GE (GE) Moves To Uncharted Waters Overseas

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GE (GE) has been hoping that growth in the developing world would begin to offset slower sales in places like the US and Europe. It may be that they are finally getting their wish.

The company told Reuters that, in 2007, more than half of its revenue would come from international sales. That is a first, according to GE. Management said "business in emerging markets was growing at more than twice the pace of developed markets and was likely to expand by 20 percent a year for the next several years."

The news means that GE will have more exposure in places like India, China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. These markets may need infrastructure and industrial products in numbers that are growing faster than the US, but they are also often dangerous place to do business, at least financially.

Recently Nigeria sued Pfizer (PFE) for $8.5 billion over an issue of whether a drug killed some of the country’s children. Venezuela has effectively pushed out several global oil companies. China has a branch of the communist party that operates inside of Wal-Mart (WMT) there. As business for US companies grows in these parts of the world there will be a proportionate increase in trouble dealing with the locals. Skills at diplomacy will become as important as business skills.

And, years of work can be wiped out by on totalitarian regime.

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

Douglas A. McIntyre