Get ready for the China collapse. Virtually every major media outlet has weighed in with dire reports that the Chinese economic miracle is about to come to an abrupt end. These Chicken Littles note that any strong asset class that looks like a bubble must come crashing down. In the United States it happened with dot-com stocks, it happened in the housing market -- and it will surely happen in China. Or so they say.
Never mind that Chinese economic figures show few signs of cooling. Or that Chinese consumers are joining the middle class at a fast pace. Or that these consumers are buying up goods and services out of their savings rather than the U.S. predilection for debt-fueled spending binges.
Slowing Down From Warp Speed
That's not to say China doesn't face some challenges. Too many office buildings have been built, which will lead to some troubles for the banking sector. And the European economic slowdown is crimping exports. So it's not likely that China will maintain the robust growth rates of +8% to +10% exhibited during the last five years.
We screened for a list of U.S.-listed Chinese companies that are worth at least $200 million. We then narrowed the list to companies that trade for the lowest forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios. The results are in the following table.
|Company (Ticker)||Market Cap. ($mill.)||7/20/10 Price||Cash/Share||2010||2011|
|China Gerui Materials (Nasdaq: CHOP)||222||$5.17||$2.56||5.4||4.6|
|Yongye International (Nasdaq: YONG)||336||$7.55||$1.14||7.6||5.2|
|China XD Plastics
|Deer Consumer Products (Nasdaq: DEER)||253||$7.69||$2.31||10.3||8.0|
My favorite names in the group:
- China Security & Surveillance (NYSE: CSR), which is helping Chinese authorities to beef up security in dozens of mid-sized and large Chinese cities. For those who can stomach the Orwellian nature of the business model, know that social unrest is one of the biggest concerns of the Chinese government, and officials are spending accordingly. That price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) below five is quite unusual. The multiple may be in for an upgrade when the company reports quarterly results next Monday, July 26.
- A-Power Energy (Nasdaq: APWR) has emerged as a leading provider of alternative energy systems in China. And plans call for spending on green energy to keep climbing at a fast clip, regardless of how the broader economy fares. Earnings are likely to be flat this year, but could move +30% higher next year. The P/E multiple of just six times next year's projected profits is a stark reminder of just how unloved these stocks are.
- Deer Consumer Products (Nasdaq: DEER) is a pure play on consumer spending, as the company makes a range of counter-top kitchen appliances for the Chinese and export markets. Profit estimates have been steadily rising for Deer for much of the last year, yet shares trade for half of the 52-week high.
Action to Take --> Here in the United States we talk about stocks being cheap when their price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio falls to around 10 or 12. Yet many Chinese stocks trade for half of that multiple, as the table above indicates. These companies may have hiccups along the way, but they have been and will be great growth stories. When sentiment about China turns, these stocks could quickly zoom ahead. It may happen next month, It may happen in two years. So patience is a virtue.