Why Platinum is bullish on China

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Why Platinum is bullish on China

Why Platinum is bullish on China
Slowing property sales in China would lead to a slowdown in construction, but urbanisation remains a trend. Photo: Bloomberg
Property prices are down, the markets are edgy but Australian investment fund Platinum Asset Management is confident Chinese shares will deliver tidy returns.

Recent soft economic data including falling property prices have many investors worried about a growth slowdown in China, but Platinum Asset Management sees plenty of investment opportunities.

The funds manager said in a note to investors it remained excited about China, which was “attractively priced” with “potential for handsome long-term returns”.

“What China has achieved in the last 20 years is truly remarkable. What’s just as remarkable are the many critical changes happening presently,” Platinum International Fund’s co-portfolio manager Joe Lai said.

The factors inspiring PIF’s confidence include government reforms such as anti-corruption campaigns and the “solvable” property market slump, as well as emerging industries and technology trends that bode well for China.

Investors have been nervous about Chinese equities in a year of falling property prices, credit crunch worries and soft economic data.

The Shanghai Composite index plunged to the low 2000s in June, but has since climbed around 9 per cent after some targeted stimulus initiatives by Beijing, to be up 4 per cent since the beginning of the year.

Recent economic data has put a cap on the market’s gains, with new loans posting a surprising slump in July and key manufacturing data coming in below expectations. Meanwhile. falling property prices remain a concern as the industry has been a key economic driver, contributing 15 per cent of China’s 2013 gross domestic product. The average price of new homes in China fell for a third straight month in July, declining nearly twice as fast as in June

Many investors are also watching the shadow banking industry with a wary eye.

Mr Lai said these issues were understandable concerns but they were “solvable”, adding there were a range of factors that supported China’s growth rate and would contribute to delivering positive returns for investors.

“It’s worth noting too that the Chinese economy is still growing and government debt to GDP is at a decent 50 per cent,” he said. “Debt accumulated in China is mostly domestic and renminbi devaluation can be a potent policy lever.”

Slowing property sales would lead to a slowdown in construction, but urbanisation remained a trend “and with better prices and policy easing, we are seeing things stabilise”, he said.

And regarding shadow banking, while Mr Lai admitted there was explosive growth in this sector, with ensuing quality issues, he said ultimately shadow banking was backed by Beijing.

“What’s important though is that Beijing has a number of levers it can pull to avert a crisis,” he said. “Also, shadow banking products are relatively simple.”

He said he was also encouraged by the extensive corruption combating measures launched by the Chinese government, which have caused thousands of high-ranking officials to be arrested.

“It is impossible to overstate the importance of China deepening its reform efforts. Instead of purely focusing on the rate of growth, focus of policymakers is now more on the quality of economic development – one that is sustainable, fair and efficient,” Mr Lai said.

The anti-graft campaigns should lead to state-owned enterprises reigning in inappropriate behaviour and beginning to operate more like private enterprises said Mr Lai. This would lead a boost in productivity and more investment opportunities and competition.

The clamp-down on state-owned enterprises had provided opportunities for entrepreneurs, he said.

“This has given rise to a flurry to activity in the private sector and the excitement is palpable. A number of new industries are developing in a unique way,” Mr Lai said.

These emerging industries were poised to take advantage of China’s burgeoning consumer purchasing power, which added 5.7 percentage points to growth in the first quarter of this financial year compared to the 3.1 percentage points added for investment.

Two areas Platinum was focusing on were e-commerce and companies making the most of the rapidly accelerating shift to mobile browsing.

“E-commerce is growing at a staggering rate. As the physical infrastructure in China is underdeveloped, the new industry is leapfrogging traditional brick and mortar retailing,” Mr Lai said.

Companies set to profit from the rapid shift from personal computers to mobile included Baidu, China’s Google, which was seeing annual revenue growth of 60 per cent a year, and Tencent, the country’s answer to Facebook.

The Australian Financial Review

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