TAIPEI ( TheStreet) -- We already know Chinese consumers with enough money will line up for Italian hand bags, drive German cars and use electronics from South Korea or the United States.
Shoppers consider stuff from outside China to be a durable and high-status, a value to them despite the prices. Cheaper local brands, they'll tell you, break down easily and if you can find the maker at all, good luck getting the warranty honored. The thing might be counterfeit to start with.
But market researchers to whom I've spoken over the past half-year point to a list of Chinese brands that have firmly broken out of the white box, a term for cheap, non-branded stuff made in China with sketchy results.
I've picked five here that I expect to do especially well in 2013. I base predictions on recent company financials, long-term performance (what Chinese call a "lao zi hao") and their odds of filling a real, long-term market need in China. I also know that Chinese people eagerly use these brands.Four of the five are listed either in Hong Kong or New York. Many have consumer bases overseas, as well as in China, seasoning them to offer the foreign-styled goods and services that their home market wants. As far as I can see and as far as Chinese companies go, their shares are also decent long-term investments. I should also repeat the often-repeated: Consumer spending in China made up 51.6% of the economy in 2011, up from 37.3% a year earlier. The government hopes to use this trend to reduce dependence on exports to the West, where a parade of U.S. economic problems and euro zone debt crises have eroded demand since 2008.
What China Watch is watching:Ctrip.com International (CTRP): This online travel agency sells air tickets and makes hotel bookings for domestic travelers as well as some of the tens of millions who go overseas every year. In 2011, revenue went up 21% to 3.5 billion yuan and added a higher-than-forecast 1.17 billion yuan ($118 million) in the third quarter of 2012. Share prices of the Nasdaq-listed Ctrip barely changed last year.
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