The world may seem a little less hungry in Chinese stocks these days, but that's OK -- Chinese companies are taking a shine to home cooking. Yesterday it was NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES) that became the latest company to give its own arm a good nibble. The online gaming giant announced that it was authorized to repurchase $100 million worth of its stock over the next three months.

Buyback press releases often lack teeth, but NetEase isn't all gums. It just completed an earlier repurchase that found it wolfing down 3.6 million shares. At current market prices, NetEase should be able to reduce its fully diluted share count by another 5 million ADSs.

Is a cash-rich NetEase simply trying to prove a point? If so, it may be one worth heeding. Right now, NetEase is trading at just 16 times this year's earnings estimates and less than 14 times next year's multiple.

If you think that NetEase is a mere anomaly in the dynamic multiplayer fantasy game niche, think again.

2007 P/E

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Source: Yahoo! Finance

You don't expect to find growing companies in a booming economy trading at forward profit multiples in the teens. Even more ridiculous is the 12-16 times earnings that the stocks are fetching based on next year's income targets.

There is a hush in the air. The government is cracking down on the Internet cafes where these games are insanely popular. They don't want minors squandering their money on these games. They fear Internet addiction. It's a delicate balance, though. Part of the art behind China's economic boom is that the citizenry has the leisure incentive to create financial fortitude.

The government has tried to crack down on cell phone content services before. All it did was send a company like NetEase to dive headfirst into the online gaming market.

It's the ultimate irony. China raised margin requirements to keep the locals from chasing speculative stock market situations. Then it goes on the Internet cafe manhunt. That leads to The9 -- the company cashing in on its licensed version of World of Warcraft -- trading at a pre-teen P/E ratio for 2008.

Self-nibblers are everywhere
You don't have to limit yourself to the gaming arena. Ad giant TOM Group found its TOM Online (NASDAQ:TOMO) Internet and wireless services arm so attractively priced that it halted trading for an entire week until it finalized a buyout offer to acquire the third of TOM Online that it didn't already own. TOM Online finally began trading yesterday, barreling towards its $15.56 cash buyout price after being halted for five trading days at $11.62.

TOM Group isn't the only company taking advantage of the malaise to feed its hunger pangs. Display advertising specialist Focus Media (NASDAQ:FMCN) discovered that the easiest way to make a splash in the higher-margin world of online advertising is to wait until cyberspace marketer Allyes hits a speedbump on the way to its IPO and steps in to swallow it whole.

Consolidation is likely to continue until Chinese stocks regain their swagger. The strong will snap up the weak. I'm not sure if travel booking leader (NASDAQ:CTRP) would even want smaller rival eLong (NASDAQ:LONG) but it's timing couldn't get much better. Even though eLong's fundamentals continue to inch along, the shares have fallen by 42% since peaking 10 months ago.

So what should that tell you as an investor? The government is trying to curb a leisure liberation movement that it may not be able to lasso back in. The Chinese companies are buyers at this point, obviously expecting higher prices down the line. Is buying into an emerging market risky? You bet. But the closer you look, the more you are likely to appreciate this smorgasbord of stocks that seem so appetizing in these unappetizing times.

NetEase and Shanda are selections in the Rule Breakers growth stock newsletter service. TOM Online is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Ctrip is a Hidden Gems stock pick. To see why these Chinese companies have been selected by our Foolish advisors, try a free 30-day trial to any of the newsletters. Or check out our new international newsletter, Global Gains, which will have you crossing the seas in no time.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been to mainland China just once but he's longing to brush up on his Mandarin and make it another go of it. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.