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“The very best advice of any kind that I can give you is to teach your children or your grandchildren Chinese,” Jim Rogers writes in A Bull in China. “It is going to be the most important language of their lifetimes.”
Q: The language that spells success?
Take it from Jim Rogers, a hugely successful investor, who has studied China ever since he traveled there 23 years ago.
Rogers, co-founder of Quantum Fund, is a plainspoken investor who amassed a fortune through shrewd foreign investing in publicly traded companies and commodities.
He doesn’t reveal what stocks he holds personally or tell us hot tips. But he does write about his belief in the vast investment potential of China — energy companies, transportation, agriculture.
He explains, in detail, the mechanics of purchasing shares in China’s “ever-increasing legion of listed companies.” Good thing, because “on the surface, China’s numerous exchanges and multilayered regulations can appear daunting,” he writes.
He tells investors to proceed with caution but forge ahead nonetheless.
“A bubble may loom in certain sectors and we may see a dramatic correction … we need to prepare ourselves for long-term opportunities, of which there will be many,” he writes. Rogers prudently likens this to “a time for preparing your nets … to learn as much as you can about the Chinese market.” Investors should ask the same questions they do when researching any stock purchase: Does the company have too much debt? Good profit margins? Strong competition? Or is it a dominant player? Worth exploring:
•Water. “When I consider China’s future, I worry most about the place going dry … I mean serious water depletion. Over 60% of China’s 660 cities are already running short,” he writes.
•Solar and wind. “Solar-powered household appliances have become all the rage in China. Today, China uses more household solar energy per-capita than any other country in the world. If China’s wind power initiatives unfold as planned, wind power will top nuclear power by 2020.”
•Transportation. “China’s auto industry is growing faster than the economy as a whole, and that takes some doing. In 2006, China streaked ahead of Japan to become the world’s number two market for automobiles.” The USA is first. “There is currently an overcapacity in automobile manufacturing in China, so it may be better to look for beneficiaries of this trend in auto component companies such as glass and tires, or even motel chains,” he counsels.
Trains are another track to pursue. “In 2006, the government announced it will invest $190 billion for a massive 20% railway expansion by 2010.” Then, too, China’s airline industry is the fastest growing in the world.
•Agriculture. “Most of the Fuji apples are from Chinese trees! Apple juice exports are exploding: from 1994 to 2000, the value of Chinese juice sales were up eighteenfold.”
Rogers is careful in his final analysis to drum home the need for due diligence. The companies in this book are possible starting points, not his recommendations.
Final words to the wise:
“Despite all the great prospects I’ve outlined, the streets of China aren’t quite laden with treasure,” he writes.
“Some of them aren’t paved at all, or still display more litter than glitter.”
A Bull in China: Investing Profitably in the World’s Greatest Market by Jim Rogers; Random House, 221 pages, $26.95.