The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- Months ago, equity market "pros" pounded China mercilessly. China real estate was the next bubble to burst. Inflation was spiraling out of control. And commodity stockpiling was proof positive that China was dead in the dry-bulk shipping water.
Well, some folks had a far different perception. For instance, I spoke at the 4th annual Inside ETF Conference on " Accessing Asia and China." And on Feb. 7, live from the venue in Florida, I wrote the following:
"The MSCI China Index trades at 11.5 times forward earnings, the lowest forward multiple since 2004. With Hong Kong trading at nearly 18 times forward earnings, the disparity is at or near a record ... There are plenty of reasons to keep an eye on the SPDR S&P China Fund (GXC). I expect it to drop a bit further, possibly testing its 200-day moving average. A pullback of 12%-14% from GXC's November peak is my anticipated entry point."
GXC shares hit $84.48 in November, but savvy investors were able to acquire shares at or near $74 in the third week of February. Since that time, it's been a fairly brisk ride back towards the November highs. (See the chart below.)Granted, those who follow me already know that I lived in Asia for a combined five years; I have my biases. Still, it's not like I haven't been bringing scores of facts to the discussion. For example, I wrote another feature on China on March 7, 2011, exactly one month after my February 7 feature. (See 3 Reasons to be Bullish on China." ) In essence, I addressed activity in China's untapped A-shares, the country's five-year economic plan and the remarkable level of job creation. Since March 7, the SPDR S&P China Fund (GXC) is up 8.2%. The S&P 500 SPDR Trust (SPY) is up 1.8%. Today, on April 7, I'm writing what feels like a monthly piece ... my third in a series. And while I might wait for dip-buying opportunities to commit more money, I still encourage investors to consider how China might fit into their portfolios. Here are three more reasons to give China another look:
- Major brokerage upgrades. Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs -- the number of "buy China" brokerages continues to rise. Today, HSBC Holdings added itself to the growing list. HSBC cited a 25% decrease from a year earlier in bank lending as evidence that credit has cooled. And that's exactly what the government set out to do with its fiscal and monetary tightening.
- Remarkable profits, remarkable revenue. Collectively, according to Credit Suisse, 1,400 mainland Chinese companies have reported 38% year-over-year increases in profitability. Sales revenue? 34% growth. And while it's true that three-quarters of these companies may not be accessible through PowerShares Golden Dragon Halter (PGJ) or SPDR S&P China, investors might read the prospectus for Market Vectors China (PEK) to see whether the Van Eck exchange-traded vehicle would work for them.
- Downshifting to Neutral. The primary reason that investors began shying away from China was the country's semiaggressive monetary and fiscal tightening; that began last October. Yet the lengths that China has already gone to fight inflation is also an indication that it is close to finishing up. Downshifting from a tightening stance to a more neutral policy stance is a huge positive for Chinese equities.