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Steer Clear of This Chinese Industry

To pick shares of airlines that fly internationally to China, try Delta Air Lines, whose stock is little changed over the past year, possibly because U.S. airlines have finally moved on from their hardest economic times.

If stock shopping in Asia, try Singapore Airlines. Travelers rate it one of the most well run and friendliest carriers in the world -- that it doesn't cut routes to save money tells customers that it's working for them long term. The airline's stock has fallen 25% since the world economic problems that hit markets in August. Could be a bargain waiting as shares are trading below book value.

Better yet, go straight to the source, bypassing fuel costs, airport fees and other demons that weigh down the airlines. China's chief supplier, Boeing, sells aircraft to China, like just about anywhere else, and its share prices have stayed roughly constant over the past year. Its rival Airbus has seen its shares grow in value by nearly 19% over the same period.

Boeing says mainland China ordered 583 planes from January 2002 through the end of May this year. Its 20-year demand for 5,000 planes will bring in $600 billion, the company adds. Airbus would not disclose cumulative sales to China over the past decade, but its market share is estimated about equal to Boeing's. And neither manufacturer faces the risk of delayed shipments to the aggressively expanding Chinese carriers.

To use just one more metaphor, consider a gate change before investing in one of China's big three airlines.
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