As a longtime investor in Chinese stocks, I've grown immune to the volatile nature of this sector of the global markets. I now tend to view any significant pullback as a buying opportunity. The recent sell-off in the Halter USX China Index, down 19% since the beginning of the year, is no exception. This drop lets investors purchase dominant, domestically focused names such as China Mobile
I know that some people will think I'm crazy to be bullish on these stocks amid the current atmosphere of doom and gloom. But why wouldn't you buy two such red-chip companies in this atmosphere? China Mobile and Focus Media are both entirely focused on the rapidly expanding Chinese market; they're the dominant players within their respective industries; and both strike me as reasonably valued, with rock-solid balance sheets.
Not convinced? Let's take a quick look.
The Chinese economy
According to a report released in January by China's State Information Center, China's economy is expected to grow at 10.8% in 2008. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, around 71% of the Chinese population will occupy the middle class by 2015, up from a mere 22% in 2005. That translates into a tantalizingly massive market, which China Mobile and Focus Media can address from their dominant positions within their respective industries.
The mobile giant is the world's largest cellular operator, with more than 350 million subscribers. It holds more than a 68% share of the Chinese cellular market, and its dominance in the mobile market is only increasing. China Mobile captured 80% of all new mobile subscribers in the most recent quarter, according to Lehman Brothers, further distancing itself from its nearest competitor, China Unicom
While China Mobile's subscriber base is huge by global standards, the overall wireless penetration rate in China stood at a measly 37% in the end of September. Obviously, this bodes well for China Mobile's future growth prospects. The Chinese government's plans to announce its 3G wireless spectrum licensees before the Summer Olympics could open another lucrative revenue stream for the company, as could the launch of the iPhone in China. Talks between China Mobile and Apple
China Mobile's dominance of a surging market is eye-catching, if nothing else. Nonetheless, the company trades at around 19 times forward earnings, roughly in line with its long-term growth rate.
Just as China Mobile dominates the wireless market, Focus Media holds the leading position in Chinese digital advertising. According to a recent report from Zacks, Focus holds roughly 90% of the commercial-building-network and poster-frame market in China (think of it as the digital billboard market). That sector is expected to expand at a compound annual rate of 20% through 2011. Focus Media also holds a 50% share in the wireless advertising market, which is estimated to grow from $770 million in 2006 to more than $3 billion in 2010. The company's recent outstanding results also speak for themselves.
Focus Media trades at roughly 22 times 2008 estimates, a substantial discount to analysts' projections of 41% earnings growth over the next five years. Given the company's strong position in China's nascent advertising market, and this attractive valuation, I find it hard not to advertise the fact that investors should consider signing up for shares of Focus Media.
Further foreign Foolishness:
Fool contributor Will Frankenhoff, recently returned to his Foolish roots, enjoys writing for the Fool even more than rooting for the JINTS or reading the latest Sherlock Holmes pastiche. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. The Fool has a disclosure policy.