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China's shine fades for equity investors

posted 29 Aug 2012, 07:23 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 29 Aug 2012, 07:24 ]

Chinese stocks have tumbled to three-year lows, and analysts say the outlook remains grim as long as corporate governance remains weak and locals stick to the sidelines.

CHINA-EQUITIES -Hard times in China.

Its economy is slowing, manufacturers are suffering, and the income gap is growing.

Investors have taken their worries out on the once red-hot stock market.


The Shanghai Composite has tumbled about 15% since early May, hitting levels not seen since 2009, at the depths of the financial crisis.


Compared to the U.S. stock market, it's been a lousy investment since 2010.

That hardly seems fair for a country that, despite all its problems, still enjoys a strong growth rate and booming middle class.


Even the most savvy of investors have been caught off guard, like Fidelity's Anthony Bolton.

His China Special Situations fund has lost about a fifth of its value since it's launch in Asia in 2010.


JP Morgan thinks the pain is not only here to stay - but could get worse.


CHIEF ASIAN EMERGING MARKET AND EQUITY STRATEGIST, JP MORGAN, ADRIAN MOWAT SAYING:

"The next couple of years will be reasonably uncertain and quite difficult ones for equity investors in China and this is why the Shanghai Composite Index is one of the poorest performing indices globally. it looks as if it might drop below the 2000 level which would be below its 2009 lows."


A mini-rally for the Shanghai index earlier this year and more reasonable valuations have done little to shake the losing streak for Chinese equities.


So is there any relief in sight?

Probably not as long as the average Chinese saver is happier to put their money elsewhere.

Faced with limited investment opportunities, savers are seeking out other plays to preserve their wealth. For some, that can go as far as walnuts.


Global economic wobbles and a key Chinese political transition later this fall are adding to an air of uncertainty.


And devastating results from China's corporate giants have dented confidence. Shipbuilder Rongsheng Heavy Industries posted an 82% drop in H1 profit. ZTE, the mobile phone vendor, saw its H1 net profit tank some 68%.


For some asset managers, the bigger problem lies with Chinese companies themselves.

HEAD OF APAC STRATEGY AND ASSET ALLOCATION, ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT, PETER ELSTON SAYING:

"It really needs to be an improvement at a corporate governance level. An improvement in the extent to which Chinese companies are willing and able to reward minorities. We don't really see too much change on that front yet."


So until investors both foreign and domestic have more faith in China's corporates, a return to the stock market boom days seems a distant prospect.


Lisa Yuriko Thomas, Reuters.

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