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Diary of a Dumb Investor: my potentially reckless investment in China

I've bought into a London AIM-listed share that operates in China, and in doing so have broken the cardinal rule of investing.

Diary of a Dumb Investor: my potentially reckless investment in China

It’s not exactly what I had in mind. I was waiting for a drop in the share price, but in the end I’ve bought on a rise.

To top it all off, the share I have bought into – £1,000 worth of Hutchison China MediTech (HCM.L or Chi-Med) – is an AIM-listed stock (ie, high risk), which is exposed to Chinese politics and economics (ie, doubly high risk).

You’ll all lay into me. But I don’t care. You’ll be the same critics who advised me not to buy Chi-Med shares when I first suggested I might buy them back in early August. You lot owe me the difference between the 410p I could have paid then and the 458p (times 218) that I have just paid.

After all, I was but an investment novice back then. I even foolishly ended my August article on Chi-Med beseeching readers for advice on whether I should buy. I’ve since learnt not to trust anyone.

I know the share price has been rising forever. But I think it’ll rise further. Here’s what I had to say in August, reasons that still remain valid:

‘It’s the consumer growth in China that I want a part of. The doubling, tripling, quadrupling, quintupling, sextupling… of the middle-class population and all that. More wealthy people will want more health care. China also, believe it or not, is set to soon face the same kinds of demographic problems facing Japan or the UK: too many dependent oldies. They'll need medicines.

‘I also believe that the recent slowdown in the Chinese economy – which I understand has been weighing on Chi-Med’s shares – has hit bottom and the country will start turning a corner. Plus, Chi-Med’s chief Christian Hogg said in the company’s results statement a week or so ago that costs were coming down.

‘What's more, it has just got rid of a UK subsidiary, which makes me happy. After all, screw the UK, I want my money invested in China.

‘Your columnist also has a background in the regulation of pharmaceutical companies, so this company plays to my strengths.

‘And finally, the little bugger is London-listed, so I can keep a closer eye on it.

‘So yes, I’ve actually been researching this one. Some comments from analysts that I found while Googling admittedly provided the confirmation that I was craving.’

But what dragged me out of my stupor was this week’s deal to form a joint venture with Nestle. And my need to invest my crazily large cash holding.

My portfolio: Click to enlarge

It is every investor’s dream to buy a decent share that is London-listed but China focused. After all, the Chinese domestic stock market (Shanghai Composite) plumbs new four year lows on an almost daily basis, while the economy itself remains healthy (if you keep any slight recent slowing in growth in perspective).

Morgan Stanley has even published a list of what they say are the best shares listed in Europe ‘for investors to position for a positive China macro surprise’, which was passed to me and which I pass to you (click on the chart below. And no, Chi-Med isn't in there).

Perhaps it will distract you enough that you won’t take to the comment box at the bottom of this article to tell me I’ve made a huge mistake. For despite all my bravado, I still care what you say.

European shares to invest in China: Click to enlarge

12 comments so far. Why not have your say?

tony new

Dec 03, 2012 at 14:01

China Med.

Not at all a dumb investment I'd say.

Slater Investments are well into it & they are far from dumb.

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Mike Knight

Dec 03, 2012 at 16:42

And if you were looking for a London listed non aim company you might care to give FTO a look. It's making money and paying dividends at least....and growing quite quickly.

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Dec 03, 2012 at 16:48

I made the mistake of, having bought CPP at 9p, and having seen thme climb to almost +30p, bough a shed load mare, as they looked to be past the worst with the mis selling fine agreed at £4m in in stalments, having a decent cash balance, I thought they would go back eventually to at least £1.00 or somewhere near their high of £1.50.

Result, they have floundered arounf .14p -.15p......still, lets hold on and wait... Does anyone have a take on HiWave , Ruspetro or Lonmin, my latest gambles??????

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ruth karp

Dec 03, 2012 at 17:42

Fortune Oil... these were left to me.. shall I sell or keep?

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Dec 03, 2012 at 18:19

Money Week says that the China property bubble will burst sometime soon and not to invest in China (see history of countries that built office skyscrapers at this rate). But who knows in the current maestrom?

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peter montgomery

Dec 03, 2012 at 19:11

what a dustbin of a portfolio;no structure,direction,unit size or theme.Just a random collection of disparate holdings.Checked your beta and deviations?

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Matt via mobile

Dec 03, 2012 at 20:04

Best of luck to you DI. This column is always entertaining. More so the comments it raises.

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Dec 04, 2012 at 09:13

Go for it! There are a bunch of cheap Chinese consumer stocks listed in Hong Kong also - Mengiu dairy, China Resources. Cheap high yielding shares - this BS about China slowdown, banks, property etc is old hat (tell us something we don't know, not to avoid Chinese stocks when the market has already fallen drastically!). The smart money left ages ago and now the smart investors are coming back

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Mike Knight

Dec 04, 2012 at 09:52


I'd hang on for the time being, but keep an eye on it.

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Pat Stubbs

Dec 04, 2012 at 13:12

Can I apply for the role of Dummer? (Dum & Dummer)

After many months of reading, researching, decision taking and mind changing, I have constructed a portfolio of around 150K

Part common sense, tiny bit of gut, a chunk of research, and probably an element of luck....then wait and see.

Good Luck with China.....

It's only money.....

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William Phillips

Dec 04, 2012 at 16:56

The Chinese are some of the hardiest and longest lived people on earth, even though until recently they had poor sanitation and toiled longer hours than fat, immobile westerners would tolerate.

They are alcohol-intolerant and prefer a frugal style of eating. They smoke like chimneys but that does not seem to kill a lot of them in middle life.

Why would prospering Chinese go overboard for foreign devils' medicine when they can get results by sticking needles in the right places?

Typical cultural arrogance of a society fit to be overtaken by Asia-- to assume our system of medicine is the only scientifically valid one, and will conquer the planet. But I cannot help noticing how many British folk who are forced to pay for the disease-manufacturing hospitals and lazy, grafting GPs or incompetent imported doctors of that absurd sacred cow, the NHS, are sneaking off to oriental practitioners when the drugs don't work.

General investment principle: don't think China will become top dog by apeing all the West did from c. 1500 to 2000. They had and have their own values and habits and they usually assume theirs is better. The last 20 years have immensely reinforced that faith, and the Chinese did it their way.

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Dec 07, 2012 at 03:39

A grand. Hardly worth the bother.

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