As the economy continues to struggle domestically, many big corporations have started to look abroad to fatten up their bottom lines.  How exactly will this affect exchange traded funds (ETFs)?

What’s different this time is that corporations aren’t looking abroad to growing nations such as China, Brazil and India to cut costs, but instead to drive revenues, reports The Los Angeles Times.

  • Companies have been global for some years now, but a trend of focusing on international consumers is emerging as economies become increasingly middle class.
  • The size of emerging markets dwarfs the domestic markets of most developed nations. China, India and Brazil have a combined population of more than 2.6 billion people, many of them young and increasingly affluent, in contrast to the aging and far smaller populations of Western Europe, Japan and the United States, making them even more attractive. (Learn more about the BRIC economies here).
  • Not only will this trend help drive profits, but some believe that it could be a source of new investment and jobs in the United States.

On the downside, this new trend could rekindle politically sensitive issues of earlier years, including outsourcing, U.S. tax and currency policies and other incentives that are tied to overseas investments and the repatriation of profits.

From an investor’s perspective,  some ETFs that could benefit are those that hold companies which do a lot of business overseas, including companies in the food, semiconductor and industrial sectors.

  • PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage (NYSEArca: PBJ): up 8.2% year-to-date

  • SPDR S&P Semiconductor (NYSEArca: XSD): up 66.2% year-to-date

  • Vanguard Industrials ETF (NYSEArca: VIS): up 15.7% year-to-date

For more stories on emerging markets, visit our emerging markets category.

Kevin Grewal contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.