The best value Chinese internet stocks may be some of this year’s worst performers, Citi says

Investing

Drivers for Meituan and Alibaba-owned Ele.me en route to delivering items to customers in Guangzhou, China.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

Some of the worst-performing Chinese internet stocks currently are the ones with the best value, according to the chief investment officer of Citi Global Wealth.

These Chinese internet companies have enormous potential given the size of their markets and opportunities in those regions, said David Bailin, who is also the firm’s global head of investments.

“If you compare some of these companies to like-for-like American tech companies, they are far cheaper. Their addressable market is far larger and the actual impact that they could have — because of the absence of a lot of normal infrastructure, retail infrastructure — is pretty extraordinary,” Bailin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.

“Some of the worst performing stocks are now going to become some of the best values,” he added.

Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Xiaomi and Meituan have been hammered this year, with their Hong Kong-listed shares falling about 10.7%, 19.9% and 11.7% year to date, respectively.

Bailin said that this is an area where his firm will want clients to add to their portfolios.

“We really like them and I think we’ll be adding to them over the next month or two,” he said.

The regulatory overhang has weighed on these stocks, but Bailin explained that Beijing is not trying to take down these companies.

“The risk is clear, the regulatory risk, but also these are companies that the Chinese government does not intend to damage, rather they intend to regulate, and there’s a far distance between the two,” said Bailin.

The Chinese government has been cracking down on its tech giants, which have largely grown encumbered by regulation over the past few years.

In February, China issued revised antitrust rules for so-called “platform economy” companies, a broad-brush term for internet firms operating a variety of services from e-commerce to food delivery.

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