NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When it comes to the Chinese economy, the Street is full of Chicken Littles.
But despite this widespread panic, the sky isn't falling in China. In fact, statistics are showing that Chinese consumer spending continues to grow at a rapid pace.
The panic has caused the stocks of a number of companies that obtain most of their revenue from Chinese consumers, including Ctrip.com (CTRP - Get Report) , Qunar (QUNR) , Yum! Brands (YUM - Get Report) , and JD.com (JD - Get Report) to fall sharply.
Yet many consumer product companies, including Apple (AAPL - Get Report) and Starbucks (SBUX - Get Report) , continued to generate strong sales growth in China this summer. That suggested that Beijing was succeeding in stimulating higher consumer spending, and that investors should buy shares of Ctrip.com and Qunar, the Chinese equivalents of Priceline (PCLN) and Expedia (EXPE - Get Report) . Other undervalued companies with heavy interests in China may also present buying opportunities.
According to The Wall Street Journal, retail sales jumped 10.5% in China in July, versus the same period a year earlier. That's down from a 12.2% year-over-year increase in July 2014, but a double-digit percentage increase is still impressive.
The Journal added that luggage maker Samsonite International (SMSEY) reported on Aug. 26 that its sales in China had surged 30%, excluding currency fluctuations in the first half of this year, while the Chinese sales of German sports apparel maker Adidas (ADDYY) jumped 20% year over year.
Discussing a more recent period, Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week that the tech behemoth's China sales had remained strong in July and August.
The data caused The Journal to note that China's retail sales have "held up relatively well during the past few years," and it quoted Andrew Polk, an economist at research group Conference Board, as saying that, "the new growth drivers -- consumption and service -- are holding up for now, but the jury is still out." Additionally, the newspaper noted that China's "newly affluent population looks increasingly like the American middle class."
Despite the strong fundamentals of China's consumers in general and its middle class in particular, Ctrip.com's stock is still down over 10% since Aug. 4, while the shares of Qunar are down over 20% since August 10.
Worries about the devaluation of the yuan have also weighed on the shares of the online travel agencies. Investors may be concerned that the decline in the yuan's value against other currencies could make traveling abroad more expensive for Chinese consumers.
But the yuan has dropped just 2.7% against the dollar since the day prior to the devaluation. That change should not have much of an impact on the companies' businesses. It's unlikely that someone would cancel a vacation if the cost rose from $2,000 to $2,054.
Moreover, the yuan's value against the dollar has changed little since Aug. 12, and China's central bank said on Aug. 11 that the currency had no basis for dropping further, suggesting that it is unlikely to decline precipitously any time soon.
Additionally, prominent research firm Stifel Nicolaus recently upgraded both Ctrip.com and Qunar from Hold to Buy. According to The Fly, the firm said that both stocks had attractive valuations. Both companies should benefit from strong revenue and margin growth, as well as solid demand for travel services in China.
Meanwhile, Yum! Brands, which obtains more than 50% of its revenue from China, reported on Aug. 19 that its same-store sales in the country had "turned significantly positive," The Fly reported. Yum's same-store sales in China sank 10% last quarter, so its business there is actually significantly improving. Nevertheless, the stock is down nearly 10% since Aug. 8, making the shares a buying opportunity at current levels.
Similarly, up and coming Chinese e-commerce company JD.com reported stronger-than-expected, second-quarter results on Aug. 7, but its stock is down over 20% since then. The company reported revenue of 45.9 billion yuan, versus the consensus outlook of 44.45 billion yuan. Its third-quarter revenue guidance of 43.2 billion to 44.7 billion yuan was roughly in-line with the consensus outlook of 44.29 billion yuan.
The shares now trade at just 15.5 times analysts' consensus profit outlook for the company, although its earnings a share is expected to surge to $1.68 next year from 10 cents a share this year.
JD.com seems like a bargain at current levels.
Investors may be underestimating China and its government. After all, this country has transformed itself into one of the world's biggest industrial powerhouses and the world's second largest economy. By almost any measure, China's economic stimulus following the Great Recession was far more effective than ours, and its economy recovered much faster from the downturn than ours did. Now China seems to be meeting its goal of stimulating consumer spending.Beijing's frequent intervention in China's markets seems to scare American investors, who largely have a laissez-faire philosophy and are used to watching Washington mostly sit on its hands when it comes to macro economic issues.
But Beijing's track record is hard to bet against.