especially when that rate refuses to go down. This has produced a classic Wall Street/Main Street piece of cognitive dissonance: Wall Street keeps pointing to signs that the economy is growing at a rate that might approach 3% a quarter or two into 2011. But everybody who lives on Main Street, which is most of us, can't quite believe it. Wall Street knows, though, that jobless growth is great for company profits and that 2011 is shaping up as another year when the U.S. economy and U.S. stocks outperform relatively modest expectations.

If you want to buy individual stocks in the U.S. market for 2011, rather than an index, focus on the banking sector, where prices are still low and will outperform other stocks as the economic recovery accelerates. (See "5 reasons to love big banks again.") JPMorgan Chase (JPM, news), US Bancorp (USB, news) and Citigroup (C, news) are all members of my Jubak's Picks portfolio.

Where else do doubts litter the ground? Europe.