Up and down arrows

As a proud American, it pains me to say this, but from my viewpoint, the United States is in decline. Our fiscal house is an absolute mess, and the recent debate over raising the debt ceiling just highlights how bad the situation has become.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans have any real solutions to the trio of big problems facing the United States: grotesque government spending, runaway regulation on business and oppressive taxation. So is it any wonder our economy is grew at an anemic annual rate of 1.3% for the second quarter? Meanwhile, China, an ostensibly communist country, is experiencing annual economic growth of 9.5%.

How should an investor react to the U.S. decline? By picking the best companies out there with an international focus.

Moreover, you want to hold companies that have significant market share in industries likely to grow regardless of what is happening with the broader U.S. economy.

The following five stocks are positioned to prevail even as the U.S. decline continues.

Caterpillar

Growth may be tepid in the United States, but China, India, Brazil and Russia are experiencing rapid economic growth, and that growth requires huge investment in construction projects.

Many of these projects involve heavy-duty construction equipment of the type made by Caterpillar (CAT). The iconic brand can be found in nearly every corner of the globe, and that means Caterpillar will have a pipeline with serious revenue coming in to support its shares for years to come.

Coca-Cola

No brand is more ubiquitous than Coca-Cola (KO). The beverage giant has a presence in many of the globe's most remote nooks and crannies.

As Third World nations become Second World nations, and Second World nations grow their way into First World status, we are liable to see the mammoth Coca-Cola brand become exponentially bigger.

While the company has a substantial business in the United States, its international operations have really fizzed in recent years, and that makes the stock one to own.

McDonald's

McDonald's (MCD) has made a mission out of penetrating more countries than any other restaurant chain in history. Global growth has helped fuel the company's profits over the past decade, and Wall Street has noticed: Shares in the Oak Brook, Ill., company are up 190% over the period.

The company is aggressively grabbing market share in the United States by rolling out healthier menu options like fruit smoothies and oatmeal, as well as updated restaurants that often feature wireless Internet access. Globally, as consumers get a taste of McDonald's, investors will likely continue to see the value of their shares fatten up.

Philip Morris International

It may be uncouth to light up a cigarette in a major U.S. city like New York or Los Angeles, but in some countries, smoking is as common as breathing.

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The ubiquity of the habit, particularly in the emerging markets of Asia, is helping tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PM), which controls the rights outside the United States to such brands as Marlboro, Virginia Slims and Parliament. The company is therefore positioned to sell more cigarettes as smokers in rapid-growth emerging markets earn more and trade up to premium brands.

Potash of Saskatchewan

The world is hungry. In countries like China and India there's exploding demand for high-quality, high-protein foods. Growing the grain needed to feed the demand for cattle, pigs and chickens is increasingly difficult, and getting maximum yield out of each acre of farmland requires a lot of fertilizer. That's where Potash of Saskatchewan (POT) comes in.

The company produces and sells fertilizers and related products. As more countries become wealthy enough to upgrade their diets, there will be greater demand for fertilizer from Potash.

5 stocks with global focus
Company Sector 12-month sales growth Net profit margin
Caterpillar (CAT) Earth-moving equipment 31% 8%
Coca-Cola (KO) Carbonated drinks, juices, water 13% 30%
McDonald's (MCD) Fast-food restaurants 6% 20%
Philip Morris International (PM) Cigarettes 9% 11%
Potash of Saskatchewan (POT) Fertilizer 64% 31%