The Chinese economy is going through growing pains. The second-largest economy in the world is in a state of transition as consumer-driven growth overtakes the former domination of manufacturing.
That transition can be seen in the recent performances of a number of consumer companies, said Jim Cramer, portfolio manager of the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust.
"Nike (NKE) - Get Report has extraordinary growth in China," he saidin an interview at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. "We heard that Carnival Cruises (CCL) - Get Report [also] has really good growth in China."
Second-quarter growth in China could come in below expectations. Investment growth over the first five months of the year slowed to its worst level since 2000, May real estate investment fell to single-digit growth and factory output growth leveled out. Beijing targets annual economic growth of 6.5% through to 2020. GDP growth of 6.9% in 2015 was its slowest in 25 years as weaker manufacturing and exports dragged on the headline number.
"We're looking at the consumer, not the industrial," explained Cramer. "Industrials are pumping out way too much because they're state-owned zombie companies."
The Chinese consumer, meanwhile, appears optimistic. The latest Westpac-MNI China consumer sentiment index showed a 1.5% increase to a reading of 115.9 in June, above the 100-level that indicates more optimism than pessimism. Likelihood of purchasing a major item increased by 1.4%, while the employment indicator increased 4.4% to a two-year high.
"The Chinese consumer is clearly alive and well according to Nike," said Cramer. "You have to listen to the conference call. You would have heard inventories are low. You would have heard how well China is doing."
Sales in Greater China, Nike's third-largest region by revenue, rose 18% over its fiscal fourth quarter. Futures orders, a key metric of future performance, increased 24% in China.
Nike shares climbed 2.6% on Wednesday, supported by an overall rally on Wall Street. Shares have fallen nearly 13% year to date.