Baidu Bucks

One of the few salmon to swim upstream in yesterday's trading downpour was Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU  ) . China's leading search engine barreled convincingly past the $400 mark yesterday, despite everything from weak economic data to the geopolitical implications of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto weighing the market down.

Baidu shares have climbed nearly 8% higher in the two trading days since the Christmas holiday, bucking the trend of listlessness elsewhere as the market stumbles to a sleepy close to the year.

The market's overall gains in 2007 may clock in near its historical averages, but Baidu has been a standout. Through yesterday's close, Baidu's stock has soared 263% higher this year.

It certainly helps that many of yesterday's winners hail from China. In fact, five of the market's biggest percentage gainers yesterday have Chinese roots.

 

 

Dec. 27 Gain

Telestone Techs (Nasdaq: TSTC  )

20%

China BAK Battery (Nasdaq: CBAK  )

19%

Qiao Xing Universal (Nasdaq: XING  )

18%

China Sunergy (Nasdaq: CSUN  )

16%

China Grentech (Nasdaq: GRRF  )

15%

Buying into China isn't original, of course. The market has been on a tear in recent years. Volatility has also been par for the course, with wild swings keeping conservative investors watching from a safe distance.

It's been a good month for validation, though, hammered home when both Baidu and display advertising giant Focus Media (Nasdaq: FMCN  ) were tapped as replacements in the Nasdaq-100 Index.

Investors appear to be positioning themselves ahead of next summer's Olympic Games in Beijing, an event that will shine a spotlight on China. It also doesn't hurt that the yuan hit a new all-time high against the dollar, with the Chinese government apparently resigned to letting its currency appreciate relative to the banged-up buck. That will make dollar-denominated investments in the Chinese market that much more attractive.

This doesn't mean investors should run out and buy a basket of Chinese stocks. Valuations and prospects vary widely within the growing number of China-based equities trading stateside. However, with many investors already taking the time to do the research and placing their bets on the prospective victors of 2008, it's never too early to join the salmon swimming against the current.

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