Are Tesla Inc, Apple Inc., & Amazon.com Inc as good as UK investors think they are?

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Apple store

While most UK investors stick to London-listed stocks, some big global names are too tempting to resist. The following are the three most popular international stocks for UK investors, according to new research from Interactive Investor. But are investors in danger of buying the name, rather than the investment case?

Electric investment

The most traded international stock may surprise some: $40bn tech innovator Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA.US). Founder Elon Musk, an entrepreneurial designer, engineer and inventor, wants nothing less than to save the world through the power of electric vehicles and solar technology. But is he aiming too high?

Investors were sceptical about the recent merger between Tesla and another Musk project, struggling solar energy firm SolarCity, but fell silent when Tesla unexpectedly posted what was only its second-ever quarterly profit in October. The world is now waiting to see if the new Model 3 Sedan will drive it into the mass market. Investors remain wowed, with the share price up more than 50% over the past year to $250, which leaves it trading at a whopping 137 times earnings. That's a bit beyond my pocket (like its cars). Tesla thrills, but could also suffer spills. 

Take a bite

The second most popular global stock is no surprise at all: $677bn behemoth Apple Inc(NASDAQ: AAPL.US). Yet it has just been overtaken by Google as the world's most valuable brand, in the latest Brand Finance Global 500 report. Apple's brand value has fallen 27% to $107.1bn, due to rising smartphone competition from the likes of Samsung and Huawei, and falling customer goodwill. So has it lost its shine?

A few years ago people couldn't resist waving their fancy iPhones in my face, yet I still haven't seen an Apple Watch in the flesh. The company has lost its flash of innovatory genius and I suspect the Western world has hit peak gadget. Sensible people want their lives back.

That said, last week's Q1 results showed Apple selling more iPhones than ever before, and setting all-time revenue records for iPhone, Services, Mac and Apple Watch. The App Store is doing record business as the company wisely shifts focus from products to services. The stock is up 37% a year to $129. The dividend is higher than 1.77%. Apple still looks worth a bite, especially at 15 times earnings.

In the zone

You need no introduction to $385bn online retailer Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN.US). In fact, you're probably still paying off the Christmas shopping bill you ran up at Amazon. The Brand Finance Global 500 has just named it one of the companies with the highest rising brand value, up 53%.

It continues to grow strongly while revolutionising the retail market in the US, UK and beyond, and continuing to take market share. It suffered a rare setback in the Q4 with revenues of $43.74bn falling short of the estimated $44.68bn. Even a small slip-up can hit investor confidence when the stock trades at 171 times earnings.

So how much further can Amazon go? The success of Prime and the deep pockets that will allow it to break new markets suggests there's more to come. Jeff Bezos's company has justified its sky-high valuation before, and almost certainly will do again.

Sadly, the big money has already been made from these stocks. As ever, investors who got in early are the ones who really cash in. However, there are other ways of making a fortune from investing. 

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Harvey Jones has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Amazon, Apple, and Tesla. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.