Investment Contrarians

Why China’s Real Estate Makes Perfect Sense

By for Investment Contrarians |

China’s Real Estate Makes Perfect SenseChina is beginning to show renewed growth. The country is driving stimulus spending and easy monetary policy to get its economy back on track and drive consumers to spend.

And while there has been talk of an asset bubble in China’s housing market, my view is that the short-term risk is high, but there’s also excellent long-term growth potential in the Chinese housing market.

Investment in the country’s housing market surged 61.7% from January to November, according to the National Bureau of Statistics in China.

The conditions bode well for the country’s housing market. Consider that there are over 300 million middle-class consumers in China, and as a group, they are hungry for a lifestyle like we have in the West. Real estate investments are a key goal for the Chinese.

Standard & Poor’s analysts believe the housing market in China is stabilizing with buyers returning while home prices are stabilizing.

Moreover, in an ironic twist at a time when California’s housing market is struggling, the state’s California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPers), a pension fund, announced it would be investing about $530 million in two new China real estate funds managed by ARA Asset Management, which is positive longer-term.

To play China’s housing market, you can take the more conservative approach and buy the Guggenheim China Real Estate (NYSEArca/TAO) exchange-traded fund (ETF) with a year-to-date return of 58.8% as of December 30, 2012. The fund holds mainly large value-oriented Chinese real state stocks.

Guggenheim China Real Estate Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

To take a more speculative and potentially higher return opportunity, an emerging small-cap Chinese real estate company that I like longer-term is Xinyuan Real Estate Co., Ltd. (NYSE/XIN), which has a current share price of $3.36 and a market cap of $242 million.

Xinyuan is approaching its 52-week high of $3.95, set on April 3, 2012, and has outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 52 weeks.

Xinyuan Real Estate Co Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Xinyuan buys land and develops large-scale, high-quality residential real estate projects that are targeted toward the growing middle class in China’s tier II cities. The company looks for cities that are large and growing, with developed urban areas and an established housing market.

Targeted cities have above-average gross domestic product (GDP) growth and population growth. These cities currently comprise strategically selected tier II cities, including Hefei, Jinan, Kunshan, Suzhou, Zhengzhou, Chengdu, and Xuzhou. The combined population of these cities is over 34.5 million people, according to Xinyuan.

Projects include multi-layer apartment buildings, sub-high-rise apartment buildings, high-rise apartment buildings, retail outlets, leisure and health facilities, kindergartens, and schools.

And in perhaps a test of the U.S. housing market, Xinyuan acquired a development site in New York City for $54.2 million via its U.S. development unit, XIN Development Group International.

Annual sales grew sequentially in each year over the past nine years. Sales grew from $12.8 million in 2002 to nearly $688 million in 2011. Xinyuan has been profitable in seven of the last 10 years, including increases in the last three years.

So, while housing may still be relatively cheap in Florida, there are also unique opportunities in China.

But be advised that any stocks mentioned are meant only for illustrative purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation.

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