富达基金博尔顿:我为何看好中国股市

富达国际公司(Fidelity International)资深基金经理博尔顿(Anthony
Bolton)对中国的增长前景寄予厚望,去年11月中止了其短暂的退休计划之后,成立了一支新的对华投资基金──富达中国特殊情况基金(Fidelity
China Special Situations)。富达国际公司隶属于美国共同基金公司富达投资公司(Fidelity
Investments)旗下,后者是FMR LLC的一个子公司,但二者均为独立公司。他谈到了投资中国的风险与回报。

一些市场评论者已对中国的通胀前景表示担忧。你怎么看?

Reuters
富达国际资深基金经理博尔顿
博尔顿:我认为这种担心有些夸张。中国在金融危机期间实施的大规模经济刺激计划显然取得了预期的成果。因此,中国政府正在减缓信贷增长速度,而且我认为这样做是正确的。而且,我认为中国当局一向行事缓慢但谨小慎微,我预计他们仍将如此。

如果中国政府做出使投资者不安的、激进性的大动作,我会感到惊讶,但这显然是我会密切关注的事情。基础设施刺激计划和信贷增加的规模如此之大,以至于在某种程度上,我认为我们今天所处的环境是前所未有的。

也就是说,有关中国正形成资产泡沫的讨论是站不住脚的?

博尔顿:现在这么说还为时太早。股票价格显然不再像2008年末和去年年初时一样便宜,但我不认为估值过高。而且依据我的经验,泡沫需要几年的时间发展,而不是仅仅一年时间。中国的熊市是十分野蛮的,以至于牛市的时钟从2008年11月起才又开始计时。我认为我们进入当前这个牛市仅仅一年,而这个牛市会持续好几年,虽然期间还会经历起起伏伏,但这都是新兴市场的常见现象。

中国的市场显然风险更大。主要的不确定因素包括中美关系问题以及国内不稳定因素的威胁等。同时,出人意料、反复无常的政治决策也是一个始终存在的危险。这毕竟是一个一党制国家。对股市而言,管理质量和公司信息都是可变因素,尽管这其中既有机会也有风险。

你乐于冒这些险吗?在中国什么是真正的机会?

博尔顿:我对中国的机会保持着长期热情,同时我正在认真研究这些短期的担心。我对中国持乐观态度基于三个主要原因:首先,与金融危机后欧洲和美国相对平缓的增长相比,中国的增长前景相对引人注目。这可能会导致投资大规模地从发达市场转向中国。我也相信人民币会升值。

其次,我预计中国经济的重要性与其股市占全球股市的比重之间的差距将会在未来20年左右的时间里大大缩小。中国有可能超越日本成为世界第二大经济体,但其股市相对仍无足轻重。随着新股发行及股价的上涨,如果在我有生之年中国股市不成为世界第二大股市,我将会感到惊讶。

然而,支持现在对中国进行投资的最令人振奋的论据是它在所谓的S曲线上的位置。中国目前处于发展中市场的最佳投资位置,即人均收入平稳增长,但消费快速增长,零售业得到发展,服务业开始起飞。二、三十年前的台湾和韩国以及更早之前的日本都曾经历过这一时期。目前最令人感兴趣的是中国市场的绝对规模。此前这样的发展过程从未出现在一个有着13亿人口的国家。

你会把股票精选的方式(stock-picking approach)用于中国股市吗?

博尔顿:一些人曾怀疑股票精选方式是否适合中国。我对此感到惊讶。现在的中国在许多方面让我想起在我事业早期时欧洲的投资机会。那时以研究为先导、长期投资的策略在被认为是交易员市场的欧洲显得很另类。然而,最终证明它很成功,并且我有信心如果中国市场如我相信的那样摆脱它目前对制造业和金融业的偏爱,向更广阔的由服务业主导的投资机会发展,欧洲的经验将是无价之宝。

过去几周,股市出现波动,你觉得股市对这些恐慌的承受性有多强?

博尔顿:去年这个时候,我非常看好这个市场,这在当时是少数派观点。我觉得较差的市场情绪、估值以及衰退期的长度三者结合支持了熊市的逆转。依据我的经验,这样的时刻相对稀少,因此我现在对股市不那么有信心也不让我感到奇怪。我相信牛市还将继续发展,但鉴于其目前还没有经历过真正的整固,我预计未来几个月会出现一次实质性整固。

十分重要的是,我相信该市场的引导力量将从更加周期性的工业和原料公司转变成更以增长为导向的领域,从相对劣质的股票向更为优质的股票发展。一旦全球经济明显改善,积极的数据纷纷传出,我相信未来的世界将与金融危机前的世界大不相同,而美国和欧洲的增长将相对较慢。

在这样一个环境中,我希望投资者为高速增长或低速但可预期的增长做好准备。我预计例如科技板块将继续表现良好。我预计今年金融板块也会增长,但我认为商业银行的前景比投资银行好。当局需要商业银行发放贷款,但他们对投资银行是否成功则兴趣寡然。

Bolton Bets on China

Anthony Bolton, the Fidelity International veteran portfolio manager,
was so impressed by China’s growth prospects that he exited a
short-lived retirement last November to set up a new fund to invest in
the country, the Fidelity China Special Situations. Fidelity
International is affiliated with U.S. mutual-fund company Fidelity
Investments, itself a unit of FMR LLC, but the two are independent
companies. Mr. Bolton spoke about the risks and rewards of investing
in China.

Some market commentators have expressed concern about the inflationary
outlook in China. What’s your view?

Anthony Bolton: I think this concern is overstated. The significant
stimulus applied to the Chinese economy during the financial crisis
appears to have achieved the desired outcome. The government is,
therefore, moving to slow credit expansion and I believe it is right
to do so. However, in my view the Chinese authorities have a record of
moving slowly and in a measured way and I would expect them to
continue to do so.

I would be surprised if the government made the kinds of big,
aggressive moves that unsettle investors but it is obviously something
that I will be watching closely. The size of the infrastructure
stimulus and credit expansion was such that I think we are, to an
extent, in uncharted territory.

So is talk of an asset bubble forming in China unfounded?

Mr. Bolton: It is far too early to be talking in those terms. Clearly,
shares are no longer as cheap as they were at the end of 2008 and the
beginning of last year, but I do not think valuations are excessive.
Also, in my experience, bubbles take several years to develop and not
just one. The bear market in Chinese equities was sufficiently savage
that the clock effectively restarted in November 2008. I believe we
are just a year into a bull market that could last for several years,
albeit with the kinds of setbacks along the way that you would expect
from an emerging market.

China is obviously a riskier market. Key uncertainties include the
relationship between China and the US, the threat of internal unrest
and the ever-present danger of unexpected, capricious political
decisions. This is, after all, a one-party state. At the stock level,
the quality of management and information about companies is variable,
although this is a source of opportunity, as much as risk.

Are you happy with the risks, and what is the real opportunity in China?

Mr. Bolton: My enthusiasm for the Chinese opportunity is long-term and
I am looking through these short-term concerns. There are three
principal reasons for my excitement about China. First, I believe that
compared to what could be relatively pedestrian growth in Europe and
the US in the post-financial crisis world, China’s growth prospects
will look relatively compelling. This could lead to a significant
transfer of investments from developed markets to China. I also
believe there will be an increase in the value of the renminbi.

Second, I expect the gap between China’s economic significance and the
relative weight of its stock markets in global terms to narrow
considerably over the next 20 years or so. China is likely to overtake
Japan to become the world’s second largest economy but its stock
market remains a relative also-ran. As a consequence of new issues and
share price appreciation, I would be surprised if it were not the
world’s second largest within my lifetime.

The most exciting argument in favor of investing in China today,
however, is its position on the so-called S-curve. China is at the
investment ‘sweet spot’ for developing markets which occurs when
incomes per head of population rise steadily but consumption increases
rapidly, the retail sector develops and the service sector begins to
take off. The same thing happened 20 or 30 years ago in Taiwan and
Korea and before that in Japan. What is interesting this time around
is the sheer scale of the transition. This kind of development has
never before happened in a country of 1.3 billion people.

Will your stock-picking approach work in China?

Mr. Bolton: Some people have questioned the relevance of a
stock-picking approach in China. I am surprised by this. In many ways
China today reminds me of the investment opportunity in Europe in the
early days of my career. Back then a research-led, long-term approach
was considered unusual in what was considered to be a traders’ market.
It proved to be successful, however, and I am confident that the
European experience will be invaluable if, as I believe, the Chinese
market develops away from its current manufacturing and financials
bias towards a broader service sector-led investment opportunity.

Given volatility in equities over the past few weeks, how resilient is
the stock market recovery to these jitters?

Mr. Bolton: This time last year, I was in the unusual position of
having a strong view on the market. I felt that the combination of
poor sentiment, valuations and the length of the downturn argued for a
reversal of the bear market. In my experience, these moments are
relatively rare so I am not surprised that I do not have such a strong
view today. I believe that the bull market has further to go but we
have not yet had a material consolidation and I would expect there to
be one over the next few months.

Importantly, I believe the leadership of the market will change from
more cyclical industrial and materials companies and lower quality
shares to more growth-oriented areas and higher-quality shares. While
there has been a significant improvement in the global economy, with a
lot of positive data coming through, I believe that the world we are
heading towards will be very different from the world before the
financial crisis, with slower growth especially in America and Europe.

In such an environment, I would expect investors to be prepared to pay
up for high growth or low but predictable growth. I would, for
example, expect technology to continue to do well. I am expecting
another leg up for financials this year but I think the outlook is
better for commercial rather than investment banks. The authorities
need commercial banks to recover and lend but they have little
interest in the success of investment banks.

Renee Schultes

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