January is off to an encouraging start. The S&P 500 is up 1.8% through just the first 10 trading days of 2020, but some stocks are obviously doing even better than the market average. I recently took a look at a few stocks that have posted year-to-date returns of 10% or better, and now it's time that I do the same with Chinese growth stocks.
Baidu (BIDU -0.23%), Luckin Coffee (LKNC.Y -2.94%), JD.com (JD -2.07%), and iQiyi (IQ 0.63%) are four of the Chinese stocks that have delivered double-digit percentage gains for their investors this month. Let's see why they're crushing the market so far in 2020.
Baidu: Up 10%
China's leading search engine is starting to bounce back after falling out of favor. Baidu stock tumbled in 2018 and again in 2019, bucking the otherwise buoyant market by shedding nearly half of its value in that time. China's slowing economy and weakening online ad market weighed on Baidu, but some of the wounds were also self-inflicted in the stock's slide.
Baidu would still have to double from here to revisit the all-time highs it hit two years ago, but for now the stock has risen nearly 50% since bottoming out last summer. Online advertising revenue continues to be a drag for Baidu, and flat top-line growth isn't very exciting. But it has rattled off back-to-back quarters of better-than-expected adjusted earnings. Baidu hasn't turned around, but sentiment is starting to favor the narrative that it is finally bottoming out.
Luckin Coffee: Up 15%
Growth thrills, and Luckin Coffee brings a pot full of caffeinated octane to the table. The number of Luckin coffee shops in China has more than tripled to 3,680 over the past year, and a store-level surge in engagement helped deliver a 640% surge in revenue for its latest quarter.
Growth is expected to slow to 160% this year, but that's still cool beans brewing for investors. Even a secondary offering and convertible senior notes filing earlier this month failed to cool down the hot stock. Wall Street pros are scrambling to keep up. This week, KeyBanc analyst Eric Gonzalez jacked up his price target on the shares from $32 to $56 as Luckin Coffee explores an unmanned retail strategy that should deliver a new revenue stream to the already scintillating mix that now includes a sister tea-brewing concept.
JD.com: Up 13%
Online retail is thriving in China despite the cooling economy, and JD.com is China's top dog in terms of e-tail revenue. JD.com's top line may have slowed every fiscal year since going public in 2014, but it has now come through with back-to-back quarters of accelerating revenue growth.
JD will never approach the scorching 96% sales growth it scored in 2012, but this is the first time ever that it has rattled off an uptick in its quarterly growth rate for two consecutive quarters. There are now 334.4 million annual active customers leaning on JD.com, and if growth is starting to pick up momentum now, one can only imagine how well things will go when the historically potent Chinese economy starts to improve.
iQiyi: Up 12%
Another company that's sharing Baidu's pain over the sluggish online advertising market is iQiyi, and that's fitting since the leading Chinese streaming video platform was spun off by the country's leading search engine two years ago. Growth at iQiyi has slowed to 7%, according to its latest financial report, but that is the handiwork of a double-digit decline in ad revenue eating into its thriving premium subscription platform.
There are now 105.8 million premium subscribers on iQiyi, a 31% advance over the past year. Analysts see revenue returning to double-digit growth in 2020, largely as subscription revenue takes on a starring role in the revenue mix.
There's no denying that investing in China is a risky proposition, but the potential upside is too strong to ignore with these four rising growth stocks.