Many American investors have bailed on Chinese stocks since the market imploded over the summer. But with China's market now on the rebound, some investors are giving a fresh look at Chinese companies that trade in the U.S. in the form of American Depository Receipts, or ADRs.
You can trade some of China's top stocks via ADRs as you would any other U.S.-listed company. Compared to shares in China, ADRs are known for liquidity, allowing easy escape from a stock if something goes wrong. Short-selling is also fine, unlike in China, as is continued trading even after a sharp change in someone's price.
"The U.S. market is an open market, so it's easy for investors to buy and sell without worrying about quotas and whether the companies will suspend their stock due to increased volatility," said Nitin Dialdas, chief investment officer with Hong Kong fund manager Mandarin Capital.
There are now 107 such companies trading on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, largely in tech, energy and financials. Topforeignstocks.com posts a full list of Chinese ADRs, updated as of July.
Although Chinese shares are always risky, prices in Shanghai have firmed this month. Experts say people with experience picking shares based on company fundamentals can find better deals through ADRs than funds invested in Chinese markets.
"For people who pick stocks for a living and know how to pick them, this is something they could do," said Jack Perkowski, managing director with Beijing-based merchant bank JFP Holdings.
ADR prices do not necessarily follow those of the underlying stock since foreign investors are largely barred from China and Chinese investors cannot easily park money offshore.
But volatility in China-listed shares usually does reflect in their ADRs, which could be hurt further by deceleration of Chinese economic growth on which the companies depend for expansion.
ADR valuations generally run lower than shares listed in China, said Michael McGaughy, head of research at Yuan Asset Management in Hong Kong. A good guidepost is to track Chinese stocks listed in Hong Kong because it's an unrestricted market.
Shares in China's state-run natural resources firms China National Offshore Oil (CEO) and PetroChina (PTR - Get Report) have been relatively cheap lately with a price-earnings ratio of less than 10, McGaughy said,.
Those firms, like e-commerce peer JD.com (JD - Get Report) , list only in the United States, not in China. Similar to their underlying shares traded in China itself, Chinese tech ADRs tend to be "expensive," McGaughy said.
Not everyone thinks Chinese ADRs are a wise move, and there are still plenty of risks.
Beware of accounting fraud and reporting transparency, issues facing Chinese stocks before the crash, analysts warn. J.P. Morgan noted in an ADR report last year "erratic peaks and troughs during (a) relatively short time period" since 2009.
"For global investors and especially U.S. investors, ADRs may not be a good deal for investing China," said Andrew Tsai, an economist with KGI Securities in Taipei.