Share with you the market update on HK/China brought to you by BASE Asset Management Company Limited in English, Traditional Chinese.
Falling oil prices and heightening default risk in Russia were the major focus in December and these concerns have driven down the global equity markets, including the Hang Seng Index (HSI). However, only few markets can outperform and recorded positive returns in the month of December and that including the China A-shares and H-shares.
Our house had actually foreseen this outcome in months ago and got well prepared for it. When people started raising the concern on oil prices and the default risk in Russia during December, our house has already increased our cash level substantially to around 30% level as this risk has already shown up on our radar system since October while nobody paying attention to this. Two months ago, we already stated the following in our monthly report:
“Among those, Russia could be a high risk country that facing the economic collapse or risk of debt default as their economy is highly tied to the oil revenue; however, with the US dollar strength and the sharp fall in oil demand, along with an oversupply of oil, all these factors can contribute a further crash in oil prices (down to US$60 per barrel or even lower?) and will lead to a contraction of Russia’s economy”.
So, it proved our radar system of monitoring the global systematic risk works properly and it does help us to react ahead of other fund managers by imposing some precautionary measures to manage the systematic risk. Meanwhile, it also provides a golden opportunity for us to cherry-pick some deep undervalued quality stocks or blue chips from investors’ panic selling actions as we have already loaded up with lots of bullets (cash).
During the month of December, we saw huge selling pressure on all kind of stocks (esp. oil and new energy related) but huge buying only on Banks and Insurance sectors. To us, this kind of behavior was the momentum play and irrational as almost all investors were insane and in hurry doing the same actions before the year-end by unloading their existing holdings and rushing into the Financials sector on hope that China will cut the banks’ reserve requirement ratio soon.
We think most of our clients should notice that our house surely would not join this kind of crazy game because one of our key investment philosophies is “We don’t SPECULATE by chasing the momentum. Instead, we INVEST by paying attention on the stocks that are trading at new low, with the crowd is dumping, and everybody is calling for sell”. This month, it showed a good example to our clients that we were doing what we said. When the market fell to the lowest level in the mid of the month, we started to use our ample cash to build up new positions on some heavily oversold large-cap energy related stocks.
In terms of market performance, it was also performing like what we predicted in months ago that China A-shares and H-shares would outperform the HSI. Last month, we saw both China A and H-shares went up while HSI went down. We don’t want to repeat our thesis here again as the reasons have been stated in our previous reports. Going forward, we believe this theme will continue to last for another couple of months as the China A-shares will continue to be supported by the easing of domestic liquidity and imposing of more structural change policies while Hong Kong’s HSI will be dragged by i) the HK domestic companies with slowing growth momentum; and ii) liquidity outflow from Asia triggers by the strengthening of the US$. Although we feel positive on both A-shares and H-shares and we do believe A-shares could continue to outperform H-shares, we decided to take some profit on our A-shares ETF exposure (with around 40% profit gain) and switched in the H-shares ETF as we believe the latter is much cheaper with lower volatility and it will eventually catch up the A-shares performance.
In terms of global systematic risk level, we continue to see a moderate easing situation as i) China has intensified the monetary easing cycle by imposing further action to inject another RMB5.5 trillion into the financial system; ii) impact of falling oil prices on the Russia debt crisis is contained; iii) impact of falling oil prices on U.S. high yield markets is contained. However, the moderate dropping of the risk level doesn’t mean it’s gone. For examples, the U.S. Dollar continues to strengthen and that will increase the threat from the unwinding of U.S. Dollar funded carry trades and continuous liquidity outflow from Asia. Apart from that, even though we believe the Greece might no longer be a systemic risk for the Eurozone, the contagion effect still exists if the whole European economies continue to deteriorate. As such, we just slightly cut down the cash level by few percentages and maintaining the cash level at around 20%.
For the whole year of 2014, our aggregate portfolios were up about 20% which was far better than the peers group and the HSI. Indeed, the year of 2014 was a tough year for the managers to get positive returns for clients. We believe our consistent outstanding performance is mainly contributed from our prudent investment philosophy and methodology, our hard work on research, disciplined, patience to wait for the values to unlock, and better control on our investment psychology. All these can be proved from the statistics.
We believe the above results can show our superior performance is all coming from skills instead of luck and we will continue to do our best in order to deliver good absolute return to clients in the long run.
On behalf of the Company, I would like to say a big thank you to all of our clients for your long-term trust and support to BASE.
我們相信大多數“基智”的客戶都知道我們肯定不會參加這種瘋狂的熱炒和熱沽遊戲，因為我們其中一個主要的投資理念就是:“我們不會追逐勢頭作投機。相反，我們是投資，所以只留心於那些屢創“新低” ，被眾人厭棄，和被投行呼籲“沽售”的股票“。這個月的市況，留心於那些屢創“新低” ，被眾人厭棄，和被投行呼籲“沽售”的股票正好起了一個很好的例子給我們的客戶作示範作用，表明了我們以往所說的，我們真的會實行出來。譬如當市場在這個月的中旬下跌到最低水平時，我們便開始用我們充裕的現金來買進一些嚴重超賣的大盤能源和相關類股票。
在全球系統性風險水平方面，我們繼續看到一個輕度舒緩情況，因為: i）中國已採取進一步的貨幣寬鬆行動，注入RMB5.5萬億美元進入金融體系;ii)油價下跌對俄羅斯的債務危機未有擴散跡象; iii）油價下跌對美國高息債券市場未能造成振盪。然而，風險水平的輕度舒緩並不意味著全部消失了。舉例來說，在美元繼續走強下，這將引發美元融資套利交易拆倉和持續大量資金流出亞洲的威脅。此外，儘管我們認為希臘不再可能對整個歐元區造成一個系統性風險危機，但是如果整個歐洲經濟繼續惡化，歐債危機蔓延效應依然存在。因此，我們在十二月只要稍微降低了幾個百分點現金水平，整體現金仍保持在20％左右的水平。