As our economy is gradually showing signs of having bottomed out, China has hit the ground running.
Investing overseas is risky, but China's market -- the world's most populous, with 1.3 billion people -- is hard to ignore. The country is growing faster than most developed nations, with plenty of untapped upside.
I looked at four obscure Internet stocks last week. This time I'm going to delve into a few Chinese stocks that the market appears to be ignoring.
There are certainly plenty of established Chinese companies that are worthy of your investing dollar.
(NYSE:PTR)is the megacap oil giant that even commanded Warren Buffett's attention a couple of years ago.
(NASDAQ:BIDU)is the country's leading search engine. There's plenty of upside, as China's online penetration is still low, but Baidu already commands a $12 billion market cap.
Let's dig deeper, though, and unearth a few stocks that aren't as widely known in this space. You won't find any multibillion-dollar babies here. I'll stick to companies with a market cap of at least $100 million, because we don't want to paddle too far into these uncharted waters.
Ready? Let's go.
You won't have to wait long for fresh news out of this Chinese travel portal. eLong announces its second-quarter results tonight, and even a trickle of good news could get this party started. The company's market cap is just shy of $180 million, but its balance sheet is flush with $141.2 million in cash and short-term investments and no long-term debt. In other words, eLong is practically giving itself away in enterprise value. It managed to squeeze through with a tiny profit during the first quarter. If profitability continues, investors will begin eyeing the ceiling instead of the cash-rich floor beneath their feet.
eLong isn't as popular -- or profitable -- as industry leader Ctrip.com
China Finance Online
As a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers analyst team, I would be remiss if I didn't include at least one active recommendation in the list. After all, the newsletter service prides itself on unearthing growth stocks in dynamic industries and countries. Let's go with China Finance Online.
Given China's booming equity markets, CFO fills the void for independent research. When most Shanghai-traded investments were flying into the stratosphere through 2007, investors couldn't be bothered into paying up for guidance. Now that fundamentals are separating the winners from the losers, CFO is in the right place at the right time.
You wouldn't know it from last week's quarterly report. Revenue took a 16% hit, as last year's profit turned into a small quarterly deficit. The company still knows how to draw a crowd, though, with 12.4 million registered users and more than 100,000 paying subscribers. CFO also has a sparkling balance sheet, with cash and equivalents making up roughly half of the researcher's market cap.
There is more to this chemicals company than meets the eye. In its latest quarterly report, revenue fell 34% to $26.3 million. Earnings also fell by roughly a third to $0.12 a share.
This doesn't mean that ShengdaTech isn't a growth company. The numbers are askew because the company lost a plant after a governmental rezoning back in October. The move has pushed ShengdaTech into specializing in nano-precipitated calcium carbonate (NPCC) production, a key component in tires and PVC. Booming automotive and construction industries have resulted in a 36% spike in NPCC business over the past year, representing nearly all of ShengdaTech's revenue these days.
The year-over-year growth comparisons will become obvious once the company gets past the October anniversary of its chemical plant's closure. I'm tipping you off, two months early.
Home Inns & Hotels
China's lodging industry is an easy one to wrap your head around. As China's citizenry amasses wealth, travel is a logical leisurely pursuit. The chain of 547 value-priced hotels is growing quickly. The hotelier plans to nearly double its presence to 1,000 locations within two years.
The aggressive expansion has tripped up Home Inns' bottom line in the past, but it's looking pretty good now. Revenue soared 43% in its latest quarter, with earnings growing even faster.
Broadening its empire at breakneck speeds is important, as local inns and American chains, including Days Inn, are moving in. Home Inns checks out because it checked in early. Investors should follow suit.
Rick will be back next week with four "under the radar" stocks in a different industry. Which industry should he cover next? Let him know in the comment box below.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders what happens if something is "over" the radar. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.