A new year has begun in China under an auspicious zodiac sign for investors. The Year of the Pig is associated with wealth, good fortune, and dedication to hard work.
In that spirit, we return to Alibaba Group Holding (ticker: BABA), a company that personifies those attributes.
The company was founded by Jack Ma, a former English teacher from Hangzhou, in 1999. Since then, Alibaba has grown into one of the world’s most interesting companies. Ma’s creation is like United Parcel Service (UPS), FedEx (FDX), Goldman Sachs Group (GS), eBay (EBAY), and PayPal Holdings (PYPL) all rolled into one—and it keeps spreading across Asia like a inexorable tide.
Alibaba has become a proxy for China’s economy and market, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad for the stock.
As goes China, so goes Alibaba. The link mostly benefits Alibaba, but the stock has felt some pressure over the perennial fears that China’s extraordinary economic growth would slow. The festering U.S.-China trade war exacerbates those concerns.
But long-term investors who can take advantage of short-term uncertainty should still favor Alibaba. The stock offers a way to profit from the rise of China’s middle class and the nation’s incredible promise. Alibaba’s shares have enjoyed a nice post earnings rally it reported on Jan. 30 but the stock is still far below its 52-week high.
With the stock around $167, investors could consider selling Alibaba’s June $169. Where buyer to buy Alibaba at $160, although the effective purchase price would be $153.65.
The fears about China’s place in the world, politically and economically, while expressing confidence in a risk-adjusted way that the fears will abate and Alibaba will advance. The risk is that Alibaba sinks far below the put strike price, which could occur if Chinese economic data are worse than expected or if the trade war enters an uglier phase.
So far this year, Alibaba’s stock is up about 22%. Its 52-week range is $129.77 to $211.70. Over the past year, shares are down about 5%.
Our recommendation coincides with a recent missive from BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, that advised investors to look more favorably on Chinese equities for reasons including the possibility of more government stimulus and reasonable valuations.