China Starts Earnings With 9 in 10 Firms Expecting Higher Profit
Hundreds of Chinese companies are set to report an improvement in annual earnings, offering investors a stronger fundamental backdrop after stocks sank this week.
Among the 1,200-odd firms listed in mainland China that issued preliminary results in January, 75% have said earnings rose last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of Thursday. Firms in the communication services and health care sectors are set to report the biggest growth, followed by consumer staples and technology. Listed companies have until Sunday to announce significant changes in earnings.
Evidence of China Inc.’s resilience to the slowest economic growth in four decades due to the coronavirus, capped by a stronger-than-expected fourth quarter, may offer relief to investors. The CSI 300 Index, which tracks some of the biggest firms in China, rose 0.5% Friday after a three-day, 4.4% decline which raised worries that a near-term peak has been reached. That lost momentum came as the central bank withdraws liquidity and a central bank adviser warned of asset bubbles.
“The stock rally we’ve seen this year has been obviously driven by liquidity -- now it needs fundamental reasons to be sustainable,” said Steven Leung, executive director at UOB Kay Hian (Hong Kong) Ltd. “The market needs the actual results to be even better than the estimates we’ve had so far to keep rallying.”
China’s exchange operators require companies that are expected to record losses, to turn from losses to profit, or to see income rise by more than 50% to issue preliminary guidance by the end of January. There are more than 4,000 companies listed in the mainland overall, and most are scheduled to release official numbers in March. Among the forecasters, Sansure Biotech Inc. estimated profit soared as much as 7,257% last year while Hengtong Logistics Co. predicted earnings surged as much as 4,673% from 2019’s level.
Forecasts have helped boost many Chinese stocks to start 2020. Bank shares jumped earlier this month after China Merchants Bank Co. and Industrial Bank Co. reported stronger-than-expected preliminary 2020 earnings. Muyuan Foods Co. also surged after its forecast on Tuesday.
Companies’ estimates have been far rosier than what analysts have been expecting. According to Bloomberg data, 2020 profit among CSI 300 members are expected to have fallen an average 7.7%. That would be the first decline in four years.
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