If Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers had teamed up and become personal finance and investing experts -- and if they'd kept working into the podcast era -- one can imagine the result might have been a little bit like the Motley Fool Answers' monthly mailbag episodes. (Though they probably would have done less "awfulizing.") Certainly, there are plenty of us who could use some guidance in the money realm -- so many, in fact, that two advice-givers are hardly enough. So for this podcast, hosts Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp have brought back one of their more popular guests, senior analyst Emily Flippen, to chime in.
In this segment, two different listeners have questions about investing in Chinese internet and tech giant Tencent. Flippen, who lived in China, talks about the unusual aspects of buying foreign-listed shares and gives her take on the company.
To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on May 29, 2019.
Alison Southwick: Our next question combines a question from Rachel and from @oschool? Is that off Twitter?
Robert Brokamp: Yes.
Southwick: This is for Emily. "I tried to purchase individual shares of Tencent through my Vanguard account, but instead of sending it through as a buy, they want me to call in. Gasp! Who calls people these days? This makes me a little nervous. Is investing in China tech-risky? Is there an easier way to invest in companies in China?" And then @oschool is asking, "I'm thinking Tencent might be a possible portfolio addition. There are two OTC pink tickers for this stock, TCEHY and TCTZF. What will I actually be owning if I invest?"
Emily Flippen: Those are really good questions! To answer the first one, yes, investing in Chinese stocks, especially Chinese tech stocks, is riskier than investing in home companies here in the U.S. That's not to say it is a bad idea, though. Your brokerage just makes you call them to verify that you do, in fact, want to trade international companies.
These are, for the most part, traded over American depository receipts -- ADRs. These do represent, typically, one share -- sometimes it depends -- of the underlying company. So if you buy ADR Tencent, theoretically you're owning one share of the company listed in Hong Kong. So it is a little bit riskier.
You do have some extra fees. They're typically very nominal. They're called depository pass-through fees. These range from $.01 to $.05 cents per share. You'll get those charges typically once a year. So there are some nominal fees, there. That being said, if you are interested in buying international companies, and I think every investor, in one form or another, should have some international exposure, these are totally fine ways of doing so.
Some brokers will require you to call in. Some will say you can trade automatically. I use Fidelity and never had to call for Fidelity, but that's five minutes out of your time to call. Get that approval. You won't have to do it every time you trade that stock.
And for Tencent, in particular, it does have two pink sheets, two tickers traded over the counter. One pays out dividends in USDs, the other in Hong Kong dollars. Dividends are very small for Tencent, so it doesn't really matter, but for the most part you'll probably want to buy the TCEHY. That's the one that pays out dividends in U.S. dollars. It's also more liquid, so you're more likely to get a better rate when you buy and sell.
Southwick: So both of these people are interested in Tencent. What does Tencent do? Do you like Tencent?
Flippen: I do happen to love Tencent!
Southwick: All right, tell me about Tencent.
Flippen: I do love all of my Chinese companies, though.
Southwick: All equally, I'm sure!
Flippen: Tencent's a Chinese behemoth. It's kind of an integrated gaming company, but really they do a lot more. They run and own WeChat, which is one of the largest Chinese social messaging systems. They do a lot in this space. They're a really great, strong, profitable, diversified company with lots of different investments, but they do have some of that Chinese exposure. Obviously the market's been a little unfriendly to our Chinese companies of gaming regulations in a trade war, so whether or not you want to add it to your portfolio obviously is up to your discretion.
Brokamp: And just for our listener background, you spent time in China.
Flippen: I did. I did my undergrad in China, in Shanghai, and I know firsthand I could not live there without using at least one of Tencent's products. So it is one of my higher-conviction Chinese holdings.