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March 30 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australia to join China-led bank despite US opposition

This article by Jamie Smyth for the Financial Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Australia plans to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it said on Sunday, reversing a previous decision to stay out of the China-led institution. But it has placed conditions on its future membership of the bank in an attempt to mollify concerns expressed by its main military ally, the US.

“The government is today announcing it intends to sign a memorandum of understanding on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which would allow Australia to participate — as a prospective founding member — in negotiations to set up the bank,” the prime minister’s office stated.

The decision followed moves this month by the UK, France, Germany, Italy and South Korea to join the AIIB. US officials have privately urged allies to stay out of the new bank, at least until Beijing addresses concerns about governance standards. Some in Washington view China’s launch of the AIIB as an effort to undermine the influence of the US-based World Bank.

On Saturday, Russia’s first deputy prime minister, Igor Shuvalov, said his country plans to join the AIIB. Denmark, Brazil and the Netherlands will also participate, China’s finance ministry said at the weekend.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Money talks. Additionally, Europe needs investment and the ear of an emerging superpower. It was a miscalculation on the part of the White House to so vocally oppose participating in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) not least as it is quickly gaining critical mass without countries insisting on more detail regarding how it will function. 

To date, China’s overseas infrastructure deals, often in return for access to resources, have tended to be one sided, carried high interest rates and there have been issues with accessing funds. It remains to be seen just how the AIIB will function but it is looking increasingly likely that it will be able to do so with the full backing of countries that pride themselves on their high standards of governance.  

 



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March 25 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The facilities will be replaced by four gas-fired stations with capacity to supply 2.6 times more electricity than the coal plants.

The closures are part of a broader trend in China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter. Facing pressure at home and abroad, policy makers are racing to address the environmental damage seen as a byproduct of breakneck economic growth. Beijing plans to cut annual coal consumption by 13 million metric tons by 2017 from the 2012 level in a bid to slash the concentration of pollutants.

And

Nationally, China planned to close more than 2,000 smaller coal mines from 2013 to the end of this year, Song Yuanming, vice chief of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said at a news conference in July.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I’ll be stopping off in Beijing on my way to Singapore next week and I’m looking forward to seeing first-hand what measures, if any,  have been taken to tackle the pollution problem. Replacing coal fired power stations with natural gas plants is a hugely positive development which is likely to have some far reaching repercussions. 



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March 24 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

More upside amid stronger easing; UG property & banks, DG healthcare

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank focusing on China’s H-Share market. Here is a section: 

We have been positive on Chinese equities for 2015 but caution readers of a weak start to the year (see 2015 China Outlook). After H-shares’ underperformance vs. DM, AsiaPac ex Japan and A-shares YTD, we now see more upside risks than downside ones and turn more positive on the market, in view of the following:

We expect Chinese policy-easing efforts to intensify in 2Q15 (see policy easing cycle may start soon), including monetary, fiscal and property relaxation, given the below-target 1Q15 growth and the “bottom-line”- focused reaction function reiterated by Premier Li during the NPC. We see lower market rates and resumed credit growth ahead, and our economist forecasts GDP to bottom in 1Q15 and edge up to 7.2% in 4Q15. ? We believe the earnings cut cycle will come to an end by April, as the disappointing FY14 results season wraps up and consensus estimates get closer to our top-down forecasts. For FY15, we look for more evidence of cost reduction among mid-stream sectors to reinforce our expectation of a margin-driven non-financial earnings recovery.

We see loosening global liquidity conditions and funds inflow as catalyzing catch-up with A-shares, considering 1) the Fed finally joined forces with other major central banks on the dovish side and suggested “lower for longer” rates over the coming quarters; 2) still deeply discounted H-share valuations suggest light investor positions; and 3) improving cyclical outlook and expediting reform in China.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Liquidity is abundant. Any prospect of the Fed aggressively raising interest rates, however remote, was dismissed at last week’s meeting. If the Bank of England is any guide, the Fed’s balance sheet can remain at its current level for a prolonged period after the end of QE. With the ECB and BoJ engaged in QE and a host of other central banks cutting interest rates it is safe to conclude that there is no shortage of cheap abundant capital for investment. 

There has been a great deal of commentary in financial circles about how elevated cyclically adjusted P/E ratios are, with some concluding that stock markets are fully valued.  On one hand we could consider how likely valuations are to become overvalued, but the other way of looking at it is to ask what is still cheap. 



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March 19 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Yuan Surges Most in a Year as Fed Eases Capital Outflows Concern

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:  

China’s capital outflows concern may be tempered after the Fed’s comments, and the PBOC will likely become more flexible as worries about a weaker yuan ease, Tommy Xie, a Singapore-based economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., said in an interview.

China is in talks with the International Monetary Fund to include the yuan in the institution’s basket of reserve currencies, PBOC Deputy Governor Yi Gang said in Beijing on March 12. The currency will decline 0.22 percent the rest of this year to 6.21 a dollar at the end of 2015, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

“The fundamentals are still bullish for the yuan with the government’s plan to make it a reserve currency,” said Scotiabank’s Tihanyi. The PBOC fixings also send a “strong signal” that the authorities favor a stable currency, he said.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Renminbi can be viewed from a number of different perspectives. For some it represents how much of an advantage China has gained from devaluing its currency more than twenty years ago. For others it represents the challenges experienced by manufacturers as its value has increased over the last decade. For still others its stability is a totem for the increasingly vital role China plays in the global economy. 

The Chinese authorities have made clear they want to make the Renminbi as international as possible. Opening up the financial markets, encouraging competition, insisting on the currency being used as a medium of international trade and other measures are all designed to achieve this goal. As the largest energy importer, the benefit of sourcing supply denominated in one’s domestic currency is obvious but for that goal to be reached the currency will have to be globally fungible which is not the case just yet. 

 



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March 16 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on China muddling through

The following extracts from an article by Professor James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology, Sydney should help subscribers have confidence in China investments.

“With China now having the world’s largest economy in terms of purchasing power, we should be cheering them on.

The World Bank says that between 1980 and 2011, the number of people living in poverty in China fell by 753 million. That’s nearly two and a half times the population of the US, and an outcome unparalleled in history.

The World Trade Organization says that China’s share of world’s goods exports has risen from 1.2 percent in 1983 to 12.1 percent in 2013. It’s now the world’s largest trader.

The Boston Consulting Group found that when utilities and other costs are added to sharply rising wages, manufacturing costs in China are now only four percent less than in the US.

To boost productivity, privatisation isn’t crucial; competition is the way that China’s government is currently muddling through reforming the financial sector.

In 2015, yes, China will muddle through. And it will do so again next year.” 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this interesting article and the topical excerpts: Muddling through can also be described as being willing to both make mistakes and being committed to learning from them. If learning that competition is to be fostered is an abiding success, then the recent crackdown on corruption might also be viewed in that light. 

Some interpret the recent tightening of controls on the media and freedom of speech as well as selective punishment for moral and financial transgressions to be a retrograde step in terms of standards of governance. Others view it as a necessary process to improve the efficiency of the state owned sector not least versus their privately owned competitors. 

 



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March 09 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Stocks Rise Most in Week on Banks New Business Prospects

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

“The market seems to be pricing in that the possibility that the regulator would allow banks to enter the brokerage space,” said Gerry Alfonso, a China equity sales and trading director at Shenwan Hongyuan Group Co. in Shanghai.

Banks also gained after the government said it will allow regional authorities to convert some high-yielding debt into municipal bonds.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Liberalisation of the financial sector remains a key policy objective of the Chinese administration. Allowing the major banks to participate as brokers and perhaps more importantly as originators and underwriters is an additional step in that direction. The major banks have the heft in terms of their balance sheets to compete aggressively in financial markets. While it would be tempting to first think about the stock market, this development is much more important for the bond markets. Expanding the number of primary dealers not least for the still underdeveloped municipals sector is a major financial sector innovation. 



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March 06 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Factories Are Building a Robot Nation

This article from Caixin may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

"At first, robots replaced workers who had jobs that exposed them to pollution, such as painting, or required that they repeat the same task," the equity manager said. "But gradually, robots have been used for trades requiring skilled workers, such as welders, because they are cost-effective."

Yet some companies have automated their factories simply because they cannot find enough people. A mid-level manager at an electronic manufacturer said that many businesses that are unable to fill positions have had no choice but to install robots.

"Workers quit every day," he said. "Physically challenging jobs under harsh conditions or jobs requiring repetitive processes are much less attractive to young workers than the older generation."

Zhang Fan, who oversees automation at a Midea factory in Wuhu, in the eastern province of Anhui, said the plant installed one robot in 2011 and another in 2012 to rapidly move 70 kilogram air conditioners on an assembly line – a job that was too strenuous for people.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China can no longer compete with some of its neighbours as a low cost manufacturing environment. Highly labour intensive, thin margin businesses such as textiles and jewellery manufacture have already migrated to countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and increasingly India and Africa. Some of the larger Chinese families will have operations in all of these countries as they manage their exposure to labour costs. 



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March 05 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba Shares at Post-IPO Low After JD.com Tops Estimates

This article by Spencer Soper may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The challenges in Taiwan and a Wall Street Journal report about Alibaba merchants paying people to pretend to be customers, called “brushing,” to pad sales figures have created some short-term negative publicity, Ji said.

“We don’t think those views will have a negative financial impact on Alibaba,” she said. “But PR-wise, it may have some negative impact on the stock.”

Alibaba, which connects consumers and businesses across its platforms, has a “credibility crisis” fueled by its failure to crack down on shady merchants, counterfeit goods, bribery and misleading promotions, China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce said in January.

James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Equities LLP in London, said Alibaba’s fourth-quarter results raised concerns about e-commerce growth and advertising revenue. There may also be a selloff ahead of the first major lockup expiration for insider share sales in mid-March, he said.

“Today’s weakness is no doubt also a result of strong results at key competitor JD.com and also the Taiwan withdrawal news,” Cordwell said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Jack Ma is an adept stock market player. The first listing of Alibaba in Hong Kong was also met with fanfare but the share languished after the initial spike and was eventually delisted for its IPO price in 2012.

The issues with its platforms being the world leaders in the distribution of counterfeit goods are nontrivial. There have been anecdotal stories for years about the cottage industry in Hangzhou centred on gaining preferential positions on websites through a web of bribery. These are damaging issues and will need to be addressed if the company is serious about preserving the interests of its minority shareholders. 



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February 06 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Debt and (Not Much) Deleveraging

Thanks to a subscriber for this heavyweight 136-page report from McKinsey. Here is a section: 

Debt continues to grow. Since 2007, global debt has grown by $57 trillion, or 17 percentage points of GDP.* Developing economies account for roughly half of the growth, and in many cases this reflects healthy financial deepening. In advanced economies, government debt has soared and private-sector deleveraging has been limited.

Reducing government debt will require a wider range of solutions. Government debt has grown by $25 trillion since 2007, and will continue to rise in many countries, given current economic fundamentals. For the most highly indebted countries, implausibly large increases in real GDP growth or extremely deep reductions in fiscal deficits would be required to start deleveraging. A broader range of solutions for reducing government debt will need to be considered, including larger asset sales, one-time taxes, and more efficient debt restructuring programs.

Shadow banking has retreated, but non-bank credit remains important. One piece of good news: the financial sector has deleveraged, and the most damaging elements of shadow banking in the crisis are declining. However, other forms of non-bank credit, such as corporate bonds and lending by non-bank intermediaries, remain important. For corporations, non-bank sources account for nearly all new credit growth since 2008. These intermediaries can help fill the gap as bank lending remains constrained in the new regulatory environment.

Households borrow more. In the four “core” crisis countries that were hit hard—the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Ireland—households have deleveraged. But in many other countries, household debt-to-income ratios have continued to grow, and in some cases far exceed the peak levels in the crisis countries. To safely manage high levels of household debt, more flexible mortgage contracts, clearer personal bankruptcy rules, and stricter lending standards are needed.

China’s debt is rising rapidly. Fueled by real estate and shadow banking, China’s total debt has quadrupled, rising from $7 trillion in 2007 to $28 trillion by mid-2014. At 282 percent of GDP, China’s debt as a share of GDP, while manageable, is larger than that of the United States or Germany.* Several factors are worrisome: half of loans are linked directly or indirectly to China’s real estate market, unregulated shadow banking accounts for nearly half of new lending, and the debt of many local governments is likely unsustainable. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The extent of debt deleveraging tends to be a subject that receives little press attention because it is so difficult to quantify. Some people are worried about the quantity of debt that has continued to climb since 2008. However the detail of who is responsible for this debt is more important. 

Quantitative easing is in many respects a transfer of debt from private institutions to government. This has allowed corporations to reduce their debt servicing costs and to lock in the lowest rates anyone has ever seen; often at lengthy maturities. Consumers have been spending less, refinancing mortgages and today’s news suggests more are getting back to work. The USA’s private sector has deleveraged and its government has become overleveraged. If the data in the above report is considered from a long-term perspective we can see cyclicality where credit contraction follows credit splurges and vice versa. 

 



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February 02 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New Rules in China Upset Western Tech Companies

This article by Paul Mozur may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The groups, which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, called for “urgent discussion and dialogue” about what they said was a “growing trend” toward policies that cite cybersecurity in requiring companies to use only technology products and services that are developed and controlled by Chinese companies.

The letter is the latest salvo in an intensifying tit-for-tat between China and the United States over online security and technology policy. While the United States has accused Chinese military personnel of hacking and stealing from American companies, China has pointed to recent disclosures of United States snooping in foreign countries as a reason to get rid of American technology as quickly as possible.

Although it is unclear to what extent the new rules result from security concerns, and to what extent they are cover for building up the Chinese tech industry, the Chinese regulations go far beyond measures taken by most other countries, lending some credibility to industry claims that they are protectionist. Beijing also has long used the Internet to keep tabs on its citizens and ensure the Communist Party’s hold on power.

Chinese companies must also follow the new regulations, though they will find it easier since for most, their core customers are in China.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has unabashed ambitions of becoming a global economic and military superpower large enough to rival the USA. However if it is to close the technological gap with the USA it will have to invest a great deal of money, time and effort into technological development. Investment in science is already impressive but the commercialisation of ideas takes time. 

Like other emerging countries that have come before it, China has copied what it could not develop itself. Insisting companies that wish to do business in China to sign technology sharing agreements and engaging in corporate espionage are both aimed at achieving the goal of rapidly narrowing technological gaps.

Forcing government agencies and state owned companies to buy from Chinese vendors almost certainly sets the country on course for discourse with the WTO. However by the time a judgement is reached much of the transition will probably have been completed.  The majority of China’s leading technology companies have sought listings in either Hong Kong or the USA which creates a challenge when judging the performance of the sector. 

 



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January 27 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China to Force Authors to Provide Real Names When Publishing Online

This article by Amy Qin for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

In new guidelines on online literature made public this month by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the government called for a system that would require all authors to register their real names with publishing platforms on the Internet.

Under the guidelines, creators of online content will still be allowed to publish under pen names. But unlike before, when some writers registered accounts under fake names, websites will know exactly who is publishing what.

Linking the identities of authors with their writings online, the guidelines say, will encourage them to “take better responsibility” for their works as well as strengthen their “professional moral education and training.” The aim is to promote “healthy” online literature and to root out problems like plagiarism and poor quality, the guidelines state.

“It is very clear that the government is taking these measures with the intention of suppressing online creativity,” the writer known as Murong Xuecun, whose real name is Hao Qun, said in an interview.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Anonymity on the internet is a touchy subject. On the one hand anonymous hackers have the ability to disrupt movie releases. Internet trolls might be in the minority but they take pleasure in insulting other people from the comfort of their own homes and totally free from retribution. On the other hand the use of anonymous profiles has allowed the spread of liberal ideals in a number of authoritarian regimes which has challenged the ability of the political apparatus to control news flow. This was particularly the case in a number of the Arab Spring revolts and is something China is now moving to ensure goes no further within its borders. 

Freedom of speech is only possible when backed by a robust legal framework and where the political establishment is subject to the rule of law. The Communist Party’s absolute control of the media was tight before, and this measure represents a considerable escalation of state control. Weibo and Sina blogs are incredibly popular in China. People document almost every aspect of their lives but they are also the modern equivalent of town hall meetings as friends, colleagues, relatives and old school friends actively discuss various topics. It strikes me as no coincidence that the push to implement real name profiles is coming so soon after the unrest in Hong Kong. The Communist Party has no intention of easing its grip on power. 

 



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January 21 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

2015 Asia Research Outlook Tread Carefully in the Year of the Ram

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

Cost savers: Mid-stream industrial sectors that could benefit from lower commodity prices and highly leveraged sectors that could benefit from lower financing costs.

Top-line growers: Increasing demand for better quality of life suggests a stronger appetite for healthcare, environmental protection, TMT, and child/senior-related consumption.

Reform beneficiaries: Look for potential beneficiaries from SOE reform, “Go Global”, financial reform and land/Hukou reform, but watch for potential losers from fiscal/tax reform.

MSCI inclusion: Select TMT and consumer discretionary names will benefit at the expense of the largest incumbents including financials, energy and telecom.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

In many respects the MSCI China Index is similar to the Hang Seng China Enterprises (H-Shares) Index. They certainly have a similar chart pattern and valuations. Mainland listed shares have so far been the primary beneficiaries of the opening up of the Hong Kong Shanghai Stock Connect with overseas investors dominating what has so far been one way traffic. 



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January 19 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Citic Securities Sees No Change to $4.6 Billion Share Sale Plan

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Citic Securities Co., China’s biggest brokerage by market value, said it will push ahead with a plan to sell about $4.6 billion of stock even after curbs on margin lending triggered a record plunge in its shares.

The broker’s plan to sell as many as 1.5 billion new H shares remains unchanged, a Hong Kong-based press officer said in an e-mailed response to questions today. Citic Securities said in December it would sell the shares, valued at $4.6 billion based on today’s price, to develop capital-intensive operations including margin financing and securities lending.

Chinese brokerages’ shares plunged today after the securities regulator banned three of the biggest firms from adding new margin-finance accounts for three months. Citic, Haitong Securities Co. and Guotai Junan Securities Co. let customers delay repaying financing for longer than permissible, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said Jan. 16.

The business and operations of Beijing-based Citic Securities remain unchanged, it said in today’s statement. Citic Securities shares fell by the 10 percent daily limit in Shanghai and dropped 16 percent, the most on record, at the close in Hong Kong.

Haitong hasn’t changed its share sale plan, said a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. It said in December it plans to raise about $3.9 billion from a sale of 1.92 billion new shares.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Today’s announcement clipped the wings of highflying mainland brokers with the three main companies falling the daily limit of 10%. Brokerages have outperformed by a wide margin over last three months with Citic Securities returned to test its 2008 peak. Consolidation of that accelerated move is now underway. 



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January 16 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Jeff Gundlach Goes Contrarian And Predicts Interest Rates Fall In This Prescient Presentation

Thanks to a subscriber for this link to Jeff Gundlach’s slides from his recent investor conference. Here is a section on China: 

The good news? We won't see high-yield debt defaults for a few years because everyone has refinanced their debt.

"There are lots of reasons to think rates should rise in five years, but not much in five days or five months."

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There have been a number of articles over the last week taking the view that the bull market in China has gone too far and that it is time to sell. Unsurprisingly, investors are wary of the Chinese market considering how much bad news they have been fed over the last five years. However the fact that so much high yield debt has already been refinanced is a major tailwind in the short to medium-term. 



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January 15 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Heads for Longest Rally in Six Months as Euro Plummets

This article by Joe Deaux and Laura Clarke for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

“The Swiss National Bank’s decision caught the market a little off footing, and gold gained as a safe-haven buy,” Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Alliance Financial LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The Swiss are giving up on the euro at the end of a long and painful run.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

At The Chart Seminar we have long defined ranges as “explosions waiting to happen”. Over the last six months we have been presented with a considerable number of explosive moves, not least oil, copper, mainland China, the US Dollar and now the Swiss Franc. These are not small illiquid instruments but some of the largest most globally significant markets in the world. This kind of volatility is unnerving for investors; unaccustomed to such large swings in their portfolios. Demand for some form of safe haven has increased as a result. 



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January 12 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

It is Amateur Hour in Chinese Market as Penny Stocks Surge

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Some individual investors, of course, try to be more selective than just focusing on the price. Shawn Gao, a 27-year- old bank manager in Chengdu, looks for shares that will benefit from government policy changes while using volume and momentum data to help guide his decisions. Even he admits, though, that he’s sensitive to the absolute price level, staying away from stocks priced above 20 yuan.

What looks cheap to Chinese investors who focus on a stock’s price may actually be expensive. Equities in the CSI 300 index trading below 5 yuan are valued at an average 25 times estimated earnings for the next 12 months, versus 13 times for the overall index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The market impact of individuals who ignore corporate fundamentals is driving away some of the region’s institutional investors, who are concerned speculative price moves will hurt performance, said David Gaud, a Hong Kong-based money manager at Edmond de Rothschild Group, which oversees about $158 billion.

“The market would need more institutionals and less leveraging on the retail side,” Gaud said. “This is not liquidity which is of good quality at the end of the day.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The domestic Chinese investor has been absent from the market since 2008 and is only now returning. If we think about our experience of stock market tops and base formation completion, people are most worried about bubbles following a breakout when they are underweight. Following a multiyear advance when investors have so much confirming evidence of the bullish hypothesis and a vested interest in it continuing, there are fewer people proclaiming the existence of a bubble. 



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January 06 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rate-cut, reform & re-rating in the Year of the Ram

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank focusing on China. Here is a section: 

Macro: Broad-based easing to bottom line ; watch CPI & RMB
We forecast lower-than-consensus GDP in 1H15, while 2H15 may see a minor pick-up thanks to rates and RRR cuts in 1-3Q15. We think the policy regime bottom line, but refrain from suggest closely watching the developments in CPI (esp. pork prices) and RMB depreciation to gauge how far the policy easing could go. 

Earnings: Non-financial earnings to recover at the expense of financials
We see a decent recovery in non-financial earnings growth to 8% in 2015 (vs. 0% in 2014), thanks to profit margin expansion amid softening commodity prices and falling financial costs. However, financials earnings growth may slow to 3% in 2015 (vs. 8.5%), sending overall H-share earnings growth to 5.5% (vs. 4.4%). This trend may extend in 2016 and H-share earnings could grow at a similar 5.4%. We believe cost cutting has its limit for Chinese corporate, top-line is still needed for a more sustainable earnings recovery. 

Liquidity: When G2 diverges the loosening PBoC vs. the tightening Fed
H-share liquidity conditions may weaken due to 1) further global capital outflows alongside the tightening Fed and strengthening US dollar, and 2) the mounting northbound while lukewarm southbound flows in the Shanghai Connect. A-shares may continue to benefit from the loosening PBoC and outperform H-shares, but in the near term, we would watch out for prudential measures given recent rapid leverage build-up, esp. via alternative channels. 

Valuations: 8-11x the fair range; market to enter
Modeling MSCI China with a three-stage DDM, we estimate 8-11x 12-month forward P/E as the fair valuation range. We expect the index to re-rate from the current 9.4x 12-month forward P/E to 10x by end-2015, based on 3.5% RFR and 6.5% risk premium. Also, considering around 5% rollover in 12-month the rising P/E and EPS boosting the index by 12% to 74 by end-2015.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The Chinese mainland’s stock market remains in robust form despite the short-term overbought condition currently evident. This explosive breakout will roll over into a consolidation of gains at some point but a clear downward dynamic, held for more than a day or two, would be required to check momentum. 



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January 05 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

HKEx Jumps on Report as Li Backs Shenzhen Stock Link

This article by Kana Nishizawa for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. jumped the most in a month after a report that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said a stock link with Shenzhen should be established.

The new exchange program should follow the Hong Kong- Shanghai connect that began in November, Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported on its tetimes.com website, citing Li during a visit to the city. Shares of Hong Kong Exchanges rose 2.5 percent to HK$177.30, the biggest advance since Dec. 8. The Shenzhen Composite Index extended gains to 1.5 percent, while the Hang Seng Index slid 0.6 percent.

“A Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock link will have a positive effect on HKEx in terms of turnover and profitability,” said Sam Chi Yung, a strategist at Delta Asia Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong. “We still don’t know the timetable of the program, but at least we know that China intends to launch it.”
Shenzhen Special Zone Daily is the official newspaper of the Communist Party committee in the southern Chinese city.

The existing cross-border trading connect gives foreign money managers greater access to Shanghai-listed equities while allowing mainland investors a route to buy Hong Kong shares. The program usage has been slower than expected, with about 25 percent of the aggregate quota being used for Shanghai-listed shares, and less than 5 percent for Hong Kong stocks traded through the link.

The design of the stock link is scalable and replicable, and can be expanded to cover other markets or asset classes, Lorraine Chan, spokeswoman at Hong Kong Exchanges, said in an e- mail today. The bourse operator has “excellent working relationships with the Shenzhen exchange,” and will inform the market if there are material developments, she said.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The above headline is somewhat misleading if one considers the action evident on the chart below. Nonetheless, a sustained move below the 200-day MA would be required to question medium-term upside potential. 

The extension of the Hong Kong Shanghai Connect program to also include the Shenzhen exchange is a positive announcement. This helps to confirm the intention to internationalise the capital markets by attracting additional inward investment and allowing at least some domestically held capital to migrate. 

 



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January 02 2015

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Stocks in Hong Kong Climb to 2011 High on Stimulus Bets

This article by Kana Nishizawa for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Chinese stocks traded in Hong Kong rose to their highest close in more than three years amid speculation the government will further ease monetary policy to support a slowing economy.

Mainland developers and financial companies jumped, with China Vanke Co. increasing 11 percent and People’s Insurance Company (Group) of China Ltd. reaching a one-year high. CSR Corp. and China CNR Corp. soared at least 16 percent, extending their Dec. 31 surge after the train builders announced a merger agreement. Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. remained suspended after the property developer defaulted on a $52 million loan.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The opening up of the stock market connection between Shanghai and Hong Kong in the fourth quarter has acted as a catalyst for investments flows into mainland China. The market was depressed, valuations are still attractive and the promise of additional flows kick started investment demand. The underperformance of the property sector over the same period has acted as an additional catalyst for domestic investors to diversify their exposure. A number of financial sector shares have performed spectacularly. Citic Securities for example rallied from CNY 12 in late October to hit CNY35 last week. 



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December 22 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Facebook Shares Rise to Record on Mobile Growth, Instagram

This article by James Callan and Kelly Gilblom for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Facebook Inc. shares rose to a record as the social network caps a year in which mobile advertising increased and marketing initiatives expanded with applications and video.

The shares advanced as much as 2.5 percent to $81.88 in New York trading, the highest price since Facebook’s initial public offering in May 2012. The stock has jumped 49 percent in 2014, a year of rally for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, which increased 12 percent.

This year Facebook made further headway in mobile, a business that has flourished from a minor portion of ad revenue at the time of the IPO to a majority. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion has also been paying off: A Citigroup Inc. analyst last week said the photo-sharing app is worth $35 billion.

“While the shares have likely benefited from the recent market rally, we see growing confidence in the monetization prospects of Instagram as an impetus to the recent uptick,”

James Cakmak, an analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co., said in an e-mail. He recommends buying the shares.

Facebook was trading at $81.57 at 11:57 a.m., up 2.1 percent, giving the company a market value of about $228 billion. The stock has more than doubled since the IPO. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Smartphones and social media represent a symbiotic relationship since the roll out of mobile phones and broadband is fuelling the evolution of social media and vice versa.

Facebook has successfully monetised its portal and remains a leader within its sector with global reach. It is open to question whether Mark Zuckerberg’s overtures to China will be successful. Personally, I doubt whether China will allow Facebook access when it has home grown products such as Wechat (Tencent Holdings) or Weibo (Sina.com) over which it has a great deal of control. 

 



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December 19 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Hong Kong REITs

I emailed several weeks ago to ask that you include Prosperity REIT (808:HK) in the Chart Library, but I gave you the wrong ticker, so could you please add this again. And do you think you could review the Hong Kong REIT market at some point as well? It might prove interesting for us all. Thanks so much, and happy holidays.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which highlights a high yield sector in Hong Kong, which is benefitting from the potential for additional flow of funds from the mainland. We have added the correct ticker for Prosperity REIT to the Chart Library. 



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December 16 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global Metals Playbook: 2015 Outlook

Thanks to a subscriber for this informative report from Morgan Stanley which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Metal’s flagship has got upside: Copper’s price has come under pressure late in the year, reflecting the energy sector sell-off and a perceived short-term metal surplus. Weaker, but the price remains well above its long-term average, and above the industry’s 90th percentile. Robust support of its value comes mainly from two drivers: China’s overwhelming dependence on imports (70% of supply); and the fickle nature of copper’s complex supply chain (mine supply; concentrates; scrap). Unlike other commodities, copper’s mine supply growth never quite matched demand growth during the Super Cycle, a condition that is unlikely to change over the medium term – underpinning our bullish price outlook.

Why so bearish? Consensus view: copper’s trade will now report persistent surpluses. Yes, current signals point to adequate supply: inventories are rising; key merchant premia are soft; backwardation may just reflect concentrated LME positions. Elsewhere, concentrate flows are adequate (TC/RCs are high); scrap flows are expanding. We acknowledge these bear signals. We’re just not convinced by the mine supply growth story. Low-risk re-rating of Escondida output over the past two years was actually unusual. To expect short-term green/brownfield deployments to proceed without disruptions at a lower price level (assuming unchanged demand growth) ignores the history of this industry.

Projects to watch: Key mine supply growth drivers to watch include Las Bambas, Toromocho, Sentinel, Cerro Verde; track Codelco’s ability to fund growth to >2Mtpa; Indonesia’s exports remain at risk, politically; in 2016, Escondida may de-rate again on lower grades; Rio Tinto has pared Kennecott’s supply outlook. We expect ongoing supply disappointments, simply because it is a feature of the industry.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

There are a lot of moving parts to the commodity sector but the biggest change by far to the economics of production has been the falling oil price. We do not yet know at what level prices will eventually stabilise but the fact remains energy costs have fallen almost 50% in six months. Considering how important energy costs are for miners, this move will improve the average cost of production and prolong the ability of marginal producers to increase supply.



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December 11 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Must... FiX... This...

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Maybank which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

However, the currency risk is the issue and we suspect a lot of companies have borrowed USD given low interest rates and on the expectation that the USD would continue to depreciate (Figure 19).

8) This is particularly true for China where BIS data shows borrowing increased an impressive 4.5x over the past five years (Figure 20). While external debt to GDP is manageable from a level perspective, the acceleration is a cause for concern in a world where exchange rates are driven by capital rather than current account flows.

9) Our analysis of Chinese corporate returns reveals that there is overcapacity through much of the listed sector, including the consumer space. Furthermore, returns on equity would have been even lower had leverage not sharply increased. Falling margins, falling asset turnover, falling ROAs, rising leverage, falling ROEs are not great combinations (Figures 34, 39 and 42).

10) We suspect it was weak growth and a strong USD that encouraged the PBoC to surprise the market and cut rates. Left to itself, Chinese policy making credibility is high enough that the work-out can be achieved. The risk is that external pressures, via a stronger USD, attracts capital away and we see downward pressure on the RMB. This keeps us underweight Chinese properties. We would be Neutral China.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

At the Chicago venue for The Chart Seminar in September a knowledgeable Peruvian delegate spoke at length on the repercussions for his country of a strong Dollar because there was such a dependency on Dollar funding. It’s easy to think about how this situation could have evolved. 

The Dollar had been weak for a long time. The funny thing about trends is that the longer they persist the greater the incentive to believe they will continue for even longer. If one had a company seeking funding for expansion, and credit in my home country is difficult to come by and/or has high interest rates, the relative attraction of the Dollar, which had been trending lower in nominal and real terms was powerful.  

 



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December 09 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on China funds and high yield (received on the 4th)

I am currently long ASHR (yay!!), which is looking mighty parabolic and amazingly extended... 

But, what are the best US-traded ETFs for investing in China with some diversification across sectors, based on your (extensive) knowledge of China?

<change of subject>

I noted that HYG and JNK are moving down, which is a bit of a non-confirmation of the recent S&P performance (though, if I may say so, breadth still sucks). Any thoughts?
Hope you're staying dry. We call this "winter" in CA. :)

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for the well wishes. The torrential downpours last week and more due this week certainly make a change from the endless sunshine of the last year. It also made the drive to Arizona last week particularly picturesque as the desert began to bloom.  

The Deutsche X-Trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares ETF (ASHR) is a useful instrument and offers direct exposure to China’s most liquid Index. Today’s downside key day reversal on the Shanghai A-Shares Index has checked the powerful breakout for at least the short term and some consolidation of recent gains is the most likely scenario. Considering how far the Index rallied in the last month, there is ample room for ranging. 

 



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December 08 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Spring Cleaning

Thanks to a subscriber for this report on the Chinese Waste and Environment Services sector for RHB OSK. Here is a section: 

Environmental protection investment. China budgeted CNY3.4trn for environmental protection under the 12FYP, ie 140%/57% above the budgeted/actual for 11FYP respectively. The upcoming Water Pollution Prevention and Treatment Plan will assign CNY2.0trn in 2013-2017 for water projects, 45% above 12FYP’s numbers. This shows China's commitment at least until 2017 on this matter. 

Municipal waste water treatment, higher budget. The NDRC budgeted CNY430bn for municipal waste water treatment in 12FYP. This was 30%/14% above the budgeted/actual numbers under 11FYP. The huge investment was intended to raise the treatment rate for cities/counties/towns to 85%70%/30% in 2015 from 77%60%/20% respectively. Future municipal sewage volume is on an uptrend, backed by the ongoing urbanisation process. Near-term drivers are: i) the “go rural” (county/town) with still low treatment rates, and ii) a discharge standards upgrade.

Industrial waste water treatment, a more centralised treatment. Despite the already high treatment rate of 95% in 2010, industrial sewage still offers enormous opportunities via waste water treatment by third-parties, which have better cost efficiencies than manufacturers that treat sewage by themselves. China’s economy slowdown may drag down industrial sewage volume, but textile industry has better visibility due to the recoveries in the US. We prefer the BOO model for industrial waste water treatment as it charges higher, more flexible tariffs.

Sludge, a new market. Sludge is highly toxic, and its treatment rate was low in 2010 (below 25%). The NDRC plans to raise this rate up to 70% for cities in 2015, and budgeted CNY35.0bn for 12FYP, 7% more than its 11FYP budget. Guangdong has committed the most on sludge treatment and its market is large, accounting for 11% of China’s total new sludge treatment capacity for 12FYP. Sludge BOOs can deliver 20% IRR

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The current stock market rally in China is related more to the opening up of two-way investment avenue between the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges that began last month, than any other single factor. The fact that it has been accompanied by the first cut to short-term interest rates in a number of years has been an additional bonus. This move is being led higher by the banking and broking sectors not least because of their size, liquidity and that they benefit from an increasing number of transactions. 



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November 28 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Deposit Insurance Plan Seen as Risk for Small Banks

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

While the move could limit systemic risks, it may fuel competition for deposits and drive up lenders’ borrowing costs as savers divert money to stronger banks or those that offer higher interest rates, according to Jim Antos, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd.

China may offer customers deposit protection as soon as the start of 2015, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing unidentified sources. The insurance would help to prepare China’s financial system for bank failures as the economy slows and authorities allow banks to pay higher interest on deposits.

“Competition for large deposits will clearly increase, with pricing and the perceived financial strength of the banks being the key factors for consumers,” Antos wrote in an e-mail.
“We expect to see a shift of large deposits to the megabanks which, being government-owned, are viewed as stronger institutions.”

The government may cap coverage at 500,000 yuan ($81,000) and set different premium levels based on a bank’s regulatory rating under the plan, Economic Information Daily reported today, citing a person close to regulators.

Multiple government departments, including the People’s Bank of China and the China Banking Regulatory Commission, are preparing the program, Xinhua said.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the challenges with assessing the outlook for the Chinese market is that there has been so much bearish commentary over the last few years that it is difficult to decipher which arguments hold water. What appears clear is there is an impending issue with bad loans coming down the pipe. As the economy slows and state investment priorities evolve it is reasonable to assume that not all loans taken out in the last decade are going to be paid back in full. 

The more important consideration at the present time is that measures are being put in place to deal with this eventuality. The creation of the deposit insurance program is a positive initiative and suggests the Chinese government is not willing to continue to engage in blanket bailouts of troubled institutions. 

 



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November 27 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Loosens Monetary Policy Further as PBOC Scraps Repo Sales

This article for Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Industrial profits in China fell 2.1 percent from a year earlier in October, the biggest decline since August 2012, government data showed today.

The halt to repo sales was “an expected move following the rate cut in the previous week,” said Zhou Hao, a Shanghai-based economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “Market interest rates remain sticky in general. This reflects a policy dilemma faced by the Chinese authorities as the rate cut alone cannot manage market expectations.”

And

There will probably be two more rate cuts by mid-2015, each by 25 basis points, and banks’ reserve-requirement ratios are forecast to be lowered by 150 basis points cumulatively next year, HSBC Holdings Plc economists Qu Hongbin and Julia Wang wrote in a Nov. 24 report.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

In the environment of ultra-low interest rates and extraordinary monetary policy we have been accustomed to it is easy to forget that during this time China has been reloading its central bank’s arsenal of policy tools. 

Interest rate differentials are high relative to other major economies, bank reserve requirements are in the region of 20% versus low single figures elsewhere, the currency remains close to highs not seen in 20 years and aggressive measures are in place to withhold credit from property investments among other tools.



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November 27 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 24 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

PBOC Past Shows Multiple Moves as Analysts See More Cuts

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In his 12 years as People’s Bank of China Governor, Zhou Xiaochuan has never stopped at a single shift to benchmark interest rates once prompted into action.

Zhou, who took office in 2002 when Alan Greenspan was still chairman of the Federal Reserve, has overseen two tightening and two easing cycles for a total of 22 moves to the one-year lending rate and 20 to the one-year deposit rate. Simple math suggests his latest cut is unlikely to be a one-off.

By joining Mario Draghi and Haruhiko Kuroda in the global stimulus camp, Zhou signaled deeper concern over China’s outlook and recognition that targeted measures alone weren’t going to be enough to revive growth. A Bloomberg survey conducted late Nov. 21 through yesterday showed economists forecast further monetary loosening by the middle of next year.

“Expect more interest rate cuts ahead,” said Shane Oliver, who helps oversee about $125 billion as Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd.

“China’s rate cut highlights that global monetary conditions are still easing with monetary easing in Japan, Europe and China taking over from the end of quantitative easing in the U.S.”

The one-year lending rate will be 5.35 percent in the second quarter of 2015 and the one-year deposit rate will be 2.5 percent, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. AMP’s Oliver has the lowest forecast, predicting the lending rate will fall to 4.5 percent by the end of next year; by contrast four of 15 economists see no further reduction.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is one of the only countries in Asia where currency market volatility has not impeded capital market appreciation potential for foreign investors over the last year. However as the easing cycle in monetary policy reignites, the prospect of additional strength for the Renminbi is looking increasingly unlikely. 

While it is true that Zhou Xiaochuan has not stopped at one cut when entering an easing cycle, the above chart illustrates that the medium-term peak in lending rates was in 2012 at 6.56% and the recent cut is an extension of that easing policy following a hiatus. The lows near 5.3% have not previously been exceeded and it will be a measure of how much assistance the central bank thinks the economy needs whether they will cut rates below that level. 

 



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November 21 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the outlook for 2015

Hi David & Eoin, I wanted to get FTM thoughts and opinion on where the best investment returns could be had over the next 12 months and what would be the key things to watch for? Thanks for an excellent service 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and your question. This is a topic we cover almost daily in the written commentary and the audio but it is a good time to summarise our views. 

Let’s ruminate for a moment though on the timing of your question. Generally speaking, the last six weeks of the year is given over to thinking about the possibility of a Santa Claus rally and people don’t generally look at the outlook for the next year until the last week of December or the first week of January. It made headlines during the week that Goldman Sachs had released its prognostication for the coming year, which may have prompted your email. However I believe it is worth considering that the stock market is a discounting mechanism and as a bull market progresses we tend to want to discount cash-flows from increasingly further into the future. It is a measure of how strong the market has been over the last month that investors are already planning for next year. Five consecutive weeks to the upside suggest some consolidation is increasingly likely.

 



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November 19 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The discretionary side of staples

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

Noodles and drinks can be fashionable if consumers want it that way. Chinese consumers have had most of what they need, so we look into the discretionary side of consumer staples, i.e., what and how they want the beer and tea to be served. We think something new and/or chilled will help companies to put a stop on de-rating in 2015, and to prepare for the recovery ahead.

The myth: staples are no necessities?
YTD in 2014, Hong Kong-listed consumer staples under DB coverage and those we monitor underperformed the MSCI China by 20%. We think the de-rating is partly structural, including the reduction in corporate spending and diminishing channel advantage (as a result of the e-commerce boom); and partly company-specific due to weak product development capabilities and therefore absence of sustainable growth drivers.

Newness to connect with the ‘Post-90s’
We think the anti-extravagance campaign has driven a structural change in consumption, because consumers are now mostly paying out of their own pockets (instead of using pre-paid cards/coupons) for products they desire and from where they deem convenient (instead of whatever is available in designated locations). In addition, the ‘Post-90s’ shoppers have changed from traditional habits of consumption given a more global mindset, and are eager for continuous novelty in product and branding. Therefore we highlight UPC (220 HK; Hold) and Hengan (1044 HK, Buy) due to their proven track record in these areas. They either suffered or are suffering from price wars for different reasons, but we expect them to recover in 2015 with price wars ending/fading.

Putting ourselves into Chinese consumers’ refrigerator
Consumers in some parts of China still drink beer and milk at room temperature. We believe this will change, starting with pasteurised milk, as China’s expensive milk will accelerate consumer sophistication, and we believe the next thing they will ask for is freshness. Then we expect more fridge-pack beer and drinks, and chilled and frozen food. We think potential beneficiaries of this development include Mengniu (2319 HK, Buy), which aims to make chilled products one of its growth engines; and Tsingtao (168 HK, Hold), which has lagged behind in product mix improvement in 2014 – we expect the company to refocus on product upgrade and margin improvement in 2015.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

It is open to question whether Chinese consumers will be willing to consume chilled beverages if Mrs. Treacy is any guide. Many Chinese consider air conditioning unhealthy and cold beverages unsettling to one’s internal chemistry. Nevertheless, the penetration of caffeinated, alcoholic, spicy, salty, savoury and sugary food and drinks is unlikely to be curtailed by these cultural factors not least because they have addictive qualities and because they represent the growth in demand for convenient foods. 



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November 17 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect: For investing in SSE securities

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:  

Under Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK) and Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) will establish mutual order-routing connectivity and related technical infrastructure to enable investors in their respective markets to trade designated equity securities listed in the other’s market. Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company Limited (HKSCC) and China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation Limited (ChinaClear) will be responsible for clearing, settlement and the provision of depository, nominee and other related services for the trades initiated by the investors in their respective markets. This brochure provides information for investors who want to use Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect to trade equity securities listed on SSE.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The opening up of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect is a major undertaking. It represents a further easing of China’s closed capital market, with an additional $50 billion in market liquidity possible, under the terms of the agreement. (Please see this additional note from SocGen highlighting the conditions of the existing QFII, RQFII and new Stock Connect program) 

 

 



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November 10 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shanghai-Hong Kong Link to Start in a Week as China Opens Up

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The program allowing a net 23.5 billion yuan ($3.8 billion) of daily cross-border purchases will begin on Nov. 17, regulators said in a joint statement today after weeks of investor speculation on the start date. Benchmark indexes in Shanghai and Hong Kong climbed at least 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. surged 4.6 percent. The yuan strengthened as the central bank raised its reference rate by the most since 2010.

The exchange link is one of China’s biggest steps toward opening up the capital account, increasing use of the yuan and turning Shanghai into an international financial center. It will give foreign investors greater access to Chinese companies tied to the nation’s consumer market, which President Xi Jinping is counting on to reduce the dependence of the world’s second- largest economy on exports and infrastructure spending.

“It’s good to see a date,” Mark Konyn, who helps oversee about $92 billion as the chief executive officer of Cathay Conning Asset Management in Hong Kong. “It’s a great innovation. We understand it’s only the first step.”

Shenzhen Link
A Shenzhen equivalent of the Shanghai-Hong Kong link will probably follow within two years, letting more foreign investors buy shares on China’s smaller exchange, according to Bank of America Corp. and Templeton Emerging Markets Group. Japan would also like be part of a trading link with China, the chief executive officer of Osaka Exchange Inc. said on Nov. 5.

The Shanghai connect will expand access to Chinese shares from a limited number of institutions to anyone with a Hong Kong brokerage account. The $64 billion Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program has allowed professional money managers to buy local securities since 2002, while a similar system using offshore yuan began in 2011.

Shanghai-listed equities are heading for the best annual gain since 2009, outpacing shares of mainland companies listed overseas amid speculation valuation discounts on domestic securities will narrow as China opens up. The Shanghai Composite Index has climbed 17 percent this year, versus a 1.9 percent drop in the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of Hong Kong- listed shares

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many Western commentators have decried the upside potential of the Chinese market as ephemeral. The reasons for this pessimism are well known but include the unsustainable pace of fixed asset investment not least in property and infrastructure and the opacity of the financial sector where loans have been made based on national and regional interests rather than capacity to repay. As they say, “there is no smoke without fire” and the downtrend evident on the A-share Index lent credence to these arguments and was debilitating to confidence.  



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November 10 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ma Says Alibaba Shareholders Should Feel Love After Coming Third

This article by William Mellor, Lulu Yilun Chen and Zijing Wu for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

And Alibaba is making money: Net profit tripled to $3.7 billion in the year ended on March 31. While net income fell 39 percent in the three months ended Sept. 30, in part as a result of the cost of integrating new businesses, revenue jumped 54 percent during the quarter -- beating analysts’ estimates.
     
“The growth potential of Internet companies in China is many multiples greater than in the U.S.,” says Shane Oliver, who helps manage $131 billion at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney. “Businesses which can take advantage of that, such as Alibaba, seem incredibly attractive.” In line with AMP policy, Oliver declined to say whether his firm bought the stock.
    
Ma isn’t the only billionaire tapping China’s Web-savvy consumers. Robin Li, 45, was China’s second-richest man as of Nov. 9, with a fortune of $17.2 billion, after founding search engine Baidu Inc. Ma Huateng, 43, who was worth $15.6 billion on that date, has expanded Tencent Holdings Ltd. into China’s top instant-messaging service.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The opening up of the Shanghai – Hong Kong Exchange link is a major event. It is tempting to think of it from the perspective of a Westerner gaining access to a new market but it is even more important for mainland Chinese who will for the first time have access to Hong Kong listed securities and by extension the wider global market. 



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November 07 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Key beneficiaries of monetary easing and potential interest rate cut

Thanks to a subscriber for this interesting report from Deutsche Bank focusing on the Chinese insurance sector. Here is a section: 

Contrary to popular belief, we believe Chinese life insurers should benefit from monetary easing at this point in the cycle. We note that our China economist now expects two interest rate cuts in 2015. We believe a lower rate environment could ease competitive pressure and allow room to lower liability costs, which should more than offset reinvestment pressure. We expect the sector to deliver robust EV and VNB growth in 2014-16, and see the current sector valuation as attractive, especially the major insurers’ A-shares, trading at 0.9-1.1x 2014E P/EV. We initiate coverage of the Chinese insurance A-shares, with Buy ratings on China Life, Ping An and CPIC, and a Hold on NCI.

Why are interest rate cuts positive? 
There are three reasons why we believe potential interest rate cuts are positive for Chinese life insurers. Firstly, we believe insurers’ investment yields could be resilient, despite lower interest rates, thanks to the availability of higher yielding assets. We note that the listed insurers’ net investment yields of 4.8-5.1% in 1H14 are relatively low compared with the 6+% yields offered by new investments, such as preferred shares and other non-standard investments. Secondly, while asset duration is shorter than liability duration, we believe the sector’s liabilities could be re-priced faster than assets, due to the dominance of participating and universal life policies (~77-92% of reserves), which allow insurers flexibility in adjusting liability costs. Furthermore, we believe a lower interest rate environment could ease competitive pressure for the sector, and is positive for growth. Last but not least, an easing monetary situation should ease asset quality deterioration, which has been a key concern for investors.

Expect robust EV and VNB growth in 2014-16 
We forecast robust EV and VNB growth for Chinese life insurers, with average EV growth of 23.7% and VNB growth of 18.3% in 2014, helped by strong investment markets. We forecast EV growth to be sustained at around 14.3%/13.9% in 2015/16, and VNB growth at 15.6%/14.6%, supported by stable market conditions and an increased focus on protection policies. As such, we see current sector valuations – at 0.9-1.1x 2014E P/EV for insurance A-shares, 0.9-1.3x for H-shares – as unjustified and yet to price in any recovery.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China remains a nation of savers. A major contributor to this state of affairs is the underdeveloped insurance sector. If you need to hold large cash balances to provide for accidents, home repairs, healthcare, retirement and death you will need to adopt an inherently cautious attitude to personal finances. Sharing the burden for these eventualities with an insurance company reduces risk and allows for a more productive use of capital. Insurance remains a growth industry in China for these reasons but this is not a new story. The healthcare sector is where the majority of investors currently have their attention trained while the more established insurance companies remain largely rangebound. 



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November 06 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

World Equity Market Valuations Tables November 6th 2014

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full list is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

Russia (P/E 5.66) and the Hong Kong Enterprises (H-Shares) Index (P/E 7.3) have similar valuations but couldn’t be more different. Russia represents the degradation of an economy due to adventurism by the ruling oligarchy. The H-Shares represent a market which has been constrained by tight monetary policy for three years and is only now emerging from it. 



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October 27 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

More favorable 2015: Stronger demand and supply dynamics

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank focusing on Chinese property developers. Here is a section: 

More favorable supply-side dynamics According to NBS, nationwide new home prices have fallen 4-6% since April, and sales have responded positively to such price cuts. On our analysis, overall residential inventory period (including properties under construction but with  presale permits) has already peaked out and fallen to 16.5 months in Sep (down from a high of 21 months early 2014). As developers maintain price cuts and discounts, inventory period should continue to fall. Given significant falls in land sales (-26% YoY) and construction starts (-14% YoY) in 2014 YTD, new supply should fall further in 2H15, by then we see a return of pricing power.

Key concerns: margin pressure, corporate governance events, financing risks
Given more price cuts and slower decline in land prices than property prices, we see more downward margin pressure. And with on-going anti-corruption  campaign of central government and recent corporate governance events for  some Chinese developers, we see higher risk premiums and deeper valuation  discounts to be applied to certain non-state-owned Chinese developers.

Our positive industry views are supported by the current cheap valuations of the China property stocks. Our top picks are those with: 1) favorable landbank vintage (i.e. management has good market expertise in timing market cycles); 2) the ability to obtain cheap financing; 3) good revenue diversification (like a sizeable and growing investment property portfolio); and/or 4) very attractive valuations. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China is unwinding a property led investment policy and has been squeezing property prices for more than two years. They know as well as anyone else that to keep squeezing when prices are already falling would be a mistake which is why we now see signs of easing. A greater willingness to open up the domestic capital markets is an additional sign that credit expansion will once more be tolerated. 



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October 27 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Missing Exchange Link Leaves Traders in Limbo

This article by Kana Nishizawa and Darren Boey for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

HKEx is at the “completion stage” of preparation for the link, Li said in a conference call with reporters yesterday, declining to speculate on a timeframe for the start date.

“While the market will always appreciate advance notice, which we will strive to give, I’m not at this point stipulating any particular days,” Li said.

The Hang Seng Index (HSI) slid 0.7 percent at today’s close in Hong Kong. HKEx tumbled 4.7 percent, its biggest loss in six months, while brokerages First Shanghai Investments Ltd. and Shenyin Wanguo HK Ltd. each lost at least 8.8 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.5 percent, its lowest closing level in a month.

Authorities said in April they may make further announcements on timing, yet they haven’t given any more details beyond their original statement that the link would start in about six months. Hong Kong’s Securities & Futures Commission declined to comment and the China Securities Regulatory Commission didn’t respond to a faxed request for comment.

Chinese regulators need to address whether foreign investors will pay capital gains taxes on mainland shares before the link can begin, Mark Mobius, who oversees about $40 billion as the executive chairman at Templeton Emerging Markets Group, said in an interview in Hong Kong.
Charles Li, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd.

“Unless they get all these issues straightened out and clarified, nobody is going to invest,” Mobius said.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The opening up of a link between the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock markets would be a very meaningful catalyst for capital flows between China and the international markets and vice versa. However until it is in fact initiated, uncertainty about mainland commitment to the venture will remain, not least because of political uncertainty in Hong Kong. 



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October 21 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why Even Minor Legal Reforms Are Important in China

This article by Stanley Lubman for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

A key issue as the Party confronts flaws in the legal system — one that has risked getting lost in the swirl of opinions around the specifics of judicial reform — is the disconnect between local governments and the central government: Local mishandling of problems arising from illegal land expropriations, tolerance of environmental pollution and disregard of product safety problems have led to widespread discontent that undermines the party’s legitimacy. The question underlying the current reform effort is whether the mentality of local officials can be shaped to guide their adherence more closely to centrally promulgated laws and policies.

An article in the progressive journal Caixin recently commented on “bureaucratic lethargy [that] is especially evident in local government departments.” In addition to modifying central-local financial relations, changing the criteria for evaluating local government performance, and simplifying administration, the article identified “setting up a system that is based on the rule of law” as an important remedy.

That’s easier said than done, and many of the legal reforms proposed so far appear to skirt around the issue. What is needed is a more explicit commitment to strengthen the discipline required for the courts to enforce laws consistently and reasonably. More attention needs to be focused on how judges should interpret and follow legal rules, and on how they should exercise their discretion.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Much of the debate about the impact of the Communist Party discussing how the law should be interpreted have focused on the difference between “rule by law” versus “rule of law”. However this misses the wider point. The Communist Party is grappling with the challenge of imposing accountability on several hundred thousand officials while also maintaining an iron grip on power and keeping a lid on political dissent. This debate suggests a desire to improve standards of governance. 



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October 21 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mass. General in talks to build hospital in China

This article by Liz Kowalczyk for the Boston Globe may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

“China has a real serious problem in regard to availability of beds,’’ said Benjamin Shobert, managing director of Seattle-based Rubicon Strategy Group, which advises health care companies entering China. The shortage led the Chinese government two years ago to allow outsiders to invest in and provide expertise for the country’s health care system.

Since then, Mass. General, which is the largest hospital in New England, has developed a relationship with China. A Chinese medical tourism firm, Beijing Saint Lucia Consulting, refers patients to the hospital. The firm opened a Boston office last year to provide translators, chauffeurs, and other services for wealthy Chinese coming to Mass. General and other Boston hospitals for cancer treatment, orthopedic procedures, and other medical care.

“There is still a large gap between China and America when it comes to medical technology and service,’’ said Joseph Zhao, the company’s deputy general manager in China. With doctors in high demand there, “physician-patient communication only lasts 5 to 10 minutes,’’ he said.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Wealthy Chinese consumers have resources to buy just about any material possession imaginable but domestic healthcare is still developing relative to other countries. World class healthcare is as much an attribute of the upper middle class as luxury brands, property or other services and demand is increasing. Medical tourism continues to expand as demand for services represents growth in Asia while desire for lower cost is fuelling demand elsewhere. 



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October 16 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

PBOC First Rate Cut Since 2012 Signaled in Swaps

This article by Justina Lee for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Asia’s largest economy is forecast to report third-quarter growth of 7.2 percent next week, the least since 2009, after data for September showed overall financing missed estimates and inflation eased to the slowest since 2010. While the central bank lowered the rate on 14-day repurchase agreements this week, a cut in the benchmark is the most direct way to shrink financing costs, the China Securities Journal said in a commentary yesterday. Credit Agricole CIB says there’s a 40 percent likelihood of a reduction.

“The chances are significant because you have a simultaneous growth slowdown and a decline in inflation, which opens the door for policy makers to address slower growth,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, a strategist at Credit Agricole in Hong Kong. “Most lending is benchmarked off the PBOC’s rate rather than that of the market. It’s precisely because they’ve kept the benchmark lending rate steady that credit growth isn’t that strong.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many market participants have their attention trained on the Federal Reserve for signs of whether QE3 will be ended and on the ECB for signs that a new LTRO program will begin. However, how the PBOC acts is equally important considering its size and the effect its stimulus had in 2009 and 2010 when the global economy was still weak. 



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October 14 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rationing of China ETFs Hits U.S. Market as Demand Soars

This article by Boris Korby for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Surging demand has been fueled in part by the biggest quarterly gain for mainland stocks since 2009. The Shanghai Composite gauge rallied 15 percent in the three months through Sept. 30, even as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 4.3 percent. The Shanghai gauge slid 0.4 percent today while the X-trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares ETF climbed 0.5 percent to $25.77 at 3:05 p.m. in New York.

To deal with the influx of new money, Frankfurt-based Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management said Sept. 11 that the ETF would accept just one creation unit per day. A unit represents 50,000 shares or about $1.3 million at current valuation. The fund provider is increasing the cap to 10 creation units per day, according to a statement today.

“We wanted to maintain a valve of liquidity, increasing the fund size but doing so in a measured way, in anticipation of getting a higher quota,” Kittsley said.

A Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor license, known as a QFII, or Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor license, known as an RQFII, is needed for foreign asset managers to buy A-shares. Once the license is obtained, the investor also needs to submit an application to China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange for a specific dollar amount of investment quota that they can use to buy mainland stocks.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The opening up of the Shanghai – Hong Kong Connect is a major event. For the first time foreign investors will have relatively open access to the mainland stock market via Hong Kong and mainland investors will have access to companies listed in Hong Kong. This represents the opening up of a conduit for capital flows which will reach hundreds of billions over the coming years and the potential acceptance of mainland Chinese securities into the MSCI Emerging Markets indices sometime next year. 



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October 08 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Stocks Rise to 19-Month High on Property Easing Measures

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Vanke, the nation’s biggest listed property developer, gained the most since July 24 while Poly Real Estate’s advance was the biggest since Aug. 4. China Merchants Property Development Co. added 2 percent.

People applying for a loan to buy a second home may get lower down payments and mortgage rates that were previously only available to first-time home buyers so long as they have paid off their initial mortgage, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement on Sept. 30 after the market closed. The central bank also eased a ban on mortgages for people buying a third home.

The action marks a reversal in a four-year tightening campaign, as slowing property investment and industrial production raise risks that 2014 economic growth will drift too far below Premier Li Keqiang’s target of about 7.5 percent.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Every morning I click through approximately 200 charts of country indices, bond futures, currencies and commodities to get a feel for how the market is performing. Today I decided to note every country index making a new high. It was a short list. China’s Shanghai A-Shares Index was the only one on it. 

The Chinese engineered a property slowdown in order to avoid a dangerous bubble and now need to stimulate the market if they are to avoid a crash. With property developers offering deep discounts on developments and confidence deteriorating it can only be viewed as good news that the restrictions on the property market are being lifted. The credit squeeze which has affected a good many more sectors than property is easing which is positive for the stock market generally. 

 



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October 06 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hong Kong Protest Ranks Thin as Negotiations Bring Calm to City

This article by Alfred Liu, Weiyi Lim and Clement Tan for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

“I’m sure people will thin out because people get worn out,” Next Media Ltd. Chairman Jimmy Lai, publisher of the Hong Kong newspaper that’s most-critical of Chinese rule and an advocate of the protesters, said in an interview. “I’m sure the government in the talks will promise something that will appease people temporarily. But when promises are broken, people will come back.”

Student leaders met with government officials yesterday to map out further talks with the city’s second-highest ranking official, Carrie Lam.

The protests were triggered by China’s decision that candidates for chief executive in the 2017 elections be vetted by a committee. Pro-democracy groups say that will guarantee the candidates’ obedience to China. They are seeking a more open system, as well as the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

It can only be described as good news that the tense situation in Hong Kong is easing. For a city built on commerce, the protests have been bad for business especially during a key annual holiday. As people get back to work and a heavy-handed breakup avoided. investors are likely to begin to refocus on the opening of the Hong Kong - Shanghai stock market connection later this month. 



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September 24 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China property hard sell intensifies in bid to lift sagging sector

This article from Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Lu Yanzeng, a property agent, said he had not sold a single home in two months. Business this year "is very so-so, it's not as good as last year," he said. "Sales of second-hand homes are slow, but new home sales are brisk."

China's property market, where prices surged to all-time highs for five consecutive years, is experiencing its sharpest slowdown in around two years.

Average new home prices fell for a fourth consecutive month in August by 1.1 percent, meaning the market is now close to wiping out gains seen over the last year. Compared to a year ago, sales as measured by floor space were down 12.4 percent.

While the slowdown in a heated market has benefited millions of Chinese, for whom soaring house prices have made home ownership a distant dream, slackening activity has also raised concerns about the health of China's economy.

It is straining already softening domestic demand and pushing overall fixed-asset investment to lows not seen in nearly 14 years on a cumulative basis between January to August.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In an effort to avoid a bubble, the Chinese authorities engineered a property slowdown. They succeeded in that objective and will now need to act in order to avoid a crash. Easing restrictions on property purchases, particularly in tier 1 cities, making more mortgages available and easing credit conditions will all help stoke demand but the question remains as to whether buyers can be encouraged into a declining market. 



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September 22 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Clamps Down on Web, Pinching Companies Like Google

This article by Keith Bradsher and Paul Mozur for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Frustrated users have often resorted to “virtual private network,” or V.P.N., services to evade China’s Internet filters. But those services, too, have come under concerted attack from the authorities, who have interrupted service to them with increasing frequency. Many ordinary citizens cannot afford or obtain access to V.P.N.s to begin with.

In the meantime, Google’s business continues to erode. Its share of the Chinese search engine market fell to 10.9 percent in the second quarter of this year, as the stepped-up blocking began to take effect — compared with one-third in 2009, when it still had servers there.

Google’s problems extend far beyond search. Its application store, called Google Play, is only partly accessible in China.

That has led to the rise of a number of locally run application stores, which analysts say will sometimes market pirated copies of software or charge extra to promote a new application. Companies are often forced to create versions of their apps for China that are slightly different from the versions distributed to the rest of the world on Google’s app store.

“Because Google Play has low market share” in the Chinese market, “app publishers who have applications worldwide on Google Play don’t receive the proportionate share of users in China without publishing to local Android stores, even if they have localized Chinese versions,” said Bertrand Schmitt, chief executive of App Annie, a company that tracks global app distribution.

Google also hosts publicly available libraries of coding scripts and fonts on its servers, but China now blocks these libraries. The chief technology officer at the start-up said his company had resorted to creating its own libraries and hosting them on its own servers, wasting costly computing power and space.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Western companies invested heavily in Chinese expansion and accepted knowledge sharing joint ventures for the promise of access to China’s burgeoning consumer sector. The reality of profitability in China has been more disappointing than originally envisaged and companies are understandably chastened at the reception they have received. For a company such as Google with a global franchise that relies on users accessing its search and mobile apps in order to facilitate advertising, the loss of China as a potential market was priced in shortly after its withdrawal from the country. 



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September 19 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Despite the Excitement, There is Reason to Think Twice on Alibaba

This article from the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

At $68 a share, Alibaba’s market capitalization is about $168 billion. It’s hard to find a United States company that’s directly comparable, but Professor Greenwald said eBay comes the closest. Like Alibaba, it has an auction site that benefits from a powerful network effect, it offers a vast e-commerce site and it has a pay system, PayPal. (While Alibaba spun off its payment system, Alipay, Alibaba will get a share of the proceeds from any sale or public offering of Alipay.) EBay’s market capitalization is about $65 billion.

Of course, eBay doesn’t dominate e-commerce in the United States to the degree that Alibaba does in China. But is it reasonable to assume such dominance will persist as the Chinese market matures? No one company dominates e-commerce in the United States or in Europe, and none are as large as old-economy Walmart. China may now be underserved by national brick-and-mortar chains, but that could change. Professor Greenwald said he believed that Alibaba deserved a premium to eBay — perhaps twice eBay’s market capitalization. “But three times? That’s really pushing it,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ticker symbol, BABA, means father in Mandarin and this was certainly the mother and father of all IPOs. The share price briefly testing the $100 area today, up from the $68 agreed at the close of the offer stage. Some of the early investors in the company were able to liquidate positions early and others will have had an opportunity to sell today so it is questionable where the additional demand will come from to push prices much above today’s high in the short term.

Meanwhile this additional article from the New York Times highlights the entrepreneurial ecosystem developing in picturesque Hangzhou. The start-ups spawned by former Alibaba employees suggests the number of companies that will be seeking to IPO is likely to increase in the coming years. It remains to be seen if Alibaba’s former employees will have the same effect on Hangzhou as HP’s had on Silicon Valley. 



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September 18 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Towards an Asian century of prosperity

This article from The Hindu newspaper by China’s Premier Xi Jinping may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Both China and India are now in a crucial stage of reform and development. The Chinese people are committed to realising the Chinese dream of great national renewal. We are deepening reform in all sectors. The goal has been set to improve and develop the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and advance the modernisation of national governance system and capability. A total of over 330 major reform measures covering 15 areas have been announced and their implementation is well underway.

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the new Indian government has identified ten priority areas including providing a clean and efficient administration and improving infrastructure. It is committed to building a united, strong and modern India — Shreshtha Bharat. The Indian people are endeavouring to achieve their development targets for the new era. China and India are both faced with historic opportunities, and our respective dreams of national renewal are very much aligned with each other. We need to connect our development strategies more closely and jointly pursue our common dream of national strength and prosperity.

As emerging markets, each with its own strengths, we need to become closer development partners who draw upon each other’s strengths and work together for common development. With rich experience in infrastructure building and manufacturing, China is ready to contribute to India’s development in these areas. India is advanced in IT and pharmaceutical industries, and Indian companies are welcome to seek business opportunities in the Chinese market. The combination of the “world’s factory” and the “world’s back office” will produce the most competitive production base and the most attractive consumer market.

As the two engines of the Asian economy, we need to become cooperation partners spearheading growth. I believe that the combination of China’s energy plus India’s wisdom will release massive potential. We need to jointly develop the BCIM Economic Corridor, discuss the initiatives of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and lead the sustainable growth of the Asian economy.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ahead of Xi’s visit Chinese troops built a rudimentary road on the contested part of the India/China border and Indian troops destroyed it a day later. India boosted support for Vietnam, agreeing to export arms, the day before his visit. The above text is part of a charm offensive where both countries could benefit from greater bilateral trade, but no one is under any illusion about how much room there still is for relations to improve.   

 



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September 17 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba Is Too Big to Ignore

September 10 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Letting Foreign Investors Open Wholly Owned Hospitals Hardly a Cure-All

This article by Zhou Tian for Caixin may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Liao Xinbo, an official with the health commission's Guangdong branch, said this amounts to granting foreign investors the same type of treatment as Chinese nationals when founding hospitals.

There is little doubt that foreign investors can bring advanced technologies and management expertise to the domestic health care industry, but we should not go so far as to celebrate the development as a solution to the problems of expensive drugs and the hardship many have experienced trying to find a good doctor.

In general, foreign-invested hospitals cater to wealthy patients. That means their services often cost a lot. It is unrealistic to hope that more foreign hospitals can make health care more affordable. By diverting wealthy patients away from ordinary hospitals, they might help with easing overcrowding.

But it is too soon to say whether foreign investors will line up for a hospital of their own now that restrictions on their share ownership have been lifted. Other authorities related to the opening of a hospital, such as those overseeing the sales of land and the health insurance and social security systems, must play along as well.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Offering the opportunity to foreign groups to build wholly owned hospitals within China probably has more to do with tapping into the global market for medical tourism than any specific aim to improve coverage for Chinese consumers. As the middle classes swell, demand for cosmetic surgery and other elective procedures is rising. Why send wealthy Chinese to Hong Kong, Singapore, the USA, Thailand or India when they could have the procedures at home for a comparable price and to a high standard. 



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September 08 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect : A big step towards greater market convergence

Thanks to a subscriber for this informative report from HSBC which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

This report, the third in a series about what Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect means for different asset classes, analyses the implications and dynamics of this move towards market convergence for equities:

Short term: It’s initially about identifying price differences between A-shares and H-shares. Five months after the programme was announced, both markets are up 7-8%, and the Hang Seng China AH Premium Index, which tracks the average price difference for dual-listed companies, remains largely unchanged. However, across sectors there are significant differences between A-share and H-share prices. In general we believe this will lead to an investor preference for blue-chip companies in the A-share market and mid-cap growth companies in the Hong Kong market, which means the price difference should narrow gradually.

Medium term: The scheme should lead to substantially higher market turnover in Hong Kong and greater institutional participation in the A-share market. HSBC analyst York Pun estimates HKEx’s turnover could rise over 80% once all restrictions related to Stock Connect are removed. Similarly, we expect to see institutional investors, who currently own only 15% of the A-share market, become far more active in China. Foreign investors alone could drive up the level of institutional ownership of A-shares by at least 5-8ppts over the next 3-5 years through Stock Connect and existing channels such as the qualified investor schemes (QFII, RQFII).

Long term: We expect to see changes in the style of investment in both markets. The A-share market should move closer to Hong Kong – i.e. favouring value, large-cap and high dividend yield stocks – because of more foreign institutional participation, a lower risk-free rate and increasing dividend pay-outs. If we look at the net capital flow for both markets, defined as dividends paid by listed companies to shareholders minus the sum of equity fund raising plus stamp duty tax and stock trading commission, we find significant differences between Hong Kong and the A-share market. This is mainly driven by large-cap dividend yield stocks – the Hong Kong market recorded average positive cash flows of RMB130bn for the past three years, while the average for the A-share market was negative RMB65bn.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

It might seem trite but simply put, weight of capital moves markets. Record low interest rates and declining bond yields are defined in some circles as justifying the high risk premium on equities but it is the weight of capital from underweight pension funds, companies buying back their own shares and retail money more recently that is sustaining high prices.

 



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September 04 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China State Media Join Brokerages Saying Buy Equities

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

China’s real-estate slump is spurring local investors to shift more of their money into stocks, according to Chen Xingdong, the chief China economist at BNP Paribas SA in Beijing. Signs of increased risk in wealth management and trust products may also make shares an attractive alternative, said Kathy Xu, a Hong Kong-based money manager at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc.

China’s new-home prices fell in July in almost all cities that the government tracks, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. At least 10 Chinese trusts struggled to meet payments in the three months through August, sparking protests by investors outside banks that distributed the products.

Equities comprised 4 percent of Chinese households’ total assets as of 2013, according to a June report from Credit Suisse. Bank deposits accounted for about 22 percent while property made up 55 percent.

The average annualized investment return on residential properties in China was 3.53 percent in July, down from 4.6 percent in June, according to Zhongjin Standard Data Research Ltd. in Hong Kong. The Shanghai Composite has an earnings yield of about 9 percent.

“You might even start to see retail money re-directed to equities after years of chasing real estate,” said Michael Shaoul, the New York-based chairman of Marketfield Asset Management LLC, which oversees about $18.5 billion.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2005, the government announced it would defend a floor on the A-Share market. This acted as a catalyst to spark the impressive rally in Chinese equities until their peak in 2007. The change of sentiment towards the property market, disappointing returns from gold, risible deposit rates and an inability, until the Hong Kong link is opened further, to invest beyond the mainland suggest that the domestic stock market is one of the few asset classes which is both cheap and under-owned where investors can seek a capital gain.

 



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September 03 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Services Rebound in August Signals Economy Rebalancing

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Chinese stocks added to gains on optimism a rebound in services growth will help offset a pullback in manufacturing and a property slump. China’s weakening real-estate market has weighed on related industries, raising concern the government will miss its expansion target of about 7.5 percent this year.

“The economy still faces downside risks to growth in the second half of the year from the property sector slowdown,” Qu Hongbin, HSBC’s chief China economist in Hong Kong, said in a statement. “We think policy makers should use further easing measures to help support the recovery.”

August data point to divergent trends in employment across manufacturing and services, according to a statement from HSBC and Markit.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The intended rebalancing of the Chinese economy continues to proceed with a focus on developing the services sector. The development of the Shanghai financial sector free trade zone and the opening up of the connection between mainland bourses and Hong Kong are indications that the financial market liberalisation that is also part of the broad economic rebalancing continues to proceed. 



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September 02 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Jack Ma Times Market Selling Second Alibaba IPO in Rally

This article by Kana Nishizawa for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“The Chinese consumer space is probably a lot more exciting,” Liang said. “But I’m not saying this is going to be a skyrocketing IPO. The performance depends on the pricing. If it’s priced to perfection there will be little room left for after market appreciation.”

Alibaba may set its IPO value at $154 billion, or 22 percent below analyst valuations, in a move that could avoid repeating Facebook Inc.’s listing flop, according to the average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg in July. The poll respondents saw Alibaba’s post-listing valuation at $198 billion. Ma owns 8.8 percent of the company.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Alibaba surged following its IPO last time around and anyone still holding the share following its collapse got the price they paid at the initial listing back when it was taken private once more. Let’s ask some fundamental questions about the IPO process:

Does Alibaba need the capital to expand its business? 
With a dominant position in a number of market segments, the answer is probably not. 

 



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August 27 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Revived Bretton Woods System First Decade

Thanks to a subscriber for this fascinating report by Michael Dooley at UCSC, David Folkerts-Landau and Peter Gerber at Deutsche exploring the role of trade-offs between international capital and China’s reserve accumulation. Here is a section on India which may be relevant for the future: 

Recent developments outlined above suggest that India is not now on the path to replace China in the system. But looking forward, the Modi government’s plan, if implemented, would reload India into the periphery of a Bretton Woods II system. The 2014 election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party announced several economic goals. A country intending to push an export-driven development policy could hardly describe its policies and goals differently. In sum, the manifesto seems aimed at vigorously implementing this strategy. The manifesto espouses: “A strong manufacturing sector will…create millions of jobs and increase incomes for the working class. Above all, it will increase the revenue for the government and lead to import substitution to bring down the import bill. We will make India a hub for cost-competitive labour-intensive mass manufacturing. (p. 29).”

Specifically, the manifesto proposes several policy goals to boost labor-intensive manufacturing. The current account deficit is to be reduced aggressively by focusing on exports and reducing the dependency on imports (italics ours). A program for ports, roads and rail to the interior, and airports is intended to facilitate international merchandise trade by eliminating severe infrastructural barriers. It also intends to eliminate the artificial bureaucratic barriers to commerce. FDI will be allowed in most sectors, except retail, and investment and industrial regions are to be set up as international manufacturing hubs. 

Of course, a political party’s manifesto is a wish list. Full implementation always collides with resource and political constraints. But taking it at face value means that India is readying itself to take up China’s role as the next large periphery in the Revived Bretton Woods system. As we said in Section IV, the key to managing the export-driven strategy at a global macroeconomic scale is the recruitment of FDI. The amount of collateral on hand limits FDI, but a large and persistent current account surplus relaxes the limit. In India, the government is now opening the doors to more FDI; and simultaneously, it intends to reduce the current account deficit. Our caveat is that it cannot expect a China-like attraction of FDI unless it can swing the current account into surplus. The manifesto seems to aim for these conditions, but this is a case of wait-and-see for this next test of the collateral hypothesis.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

If you have the time I would recommend reading this report in its entirety not least the portion beginning at the end of page 13 focusing on the role of China’s sanitation of currency inflows on the low interest rates that continue to prevail in the USA and Europe.

When we consider India’s role in the global economy, it has many of the characteristics China is seeking to develop and vice versa. India has a vibrant consumer economy, world class corporations successfully competing internationally, property rights, an independent judiciary and respect for minority shareholder interests. It also runs persistent twin deficits, its manufacturing sector is undeveloped, infrastructure has decayed to the point of obsolescence or does not exist, development planning has been haphazard to say the least, bureaucracy is sclerotic and corruption inhibits growth at every turn. 

 



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August 22 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Smart Grid in China

Thanks to a subscriber for this interesting report from Oriental Patron in Hong Kong. Here is a section:  

1. First of all, we believe energy savings investment will shift from industrial to public facilities, driven by urbanization in China which is the focus of China's smart grid development. As one of the central government's key aims, we expect the Energy Management (EM)'s market size to achieve 22% CAGR in 2012-2015E.

2. In light of this, leading Energy management contract (EMC) companies will enjoy fastest growth as subset of EM industry, at 39% CAGR in 2013-2015E, thanks to supporting government policies for EMC companies such as exemption on corporate tax, subsidies on building retrofit, etc.

3. We also expect the penetration of smart meters to increase rapidly from the current 60% in China to approaching 100%. Besides, we also see replacement demand kick in to drive 4.8% CAGR in 2013-2020E, starting in 2015E.

4. As smart meter penetration is likely to reach full coverage from 2014E onwards, we believe that smart meter suppliers with tailor-made power distribution and energy efficient solutions are able to leverage on the well-established smart meter network to offer value-added service, hence new revenue flow to support its robust earnings growth in the coming five years, we expect the earnings CAGR of Wasion Group (3393 HK) is 20% in 2013-2016E.

5. Ultra High Voltage (UHV) power cables demand CAGR 62% in 2015E-2020E, is much higher than CAGR 18% in 2010-2015E, thanks to National Energy Administration(NEA)’s plan for long distance power grid construction,

6. High entry barrier enable market consolidation. Nationwide UHV grid construction drives demand in EHV power cables construction in regional power distribution, only 12 manufacturers are qualified as suppliers to SGCC. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full rport is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China has been aggressive in securing resources overseas in order to provide for increasing energy consumption. Ensuring it makes the most efficient use of that energy is a logical next step not least because there is demand for efficient device management on the international market and China’s lower cost of production may lend it a competitive advantage. 



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August 15 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tracking China's reforms

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank by Audrey Shi which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China’s commitment to reforms continues to deepen, especially in regard to SOE reform. On 15 July, for example, SASAC named six SOEs to undergo pilot programs with respect to mixed-ownership (the greater involvement of private capital), the establishment of state-owned asset investment companies, reform of the board of directors system and disciplinary inspection reform. Various provincial governments (Jiangsu, Shandong, Gansu, Yunnan and Beijing) also recently issued SOE reform plans and over 15 local authorities have now announced reform guidance. At the company level, central SOEs including Chalco, China Everbright and Huarong, together with local SOEs such as Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp and Jiangxi Copper, published reform blueprints in July. In aggregate, all these developments represent a commitment to large-scale corporate restructuring, especially across SOEs.

Base on the principle of ‚differentiated management. revealed in 3rd Plenum Decision, we see various reform paths for SOEs: 1) Central pan-national SOEs in monopolized sectors (e.g. oil & gas, telecom and transportation) may allow private capital investments in minority stakes or in certain business units; 2) local SOEs (e.g. provincial level and below) in competitive sectors including F&B, apparel, electrics and healthcare, may be taken over by private investors in their entirety; 3) proceeds from the sale of competitive SOEs may be managed by the state-owned assets operation companies, which will channel more capital into utilities and strategic sectors; and 4) more SOEs assets may be listed or injected into listcos.

We expect this aggressive focus on SOE reforms to have a material impact on China’s longer-term economic outlook especially as the private sector is still significantly under-represented. Not only will these moves result in a substantial expansion in the private sector but the large-scale inclusion of private capital in current SOE sectors (both monopolies as well as competitive) will further promote the more efficient allocation of capital, result in further productivity gains and underpin longer-term growth.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

Considering the dominant position of state owned enterprises (SOEs) in the Shanghai A-Share Index, the effect of positive reforms cannot be underestimated. 

 

 



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August 06 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Better sentiment and flows, but little improvement in fundamentals

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank taking a cautious approach the recent move to outperformance by mainland Chinese indices. Here is a section:

We are often asked what would change our relatively bearish attitude towards the Chinese economy and equity market, to which our first answer is a credible proposal to reorganise the fiscal relationship between central and local government on a similar scale to what happened in 1994, but with the opposite impact, namely of increasing the revenue base of local government.

This is predicated on the belief that much of the sharp drop in China's productivity growth which has taken place in recent years derives from the reliance of local government on manufacturing industries for social/financial support. The resolution of the underlying fiscal issues around local government is also bound up with reforms to the current system of land ownership and the way in which the hukou or residency permits are granted. There have been some fairly strong statements from the finance minister Lou Jiwei since the start of 2014 that the authorities may be on the cusp of announcing a much clearer roadmap for fiscal reform, but so far nothing has emerged. Similarly there has also been a wave of speculation over the past couple of week concerning the possibility of a major liberalisation of the regulations concerning the system of granting hukous, but a clarifying statement has made it clear that any shift can only occur on a city-by-city basis. We will continue to scrutinise policy statements towards both fiscal and land issues very carefully, but so far Beijing appears to be continuing its recent tradition of talking up expectations, which are subsequently not backed by tangible measures. 

The anti-corruption campaign has also become an increasing area of focus for equity investors as it has been steadily increasing in intensity over recent weeks. The sharp rally in the price of Petrochina in particular, has been partly in response to the potential impact of the allegations of corruption made against senior figures at the company, in causing a re-evaluation of the capital expenditure programmes, which have been perceived as value destructive by minority investors. We are sceptical that there will be much in the way of change, since most of the big downstream projects which were undertaken within China and overseas appear to have reflected the strategic priorities of the Chinese state, priorities which are unlikely to change much over the near future.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The efforts to give Hong Kong residents greater access to the mainland market and mainlanders access to the Hong Kong market, in addition to veiled stimulus loans to the China Development Bank, have stoked interest in the A-Share Index. If these are additionally associated with long awaited progress in reforming the hukou residence system or the further rollout of a property tax, the recovery potential of the market would be enhanced as it would represent a considerable improvement in governance. 



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August 05 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on funds offering exposure to Chinese A-Shares

In yesterday’s message, you showed the big difference between China's A and B shares. Now from the charts, A-shares seem to offer the best opportunities, possible being at the beginning of a bull market. But I understand these are hard to get for foreign investors. Are there funds which are exposed to this market? (personally I own Aberdeen Global Asia Pacific)? Kind regards and thanks for your great daily work,

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which I’m sure will be of interest to other subscribers. David also provided an answer to a similar question on July 23rd. I agree with your conclusion that the A-Share market looks like it is bottoming.

The Aberdeen Global Asia Pacific fund has been performing well not least because of its Indian and South East Asian weightings. However its Chinese positions are Hong Kong rather than mainland listed.

The re-categorisation of the Funds section of the Chart Library makes finding China focused funds easier. Simply choose funds from the main dropdown menu, then Geographic focus,  then select China or Greater China depending on your particular focus.  



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August 04 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

PBOC $162 Billion Loan Spurs Stealth-Easing Speculation

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“This is another targeted easing measure,” Chang Jian, chief China economist at Barclays Plc, wrote in a July 30 report. While the loan doesn’t represent “broad loosening,” it has “reduced recent market concerns about a shift in the PBOC’s stance away from easing towards neutral or tightening,” she said.

Wang Tao, UBS AG’s chief China economist, says the measure is part of trying to “optimize” the implementation of its existing monetary stance, and doesn’t constitute a shift in policy, according to a July 24 report.

In its Aug. 1 report, the PBOC said targeted measures have become a “new trend of major central banks” since the global financial crisis started and that it will keep using tools such as relending and rediscounting to guide institutions to “optimize their credit structure.”

The CDB loan is the equivalent of an across-the-board cut of 1 percentage point in the ratio of deposits banks must hold as reserves, JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimated, scrapping its forecast for two 50 basis-point cuts from the current 20 percent reserve requirement ratio for large banks.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Despite attractive valuations, the Chinese stock market has been in need of a bullish catalyst. Continued largesse on behalf of the central bank in supporting infrastructure projects represents an important tailwind. The size of the loans will be viewed as a positive by the banking and brokerage sectors that will benefit from lending fees and the deals that will go with it. Considering their dominant weighting in the main indices this can be viewed as at least part of the reason for the recent strength in the A-share market.    



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July 29 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

July 28 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What Do Chinese Dumplings Have to Do With Global Warming?

This article by Nicola Twilley for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

An artificial winter has begun to stretch across the country, through its fields and its ports, its logistics hubs and freeways. China had 250 million cubic feet of refrigerated storage capacity in 2007; by 2017, the country is on track to have 20 times that. At five billion cubic feet, China will surpass even the United States, which has led the world in cold storage ever since artificial refrigeration was invented. And even that translates to only 3.7 cubic feet of cold storage per capita, or roughly a third of what Americans currently have — meaning that the Chinese refrigeration boom is only just beginning.

And

Despite the expansion in frozen foods and refrigerators, the critical growth area is what’s known in the logistics business as the “cold chain” — the seamless network of temperature-controlled space through which perishable food is supposed to travel on its way from farm to refrigerator. In the United States, at least 70 percent of all the food we eat each year passes through a cold chain. By contrast, in China, less than a quarter of the country’s meat supply is slaughtered, transported, stored or sold under refrigeration. The equivalent number for fruit and vegetables is just 5 percent.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolution of cold storage capacity tends to move hand in hand with the instant gratification often associated with a developing consumer economy. Having a large refrigerator in one’s home means a large selection of food is available whenever we wish. As the article points out the roll out of a refrigerated food chain doesn’t necessarily reduce food waste over the long term. However it changes food waste from being an inevitable fact to being dependent on people’s purchasing and consumption choices.  While China is on its way to surpassing the USA in terms of refrigeration capacity, India is only now beginning to introduce refrigerated warehouses suggesting there is substantial growth in this sector. 



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July 28 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Property Cooling Prompts Revival of Builder Bonds

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The central bank in May called on the nation’s biggest lenders to accelerate the granting of mortgages to first-home buyers. Some Chinese cities, including the northern city of Hohhot and the eastern city of Jinan, have started to relax property curbs to stimulate the local market.

Allowing bond sales by property companies is part of government easing measures along with the removal of property curbs and the support of mortgage lending, according to Frank Chen, head of China research at CBRE Group Inc., a commercial real-estate services company based in Los Angeles.

“The revival of property bonds is the right move in the long run,” given real estate’s close ties to many industries including cement, steel and even banking, said Chen in Shanghai. “Property is the single most important sector to the Chinese economy.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Relaxing of some of the strictures that have been imposed on property developers is a positive development from the perspective of the stock market since they represent such a large direct and indirect component of its market cap.

China Vanke is currently rallying from the lower side of a more than 5-year range. This is lending support to the recent positive performance of the Shanghai Property Index 



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July 23 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Goldman, Warburg Pincus and others nearing $2bln Huarong deal-sources

This article from Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: ‘

The seven investors are likely to sign an agreement over the next month, the people said.
China Huarong had about $65.7 billion under management at the end 2013, making it the nation's biggest bad debt manager ahead of China Cinda Asset Management Co Ltd, which raised $2.8 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering last year.

CICC, Fosun, Goldman Sachs and Warburg Pincus declined to comment. COFCO, CITIC and Khazanah did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comments. The sources declined to be identified as the information is not public.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s bad banks were created 15 years ago to deal with the contagion the economy experienced in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis. The fact they are now seeking listings suggests that they wish to capitalise on the appreciation in the assets they hold. Another perspective is that they are following a growing trend of Chinese banks seeking listings as they raise capital offshore to help bolster their balance sheets as the housing market cools.  



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July 10 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Supreme Peoples Court Issues its Newest Five Year Reform Plan for the Courts

This article from the Supreme People’s Court Monitor is noteworthy because an independent judiciary is a common characteristic of many of the most successful countries in achieving their development objectives. It is posted without further comments but here is a section:

On 9 July, the Supreme People’s Court issued its fourth five year reform plan for the courts, approved by the Party leadership, which sets out 4 broad areas of reform, relating to 8 general areas. An overview has been released on Wechat and other Chinese social media and can be expected to be published very soon in more traditional media.

The Court described it as taking first steps towards establishing a judicial system with Chinese characteristics and is intended to roll out reforms announced in the 3rd Plenum decision and the judicial reform decision announced earlier this spring and some of its themes were highlighted in press releases published just after Chinese new year.  Many of these issues are ones that have been discussed within the Chinese legal community for many years and draw on international expertise as well. The summary below highlights five of the eight broad areas. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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July 09 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Strong Luye Pharma debut boosts prospects for 'China orphan' firms

This article by Stephen Aldred for Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia (MSPEA) delisted Sihuan from Singapore in late 2009 at a valuation of around $500 million, before relisting it in Hong Kong a year later with a market cap of around $3.7 billion, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Sihuan's market value has since grown nearly 80 percent to $6.7 billion, not too far off China's biggest listed drugmaker - Shanghi Fosun Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd (600196.SS) which has a market cap of $7.2 billion.

MSPEA has not fully exited its investment but expects to make around eight times its initial investment when it does, said the source, who declined to be identified as details of the investment have not been made public.

Luye's shareholders sold $253 million through the offering while the rest of the proceeds went to the company. For CDH the successful Luye debut is a welcome relief after the IPO of pork giant WH Group Ltd was canceled as mismanaged pricing and other woes led to weak investor demand.

Investors in both Sihuan and Luye are also buying into strong growth prospects for China's drug market, although the sector remains underdeveloped and highly fragmented.
The industry grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 19.3 percent in the five years to 2012 to be worth $69.7 billion and is expected to grow at a similar pace to reach $166 billion by 2017, according to consultancy firm Espicom. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese domestic healthcare sector represents a significant growth trend as standards of living improve. The pharmaceutical sector has ambitions to compete on the international stages which is at least part of the reason companies are seeking additional capital overseas. However the issues relating to corporate governance raised early in the above article are non- trivial which is at least part of the reason investors tend to favour Hong Kong listings because of the tighter regulations imposed on companies before their IPO. 



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July 07 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on a mainland China focused ETF

I was wondering what your thoughts were on the iShares Chinese A-shares tracker (FTSE/Xinhua China A50 (XIN9I index) on your web site. It looks to me like it might be finishing its lengthy base. Where would be a good point to buy from a technical point of view?

Keep up the great work,

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question of general interest. China has some of the lowest valuations of any market amid uncertainty relating to the reorientation of the economy away from infrastructure development and low cost manufacturing.

 



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July 04 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China health care Pharma sector comes of age

Thanks to a subscriber for this highly educative heavyweight report from Standard Chartered focusing on China’s healthcare sector. The embedded audio visual summary is well worth taking 3 minutes to watch. Here is a section:  

We would explain the smiley curve pattern in this way:

Innovators: At one end of the smiley curve are innovators, including pharma companies that have accumulated vast knowledge and expertise over long periods. Others are laboratories and CROs (contracted research organisations), which specialise in innovation and benefit from the outsourcing of other companies’ main functions, from diagnosis and biologics manufacturing to R&D.

Health-care service providers: Hospitals, clinics, doctors are the main points-of-sales for the medicine and services sub-sectors. They exert an important influence on sales and have first-hand intelligence on large numbers of patients. These companies should be able to capitalise on strengths to generate returns for investors.

Consumables and distributors: We find these sub-sectors in the value chain less attractive. Despite entry barriers related to scale, knowledge or regulations, their business is too distant from the areas where real innovation is fostered or services are rendered. While they employ the latest technologies to improve efficiency, newer technologies could disrupt their value proposition. For instance, smart medical devices containing diagnostic sensors, such as Dexcom’s continuous glucose monitoring devices, facilitate information flow between patients, physicians and pharma companies; their use diminishes the value of the middle man ¡V distributors.

Will China’s health-care market trend be similar to the US? If so, it would strengthen our case for investing in both ends of China’s smiley curve. Comparing the composition of China’s listed health-care companies with market caps above USD 500mn against the S&P500 Health-care Index, China’s device sub-sector is under-represented (8% in China vs. 15% in the US), suggesting its strong growth potential. In comparison, distribution is over-indexed (14% in China vs. 6% in the US), implying less headroom for growth.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

When people move from a subsistence life style to one of plenty they tend to focus on buying consumer goods that make their life easier and on the trappings of wealth in order to display their success. There is no use in accumulating wealth unless one is fit enough to enjoy it, so demand for healthcare goes hand in hand with a higher standard of living. 

This is particularly the case in China where access to healthcare is not universally available beyond the cities. Rolling out services and insurance plans represents a growth trend not least because it helps demonstrate the administration is succeeding in delivering a higher living standard. 

 



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July 03 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Coal to Olefins Industry

Thanks to a subscriber for this fascinating heavyweight report from Deutsche Bank. Here is a section: 

In its most recent 5-Year Plan (2011-15), the Chinese government laid out an aggressive time table for development of its coal-to-olefins (CTO), coal-to syngas (CTG) and methanol-to-olefins (MTO) industries (Appendix 1-3). 

The economics of China coal-to-olefins (ethylene / propylene) is competitive relative to the world’s naphtha-to-olefins industry (Figure 2, Figure 20 & Figure 92-93). The world’s naphtha-to-olefins industry is Asia-based. Ninety percent (90%) of Asia’s olefin (ethylene) capacity uses naphtha as a feedstock (Appendix 6-10). Asia produces 34% of global ethylene. A fast-growing China CTO industry would displace its own naphtha to olefins industry (24% of global ethylene capacity). Somehow, this strategy does not make much sense; although it would produce short-term China GDP growth. 

The economics of China coal-to-olefins however is not competitive relative to a growing North American and Middle Eastern natural gas-to-olefins industry (Figure 2, Figure 20, and Figure 94). From a cost perspective, a fast-growing China CTO industry would displace its own naphtha to olefins industry but then be displaced itself by a lower-cost North American and Middle Eastern natural gas-to-olefins industry. Somehow, this strategy makes even less sense; except for the fact that it creates plenty of China GDP by both building and then dismantling multiple China industry chains. 

China’s coal-to-olefins and / or coal-to-urea do not make economic sense in a world awash in low-cost natural gas. Notwithstanding, China continues to grow its coal-to industries; maybe on the prospect that the world’s growing supplies of cheap natural gas could be short-lived.

The production of olefins from coal requires an abundance of water (Figure 98) and produces an abundance of CO2 emissions (Figure 102). The addition of one 600k tpa CTO facility in Beijing would increase provincial CO2 emissions by 14%. China’s abundant water resource (Figure 95) is located in the South and South West part of the country; its coal resources are located in the North and North West part of the country (Figure 11-12) – bad luck.  

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China has a substantial coal sector which, in common with the global sector, has been under pressure from below trend global growth, increasingly stringent environment regulations and competition from lower cost alternatives (at least in some jurisdictions) such as natural gas. The green light for investment in coal to liquids development appears to be an attempt from some portions of the administration to provide the coal sector with an additional business line in order to preserve its viability.

Quite how viable that is when water and environmental concerns have not been addressed and when the country is also investing heavily in developing its own natural gas reserves raises some important questions about whether this will in fact pan out. 



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June 24 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Value creation in Chinese public hospital privatization

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which focuses on the Chinese healthcare sector and may be of interest. Here is a section: 

We expect the private healthcare service sector to outgrow the public sector in the mid/long term. We have identified three key growth drivers for the sector, including favorable policies towards private healthcare services, accelerated growth in capacity expansion and utilization, as well as rapid growth in  commercial insurance coverage. We expect approximately 8,000 public  hospitals will be privatized over the next 5-10 years due to policy shifts, which  will create substantial growth opportunities for private service providers in the mid/long term. From 2005 to 2013, the CAGR of total beds in private hospitals was 22%, much higher than 7% of the public hospitals in the same period. We also anticipate the utilization rate will improve significantly over the next 5-10 years, from mid-60% to 80-90%. Additionally, the rapid growth of commercial insurance is likely to add another leg of growth for the private healthcare service sector. 

We anticipate value creation on two fronts in public hospital reform, including  growth acceleration after privatization and significant margin improvement, driven by change of incentive mechanisms and efficiency improvement  respectively. According to past experience, revenue growth acceleration will be sustained for 3-4 years after takeover while it will take 4-5 years to reach  approximately 10% net margin from breakeven. By our estimates, the order of  ROI generation among four major business models is as follows: OT, IOT  (invest, operate and transfer), equity ownership and greenfield hospitals. We  highlight an approximate 4-5 year payback period for the IOT model and 10 years for the equity method. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Communist Party understands that in order to hold onto power they need to deliver on improvements in standards of living. Finding work for much of the rural poor in factories and investing heavily in infrastructure fuelled growth for the last two decades and lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. The current fire year plan has seen a refocus on improving human capital through investment in education, services, social security, sanitation, healthcare and the environment. 

The hukou system of registration segregates rural from urban dwellers. In effect this means that many of the services urban dwellers take for granted are not available to those living in the country. Rolling out services to the hinterland represents a significant growth story for the healthcare sector.  

Phoenix Healthcare IPOed in November, hit a medium-term peak in February and has been ranging between HK$10 and HK$11 since early May. A sustained move above HK$11 would break the progression of lower rally highs and signal a return to demand dominance. 

Fosun Pharmaceutical has been on an aggressive acquisition spree and the share lost upward momentum from March. Is has so far held the majority of its advance and a sustained move below HK$24 would be required to question medium-term scope for continued higher to lateral ranging. 

Tong Ren Tang Technologies hit an accelerated peak a year ago and has been largely rangebound since. The share found support last week at the lower side and a sustained move below HK$11 would be required to question potential for an additional bounce. 

 



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June 20 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bridging Hong Kong, Shanghai for the future

This article by Zhu Ning for ChinaDaily Asia, dated May 19th may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

To be fair, allowing Chinese domestic investors to access the Hong Kong stock market may prove to be even more valuable. Given the controls on capital accounts and cross-country listings, Chinese domestic investors are severely underdiversified in their portfolios.

Such underdiversification costs Chinese investors dearly, especially given the exorbitantly high volatility and recent disappointing performance in the Chinese A-share market.

By investing in the Hong Kong market, Chinese investors can not only buy cheaper stocks offered by the same company (for most companies cross-listed between Shanghai and Hong Kong, the H-shares trade at a discount), but also invest in overseas companies that cater to Asian investors and are listed in Hong Kong.

With the direct investment channel between Hong Kong and Shanghai, Chinese investors can use their existing accounts to invest in overseas companies. Such convenience and familiarity will no doubt boost Chinese investors' confidence in investing overseas, which not only helps their portfolio performance but also propels more Chinese capital into the international financial arena.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Speculation that the A-H Share spread would disappear due to changes in Chinese regulations sent the Hang Seng to an accelerated peak of 32,000 in 2007. When this speculation came to naught, the Index pulled back sharply before collapsing during the credit crisis. By contrast news that the Chinese are prepared to allow domestic investors relatively unfettered access to the Hong Kong market within the next six months has on this occasion been met with little fanfare. 

Of course the stock market situation is totally different today. In 2007, the A-Share market was surging ahead and investors were speculating that the Hang Seng would participate in a major catch-up move. Today investors need a lot of convincing to consider China particularly when other markets are doing a lot better. The A-H Share premium has fallen to its lowest level since 2006 and may have disappeared altogether by the time the regulatory change comes into being. Whereas in 2007 the Chinese were worried about an overheating stock market, today they are eager to continue to attract investment. Therefore the potential of them following through to allow greater access to their domestic market is probably greater today than it was in 2007. 



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June 18 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Sends Top Diplomat to Begin Talks With Vietnam

This article by Jane Perlez for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

But in the last several weeks, the situation appeared to have eased into “dangerous stability,” said an American administration official familiar with the flotillas of Vietnam and China.
A foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing, Hua Chunying, said Tuesday that Mr. Yang would encourage a “frank and thorough exchange of views on matters of common concern to all.”

“We hope Vietnam will focus on the broader picture, come together with China and appropriately deal with the current situation,” she said.

The visit of Mr. Yang, China’s top diplomat, comes as relations between Vietnam and China have been essentially frozen since the arrival of the rig on May 2. Anti-Chinese riots spread through several cities, and looting of factories believed to be Chinese-owned resulted in the deaths of at least four Chinese workers. China evacuated several thousand workers after the riots, leaving some companies in Vietnam, which are dependent on China for supplies and skilled labor, short of employees.

Mr. Yang is expected to meet with Mr. Minh, who is also Vietnam’s foreign minister, but it was not known if he would meet with more leaders, officials said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam said that he would consider a legal case against China at the United Nations, in the same way that the Philippines has initiated an arbitration case against China. Beijing roundly criticized Mr. Dung’s suggestion.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The annotated map, contained in the above article, of China’s disputes with neighbouring countries over maritime assets illustrates the extent to which it is willing to ruffle feathers as it flexes its economic and increasing military might. The oil rig stationed in waters claimed by Vietnam on May 2nd is probably now a permanent fixture and since China has met with little more than verbal criticism, the dictum that “possession is nine tenths of the law” would appear to be very much in play with regard to these waters. What is to stop China deploying additional oil rigs? China is Vietnam’s largest trading partner and this dependence will likely continue to be used as a none-too-subtle negotiating tool.

 



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June 18 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Qingdao Metals Trader Facing Probe over Collateral 'Got 15 Bln Yuan in Loans'

This article by Wu Hongyuran for Caixin.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Banks were eager to lend to Dezheng Resources and its subsidiaries in recent years. "We all do business with Dezheng companies," one employee of the finance department of a large bank's Qingdao branch said.

Banks are apparently worried that the borrowing total the CBRC arrived at may only be the beginning. "The figure only shows the loans in Qingdao, and banks are examining whether there are other loans to Dezheng Resources and its subsidiaries across the country," an employee of another bank said.

Sources that participated in a June 16 meeting held by the Qingdao branch of the banking regulator said the loans include 4 billion yuan from the Export-Import Bank of China and 2.1 billion yuan from Bank of China. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Construction Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China and China Minsheng Bank each lent 1 billion yuan.

City and Shandong Province banks, such as Rizhao Bank, Qilu Bank and Evergrowing Bank, each lent around 800 million yuan. Some joint stock banks, like China CITIC Bank, Industrial Bank and China Merchants Bank, extended loans of around 600 million yuan.

It is common for companies in China to use commodities as loan collateral. However, sources close to Dezheng Resources say police are investigating whether the company and its owner, Chen Jihong, used duplicate receipts from Qingdao Port Group Co. to get loans from different banks. It is unclear what police were involved.

Eoin Treacy's view -

When this story broke it was bearish of industrial metal prices because one of the arguments that helped support prices was that Chinese demand was still relatively robust. The fact that stockpiles were not as large as previously believed gave the impression the Chinese economy is slowing more than expected. 



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June 05 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Nuclear coming online

Thanks to a subscriber for this report focusing on China’s utilities as newly constructed nuclear power stations come on line. Here is a section: 

According to China Electric Power Promotion Council (CEPPC) report, Fuqing Nuclear unit 1 completed its last round of security checks in mid-April before loading fuel and is currently on schedule to be commissioned from August 2014. However, after Datang’s Ningde nuclear recorded c.Rmb100m loss in 1Q14 due to a 90-day overhaul, investors become a bit concerned whether Fuqing’s profit contribution is likely to be compromised by the undertaking of regular maintenance. While we understand that a new nuclear unit would need to perform a major overhaul for fuel re-load in its second year of operation, the time period is normally shorter. Hence, we do not think the longer-than expected maintenance period for Ningde is a common situation to be assumed for other nuclear projects.

Average utilization still over 7,300 hours despite maintenance In Figure 1, we summarize the utilization hour record of China’s operating nuclear units with GII or GII+ technology. Result shows that, excluding Tianwan unit 1, which incurred some technical issues during the first three years, average utilization in the second year is still above 7,300 hours, quickly climbing to above 7,700 hours in the third year.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

Over the last decade China has aggressively invested in procuring the energy resources required to fuel economic expansion. Building nuclear power capacity has been a major component of that strategy and these new reactors are now being commissioned. Considering how extensive the pipeline is for additional reactors, this represents a growth story from the perspective of utilities. 



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May 27 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's property problem: Not as bad as you think, but bad enough

This article from www.lowyinterpreter.org may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The investment bank CLSA recently conducted a survey of 609 projects nationwide. By physically visiting the sites by day and night, watching the lights go on, noting decorations and talking to guards, they calculated an estimate of 15% vacancy rate in apartments built since 2000. That implies about 10 million empty units nationally, considerably less than feared (one report had suggested implausibly that 64 million homes lay empty). Still, 15% is high, more than Las Vegas and considerably more than the US at 10% overall.

Adding construction already underway, CLSA say China's vacancy rate will hit 20% and could go even higher unless developers immediately curb new starts. Vacancy is heavier in small cities, already nudging 20%. The ghost cities are altogether worse.

And

Indeed, officials are saying demand may be peaking, and that's what the market today worries about. CLSA, which is not known as especially bearish, thinks small cities may need to collapse construction by a shocking 60% over the next few years. These cities consume 70% of materials used in all residential construction, which accounts for half of all steel use. Do the maths: that's a 20% impact on steel demand.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The above quotes from CLSA offer some valuable perspective on just how large China’s excess supply problem in the property market is. As developers cut prices, sentiment towards the sector is unlikely to be as bullish as it has been over the last few years and most pressure is likely to be felt outside the small group of Tier 1 cities. The performance of the cement and steel sectors should also offer some insight for how well this well publicised issue has been discounted by investors. 



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May 23 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Goldman Sachs or Bank of China?

Eoin Treacy's view -

At a meeting yesterday, we were discussing the outlook for China and I mentioned how low valuations are on the country’s banks. The rejoinder to that argument was that why should anyone consider an investment in Bank of China when one could buy Goldman Sachs for an Estimated P/E of 10.12, dividend yield of 1.37% and a five-year average dividend growth rate of over 6%. This raises an important consideration in the perception and calculation of value.   



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May 22 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

IML Market Musings

Thanks to a subscriber for this interesting trip report centring on China. Here is a section: 

Despite this, sensitivity to popular feeling is clearly strong. Many people worry about a crisis in Wealth Management Products (WMPs), which amount to RMB10 trillion in assets (almost AUD 2 trillion). China has a very high savings rate but savers do not have a lot of attractive options. Official deposit rates are controlled at a low level (below inflation), it is not possible to invest significant amounts abroad, the stockmarket has been a poor performer despite fantastic GDP growth and corporate governance can be suspect, and the property market boasts some bubble characteristics and the government makes it hard to own property other than one’s principal residence.

Apparently couples sometimes get divorced so that they can buy two properties! The paucity of investment options has pushed savers into a hunt for “safe” yield, in a similar trend to what has happened elsewhere for somewhat different reasons, and that has lead them to WMPs. Issued but not underwritten by banks, the WMPs have channelled money to poor credits including developers, entrepreneurs and local government schemes. Even the governor of the People’s Bank of China referred to the WMPs as a Ponzi scheme given the actual returns on investments do not match the returns promised to investors. They may yet cause a crisis but for now people believe WMPs are guaranteed by the issuing banks. The government forced a sponsoring bank of a failed WMP, that was not actually legally liable, to repay savers’ investments in full after a protest outside the bank and a storm on social media.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The pressures on the Chinese financial system have been remarked on extensively in the media. The equal pressure on those who seek to preserve their wealth through investments is less publicised. China’s government might be the world’s largest creditor but China’s population are the world’s largest savers. 



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May 21 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Stocks Advance Amid Speculation of State Share Purchases

This article by Weiyi Lim and Kana Nishizawa for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China’s stocks rose, with a gauge of mainland shares traded in Hong Kong climbing the most in a week, as speculation that state-linked investors are buying equities overshadowed concern that the economy is slowing.

And  
 
 “The stock market is approaching the level which the government can’t tolerate,” said Cai Feng, a strategist at Guoyuan Securities Co. in Shanghai. “The level of 2,000 is more crucial. The government will use tactics including policies, public opinion and funds. In terms of injection of funds, it will increase holdings of big state-owned companies and buy index ETFs.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese administration is leaning on the property sector and has so far refused to relent on its tightening policy. This has put pressure on the banking sector because no one knows just how large the problem with bad loans is likely to be. As a result, even though China has some of the most attractive valuations of any stock market, investors have been slow to commit funds. A catalyst is required to reignite investor appetite. 

 

 



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May 19 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

No doomsday scenario, but also no need for major relaxation

Thanks to a subscriber for this interesting report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bad news is that major policy relaxation is unlikely in the near term 
In the 2008/11 downturns, we saw policy relaxations by the government. For 2014, given the central government’s adamant stance on economic reform and still-solid sales performance for end-user properties, we believe any significant adjustments to property market policies by the central government are unlikely and that the key adjustment should be pricing by developers (instead of economic reform, which is positive for the Chinese economy for the medium term). With our 2014E negative cash flows for the listed developers (mainly on aggressive land purchases in 2013), rising net gearing and inventory levels, developers should start cutting prices more meaningfully in the next two/three months. A key risk is that some developers may make incorrect market judgments on pricing, which could exacerbate the risks of financial distress.
 
Home upgrades no longer included in the PBOC’s support list 
Recently, the PBOC has reiterated financing support only to first-time  homebuyers, but financing to upgraders (which used to be part of the government’s support list) and developers has not been mentioned at all. The government has also further tightened rules on trust and non-standard loans to developers, cracked down on zero-downpayment plans offered by some developers, and accelerated the establishment of realty registration (which is a step towards the introduction of property taxes). All this highlights that the overall property policy environment should not see much change for the rest of 2014. While we could see some minor policy fine-tuning by selected local governments, significant policy relaxation by local and central governments is unlikely unless there are significant price declines in the individual cities that pose major threats to the banking system, employment and the economy. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

Markets are based on fundamentals but price is often driven by the mood of the crowd. When developers begin to cut prices, buyers who have been desperate to purchase race in but the more mature investor quickly learns to delay purchases in the hope of getting an even better bargain. Meanwhile those who hold inventory stop buying and begin to think about selling. As the process matures, if developers begin to see sales dip at a 10% discount, they are incentivised to increase the discount to 15% and so on. Confidence begets confidence as long as prices rise but weakness is preyed upon as prices decline.



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May 12 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China unveils agenda for comprehensive capital market reform

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

To develop a multi-layer capital market with proper structure, complete function and effective regulation by 2020, the Guideline highlighted the development of direct financing, which includes three major areas of bond market, equity market and private equity.

On bond market, the Guideline aimed to a) develop a scheme of local government bond issuance; 2) enrich bond products suitable for various investors; 3) develop bond types for SMEs; 4) connect different bond exchanges and 5) improve issuance procedure, rating mechanism as well as 6) promote asset securitization. To develop a multi-layered equity market and cultivate a healthy private equity market are other two major areas in promoting the direct-financing.

In A share stock market, the approval-based stock issuance system will be replaced by a registration-based one, and such move will be accompanied by the new IPOs governing rules published by the Securities Association of China the same day of the Guideline. Regulators will crackdown insider trading, enhance information disclosure, improve delisting regime, and support pension funds investments into capital markets by preferential tax policies.

The State Council also said it will foster the market for private equity funds and venture capital funds. Going forward, the placement of private equity won’t be subjected to administrative approval and funds of private equity and venture capital will be encouraged to support SMEs and newly emerging industries.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Developing the capital markets is a major policy goal for the Chinese administration as it seeks to allow the market a greater role in setting prices for financial products. The loophole through which Alipay can offer deposit rates multiples those of the major banks represents an example of how much the regulatory environment still has to evolve. 



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May 12 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Monroe Doctrine

This article by Roger Cohen for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The seeds of conflict are evident. On his recent visit to Asia, President Obama made clear how the tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands to Beijing) could draw in the United States. His declaration that the Japan-administered rocks in the East China Sea “fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security” incensed China, which claims the islands. Mind your own business and get over the Cold War was the essence of the Chinese message to Washington.

Vietnam and China also have maritime conflicts that have flared in recent days as a result of a Chinese decision to place an oil rig in the South China Sea. Chinese ships escorting the rig rammed and fired water cannons at Vietnamese vessels attempting to stop the move in potentially oil- and gas-rich waters claimed by Hanoi.

The U.S. response in support of Vietnam, its erstwhile enemy turned pivot-to-Asia partner, was firm: “China’s decision to introduce an oil rig accompanied by numerous government vessels for the first time in waters disputed with Vietnam is provocative and raises tensions,” Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement. “This unilateral action appears to be part of a broader pattern of Chinese behavior to advance its claims over disputed territory in a manner that undermines peace and stability in the region.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

In a piece last week I argued that outsiders looking at the West’s response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine could only conclude that possible targets elsewhere might be softer than they might once have thought. China’s actions in the South China Sea have been ramped up recently and the timing is hardly a coincidence.

 



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April 25 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China: The Chart Pack

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Westpac which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Phat Dragon brought forward the timing of the enactment of growth stabilisation policies from midyear to ‘immediate’ not long after the NPC. Policy needs be loosened to a degree because without a replenishment of the investment pipeline, the growth pulse will slow to the point where domestic demand growth will fall below 7% in Q3. Chinese policymakers have little room to move nowadays, with domestic demand growth sub 7% viewed as unpalatable from the point of view of job creation and anything exceeding 8% likely to be inflationary.

This change of tack by domestic policymakers will combine with an improvement in global economic conditions to lift the economy in late 2014, ensuring that it enters 2015 will some positive momentum.

Phat Dragon anticipates that the world economy will be significantly firmer in 2015, which will assist China as it attempts to grow in a less credit-intensive fashion. While RRR cuts remain possible, Phat Dragon argues that it must be obvious that OMO could not achieve the same ends before the PBoC would choose that avenue for boosting liquidity. The most likely time for a RRR cut is probably post deposit rate reform, which now has a definite “within two years” timeframe attached to it. (Note that “in the near future” meant 11 months in the case of the wider CNY band, and deposit insurance/guarantee system is likely to be built first).

Regarding China’s balance sheet challenges, the financial system will remain a source of bearish news flow. While Phat Dragon feels that the ultimate risks relating to Chinese debt are generally exaggerated (it still has a current account surplus after all, and is the world’s second largest international creditor) there seems little doubt in Phat Dragon’s mind that bearish views on the growth-credit nexus will be remunerative in the first half of this year.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The moderation of China’s investment led growth rate necessitates that the manufacturing and exports pick up some of the slack if a more serious deterioration is to be avoided. Allowing the Yuan to weaken would appear to be a central strut in achieving this goal. 

Easing the reserve requirements imposed on banks represent a blunt but effective instrument in controlling how liquidity flows into the capital markets. However since the government has no control subsequently over who this additional money would be lent to, we can regard it as a last resort from a policy perspective. 

China’s economy remains within what can only be described as a policy transition phase. Many investors remain on the side lines as they watch for signs of a bullish catalyst not least from the banking sector which remains rangebound above the 2013 lows. 

 



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April 09 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Banks

Thanks to a subscriber for this interesting report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

We undertook two proprietary studies, on 2,400 Chinese corporate bond issuers and 13,000 collective trust products, and identified credit risks worth Rmb237bn for these two markets, with listed banks exposed to 37% of these risks. Despite setting aside excess provisions of Rmb819bn, their valuation prices in NPLs of Rmb2.8tr. We expect the sentiment on Chinese banks to reverse after the end of the repayment peaks of the corporate bonds and trust products this May/June, when the market realizes that the actual default rates are materially lower than expected and a gradual rise in default rate is the usual path towards correct pricing of credit and an efficient capital allocation.

Quantifying the expected default rate of the corporate bond market 
Our proprietary study on 2,400 Chinese corporate bond issuers, with a combined issuance of 5,500 bonds, identifies 88 issuers facing suspension risks due to P&L losses in 2012 and 1H13 with 74 of them being SOEs that are unlikely to default. This leaves 14 privately owned entities (POEs) as higher risk bond issuers, in addition to the 8 POEs downgraded and on the negative watch list, with a combined issuance of Rmb28.6bn, or 39bps of the total outstanding corporate bonds, which reached Rmb7.4tr in February 2014. Around 65% of these loss-making issuers are involved in the overcapacity sector, namely steel (34%), mining (20%), metal (9%) and solar (2%), in terms of issuance size.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

Chinese banks have among the lowest P/Es and highest yields in the world. The reason they continue to trade at such attractive valuations is because investors do not feel sufficiently informed with regard to their non performing loans to commit capital. This reports offers a number of insights into the schedule of potential defaults which helps improve our knowledge of the situation. If you are interested in China, this report is well worth reading. 



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March 28 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

2014: a year of economic rebalancing

Thanks to a subscriber for this interesting report by Michael Spenser for Deutsche Bank which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In recent weeks, investors have been treated to a litany of bad news from China: disappointing Jan-Feb economic data, the first ever default in the domestic bond market and another default in the trust sector. With slowing money supply and credit growth, fears of a ‘hard landing’ or systemic crisis have been re-ignited. We remain of the view that such concerns are exaggerated. The increasing profile given to credit events reflects, we think, a desire to educate depositors about risk more than a genuine increase in risk. 

Nevertheless, the weaker economic data cannot be ignored and we have revised down our forecast for 2014 GDP growth to 7.8% from 8.6% previously and our CPI inflation forecast to 2.2% from 3.7% previously. This represents a mild pickup in growth in 2014 in both real and nominal terms relative to 2013, albeit less dramatic than we previously expected.

We estimate that the Jan-Feb data are consistent with GDP growth slowing to about 7.4%yoy in Q1 from 7.7% in Q4. With growth slowing towards the bottom of the government’s 7%-8% comfort zone, this weakening momentum is likely to elicit a policy response. The decline in interbank rates in recent weeks may be the initial monetary component of this stimulus. Recent approvals of RMB142bn in government investment for five railway projects may be the beginning of the fiscal component. We think the government may also seek to accelerate growth-enhancing reforms, especially liberalization of private investment.

But we expect any stimulus to be very modest. The slowdown is largely the outcome of the government’s efforts to rebalance the economy’s structure and senior policymakers have frequently noted that rebalancing is likely to depress activity in the near term. What they will seek to do is to support growth to prevent an increase in financial risks and to ensure adequate employment growth. Aggressive monetary stimulus could, to be sure, boost growth rapidly, but at the cost of the rebalancing agenda. So the reform agenda constrains the policy response in some ways but also shapes the response towards accelerated liberalization in a bid to support growth through means other than traditional stimulus.

We think Q1 is likely to be the trough for growth this cycle, then, in part because we see a policy response aimed at providing a little stimulus. More important, though, we expect the external sector to re-emerge for the first time in four years as a source of growth in the economy. Exports grew at an annualized rate of about 17% over the last six months of 2013 and we expect that as US activity recovers from its winter chill the apparent pause in Chinese export momentum so far this year will be replaced by renewed growth. We look for net exports to contribute about 0.6ppts to GDP growth this year, a forecast that we view as conservative.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report can be found in the Subscr iber's Area.

Two clear results of the People’s Congress have been a willingness to allow systemically unimportant companies declare bankruptcy and to allow the Yuan to weaken. In many respects these two policies are intertwined. If the administration is to cut off funding to failing entities it will need the manufacturing sector to return to being a central performer in the country’s growth engine. A weaker currency would certainly help in that objective.  
 

 



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March 24 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Fines Nu Skin $540,000 for Illegal Sales and Claims

This article by Ricardo Lopez for The Los Angeles Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:  

The regulatory action ends a probe that began in January, when China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce began investigating the company following media reports.

"We continue to believe in the potential of China's large and growing market," said Dan Chard, Nu Skin's president of global sales and operations, in a statement. "We remain committed to working cooperatively with the Chinese government to ensure the healthy, long-term growth of our business."

Nu Skin was fined $524,00 for illegally conducting direct sales. The company was fined an additional $16,000 for product claims that Chinese regulators said did not have enough evidence. Six Nu Skin sales employees were fined a combined $241,000 for "unauthorized promotional activities."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Over the last few years, companies employing a direct selling strategy have come under scrutiny from both short sellers and regulatory authorities. Peer group and door-to-door selling strategies are employed because they succeed in tapping into retail markets without having to spend fortunes on leases and shop fittings. Unfortunately, this leaves companies open to the accusation that they are engaged in pyramid selling which has had outsized effects on their shares.

 



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March 20 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Asian Currencies Drop Led by Rupiah as Fed Signals Rate Increase

This article by Jeanette Rodrigues and Justina Lee for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index fell to a six- month low after the U.S. central bank reduced its monthly bond- buying program yesterday by another $10 billion to $55 billion.

The purchases could end in the second half of this year and borrowing costs may be increased around six months later, said Fed Chair Janet Yellen. China’s yuan sank to a one-year low after the nation’s central bank weakened the currency’s reference rate by 0.18 percent, matching a March 10 cut that was the biggest since July 2012.

“Yellen’s comment seem more hawkish than expected,” said Samson Tu, a Taipei-based fund manager at Uni-President Assets Management Corp. “It may take one or two days for the message to be digested before emerging-market currencies can stabilize, and Asian currencies are facing the additional pressure of the weakening yuan.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The most consistent trends in the currency markets develop when the strongest currencies are paired against the weakest. Over the last year, the slow recovery of expectations for the US Dollar have changed the dynamics of the currency markets particularly as previous stalwarts, the Yuan and the Yen, have moved towards being among the weakest. 

 

 



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March 18 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Taking a look at dividend yield in reported FY13 results

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank focusing on the Chinese property sector. Here is a section: 

Among the key listed Chinese developers that have yet to announce their FY13 results but will be reporting by the end of March, based on the actual 2012 dividends and our forecasted 2013 dividends, we expect high 2013 dividend yields for R&F, Greentown, Agile and Evergrande. Specifically, at the current share price, R&F is trading at a 2012A dividend yield of 7.8% and 2013E dividend yield of 9.1%. Greentown is trading at a 2012A dividend yield of 7.3% and 2013E dividend yield of 8%. Evergrande is trading at a 2012A dividend of 5.3% and 2013E dividend yield of 7.3% while Agile is trading at a 2012A dividend yield of 8.4% and 2013E dividend yield of 8.7%.

Looking at the information on the short interests on Chinese developers, which are estimates based on DataExplorers and the DB Global Prime Finance team, we found that the size of the cumulative short positions on the China property names, including the high-quality state-owned developers like COLI and CR Land, has recently risen quite sharply. For example, the short interests/positions on COLI have increased 9% month-on-month, and based on our estimates, it would take about 8 days to cover the outstanding short positions. As another example, the short interests/positions on CR Land have increased 37% month-on-month, and based on our estimates, it would take about 11 days to cover the outstanding short positions.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The issues China has with overcapacity in the materials sector, a rising tide of defaults in the corporate sector and overbuilding particularly in 2nd and 3rd tier cities are well understood. Considering just how low valuations are, it is reasonable to assume that a good share of the bad news is already in the price. 

However, one of the most compelling arguments for remaining on the side-line remains that we just do not know how large the problem is with bad loans and therefore cannot make a judgement on whether attractive valuations can be trusted. The current devaluation of the Yuan suggests efforts are underway to try and enhance the economy’s competitiveness.
 



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March 07 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Zombies Spreading Shows Chaori Default Just Start: China Credit

This article from Bloomberg News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Total debt of publicly traded non-financial companies in China and Hong Kong has surged to $1.98 trillion from $607 billion at the end of 2007. Some 63 companies have a debt-to- equity ratio exceeding 400 percent, compared to the average of 73 percent. In latest filings, 351 have negative ratios of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to interest expenses, while 409 have coverage of less than 1.

Renewable energy, materials, household appliances and software companies dominate the rankings.

Premier Li Keqiang is trying to balance efforts to avoid sharper slowdowns in economic growth with steps to rein in debt.

Expansion in gross domestic product is set to cool to a more than two-decade low of 7.5 percent this year from 7.7 percent in 2013, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

$630 billion in Chinese corporate debt will need to be paid off or refinanced this year and we have just seen the first onshore default. It is a reasonable expectation that more will follow. Until now, investment vehicles have been supported by government largesse and investors have been made whole in the event of trouble. That is simply unsustainable, not least because the debt market is now so large that to continue on that trajectory would eventually bankrupt the country. 



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March 04 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi Jinping Inner Circle (Part 1: The Shaanxi Gang)

Thanks to a subscriber for this informative report by Cheng Li, Director of Research at John L. Thornton China Center, detailing the rise the Xi Jinping and those who have ascended to power with him. Here is a section:

As for the “tigers,” since about a year ago 19 ministerial and provincial-level senior leaders have been arrested, including four members (two full members and two alternate members) of the newly formed 18th Central Committee.51 Many of the arrested leaders have had ties to the country’s most formidable special interest groups like the oil industry, including Jiang Jiemin, the minister who oversaw all major state-owned enterprises (SOEs) under the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). In addition, 30 executives of SOEs—including 20 CEOs—were arrested in 2013, representing various industries such as energy, transportation, telecommunications, finance, steel, and mining.

Some critics may be cynical about the methods employed in the anti-corruption campaign, which relies more on the CCP’s traditional campaign mechanisms rather than the legal system. Zi Zhongyun, a distinguished scholar and former English interpreter for Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, recently wrote that the current anti-corruption campaign could not effectively prevent corruption—not only because there are far too many corrupt officials in the country, but also because such a campaign might lead to power abuse and undermine the role of the legal system and emerging civil society.53 While Zi and likeminded critics have valid concerns, one may reasonably argue that this criticism is unfair on the grounds that one simply cannot expect to establish a legal system in China in a short period of time. The fact is that, as Zi herself recognizes in her article, the campaign has already transformed the behavior of Chinese officials. Also, in the defense of Wang Qishan, Wang himself stated explicitly that the anti-corruption campaign should mainly deal with symptoms (....) now in order to gain the necessary time to find a way to cure the disease (....) in the future.

It should be noted that the Third Plenum resolution did hold out promise for legal reforms, especially greater judicial independence. Under the current system local judges and secretaries of local discipline inspection commissions answer to local party chiefs, who exert political pressure on their decisions. Under the rule of Bo Xilai, for example, Chongqing city’s high court almost completely followed Bo’s orders. Abuse of power and police brutality became rampant in the city. The proposed vertical control of local courts by the national judiciary (and also the vertical control of local discipline commissions by the CCDI) should be seen as an encouraging policy move to prevent power abuse and strengthen the rule of law.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Party Congress currently underway is taking place amid the aftermath of terror attacks and high expectations for reform. This report is a useful primer for how the political establishment is structured and who is in charge of what. 
 

 



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March 03 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Terrorists changing tactics to create panic among civilians, analysts say in wake of Kunming attack

This article by Zhang Hong for the South China Morning Post may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The Kunming attack came just days before the opening meetings of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference today and the National People's Congress on Wednesday.

Last October, three people died carrying out what Beijing described as a terrorist suicide attack in Tiananmen Square that killed two others and left dozens injured.

Officials blamed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement for the incident, which occurred 10 days before a crucial Communist Party meeting.

"Terrorists are using all means to create widespread social panic … across China," said Pan Zhiping, an expert on terrorism at Xinjiang Social Science Academy. "The timing of the Kunming attack implies the terrorists want to create the biggest impact possible.

"Security is tight in Beijing and Xinjiang and in their surrounding provinces, but Kunming, a city thousands of kilometres away … is less defended. Nobody could have predicted an attack would be staged there."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Events unfolding in Ukraine have stolen headlines, but the mass murder that shook China over the weekend represents an escalation of the terror campaign that many associate with Xinjiang separatists.

The Communist Party’s claim to legitimacy rests on its ability to deliver social stability and improving standards of living. It is reasonable to expect that anyone who wishes to damage the Party would look on the weekend before the opening of the annual congress as an opportune moment to act.

 



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February 25 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Yuan Drops Most Since 2010 on Speculation PBOC Wants Volatility

This article by Fion Li for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

“Compared with a few days ago, chances for a reversal only from a technical point of view look to be smaller,” said Minoru Shioiri, a Tokyo-based manager in the credit and foreign- exchange trading division at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. “The move has a lot to do with the onshore fixing. So, rather than a technical story, it’s a question over whether there is any change in the central bank’s stance over the yuan.”

UBS AG said yesterday recent depreciation may suggest the People’s Bank of China is shifting away from allowing a steady pace of gains and this may lead to a reversal of “hot money” inflows.

Investors should buy the offshore yuan at 6.12 per dollar as introducing more volatility into the markets is part of the process to liberalize China’s capital account, said Jonathan Cavenagh, a Singapore-based strategist at Westpac Banking Corp.

“Where I would definitely reset my view is a move above 6.15 per dollar,” said Cavenagh. “That would potentially be a game changer because that’s where you potentially start to move to regions where some of the structured products in offshore yuan start to get stopped out. The move into the 6.15 to 6.20 range is something where I probably have to reconsider my view in a fairly meaningful way.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Introducing greater volatility into the currency markets may be part of the PBoC’s plan to adjust its reliance on foreign capital flows and to cool the expansion of the shadow banking system but it is unlikely to be welcomed by China’s neighbours who are likely to feel a ripple effect. Considering just how large the shadow banking sector has become, it would be rash to expect the Yuan to continue to appreciate as it has done over the last decade since it is no longer in China’s interests to the have the strongest currency in the world. 

 

 



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February 24 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New PBOC Research Head Is Rising Star in Field

This is an interesting article from CaixinOnline highlighting some new additions to the PBoC’s research team. Here is a section: 

Shortly before Lu's appointment, the central bank named Ma Jun, chief China economist at Deutsche Bank AG, as its chief economist, a document seen by Caixin shows. Ma, 50, is considered one of the most bullish economists among analysts in China.

Sources close to the situation said the two appointments were surprising in that the central bank often fills those positions by promoting insiders. Efforts have continued throughout recent years to bring in talents with more diversified backgrounds, but they were not always successful.

In 2009, for example, some central bankers wanted to invite Ha Jimin, then chief economist of investment bank China International Capital Corp., to head the bank's second department of monetary policy. The proposal fell through because of opposition, the sources say.

An attempt to make Goldman Sachs' ex-employee Fred Hu a deputy governor for the bank also failed, the sources said.

It remains an open question whether Lu's leadership can make the research bureau play a more significant role in deciding monetary policies, analysts say.

Compared with economists in Western central banks and international economic institutions such as the World Bank, research fellows in China's central bank have been largely reduced to a role of assisting their coworkers with policymaking, sources with knowledge of the situation say.

In practice, the research bureau can act on its own initiative and choose research topics, but it often needs to work on projects dictated by other departments, the sources say.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Over the years subscribers have kindly forwarded a significant number of reports by Jun Ma, while we was at Deutsche Bank, which can be found in the archive. He was generally cautious of China from 2010 but adopted a more optimistic approach over the last year as valuations improved and the previous lows were approached. 



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February 21 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese group considers South Africa platinum bids amid strikes

This article by Franz Wild for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

China’s Long March Capital Ltd., which partners with Citic Group Corp., is considering buying South African platinum assets after their value was depressed by strikes, the company’s Managing Partner Clement Kwong said.

The company is now reviewing a decision to hold off on purchasing South African platinum assets because of the labor issues, Kwong said in a Feb. 19 interview in Johannesburg. Long March last year partnered with Citic unit Baiyin Non-Ferrous Metal Group Co. Ltd. and China-Africa Development Fund to complete their buy-out of Perth-based Gold One International Ltd. and indirectly acquired a stake in Westonaria, South Africa-based Sibanye Gold Ltd..

“If the industry survives and makes a profit then that would be a good signal to look at investing,” said Kwong, who founded Long March Capital with a partner in 2008. “This last round has repriced these assets down so I think it would be as cheap as it gets.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has been highly successful in acquiring mining assets at bargain basement prices by following a buy low approach which should be the envy of boardrooms across the mining sector. 

The recent expression of interest in platinum assets highlights the fact that China is now the world’s largest car market and suggests it may also be interested in lead and other industrial metal assets. 

 

 



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February 20 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on emerging markets:

According to yesterday’s [Ed. Tuesday] “Comment of the Day”, “Some bear markets...are occurring in developing countries where governance and politics appear temporarily out of control...Brazil is an example”.   

The noted economist, Frank Shostak, says, “In countries such as Turkey and Argentina a tighter stance by central banks has set in motion an economic bust.
  
Sam Kee Chong in the Malaysia Chronicle recently concluded that, “Indonesia might be heading for the perfect storm...and that the other countries, in the region are vulnerable. 

The above are examples of many analysts alerting us to the emerging markets danger which other economists warn could be the “black swan” that inflicts widespread damage to financial markets in 2014.  It will not be a black swan event as far as FT Money is concerned but your views regarding the severity of the threat, or its imminence, would be appreciated.  

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for these informative links and please also see David’s leader on Tuesday, including the last paragraph of his response. In short we can probably expect more volatility in terms of total return from emerging markets than has been the case over the last decade. 

As previous delegates at The Chart Seminar will be aware, we try not to introduce teaching examples of our own but rely on active participation from those present to generate suggestions for instruments of interest to them for us to work with. The Singapore venue for The Chart Seminar last week was notable because the vast majority of delegates were involved in private banking, with the result that in the first day the only examples requested were for currencies. 

This is perhaps not so surprising since the most notable event that has occurred in the region this year has been the pressure experienced by emerging market currencies and the knock=on effect this has had on the region’s stock markets. As a result investors are asking the question whether the bull markets that have prevailed since 2008 are still in force. 
 



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February 17 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Stocks Erase Losses YTD as New Credit Increases

This article from Bloomberg News highlights the recent rebound for Chinese shares. Here is a section: 

New local-currency lending was 1.32 trillion yuan, the highest level since 2010. M2, the broadest measure of money supply, increased 13.2 percent from a year earlier last month, according to the central bank. That matched the median economist estimate and compared with 13.6 percent in December.

Record new credit will help the economy to maintain momentum while underscoring challenges for officials trying to limit the risk of financial turbulence from defaults and bad loans.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Uncertainty as to how China is likely to tackle its credit bubble remains a considerable headwind to sentiment improving from the perspective of many foreign investors. However, as we have seen in the cases of the USA and Europe, an issue with credit expansion can go on for much longer than many people expect once it has been identified. 

The nature of China’s credit system is that demand for credit tends to be highest in January so we will not know to what extent credit growth is sustainable until after the first quarter. The administration apparently wishes to tackle the situation but it is taking a long-term perspective; suggesting the muddle through approach taken to date is likely to continue. We will probably have more visibility on this issue once the party Congress concludes next month. 
 

 



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January 24 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the differing performance of China large cap State Owned Enterprises compared to private sector consumer oriented sectors:

“I remember from one of your recent audios you pointed to the fact that despite the relative lackluster performance of China’s main stock indices there are sectors that are performing well. I came across this presentation that addresses the same: be careful with general index-linked funds & ETFs and look for specific sectors, e.g. healthcare, insurance, railways.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this interesting report from LGT Bank. Here is a section:

Policies are designed to favour the private sector and make the public sector more efficient

In the long term, private enterprises should outperform SOEs.

Most China equity indices are SOE-heavy. Recommend investing in specific reform beneficiaries rather than index-linked ETFs

Banks, property developers and basic resources companies represent by the far the most liquid and largest companies in China and therefore occupy large weightings in various indices. One of the reasons they are so large is because they were among the greatest beneficiaries of China’s initial focus on infrastructure development and export led growth.

 



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January 17 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ICBC Will Not Repay Troubled China Trust Product, Official Says

This article from Bloomberg news highlights some potentially important developments in China. Here is a section: 

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. is rejecting calls to bail out a troubled 3 billion-yuan ($495 million) trust product, a bank official with knowledge of the matter said, stoking concern that the nation’s first default on such high-yield investments may be looming.

ICBC, which distributed the product sold by a trust company to raise funds for Shanxi Zhenfu Energy Group, won't assume primary responsibility after the coal miner collapsed, according to the executive, who asked not be identified while negotiations continue. China's largest bank may be forced to repay investors, most of whom were Beijing-based ICBC's own private banking clients, Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.

A default on the investment product, which comes due Jan. 31, may shake investors' faith in the implicit guarantees offered by trust companies to lure funds from wealthy people.

Assets managed by China’s 67 trusts soared 60 percent to $1.67 trillion in the 12 months ended September even as policy makers sought to curb money flow outside the formal banking system.

“Nobody wants this default to become a trigger for a financial crisis,” Xue Huiru, a Shanghai-based analyst at SWS Research Co., said of China Credit Trust's product. “Breaking the implicit guarantee may help the long-term development of China's financial system, but the short-term pain would be too much for the economy to take.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

While the Chinese banks maintain listings on both the mainland and Hong Kong, they remain organs of the Chinese administration. Therefore their actions can be interpreted as reflecting the motivations of those in power. The fact that on the one hand the administration has been attempting to clamp down on lending to the property market, while on the other the banking sector has been making abundant use of trusts to increase lending, reflects just the type of contradiction that is inherent in a one party system where politicians are personally enriched by holding sway over the actions of state owned organisations.

 



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January 10 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Time to catch up; Buy

Thanks to a subscriber for this interesting report from Deutsche Bank. Here is a section: 

First, IPPs are the cheapest power stocks in the world and the cheapest in their 10-year trading history. Second, there will be a potential tariff hike for gas-fired plants. Third, IPPs have scope to raise dividend payout. Fourth, asset injection will return in 2014. After a mediocre share performance despite a strong earnings recovery in 2013, it is time to catch up. We have Buys on all five IPPs with Huadian/Huaneng as top picks given their 1) more attractive valuation, 2) stronger asset injection potential, and 3) more upside from gas plant tariff hike. 

IPPs are significantly undervalued
Following a mediocre performance in 2013 despite 60-156% EPS growth, IPPs are trading at the lowest PE multiples and highest dividend yield over the past ten years. Across the global power utility stocks, China IPPs have the highest average dividend yield and the lowest average PE. Among the China utilities sector, the China IPPs are trading at 6.3x FY14E P/E and 0.9x FY14E P/B vs. Gas at 20.6x FY14E P/E and 2.8x FY14E P/B, Water at 26.9x FY14E P/E and 3.4x FY14E P/B and Wind at 16.2x FY14E P/E and 1.5x FY14E P/B. 

Tariff hike for gas-fired plants; dividend payout to rise
We expect a tariff hike for gas-fired plants to address the gas price hike and supply shortage, which will be particularly positive to Huaneng, Datang and Huadian. With better cashflow and reduced capex, IPPs are likely to raise payouts, such as Huadian and CR Power with payout ratio of 32/33% in 2013. Moreover, IPPs are on the fast track to de-leveraging.

Asset injection is the key theme in 2014
As we have argued, China IPPs uniquely positioned with significant assets at the parentco level that are scheduled to be put into listco over the next few years. For example, at end-2013, Huaneng Group had 137GW vs. Huaneng Power¡¯s 67GW; Huadian Group had 100GW vs. Huadian Power?¡¥s 37GW. In 2013, asset injection was done on a small scale by CR Power and CPI. We expect more scalable injection in 2014 after profitability improves in 2013.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The report quoted above is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

While the mainland¡¯s stock market remains under pressure, the fact that China¡¯s valuations are among the lowest of any major economy suggests that some judicious bargain hunting is likely to be rewarded. As with many of the large cap state owned enterprises, the utility sector has been going through a tough time as it deals with increased regulation and less government support. However if this process of deleveraging is close to ending, there is potential for a rerating of the sector. 
 

 



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January 08 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Reverses Console Ban as Gamemakers Wait for New Rules

This article by Takashi Amano for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

China took the step as computer games have proliferated well beyond consoles to smartphones and the Internet, so people who want to play games already can in many cases. China had announced last year that the ban would be lifted within the Shanghai free-trade zone, which opened in September.

“The way they are ending the ban gives them a controlled way to let in global leaders to partner with domestic companies,” said Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting Ltd., a market research firm in Beijing. Companies should wait for the release of the rules, which may take another six months, before starting production and hardware sales, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

While Tencent Holdings has been among the greatest beneficiaries of China’s appetite for online gaming, the console market has been almost entirely neglected with most people relying on bootlegged versions of hardware to gain access to games. The lifting of the ban on consoles represents a growth opportunity for manufacturers of hardware and associated software titles. A comparison might be Apple’s success in gaining access to the Chinese market and the result this has had on its sales.



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January 03 2014

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Asian Stocks Fall to Two-Week Low as China Services Gauge Drops

This article by Jonathan Burgos for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 


China's purchasing managers index for the non-manufacturing sector fell to 54.6 in December, the lowest since August and down from 56 a month earlier, data released today by the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed. A figure above 50 indicates expansion.
"Money managers took profits off the table,"Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Ltd. in Melbourne, said by e-mail. "There will be weakness in global cyclicals today in Asia. It's hard to really pinpoint any bright spots."

The China data added to signs of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. An official gauge for factory output released Jan. 1 fell more than economists projected to a four-month low. A separate report published yesterday by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed its PMI of Chinese manufacturing slipped to 50.5 from 50.8 in November, matching the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Eoin Treacy's view -

While China's intention to foster a market oriented economy and consider the environment more prominently in planning decisions is to be welcomed, the ramifications for some of the stock market's largest sectors such as banking, materials and building is somewhat uncertain. 

The FTSE/Xinhua A600 Banks Index had been ranging mostly above the 200-day MA following a reversionary move, but broke down three weeks ago and has now returned to retest the July lows. It will need to continue to find support 8000 to check the downward bias and suggest a return to demand dominance. 
 

 



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