Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

November 6, 2013

Slow economy, big profits

(Continued)

— GLOBALIZATION

Rising international competition has lowered wages as a share of the economy in most developed countries, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, a think tank in Paris. About one-tenth of the decline is due to competition from lower-wage countries, the OECD found.

And big U.S. companies are earning a larger share of their sales and profits overseas than in previous decades. That means their profits and stock prices can grow even when growth in the United States is weak.

Apple produced 58 percent of its sales outside the country in its 2013 fiscal year. ExxonMobil, the world’s largest company, earned about 67 percent of its sales outside the United States in its 2012 fiscal year.

Nearly half of all sales earned by companies in the S&P 500 index — 46.6 percent — are produced outside the United States. In 2003, the figure was 41.8 percent.

Aswath Damodaran, a professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business, noted that the trend is a global one.

Many Indian companies have fared well in recent years even as India’s economy has slowed. French luxury goods company LVMH did only a tenth of its sales in France in 2013.

“It used to be that U.S. companies lived off the U.S. economy and French stocks lived off the French economy,” Damodaran said. “Now, stock markets are more reflections of the global economy.”

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Sweet reported from New York. AP Business Writer David Koenig contributed to this report from Dallas.

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Contact Chris Rugaber at http://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaber

Contact Ken Sweet at http://Twitter.com/kensweet

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