China Markets

China's growth is slowing — but UBS is 'overweight' on Chinese stocks anyway

Key Points
  • Tan Min Lan, UBS head of chief investment office in Asia Pacific, said overall Chinese corporate earnings have done better than expected in the third quarter.
  • She explained that even though growth is slowing in China, the country's economic restructuring is "actually bearing fruit" which would benefit some companies. 
  • In a 2020 outlook report, UBS said it likes stocks of Chinese internet companies and businesses in the 5G smartphone supply chain.
China's stock market has a lot of interesting opportunities: UBS

Economic growth in China is slowing down amid an ongoing trade war with the U.S. — but Swiss wealth management giant UBS is not budging from its "overweight" position in Chinese stocks.

Chinese gross domestic product grew 6% year-over-year in the third quarter, the weakest pace in at least 27.5 years. UBS forecast that growth in the world's second-largest economy will end this year at 6.1% before slowing even more in the coming years to 5.7% in 2020 and 5.6% in 2021.

"I think what's been very interesting with regards to the Chinese market is that even though growth is slowing, you can actually see that the economic restructuring that they have been trying to pursue is actually bearing fruit," Tan Min Lan, the wealth manager's head of chief investment office in Asia Pacific, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Thursday.

She explained that economic restructuring in the last few years has led to consumption contributing a larger share of Chinese growth now, compared with a few years ago. In addition, China has been growing the share of higher value added manufacturing in its economy and consolidated sectors such as upstream materials and property, she said.

Is China's growth story over?

Those changes have benefited some companies. As a result, earnings of Chinese companies have done better than expected, said Tan.

"If you look at the third-quarter reporting season, overall earnings growth is closer to about 10% year-on-year growth, which is an acceleration in the second quarter which is about 5%," she said. "We think that Chinese stock market continues to have a lot of interesting opportunities that one can pursue."

Opportunities in Chinese tech

In a 2020 outlook report released on Wednesday, UBS said it likes stocks of Chinese internet companies and businesses in the 5G smartphone supply chain.

Without naming specific stocks, the wealth manager said "share prices of Chinese internet companies have been mixed this year, weighed down by heavy investments in new growth areas like video, cloud, payments and expansion to low-tier cities."

But some of those investments could start to deliver better profits and margins in the coming year, it added.

"So driven by improving profitability and margins in new growth segments ... we expect earnings growth to accelerate for the Chinese internet sector in 2020 after two years of challenging conditions," said UBS.