Chinese Export Growth Bullish for Boeing, Caterpillar

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For those looking for bullish economic news from China after last month's meeting of Communist Party officials, go no further than the recent General Administration of Customs report.

It shows export shipments rose by 12.7% in November from last year's mark, higher than the 5.6% increase in October and topping analyst projections of 7%. Imports also grew by 5.3%.

Those bullish figures are great for companies dependent on the Chinese market, especially BHP Billiton (BHP), Rio Tinto (RIO), Caterpillar (CAT) and Boeing (BA).

As detailed in a previous article, China is now focusing more on consumer demand to drive its economy. But that still requires a great deal of raw materials and equipment to power the world's second-largest economy.

To produce a car for a consumer takes large amounts of steel, copper and other industrial minerals and manufacturing systems. Rio Tinto, a British industrial metals firm, will reportedly be spending $2 billion to increase iron ore production to meet the increasing demand for steel from China. Sales to China are projected to be at a record level this year for Rio Tinto.

Australia's BHP Billiton is the world's largest natural resource company.

Like much of the Australian economy, its health is based on how well China is doing. Iron ore shipments from Port Hedland, Australia, rose by 43% in October to China, which is very bullish for BHP Billiton (and the entire country). While the People's Republic wants consumer spending to increase, it initiated a massive public works program last year to develop urban areas so that hundreds of millions of those individuals can now move from the countryside into cities. At a cost of over $100 billion annually, it will require a great deal of industrial minerals in the building process.

Along with the natural resources, rising economic activity in China requires more products from Caterpillar, the world's largest heavy equipment manufacturer.

China has long been an important market for Caterpillar. It has been in China since 1978 and now has 15,000 employees operating out of three logistics centers, four research and development installations and 26 manufacturing facilities in the country. From those sites, The Big Cat provides much of the construction gear, power systems, and mining equipment needed for the development of the world's most populous nation. For the third quarter, Caterpillar's sales to China rose by almost 20%.

Investors should expect the sales of Caterpillar to continue to increase as the Chinese economy exports and imports more goods and services.

What will also expand is the air traffic in China, and particularly for those flying regionally between the burgeoning urban areas. As an economy develops, air travel becomes more a player in the transportation system. For growth in China, Alwyn Scott wrote in a Reuters piece that , "Boeing predicts, for example, that air traffic in the Asia-Pacific region will increase 6.3% a year over the next 20 years, driven by 4.5% annual economic growth in China and India and rising middle-class incomes."

There is no doubt that the global economy will benefit from China exporting and importing more.

As the country with the most purchasing power, other nations depend on Chinese consumers to lead the world in spending for items ranging from coal and copper to luxury handbags from Coach (COH). What is needed most is for China to import much, much more so that its trade surplus with other states, $33.80 billon just for November, begins to dissipate. But for the shareholders of Boeing, Caterpillar, Rio Tinto, and BHP Billiton, increasing exports from China should have the stock prices rising, too.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Jonathan Yates is a financial writer who has had thousands of articles appear in periodicals and Web sites such as TheStreet, Newsweek, The Washington Post and many others. Much of his career was spent working on Capitol Hill for Members of Congress in both the House and Senate, on both committee and personal staff.  He was also General Counsel for a publicly traded corporation.  He has degrees from Harvard University, Georgetown University Law Center and The Johns Hopkins University.

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