Netflix, Inc. (NFLX), Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG): Is Europe the Next Big Bet?

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International prospects have been a huge factor for investors lately. But with Asian growth being cut, it raises concerns that the Pacific gravy train won’t last forever. What about the Euro-zone? Is expansion there viable? Or is it all doomed for years to come?

The Euro-zone’s contraction-stage business cycle isn’t going to be pumping out growth numbers like China any time soon. But identifying potential before others is the reason we invest. Basically, companies investing in Europe may see bigger profits than their competitors in the coming years.

And no, you don’t have to go on a Lord of the Rings quest to find companies with future growth potential in Europe. In fact, some of the most popular stocks today are the ones that are rarely considered for their Euro-zone prospects.

European expansion

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), the banal video-streamer that no one wants to hear about is up to some interesting international shenanigans. Many in Europe watch almost as much TV as those in the U.S. And because of that, the company is branching out into regions, like Canada, Latin America, and even Europe.

But international success hasn’t helped profit margins (which have dropped from about 9% to 2.8% recently). Even still, overseas investments brought in a ton of money that now accounts for about a quarter of its revenue. That’s a really big deal for a company whose primary operations are in North America.

Despite the expansion, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) still only carries a debt to equity ratio of 0.86 and is ready for even more expansion. But bears claim that media licensing is expensive and the stock is priced sky high. Its PEG ratio of 8 tells us that many have already jumped on the Netflix bandwagon. Still, expansion in Europe could balance the scales.

Tip-toeing in Europe

While Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) deals with Tex-Mex, (casual American dining), a lot of the same rules still apply. Chipotle is almost fully vested in domestic operations, but is dropping hints that it’s pressing for growth in Europe.

But the company’s international growth appears to have stalled in recent quarters. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) seemed to be twiddling its thumbs on international expansion and for good reason. Perhaps management recalls when Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) failed with its launch of Taco Bell in Europe during the 1990s.

But with an under-capitalized European market, solid profit margins, and literally no debt, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) has the means to expand. Same-store sales in America are slowing so international expansion could be key. Putting restaurants in Europe could open the door to many exciting opportunities.

A shining example

Yelp Inc (NYSE:YELP), the social consumer app, has already implemented a stellar business plan for expansion in Europe. The company continues to leverage an increasingly popular service (socially-informed shopping) with an increasingly popular platform (mobile). With everything working, there’s no reason for it to stop expanding, even with its current negative profit margins.

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