Lots of readers wondering today about Steve Sjuggerud’s latest China teaser — it starts with a pretty “urgent” promise…
“Recently, in a closed-door meeting in Boston, the most powerful authority in global investing told me…
“Two Stocks That Nearly Every Wall Street Firm Will be Forced to Buy at 3:59pm on May 31
Get there first… and you could double your money”
So what’s this closed-door meeting business?
“It began a few weeks ago, when I got the stock tip of a lifetime at a closed-door meeting with one of the world’s most powerful financial groups.”
And that “powerful financial group?” More tease:
“I’d argue this group has more influence over the market and your money than any single politician… the International Monetary Fund… or the World Bank.
“That’s because $12.4 trillion in assets are legally required to follow the decisions made by this group, which impacts 94% of U.S. pension fund assets and 99 of the top 100 global money managers.”
OK, so that’s MSCI, the index people (competitors with FT and the S&P). They’ve been building international indices for almost 50 years, and it’s true that they have the most widely-followed base portfolios in the world. They’re a separately traded company now, by the way (ticker MSCI), they were spun out of Morgan Stanley (that’s where the MS came from) about ten years ago.
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And, yes MSCI over the past five years has been deliberating about whether and how to include Chinese stocks in its core index offerings, particularly in the widely followed Emerging Markets index. And Sjuggerud has promoted Chinese stocks before as a way to profit from this pending “inclusion” in the MSCI indices, including last year when the announcement from MSCI was, “yep, we’re including a small allocation to China A Shares… but not ’til next year.”
So what is he adding this time around? Presumably that portfolio has done very well, given the great performance from the large China tech stocks he has focused on over the past year or two, and he’d like you to subscribe to True Wealth China Opportunities to learn more … but perhaps we can glean a bit from the ad and learn something without plunking down $1,500 a year (nonrefundable, naturally).
Any clues, then? Here’s more to tantalize from Sjuggerud:
“I’ve studied the market for 25 years and I’ve never seen an opportunity this big… where you could realistically double your money in as little as 18 months.”
We should at least give him credit for putting a time period in there — often, these kinds of ads promise that the stock will double “starting on May 31″… which, of course, means nothing. Those kinds of promises sometimes inspire people to place roulette-like bets on the “secret” stock doubling on June 1… which is, of course, absurd.
Even if a stock is likely to rise because of a new wave of investment from institutions or inclusion in a new index, it’s not going to rise dramatically in the space of 24 hours — these kinds of changes are not shocks or surprises, the indexes and the funds that follow them know they’re coming and they work their way into those positions. They don’t all just go out and buy millions of shares of the “new” stocks at 9:30 am on the day they’re included in the index (or at 3:59 the day before) — volume does pick up when new stocks come in, but with large companies there’s usually a lot of global supply that can handle that volume as long as nothing else crazy happens that day, and there will have been a lot of planning ahead by all the major investment managers.
To be clear, Steve’s sentiment has been very forthright, and right, for a couple years now — he’s been touting the idea of investing in Chinese stocks, particularly the big Chinese tech companies, since at least mid-2016. As he notes in the headline of one of his free articles recently: “Steve and Porter agree: ‘If you want to be long stocks, please – dear God – be long Chinese stocks.'” He’s not waffling, at least, and he has probably done very well so far.
So what are the stocks he’s most excited about right now? It was only about six weeks ago that he had a pretty big ad campaign reiterating his “China Melt Up” forecast, hinting at most of the same stocks he’s been bullish on for a couple years… so is this something new, or is he just re-stating that he thinks more global indexed money flowing into the domestic Chinese stock market will cause those large Chinese tech companies to become more valuable?
Well, he does call out two stocks for particular attention…
“… at the closed-door meeting in Boston I attended, they made a huge announcement about one of their most popular indexes.
“It’s a decision that will legally force the wealthiest financial institutions in the world to send more than $484 million into 2 stocks at 3:59 pm on May 31, 2018….
“We estimate over $19 billion will ultimately flow into two stocks — both of which I can pretty much guarantee you’ve never heard of.”
And Sjuggerud cites a scholarly paper about the index inclusion effect as part of his argument that stocks being added to major indices move higher than stocks that aren’t added — that’s generally true, though despite the massive rise in passive investing (meaning, funds that just follow the index), the impact has not actually gotten more severe over the years… at least, according to that paper. Here’s an excerpt from the abstract:
“The analysis finds that between 1990 and 2015 the average excess return for additions from the announcement to effective day was 5.64%…. Based on past theories, more passively linked funds should create a larger shift in the demand curves for the stocks around inclusion, but the results do not yield such conclusions. The index inclusion effect appears to have peaked in the late 1990s while the passive management industry has continued to grow.”
So yes, being included in an index, on average, has a significant impact on a stock, particularly in the time between the inclusion is announced and the day the index is officially adjusted to add the new stocks. Computers and investors are watching, though, and any impact like that is likely to be traded and arbitraged by institutions, so the impact is not wildly massive and has not grown. Still, 5% as an average short-term outperformance is significant — and it’s certainly possible that over the long term, with more passive cash flowing in, we’ll continue to see the big get bigger as the largest weightings in the indexes have more money chasing them (indexes are market cap-weighted, so if you have to buy the index you have to buy more shares of the biggest companies in the index).
And MSCI did announce those specific changes, including a couple hundred new Chinese names being added to the EM index at the end of the day on May 31 — you can see that plain list here if you want to browse for yourself.
As a way of anticipating the impact, Sjuggerud refers to another MSCI index inclusion event and the big moves it caused in several stocks… here’s some on that:
“On November 30, 2015, MSCI decided to add a list of stocks to an index.
“After their announcement, every group following that index prepared to buy the tickers at the close of the market… right before the official “inclusion date.”
“Watch what happened next with the three biggest names…”
What follows there are three charts showing the last hours of the trading day on November 30, when those stocks did spike up a bit into the close by several percent… and that probably was either some of the managers adding heavily to those shares or some traders trying to piggyback on an anticipated move in the stock post-index inclusion, but the impact over a slightly longer period of time is generally a lot more muted… even with massively higher volume from index inclusion.
What do I mean by that? Well, here’s a chart of some of the larger stocks that were added by MSCI at that time — this was a decision in November 2015 to add the US-listed China stocks to MSCI’s emerging market indices, so it particularly impacted large companies like Alibaba (BABA), Baidu (BIDU), Ctrip (CTRP), JD.com (JD) and Netease (NTES), though there were a bunch of smaller ones added as well. Here’s the volume chart for those five big stocks covering a week before the inclusion date to a week after:
So you can see, there was a huge spike in trading volume on November 30 for all of those stocks, with Baidu, in particular, standing out with a 600% increase over what had been their “average” trading volume in the days before.
What did that do to the prices of these stocks over that week or two? Well, they didn’t double overnight… Here’s another chart:
So yes, they did move up that week, on average — though BIDU, which got the highest spike in trading volume, ended up only a half percent higher after a week, and the average rise was relatively moderate. Still meaningful, for sure, and the broader market was pretty flat that week by comparison, but certainly not life-changing in the space of a week.
And if you go out 18 months from that index inclusion, the performance is certainly strong — though I don’t know that it’s because of the index inclusion. Here’s the 18 month chart following that index inclusion in November 2015:
You might note one more company added to that list in this chart — that’s Tencent (TCEHY for the US ADR)… that’s just to illustrate that big Chinese tech stocks were generally becoming more valuable over that time period, it wasn’t just the excitement about the MSCI index change. As a Hong Kong-listed Chinese stock, Tencent had already been among the largest weightings in the MSCI emerging markets index for quite a while.
And, in fact, when that index adjustment happened in November 2015, Tencent shares dropped by a few percent in the week following the inclusion of Alibaba, Baidu and the other US-listed giants — perhaps because that “China” money had to be divvied up a little differently, though it’s dangerous to assume anything from a short-term move.
My point is, Chinese tech stocks have been surging… and China has been roughly a quarter of the MSCI emerging markets index for quite a while now (it’s actually up to 30% now), they just haven’t included the A-shares that trade domestically in China. And yes, now they’re going to, but this move is not necessarily going to create a sudden tsunami. These changes were telegraphed last year, and will result in an increased allocation to China of less than 1%… which is still big, when you’re talking about this much money, but it’s hard to call it a “tsunami” when the Chinese portion of the passive indexing universe will continue to be dominated by the big guys like Tencent and Baidu who were already large weightings in the key emerging markets index.
The actual shift, which was announced a year ago and will be implemented in two stages (June and September), will end up with a total allocation to A Shares within the EM index of 0.73%… that’s based on what they call a “5% inclusion,” meaning that the impact will be only 5% of the size that it would be if they were weighting China A shares like they do other, more open, emerging markets (If A shares were “fully included” in the MSCI EM index they would be about 18% of the index, and the impact on markets would be very dramatic if it happened in the space of a few weeks or months — which is why they’re not rushing into it).
That’s going to change over the years, it’s pretty clear that they’re on a path to opening up further and increasing the weighting over the next few years as long as China keeps opening its markets and improving its regulatory oversight, and that leads many analysts to predict that the China weighting in the emerging markets index will eventually go from about 30% to about 40%.
But anyway… what are those two stocks Sjuggerud hints at? Do we get any clues?
“You don’t have to move any of your money outside of the United States exchanges to take advantage of the May 31, 2018 opportunity I’ve been telling you about….
“What matters is a very simple and unique way of playing these massive index changes through any ordinary U.S. brokerage account.”
And more, though still annoyingly non-specific…
“Even better, I learned the name of two specific stocks that will be on the receiving end of an estimated $19 billion in the coming years.
“There are a few other small companies being added to the index too, but these two will get the most money and will likely lead to the largest gains.”
Sjuggerud also spends plenty of time in the ad talking up what has been his favorite Chinese stock, which is that aforementioned Tencent (0700.HK, TCEHY)… but as Tencent is already at over 5% of the emerging markets index (7%, if you include Naspers (NPSNY) as primarily an indirect investment in Tencent), that weighting isn’t going to go up substantially when MSCI rebalances. Tencent isn’t getting removed, they’re just adding some more Chinese stocks that aren’t listed in New York or Hong Kong. If more money goes into the emerging markets indices in general, then Tencent will certainly be on the receiving end of some of it as the largest stock in that index, and Sjuggerud still seems to have this as one of his favorites… but the rebalancing won’t specifically help them.
What does Sjuggerud think we should do?
“You see, there’s one ticker listed on the New York Stock Exchange that positions you to take advantage of this entire opportunity in full.
“And when you buy it, you can set yourself up to capture the triple-digit upside of the two Chinese stocks being added to the index… without a single dollar ever leaving the country….
“I bet you’ve never heard of this investment before… but the small group behind it is probably the foremost authority on Chinese investing in the United States.
“And we believe they’ve designed the perfect way to legally get in ahead of the MSCI announcement on May 31, 2018….
“When hundreds of billions of dollars flow in to China, this is the safest and easiest way to double — potentially even triple — your money in the coming years.”
OK, so that’s KraneShares, an ETF provider that has mostly focused on China. And they have developed an ETF, called the KraneShares Bosera MSCI China A ETF (KBA), which is weighted not just to the A Shares in China, but specifically to the “inclusion index” — which means, essentially, that they’re trying to weight the ETF most heavily in the stocks they think will see the biggest impact from the gradual inclusion of A Shares in the MSCI emerging market index. A bet on this big impact that Sjuggerud sees coming on May 31, in other words.
Does that make a difference? Well, it hasn’t so far — relatively minor weighting changes in diversified ETFs don’t necessarily bring huge performance changes, so even though KBA has a very different makeup than more traditional A Shares ETFs that try to capture the cap-weighted index of yuan-priced Chinese stocks traded in Shenzhen and Shanghai, it hasn’t moved dramatically differently than the other A Shares ETFs.
In fact, it has done worse, so far… so it takes a bit of a leap of faith to be really convinced of the merit of their strategy, there isn’t much evidence in the trailing performance (though, to be fair, that first wave of A Share “inclusion” hasn’t hit yet, either). Here’s the chart of KBA versus the more traditional Xtrackers Harvest CSI 300 China A Shares ETF (ASHR):
Hmmm… OK, so that’s quite a bit worse than the A Share index of large China stocks, not better… though over the past year, they’ve been much more in lock-step:
Both ETFs have about the same expense ratio, so that’s not the difference-maker… and KBA actually trades at a larger premium to its NAV than ASHR, too, so that’s not slowing them down. Presumably, then, it’s that portfolio construction that emphasizes the stocks that they think should benefit from MSCI inclusion (instead of just buying the biggest A Shares stocks) that’s hurting them slightly.
Here are the top ten holdings of each, just to show that even though the performance of these ETFs over the past year has been very similar, the weightings are different and there’s a different strategy in action:
So does that mean you should pour your money into Kweichow Moutai, Ping An, or China Merchants Bank? Maybe Hangzhou Hik-Vision Digital Technology? I don’t know, those are all stocks that will get some additional index presence, though I suspect that in any individual case the impact will be fairly limited and that their actual business prospects (growth, earnings, regulation, etc.) will drive the longer-term return… but yes, in aggregate, China will probably see more of the world’s investment dollars over the next decade than it does today.
Maybe that analysis by KBA will end up being correct, and the shares that get a larger impact from inclusion will rise more than the Chinese large cap onshore stocks in general… but if that’s to be the case, we’re still waiting for it to happen — and in general, the global markets are forecasting machines, so I’d think there should be some sign of KBA outperforming by now if it’s going to outperform post-index adjustment (unless, of course, the folks at KraneShares are the only institutional investors who foresee this future).
Kweichow Moutai is a Chinese liquor company that has soared in value recently, and an interesting story as a real Chinese brand, but it can’t really be bought directly by US investors even as ADRs on the OTC market… China Merchants Bank (3968 in Hong Kong, CIHKY OTC in the US) and Ping An (2318 in Hong Kong, PNGAY OTC in the US) can be bought in the US, at least by those who don’t need lots of liquidity, so perhaps those will be the two stocks that are the most direct beneficiaries of inclusion, though that’s merely a guess. Both are already in the EM index because they also trade in Hong Kong, Ping An has a 1% weighting and China Merchants Bank about a 0.3% weighting, but those will presumably rise a bit with A Shares inclusion. Neither one is an illiquid stock that should go bonkers — Ping An, for example, has a market cap approaching $200 billion and already trades over $300 million worth of shares every day in Hong Kong.
I haven’t experimented with the Shanghai-Hong Kong Connect trading pathway before (that’s one of the cross-border liquidity and openness changes China made, letting some China A Shares trade through Hong Kong even if they don’t actually have “H” shares or a Hong Kong listing), but that pathway is now offered by Interactive Brokers, so I’ve placed a small order for some Kweichow Moutai just to experiment a bit (ticker 600519)… but that’s very likely a bubble-y stock so I wouldn’t recommend anyone else tinker around with it unless you’re feeling adventurous and curious (I won’t know if the order fills until late tonight).
And I have traded KBA and ASHR options before and do still hold some longer-term ASHR options, with some success as that market has risen, but I think the jury’s out on whether MSCI 5% inclusion will have a big impact this year… I do think it will probably have a substantial impact over the next few years, but that doesn’t mean Chinese stocks are going to be guaranteed to rise, just that they will get more attention and volume. This move has been so telegraphed by MSCI, with the announcement a year ago after almost five years of dithering and negotiating, that it’s hard to see a “flash” impact on May 31. And, of course, there’s nothing magical about being in an index when it comes to protecting your money — if the Chinese markets collapse for some reason, as they have before, this new international money is not going to get rid of the volatility or make the collapse go away.
In the end, if we don’t get any more clues than that we’ll have to stick with guessing — so maybe those hot two will be Ping An and China Merchants, I don’t know… though I do think it’s unlikely that any of the large A Shares stocks will move dramatically more than the Chinese market in the coming weeks, absent company-specific news.
I do think an allocation to China is important, since that’s one of the major growth drivers of world stock markets (and hopefully the global economy in general). I’d probably still be most comfortable with the large non-bank, non-energy companies in China, though, and the US-listed ones that get a bit more oversight — they’re quite richly valued as a group, stocks like Tencent and Alibaba and Baidu and JD.com, but they are not as opaque as the state-owned enterprises and they’re certainly less scary to me than the Chinese banks. If you like those Chinese technology leaders, who Sjuggerud has also talked up many times before, you can also get “one click” access to most of them through the KraneShares China Internet ETF (KWEB) — KWEB’s largest holdings, in case you’re curious, are:
But really, most of these Chinese stocks and indices move together, and you probably don’t have to overthink it to participate if you think great days are coming — owning some of the dominant tech companies in China will give you big exposure to the growing consumer economy, owning any of the A Shares ETFs will give you exposure to the still mostly “hidden” domestic Chinese stock markets, which will gradually be getting more investor money and seem likely to rise as long as we don’t see a debt implosion or a real shakeup in China (that’s a big “as long as” qualifier, of course). And if China keeps growing, and manages to avoid a debt crisis (or the impact of a global slowdown, should it come), then probably all of them will do quite well for the next few years.
Finally, the KraneShares folks are certainly “selling” their ideas, so it’s not difficult to get their perspective and learn what they think is going to happen — they just did an “investor roadshow” and posted a recap of some of the Q&A here, and they
Have a favorite? See huge gains in the short term for any of this China stuff? Any other guesses about which two stocks might be Sjuggerud’s favorites among the leading A Shares? Let us know with a comment below.
Disclosure: I have exposure to quite a few of these investments through either equity or call option holdings, including Alibaba, JD.com, iQiyi, Momo, Naspers (and therefore Tencent), and the Harvest Trackers ASHR ETF, and also have a buy order in for Kweichow Moutai (mostly as an experiment, though it is actual money). Other than that Kweichow order, which will not be changed and may not be filled at my price, I will not trade in any of these stocks for at least three days, per Stock Gumshoe’s trading rules.