Features

The International Top 30

August 11, 2014

Maybe those three little pigs were wrong; at least one economist thinks so.

David Levy, who publishes the Levy Forecast newsletter, expects the US economy to tumble into recession next year due to weakness in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia and China. Like so many other prognosticators, Levy has a rich history of getting calls right—the only thing is, they weren’t his calls. His grandfather reportedly called the 1929 stock market crash and his father was said to have credibly called turns in the business cycle, often against conventional wisdom, according to reports. We don’t know if there’s an economic gene, but even the most casual market watchers realize that this recovery is getting a bit long in the tooth and, all three countries have their issues.

Brazil’s economy has stagnated, the government of President Dilma Rousseff faces a difficult election in the fall and that source of national pride, the futbol team, was crushed at its own World Cup. It all suggests that the Brazilian Miracle run out of steam.

Russia, of course, faces isolation from the rest of the world following the debacle in the Ukraine and the downing of a Malaysian airliner by Ukraine separatists. Yes, Europe needs Putin’s oil, but investors have been scared off by the chilling events of the past few months. As far back as April, the International Monetary Fund cut its already modest 2014 growth forecast for Russia, warning that Ukraine-related sanctions were pushing the economy toward recession. Even before the latest crisis, the IMF said Russian output would grow just 0.2% this year, cutting its estimate from 1.3% and earlier 3% in its fourth downward revision in a row.

The situation seems to be improving in China, where HSBC upgraded its forecast for China’s year-on-year gross domestic product growth to 7.5%—not the double-digit gains of yesteryear, but impressive nonetheless. And even though the Chinese economy is expected to have its share of hiccups, HSBC maintains that the government has enough tools at its disposal to keep the economy from faltering.

But the best news for the BRICs may be coming out of India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to attract investment by cutting subsidiaries and upgrading bridges and roads. The moves are expected to boost GDP gains from 4.5% last year to 6.5% in 2016.

In these turbulent times, betting on FMCG companies with a knack for understanding global markets seems like the right move. You know many of them; companies like Unilever, L’Oréal and Henkel—all of which are included in The International Top 30 on the pages that follow.

The International Top 30

1. Unilever
United Kingdom • $36.8 billion


2. L’Oréal
France • $31.4 billion


3. Henkel
Germany • $10.9 billion


4. Reckitt Benckiser
United Kingdom • $9.5 billion


5.  Kao
Japan • $8.4 billion


6. Shiseido
Japan • $7.4 billion


7. Beiersdorf
Germany • $6.9 billion


8. LVMH
France • $5.0 billion


9. Amore Pacific
South Korea • $3.5 billion


10. LG Household and Healthcare
South Korea • $3.3 billion


10. Natura
Brazil •  $3.3 billion


12. Lion
Japan • $3.2 billion


12. Yves Rocher
France • $3.2 billion


14. GlaxoSmithKline
United Kingdom • $3.0 billion


15. Chanel
France • $2.4 billion


15. O Boticario
Brazil • $2.4 billion


17. Bolton
The Netherlands • $2.3 billion


18. Belcorp
Peru • $1.9 billion


18. Oriflame
Sweden • $1.9 billion


20. Kosé
Japan • $1.8 billion


21. Pierre Fabre
France • $1.7 billion


22. Clarins
France • $1.6 billion


22. Puig
Spain • $1.6 billion


24. Pola Orbis
Japan • $1.5 billion


25. L’Occitane
France • $1.4 billion


25. Sunstar
Switzerland • $1.4 billion


27. PZ Cussons
United Kingdom • $1.3 billion


28. McBride
United Kingdom • $1.2 billion


29. Yanbal
Peru • $848 million


30. Fancl
Japan • $810 million
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