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David Asman: Chinese tech stocks have been going crazy. They’ve been doubling, tripling, sometimes more, in less than a year. Dennis, you've got three China stocks: China Telecom (CHA), China Mobile (CHL), and PetroChina (PTR). Why are they so hot?
Dennis Kneale, Managing Editor: I think they’re really hot, and they’re really safe. Now they’ve only gone up, oh, 50-100%, all of them, since January. But here’s the thing: Pound for pound, when you compare them against US tech companies, they’re like half the price of US tech companies. My favorite of these three is China Mobile. Think about this: Cellular carrier, it has 150 million subscribers, more than any other company in the world. China is now the world’s biggest cellular market. China is now the world’s biggest PC market. Anybody who doesn’t invest there is either a coward or a fool.
David Asman: All right, Matt. You have a couple of stocks as well?
Matt Schifrin, Senior Editor: Absolutely. I’m with Dennis on this. I have one called UTStarcom (UTSI) which is a wireless infrastructure stock in China.
David Asman: Wireless infrastructure. It means they set up the poles?
Matt Schifrin: Absolutely. And it sells for 17 times earnings, next year’s earnings.Another stock, if you like Yahoo! (YHOO), an Internet portal, you’ll like NetEase.com (NTES).
David Asman: Look at how much they have gone up. UTStarcom has gone up 116% and NetEase.com has gone up 468% since their 52-week lows. An incredible rise, but you say it’s not too late?
Matt Schifrin: It’s actually pulled back. It’s a good buy. And NetEase.com as well, it’s an Internet portal, it sells for 26 times earnings, versus Yahoo! which is 76 times earnings.
David Asman: OK, we have to move it around. Now, Chana, you think maybe another place in Asia would be a place to put your money?
Chana Schoenberger, Staff Writer: Japan. We recently had a big Asian telecom exec come in, and he told us that he thinks China is just…it’s not getting there. Japan, on the other hand, has cleaned up its banking, and the Nikkei is doing really well. Now, recently it’s gone down because of telecom fears, but I wanted to mention the iShares MSCI Japan Index (EWJ), which is an ETF traded fund that I own.
David Asman: It’s an index that sort of tracks the Nikkei average.
Chana Schoenberger: It mirrors the Nikkei average, and it’s biggest holdings are Toyota (TM) and Canon (CAJ) and NTT DoCoMo (DCM).
David Asman: OK, and we do have to emphasize that you own that stock. Jim, you’re not bullish on Chinese stocks either, right?
Jim Michaels, Editorial Vice President: Well, I don’t know about bullish, and I don’t know whether I’m a coward or a fool, but I am a chicken. And when I see stocks double in less than a year, when I see the retail investors starting to come in at the end of a boom, that makes me very nervous. This is treacherous territory. If you think we have phony bookkeeping in this country, wait until you take a look at what’s happening in China.
David Asman: But you do have a suggestion?
Jim Michaels: My suggestion is that if you’re going to go into this territory; and it’s damned interesting territory; go with a guide. I like some of these closed-end investment companies. I happen to own Templeton Dragon Fund (TDF), you can actually buy it at a slight discount from book value, I’m not sure I’d go heavy in it at this price, but that’s the way I’d go in China.
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