One sector of the stock market that we all know has been hammered is Chinese stocks. A large portion of all U.S.-listed Chinese stocks have dropped significantly in value due to a lack of confidence in their corporate reporting. Also occurring in the broader stock market has been a drop in the share value of well-known, respectable Chinese stocks, mirroring the trading action in the domestic Chinese equity market.
Since the beginning of October, however, there’s been a marked turnaround in Chinese stocks, especially those listed on Chinese stock exchanges. The Hang Seng Index, which is the main stock market index in Hong Kong, dropped to a low of around 16,000 early in October, then smartly reversed to its current level of around 19,500. By any account, this is an impressive turnaround, and the strength in Chinese stocks is due to expectations for monetary easing in China.
Right now, the U.S. stock market needs all the help it can get and any positive news on the Chinese economy would be very helpful. Smaller Chinese stocks trading on American stock exchanges typically take quite a while to report their quarterly earnings and many beaten-down positions will be reporting throughout November. There is an opportunity in this stock market for some bottom feeding in Chinese equities. Stock market conditions seemingly can’t get much worse for this group and there is good value out there.
Of course, a number of previously listed Chinese stocks were outright frauds in terms of their operations and financial results. Many of these companies listed by acquiring shell companies and renaming them. It’s an easier way for a company to get a U.S. stock market listing. In this market, I’d only consider the well-known Chinese stocks that have strong followings from the investment community and I’d focus on value.
Right now, I think it’s fair to conclude that stock market speculators would rather own gold over Chinese stocks. The resource trade is holding up despite all the risks out there and, while some Chinese stocks offer very low price-to-earnings ratios, the confidence issue isn’t going away anytime soon.
Chinese stocks were some fantastic wealth creators. Then they were fantastic wealth destroyers (unless you were short). It’s fair to say that Chinese stocks operate in a kind of Wild West environment, which lacks oversight and reporting regulations. The stock market knows that there are great growth stories out there; but, in today’s environment, all investors seem to want is safety and stability (see Growth & Momentum in a Market Like This? You Bet!). I don’t blame investors, considering all that’s transpired. We’re in an environment of great unknowns and this uncertainty is holding the Main Street economy back. Are we any closer to more certainty in the stock market? Right now, I’d have to say no.