Chinese stocks had a good summer, but surprising names are leading the way

Key Points
  • Stock markets in China are experiencing a broadening recovery, experts said
  • Manufacturing and property stocks have outperformed the Shanghai Composite and Shenzhen's Nasdaq-style ChiNext Index
Men look an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Beijing, China, January 5, 2016.
Kim Kyung-Hoon | Reuters

After running up this summer, stock markets in China look like they could be set to climb higher.

Old-economy, mainland stocks have risen in recent months. Resource companies have performed better than the benchmark rise of roughly 8.54 percent since June 1.

Aluminium Corp of China, the largest aluminium producer in the country, has climbed 59.79 percent, while Baoshan Iron and Steel was higher by 29.48 percent. The index tracking the materials sector on the Shanghai Stock Exchange gained 34.45 percent in that duration.

In comparison, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange's tech-heavy ChiNext Index was up only 9.92 percent during that period.

"Manufacturing and industrial companies have seen surprisingly strong results, aided by a recovering yuan as well as demand revival," said Kevin Leung, director of investment strategy at Haitong International Securities.

Real estate and property development

Shares in the property market, another set of old-economy companies, have also climbed, even though not all stocks in the sector have experienced the same boost.

Share prices of property developer Vanke spiked 23.14 percent from Jun. 1 until Thursday, after mostly stagnating in the first four months of the year. Poly Real Estate has risen 11.68 percent from Jun. 1.

"Up until the beginning of this summer, the main driver of emerging markets, it was quite a narrow recovery. It was very much in tech or the internet, and now we're beginning to see that widening out ... across many markets," Sean Taylor, Asia-Pacific CIO of Deutsche Asset Management, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday.

Taylor appeared confident that the widening recovery would continue.

"People are still very underweight China internationally, but we are going for a much broader portfolio than we had at the beginning of the year, which was probably more new economy and tech-oriented," Taylor said.

Leung said he believed there was room for further upside for Chinese shares, pointing to how valuations on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index — shares of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong — were still cheap and continued to underperform the .

"Our call has always been that there will be a reverse in the second-half where HSCEI will play catch up, with the mostly old economy constituents there likely to pick up steam," he added.

Leung also highlighted improvements in the real economy as being responsible for driving the recovery in Chinese markets.

"People were previously focusing on new economy sectors because earnings in those sectors are relatively immune to what's happening in the real economy. But now that the real economy is confirmed to be picking up, people are revisiting," he explained.

Local investors not as confident

For the past few years, China has tried to rebalance its economy by shifting from a factory-driven model of economic growth to one led by consumption and services. Even though reforms are expected to be painful as overcapacity in industrial areas is reduced, recent data suggest some degree of optimism in the economy.

Still, Deutsche's Taylor noted that there was a disconnect between local and foreign investors when it came to conviction in the Chinese markets.

"The interesting thing about China though, is that the local investors aren't as confident as the international investors. So the H-share and the MSCI China have done a lot better than the Shanghai and the Shenzhen" Composites, he said.

The Shanghai Composite is up 8.41 percent this year while the Shenzhen Composite is higher by just 0.18 percent. In comparison, the Hang Seng Index has risen 25.09 percent this year alone.