Insights With Topics: China


The Chinese economy continues to normalize across the board at an impressive rate, leading to the strong likelihood of it beating the current Bloomberg consensus GDP estimate growth rate of around 2% for 2020.


Oct 6, 2020


Are US indices rallying because of COVID-19? The most common narrative is that “US stocks have been rising despite the pandemic.” Perhaps a more accurate explanation is “US stocks have been rising because of the pandemic”.


Aug 12, 2020


After the fall in Q1, global equities recovered sharply in Q2 as the COVID fear eases and stimulus packages kick in around the world. YTD, China is the best performing emerging market, and the broad CSI 300 index gained 14% in the second quarter. From factor investing perspective, we continue to see the dispersion of a two-speed-economy despite an overall beta pick up. Quality growth new economy stocks continue to be the winner.


Aug 11, 2020


Global equities have been doing well in the past few months right after the sharp sell-off in the first quarter of this year. Intuitively, the rally looks like classic irrational exuberance given all major economies are heading into recession whilst the coronavirus infection has no sign to slow down globally. On the other hand, the forward-looking market movement may suggest that investors have looked beyond the pandemic and already positioning themselves to capture the V-shaped rebound. Combined the solid fundamentals with an appealing valuation, China A-share looks like an exposure that investors should accumulate whenever there is a market dip. If so, the more imminent and value-added question for the investors will be what to own in the onshore market.


Jul 23, 2020


The international media reckoned a front-page editorial in the China Securities Journal calling for a “healthy bull market” to create “new opportunities in crisis” was responsible for last week’s red-hot run-up in the Shanghai Composite Index. But perhaps there are less “exciting”, but more enduring, explanations for the surge in Chinese stocks.


Jul 13, 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


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


Yes, possibly. The different approaches taken by the US and China towards managing COVID-19 has likely set the stage for a widening of the growth differential between the two countries. Immediately, the earlier reopening of the Chinese economy means China’s GDP will still show a bit of growth this year. This compares to the controversial, tentative easing of restrictions in the US, only in May. Even if the US gradually normalizes from here, its GDP for will end 2020 with a big hole, which will take three to four years to fill. If China maintains its productivity growth, it should be able to manage a long-term average GDP growth rate of around 5.8% a year. Meanwhile, long-term US GDP growth from 2022 onwards could ease to 1.5% on lower investment/lower productivity growth. Taking into account IMF projected growth rates for 2020 and 2021, China could overtake the US in Dollar terms by 2029.


May 13, 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 COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down productivity and daily lives, stagnated the global supply chain, and affected financial market returns across almost all asset classes. In the first quarter of 2020, all markets around the world reported negative returns with varying degrees. While it seems that all is going the same direction, especially in the equities’ world, the fundamental risk factors were not. Among the fundamental factors we employ for China A shares, some has performed better than others amidst the market drawdown.


Apr 28, 2020


Premia CSI Caixin China New Economy ETF performed well and went up by 3% in a down market. In this article, we would like to share with you the reasons behind the strong performance and the comparison of this strategy with the other mainstream indexes that investors usually track in respect to performance attribution, sector allocation, niche thematic exposure and top drivers.


Apr 24, 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 COVID-19 outbreak has led to a worldwide pandemic, a global slowdown, arguably a recession and hopefully not a depression. Business activities globally have been halted due to the outbreak and demand has been shrinking significantly as well. Apart from some of the Asian countries including China, we have yet seen an inflection point of the case curves in most countries. In this article, we’d like to share some notable leading Chinese players in the space that have been working hard to fight against the virus for the domestic and global community.


Apr 3, 2020


The virous outbreak becomes one of the largest threats to the global economy and financial markets in decades. Will China, the one which has been suffered from the pandemic first, be able to bounce back first and lead the recovery worldwide like the Global Financial Crisis back in 2008? The latest call in new infrastructure investment maybe the key.


Mar 20, 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


Recent market rallies, despite COVID-19, are neither “ill informed” nor “complacent” Markets are looking past the viral outbreak Stocks will likely return to being driven by whatever the trends were before the outbreak Developed markets are at the tail end of bull moves – they could edge a bit higher but the risks are on the downside, and that's got nothing to do with COVID-19 either Chinese equities could ironically outperform developed market stocks this year


Feb 24, 2020


The geopolitical risks that dominated global markets for much of 2019 faded in the last quarter as the US and China reaching a phase one trade deal (which happened on Jan 15th and we discussed in China: Beyond Trade Deal Phase 1). As a result, global equity markets posted gains and China A shares also performed strongly in Q4 2019 against this backdrop.FACTOR PERFORMANCEProductivity Growth was the best performing factor in Q4, followed by Quality. The two factors were the best performing factors in 2018 and they kept the trend in 2019. Value showed a slight sign of reversion in Q4 but remained the worst performing factor throughout the year.As a result, the two Premia multi-factor China A shares ETF saw different performances in 2019. Premia CSI Caixin China Bedrock Economy ETF, which is a defensive play with active Value and LowRisk exposures by design, trailed the broad CSI 300 market performance. On the other hand, Premia CSI Caixin China New Economy ETF, a quality growth play designed to capture high quality, high productive growth new economy companies, was among the top performing broad market China equity ETFs listed outside of China in the full year of 2019 with 43% total return in CNY terms (41% total return in USD).What is Quality & Productivity Growth? - To recap, the factor definitions employed in the Premia multi-factor China A shares indexes, designed by Dr. Jason Hsu’s team at Rayliant Global Advisors are as follows –· Balance Sheet Health (aka Quality in our usual definition): Debt Coverage Ratio, Cash Ratio, Net Profit Margin, negative Accruals, negative Net Operating Assets· Productivity Growth: Gross profitability, Operating Profitability, negative Change in Total Assets, negative Change in Total Book Assets, R&D expense over AssetsBoth of the two factors entail component metrics that are broadly considered as “Quality”, despite the fact that this late popular factor does not really have a commonly agreed definition compared to the widely accepted original Fama-French Size and Value. Dr. Jason Hsu recently published a paper titled “What is Quality”. The paper published in the Financial Analysts Journal won the 2019 Graham and Dodd Top Award, and for those interested can find it on SSRN.2019 was firstly a year of recovery from 2018, but also a year of P/E multiple expansion across industries. New economy sectors, in particular, had a strong year as the government continue to drive policies around its reconfiguration toward a service-oriented, consumption-led, technology first economy despite the headwinds from the US-China trade dispute, or even to a greater extent with the conflict as an alarming catalyst.Our Premia CSI Caixin China New Economy ETF (3173/9173 HK) saw active return not only in the style factors but also from such new economy industry allocation and selection compared to peer ETFs tracking the broad CSI 300 index, as shown in Figure 3.2020: VALUE MIGHT REVERT, BUT QUALITY (NEW ECONOMY) GROWTH WILL CONTINUE TO SHINEHeading into 2020, we believe the price multiple expansion would continue but at a slower speed and be more selective on sectors, especially as China further develops into a two-speed economy. From an industry perspective, new economy sectors such as technology services, advanced manufacturing, new energy and healthcare will continue to be the megatrend growth opportunities and key drivers of China’s overall economic and productivity growth in the long term. On the other hand, as earnings play a bigger role in the P/E * EPS formula for market value, sector leaders with solid profitability and earnings capabilities stand better chances to outperform. From a style factor perspective, the broad set of Quality factors are best positioned to continue generating positive risk premia. The quality growth play would remain ideal for investors looking for megatrend growth opportunities in A-shares, while allocators more concerned about potential downside risk or wish to take a contrarian approach may consider the value strategy. Further readingsChina: Beyond Trade Deal Phase 1Insights from the revenue forecast in China marketChina A Factor Review: 2019 Q3


Feb 2, 2020


Markets are forward looking and they follow the money Pandemics/Epidemics have had little discernible impacts on markets Hang Seng and S&P 500 rallied in the face of SARS 2002-2003 - they were focused on recovery from the Nasdaq Crash S&P 500 rallied despite devastating Swine Flu in 2009-2010 - it was more focused on recovery from the global financial crisis Even the Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed between 50 million and 100 million people, did little to drive the Dow Jones China's GDP will be dented in 1Q2020 but should recover later in the year


Jan 29, 2020


The deal is containment of conflict, not cessation of hostilities US demands against China’s subsidies for State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) and control over the Renminbi remain unresolved core issuesUS targets for Chinese purchases over the next two years are extremely ambitious and at risk of not being metChina has bought some time to reduce its technology and trade dependence on the USChinese policy makers will likely maintain a cautious monetary and fiscal policy stance to avoid a “Japanese Bubble” outcome


Jan 16, 2020


With the current risk-on sentiment, it is reasonable for investors to look for growth area in the market. Yet, which sectors in China A-shares offer higher growth in 2020 based on the consensus forecast from the sell-side analyst? It would be essential to know beforehand for investors in allocating their assets in China market. That said, does it mean that anything outside the growth segments is not worth investing? Since China has been emphasizing on quality instead of quantity under the structural change of the economy, is it probable that there could be some hidden gems in the stable or slow-growth industries? We will try to answer these questions in this article.


Jan 15, 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


We review the history of Chinese consumption over the last 30-40 years and explain why we believe the Chinese consumer holds the key to global economic growth, not just in China but in every country connected to international markets.


Nov 11, 2019


The US-China trade dispute rumbled and concerns over global growth continued to mount in Q3. Factor-wise, Quality continued to outperform while Value is trailing, badly. Overall, the China A-shares ended roughly flat in Q3, and it was a meaningful quarter to the market with MSCI, FTSE, and S&P Dow Jones all made announcements of (further) inclusion of China A-shares into their benchmarks. Heading into Q4, we believe “Megatrends” continue to be the key investment themes and “Diversification” core to portfolio risk management. We don’t see a Value trap environment, but the comeback relies on many catalysts amid the current market uncertainties. Consolidation will happen as China rebalances to a “new normal”, and we believe Quality Growth is the best approach to capture domestic champions.


Oct 21, 2019


When over 30% of the investment-grade bonds are selling at a negative yield, the longest bull market in the US seems to be wobbling, global growth is decelerating and the two biggest economies are in a dispute over trade and technology, there is a need for most investors to anchor themselves in a stronghold to face the volatile markets. Benjamin Graham’s Intelligent Investor, often referenced as the best book on investing ever written, may be able to offer a bit of insight for us. At the end of the day, an intelligent investor is a realist who sells to optimists and buys from pessimists. The author has experience to back it up: Graham's personal losses in the 1929 crash and the Great Depression led him to perfect his investment techniques.


Oct 18, 2019


What’s behind China A-shares recent rally? Why are new economy stocks seemingly in the lead after more than 3 years of underperformance?


Sep 18, 2019


After a bull run of close to 40% that took most by surprise in the first quarter, trade uncertainties started to really weight on Chinese stocks during the second quarter of 2019. Unlike the beta-driven first quarter, all factors of our interest had positive performance in Q2 while the broad equity market ended roughly flat. But style factors alone are far from sufficient to explain (or reduce) the impact from the geopolitical shocks to the system as there had been much more intricate implications to one’s sector exposures; therefore, we also share a quick review of industry exposures in this piece.


Jul 29, 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


As the issuer of world’s first two fundamental multifactor China A-shares ETFs, we look closely into the factors. The China A shares market went on a roller coaster ride since late 2018, and how about the factors – are they on the same ride or rotating around a Ferris wheel? In this piece, we re-cap the research on China A fundamental factors and share the recent observations on factor performances.


Jun 3, 2019


Most investors assume that the more liquid the ETF, the easier and cheaper it is to trade. This is true in markets like the US, where on-screen liquidity is prevalent, but Asia markets are not as straightforward. China A ETFs with on-screen liquidity are easy to trade, but easier does not always mean cheaper to trade. There is market risk in trading on-screen and though it is easier, it can actually be more expensive than trading via the underling liquidity of China A stocks inside the ETF.


May 16, 2019


With the CSI300 up ~25% YTD, many clients are worried that the market has fully priced in the MSCI inclusion. We review 5 flawed assumptions and explain why the rally is just the start of a long-term trend.


Mar 26, 2019