The Pros and Cons of Investing in Chinese Stocks


Are you a proud Amazon shareholder? Why not add some Alibaba Group Holding shares to the mix? Or perhaps you’re a huge Facebook fan and love buying their stocks… why not diversify a little bit and add some Tencent Holdings shares to your portfolio. Into Google rather than the previous two examples? Great… but why not Baidu as well?

Few would have predicted, a couple of decades ago, that Chinese stocks would be listed on US or Hong-Kong exchanges. Or that investors could actually buy “A-shares” listed on the Shanghai/Shenzhen exchanges? Needless to say, the fact that you even have these options at your disposal is nothing short of game changing.

But while, yes, you CAN invest in Chinese stocks… should you?

The answers to such questions are always complex because one can easily find arguments both in favor or against that approach. Arguments in favor of investing in Chinese stocks could be related to the very strong performance in 2019 thus far, whereas arguments against would most likely quote the painful 18.9% correction in the MSCI China index in 2018.

The same way, arguments both for an against investing in Chinese stocks go well beyond price action-related ones. Some investors choose to stay away due to the less than stellar independence of Chinese companies, to the fact that the state is (in their opinion) overly involved in the economy. Others display the exact opposite attitude, claiming that not grabbing a piece of the secular mega-bull trend that’s manifesting itself in China would be a mistake for which your children and grandchildren will ultimately judge you.

At the end of the day, the “truth” will always be obvious in hindsight and no matter what happens, there will be annoying “told you so!” messages to deal with. As such, perhaps the wisest approach is not trying to time the market, not trying to predict the future and simply making capital allocation choices in a way that increases the robustness of your overall portfolio.

Which probably means that if you have zero exposure to China, it’s time to get some.

In other words, it’s most likely a fair approach to assume that having at least some exposure to Chinese assets makes perfect sense from a diversification perspective. Just like it tends to be smart to justify when it comes to asset classes by having exposure of a wide range of them rather than be a one-trick pony, it’s just as wise to put together a smart diversification strategy with respect to jurisdictions.

To put it differently, let’s assume someone tells you he is investing 100% of his net worth in stocks. More likely than not, you will advise him against putting all of his eggs in the same basket and recommend a bit of diversification. Why should one not do the same when it comes to jurisdictions? If another person tells you he is investing 100% of his net worth in US assets, wouldn’t you say it’d perhaps be smart for the individual in question to widen his or her horizon and try other jurisdictions on for size as well?

The same way, it’s not recommended to be a one trick pony when it comes to China either. There are most definitely examples of investors who, due to excessive optimism surrounding China’s potential, are putting all of their eggs in the China basket. That would be equally dangerous.

As we try to make it clear here on, the China phenomenon is here to stay and it would be a mistake not to have a reasonable amount of exposure to Chinese assets. But are we saying you should liquidate all of your other positions and switch to a China-only model? Of course not, balance is the operative word!’s main goal is simply making it clear that China deserves to be included in the equation rather than BECOME the equation. To that effect, Chinese assets (including stocks) deserve to be a part of any balanced long-term portfolio. Why embrace one of the extremes (zero exposure or 100% exposure) when employing smart diversification strategies has never been easier… fair enough?

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