China Yongda (HKG:3669) is Only One of Many Contrarian China Equity Plays from James Morton of Santa Lucia Asset Management

November 13, 2018

James Morton is Chief Investment Officer and a Portfolio Manager at Santa Lucia Asset Management Ltd. He has extensive expertise in recovering and small-cap companies, as well as emerging markets. Mr. Morton’s career in the investment industry began in 1985, and he has been a consultant to Mackenzie Cundill since 1996. He is an accomplished author, editor and investment columnist. Mr. Morton holds a degree in law from Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, an M.A. in third-world economics as well as an MBA from Stanford University.  In this exclusive 3,925 word interview with the Wall Street Transcript, Mr. Morton details his investing methodology and top recommendations for investors.

“Asia is normally a growth market, and there arent many managers who focus on value or even on income, although at least in income the number is rising, but very few were doing it when we started in 2001. And even today, value is a very, very small subsector within the overall investment universe here — less than 5% of managers are pursuing this sort of strategy.”

It may be a good time to be a value investor in China, although counter-intuitively:

“My good friends at CLSA, a leading broker in Asia, have a conference every September. They’ve been doing this for 25 years now, and they take a poll of institutional investor sentiment. So this year, the sentiment was the lowest it’s ever been…Now, this you could argue is a massive contrarian buy signal…you’ve got a lot of stocks that are off over 40% since their January high.”

This leads to some specific recommendations.

Sure. I mean, the collapse in share prices has opened up a lot of rich bargains for value investors. One I’d like to mention is China Yongda (HKG:3669), which is one of the largest automotive dealers in China. It’s particularly a big BMW (ETR:BMW) dealer. Now, Chinese domestic car production is weak, but import of better-end and luxury models continues to show strong double-digit growth, even in September.

To get the full detail on this and many other recommendations from James Morton, read the entire 3,925 word interview in the Wall Street Transcript.