Insights With Topics: Technology


COVID-19 will likely go down in history as – among other things – an accelerant for a range of tendencies are already present prior to the pandemic. AC (after-COVID), these are the four major behavioral changes that are unlikely to revert to life as we knew it BC (before-COVID).


Jul 21, 2020


For Premia CSI Caixin China Bedrock Economy ETF (2803.HK), there were 90 changes among the underlying index constituents during the latest rebalancing in June. The one-way turnover ratio was 33.5%, in line with the historical range between 30% and 40%. The value factor continued to work well with the ETF becoming more attractive in terms of valuation by replacing overvalued stocks with undervalued one. The forward price-to-earnings ratio dropped from 8.1x to 6.3x whilst the price-to-book ratio remained at 1.1x. The quality factor also functioned as designed with both return-on-equity ratio and profit margin increased post-rebalancing. The former rose from 8.9% to 9.7% and the latter increased from 11.3% to 13.6%, reflecting the current stock pool is healthier in financials and stronger in profitability. In addition, the low-volatility screen did help reduce the portfolio’s risk, as shown by the volatility falling from 29.5% to 28.9%. Last but not least, the index’s revenue rose from RMB 19.1 billion to RMB 21.1 billion, capturing the mainstream economy of China. Overall the post rebalancing portfolio represents a basket of constituents with better resilience during the COVID and US China tension induced market growth, with cheaper valuaton, higher ROE, higher profitability, strong debt coverage and lower volatility.From a sector perspective, the major change was reducing exposure in Consumer Discretionary and Industrials, and increasing weights in Financials, Real Estate and Utilities. Drilling down into sub-segments, the additions in Financials are mostly leading banks with attractive valuation, while the deletions in Consumer Discretionary are mostly automobiles related given the challenged fundamentals for the sector. Notwithstanding the market environment, Chinese banks so far have only been affected mildly by the economic slowdown. For example, the industry’s return-on-equity fell slightly from 11.7% to 11.0% and NPL ratio edged up from 1.83% to 1.86%. On a positive note, the net interest margin even surprised on the upside with the number going up from 2.18% to 2.20%. In respect of potential NPL pressure, the additions are also considered with the balancing factor of quality factor, thus focusing banks with robust fundamentals but suppressed valuation during broad market drawdown. Automobile industry was a totally different story with the national sales strinking for the 2nd year in a row. The total vehicle sales fell by 8.2% to 25.8 million in 2019, after having slid nearly 3% in 2018 in the first contraction since the 1990s. The slump was exacerbated by weak economic growth, the trade war with the US and tough new emission standards introduced last summer.For Premia CSI Caixin China New Economy ETF (3173.HK) which has continued the strong trajectory and performed well through COVID and after the rebalancing with YTD ~20% return as of Jun 22nd, it had a higher turnover rate compared to the previous rebalances given the evolution of the new economy trends becoming more pronounced since COVID. There were total 113 replacements, and the one-way turnover was around 45.7%, slightly higher than the historical range of ~40%. As the index methodology prefers companies with light-asset business model, the consistuents showed a slight increment in non-fixed asset ratio from 0.857 to 0.859 post rebalancing. In terms of financial health, the updated basket of stocks reflected a higher quality in general with significant improvement seen in the debt coverage (0.86x to 1.71x), return-on-equity (9.7% to 12.6%), and profit margin (14.6% to 17.3%), representing a more robust set of fundamental staying power for growth given the current market conditions. In fact, this has also been reflected in the resulting strong growth numbers - the index constituents are expected to grow faster with the estimated revenue growth rising from 9.7% to 15.0% after the resuffle. A mid-teen growth rate is indeed impressive amid the macro slowdown and the challenigng COVID-19 impact.From a sector point of view, the major change is an increase in Information Technology versus a reduction in Healthcare and Consumer Discretionary. The additions in Information Technology were diversified into semiconductor, software and communications equipment, which align well with the new infrastructure and Industrial IOT development mentioned in our previous research articles. With the government’s intention to speed up the technolgoical advancement, it is quite rational to see more emerging industry leaders in the capital market. The latest policy expands the conventional infrastructural investment to encompass digital infrastucture aka #New Infrastructure such as 5G network, data centers, Internet of Things and cloud computing are expected to help groom the local champions. On the contrary, the deletions in Consumer Discretionary were mainly auto or consumer-electronic related since consumers were reluctant to make big ticket purchases in an uncertain environment. Besdies, the exports business might also get affected negatively from the rising tensions in global trade.Within Healthcare, the deletions focused on traditional pharmaceuticals which could face more headwinds ahead, in particular for the companies which produce generic drugs. Beijing has been pushing forward a system that requires drugmakers to go through a bidding process and cut prices low enough to be considered over generic copies if they want to sell their products at public hospitals via large-volume government procurement.For Premia Asia Innovative Technology ETF (3181.HK), there were 8 changes out of 50 stocks if excluding Alibaba which switches from the ADR to the shares listed in Hong Kong, due to its re-classification of the primary listing from the US to Hong Kong. Also, each stock is re-scaled back to an equal weight of 2% in the portfolio, following a rebalancing discipline of profit-taking and buying on dip. Among the 8 inclusions, there are 5 Chinese companies, 2 Japanese companies and 1 Korean company covering themes including new infrastructure, media & web services, biopharmaceutical and semiconductors. Only Chinese and Japanese companies are in the deletion list, in which their businesses are mainly related to media & web services, robotics & automation and industry 4.0. Most of the changes in the index were driven by whether the company’s market cap can reach or fall out from the top 50 in the universe.Similar to China New Economy, the post-rebalance portfolio reflects also a basket that resonates well in the COVID/ post-COVID world, where a lot of behavioural changes YTD become permanent phenomena. In terms of sector, although Technology remains the major components, there are some adjustments to the composition reflecting the impacts from the YTD environment. It has shifted some of its weightings from “electronic equipments and hardwares” to “new infrastructure and semiconductors”. The reduction in the former might be partly due to the shift in global supply chain as some multinational corporations have been moving manufacturing bases to the low-cost countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia. The increase in the latter was probablay a result of the policy direction in promoting the domestic competitiveness in technology. Certainly, the stimulus plan in allocating more resources in new infrastructrure also helps the stock performance. For the rest of other sectors like Healthcare, Consumer and Industrials, their respective weightings stayed around the same. The outcome is a diversified basket of innovative technology-enabled leaders across various growth themes, and across currently China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Rather than high growth small cap companies or illiquid private companies, these are sector leaders with proven track record, R&D and growth fundamentals, and thus provide a more liquid exposure to the more resilient innovative technology players well positioned to capture the emerging megatrends including consumer and enterprise digital transformation, healthcare/ biotech/ pharmaceutical, and AI, 5G, robotics and industrial automations.


Jun 24, 2020


In crisis times like the current COVID scenario, when many stocks are at multi-year lows and finding opportunities seems to be challenging, our Premia Asia Innovative Technology strategy has proved to be among the most resilient large-cap thematic strategies that has rebounded well above the pre-COVID level with a YTD return of 7.1% (as of 6/12/2020) while also recently hitting an impressive record-high since its inception in August 2018. In this piece, we decipher for you this strategy’s exposures and why it is (more) relevant to investors, particularly post-COVID.


Jun 18, 2020


As cyclical movements would revert and short-term volatility hikes would calm, long-term strategic investors often look out for overarching secular or structural trends. Yet by definition, structural shifts and new innovations often take time. However, there can be catalysts! Witnessing a black swan can be a crisis, but like Winston Churchill advised – let’s not waste a crisis. So where do we look for growth opportunities?


Jun 12, 2020


IoT, or Internet of Things, has gradually become well-known to all as applications such as connected cars and smart home appliances gain popularity in the consumer space. As we have been advocating, enterprise digitalisation would be a game changing space to watch – and IIoT is one of the critical piece of it. In fact, IIoT is among the #NewInfrastructure agenda that was specifically mentioned as policy support priority in China. So what is IIoT? And why are the leaders resilient through and beyond COVID? In this piece, we will share the concept of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), the industry revolution in this space, and the implications to investors.


May 26, 2020


We previously highlighted the gaming industry just after the coronavirus outbreak in Account of an atypical, tech-enabled CNY holiday. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on globally and people spend more time at home social distancing, the gaming industry has shown greater potential of booming opportunities. The large demographic base of tech-savvy and mobile-first youths born in the digital era provided a strong head start for China, especially in eSports.


May 11, 2020


The Chinese government recently launched a stimulus package around the idea of “New Infrastructure” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. What exactly does this new buzzword #NewInfrastructure entail? And more importantly, where do the investible opportunities lie beyond the tech giants Alibaba and Tencent?


Apr 17, 2020


The coronavirus situation in China seems to have improved a lot, and now many are worried about what will happen as the factories get back on their feet. How's the progress so far?


Mar 10, 2020


On account of an atypical, tech-enabled start of the Year of the Rat, what are people doing during this very unusual Chinese New Year holiday period? While the roads are empty and quiet, we see extremely busy traffic online from social gathering and entertainment to post-holiday work arrangements all thanks to technology - which enabled an unconventional time of family reunion, and possibly fast-tracked development of enterprise digital transformation in the way.


Feb 3, 2020


2019 saw expensive asset classes get more expensive, a global yield back-up replaced by a yield rally, continued outperformance of DM over EM and Growth over Value (notwithstanding a few wobbles). As we approach 2020, we review market behavior during the last 12 months, the risk and opportunities going forward and make a few observations about trends that will dictate returns.


Dec 9, 2019


Investors like to conceptualize mega trends into investment themes, which fund managers use to identify strong companies based on top-down investment approaches with a focus on broader, macroeconomic themes. New investment themes always emerge from time to time, such as dot.com around the millennium, social media & robotics in the past decade, or sharing economy & artificial intelligence not long ago. What do they have in common? Technology! A sudden shift in technology would make transformative changes that redefine work processes, rewrite the rules of competitive economic advantage, and eventually the structural breakthrough will bring the potential output to the next level. That’s why market is interested to find out if 5G is a crucial investment theme.


Nov 5, 2019


Looking for a high conviction basket of Asia growth opportunities? We have a solution for you! Premia Asia Innovative Technology is a diversified, transparent, cost-efficient strategy capturing 50 Asia innovation leaders, and it is a basket of stocks favoured not only by analyst consensus but also many long-term investors including leading sovereign funds and private equity firms. Apart from the well-known BATJs, this vibrant region is also home to many other innovative companies such as the new e-commerce disruptor Pinduoduo and the photon technology evergreen Hamamatsu.


Sep 5, 2019


The World Economic Forum recently compiled the 2019 report of World’s Top Emerging Technologies. In this article, we will highlight 5 of the emerging technologies and share a few related examples of innovative companies in Asia. We see many Asian companies at the forefront of researching, developing and implementing world’s top emerging technologies. The global and regional megatrends such as aging population, growing middle class, green environment will also continue to drive technology advancements in order to enable more innovative and efficient solutions for the society.


Aug 19, 2019


3 of our ETFs recently went through their annual index rebalances. While investors focus mainly on fees and liquidity, the rebalancing and index methodology of ETFs are equally, if not more, important to the investor experience and returns. To that end, we’d like to highlight June’s rebalances and explain what investors can expect going forward.


Jul 13, 2019


The Global Mobile Communication Systems Association estimates that by the end of this year, 5G services will be available in 29 markets around the world, with 10 million connections. What is 5G and where do we see potential investment opportunities from this significant technology upgrade in Asia?


Jun 6, 2019


Nasdaq has made new highs and investors are understandably excited. Similarly, here in Asia we have seen innovative technology companies outperform YTD but with much less fanfare. David Lai explores the major megatrends in Asia and why you need to invest in tech leaders across this region.


May 3, 2019