Listings: Cautious investors keep away
Hong Kong’s stock market has been volatile this year. The key Hang Seng Index peaked early in the year, reaching 23,340 points on Jan 2. It neared 21,000 twice in February and March and was back near 23,000 at the end of May.
These months didn’t see much IPO activity. Statistics from the stock exchange show there were 62 new listings from November through January but only 12 for the three months ended in April.
“There is a ‘short China’ theme,” Law said. “At the moment, investors are not willing to buy mainland companies aggressively. Hong Kong local funds have been avoiding mainland stocks.”
“After decades of high-speed investmentgrowth, there must be some bubbles in China— not just financially, but economically,” Law added. “The risk is mounting, especially in the real estate sector.
“At some point, the bubbles will bust— most likely, mainland and Hong Kong property markets will collapse together. Before that pressure is released, investors will need to remain vigilant and be prudent ... we need to see signs of deleveraging first.”
According to a report released by the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association inMay, only 17 percent of fund managers surveyed recommended being overweight in greater China equities, compared with 60 percent at the beginning this year.
The survey also found that 66 percent of fund managers are taking a neutral stance on “China concept” stocks, compared with 30 percent in January.
“The Hong Kong stock market has lost steam,” said Bruno Lee Kam-wing, executive committee member of the HKIFA. “The slowdown of China’s economic growth is within expectations. But fund managers are cautious about the second quarter.
“Investors are on the fence as they wait to see whether China’s reform policies function as well as designed. If the reaction is positive, given the low market valuations, we are likely to see a return of confidence in the third quarter. ”
“The second and third quarters are traditionally quiet periods for IPO activities in Hong Kong. We aren’t concerned enough to revise down our annual fundraising forecast of HK$200 billion,” said Louis Lau, partner of the Hong Kong capital markets group of KPMG China.
“Currently, there’s no support in the market for ‘mega’ IPOs of more than HK$10 billion. But we see a strong pipeline ahead.
“Demand for smaller IPOs of HK$500 million to HK$1 billion is fine. In the fourth quarter, which is usually the peak season, there could be two to three mega offerings.”
“We look forward to the benefits of some of the Chinese reform measures and the mini-stimulus program unveiled most recently,” said Edward Au, co-leader of the public offering group of Deloitte China, in a report published in April.
“The IPOs in the wings will shore up Hong Kong’s IPO market to raise HK$170 billion to HK$210 billion in proceeds out of 85 to 100 IPOs for the full year of 2014.” Contact the writer at email@example.com