I love my research trips because I get to see new, fascinating parts of the world, meet interesting people and, most importantly, discover incredible investment opportunities that the Wall Street crowd has never heard of.
I’ve been on many trips. And EVERY one of them has yielded at least one investment home run.
My last trip, for example, was to Cambodia for the 21st annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Summit.
As a result of that trip, I found a virtually unknown but wildly profitable Cambodian company (that trades in the United States) that I recommended to my subscribers at around 45 cents. That stock zoomed to 57 cents in just 90 days …which was more than a 25% gain, on top of the juicy 8% dividend it pays! (It’s since pulled back a bit but I expect even more upside to come.)
Today, I’m writing you from Beijing. And I have every confidence I’ll find another big winner this trip as I have meetings set up with corporate, academic, technology and government leaders.
Those meetings are an important part of my research. However, I learn just as much if not more from talking to waiters, concierges, taxi drivers, university students, cashiers, and just about anybody who is willing to answer my nosy questions.
Wangfujing Street aims to rival New York’s Fifth Avenue, the Champs-Elysees of Paris and the Ginza in Tokyo.
But you can also learn a lot by just keeping your eyes and ears open. To give you an idea, let me take you on a walk down Wangfujing Street in Beijing …
Wangfujing is the main commercial retail street in Beijing and is packed with tourists and affluent Chuppies (Chinese yuppies) seven days a week.
It’s a 700-year-old commercial boulevard near the Forbidden City. It has two major shopping malls, several large department stores, and hundreds of shops …including dozens of western businesses.
So much for setting the locale. Now …
Let’s Take a Stroll Together
I need some cash, so I head to China Construction Bank (CICHY), which is the second-largest bank in the world. If lines of customers are any indication of business health, then China Construction Bank is very healthy.
Then I need a jolt of caffeine so I head over to Starbucks (SBUX), which are found all over China. I walk into the Wangfujing Starbucks but there isn’t a seat to be found. And not just in the morning, either!
Starbucks has become one of the most-popular places for young Chinese couples to go for dates in the evening. Starbucks may be stumbling in the U.S., but business is BOOMING in China. In fact, the most recent quarter showed that same-store sales continue to grow by double-digits.
Let’s move along to our next destination.
There is a Chinese saying: “A trip to Beijing is not complete if you miss seeing the Great Wall or dining on Peking duck.”
KFC’s parent, Yum Brands! (YUM), is opening a new KFC in China every 18 hours … on top of the 3,500 already there!
I don’t have time for a sit-down dinner so I head into a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant that is absolutely packed with customers for an Old Beijing Twister — a wrap modeled after the way Peking duck is served, but with fried chicken, spring onions and hoisin sauce.
I stick out like a sore thumb when I’m in China. I’d like to think it is my camera hanging around my neck that gives me away as a tourist, but the truth is that I’m just too darn fat to be mistaken for a local.
That’s OK because the Chinese are very friendly people who love to practice their English on willing Americans.
Where do they learn English? For most, the answer is New Oriental Education (EDU), the largest English-language school in China. New Oriental recently took a big hit to its shares as it announced that the SEC is investigating it. But earlier this year, my subscribers took up to a 200%-plus gain in the stock.
And what are people wearing as they walk around Wangfujing Street?
The famous Nike (NKE) swoosh is plastered everywhere in China. And the Nike store on Wangfujing Street is one of the busiest in the world. Nikes are considered to be very fashionable here. And the number of Chinese feet with Nike shoes on them is staggering.
Speaking of fashion, I can’t believe the number of Louis Vuitton (LVMUY) bags that Chinese women are toting around.
I suspect many of them are knockoffs. But my eyeball-estimate is that one out of every four or five Chinese women is clutching a Louis Vuitton handbag. Coach (COH), by the way, would come in second.
Growth always brings changes, most positive but some negative. And one of the most irritating new trends I’ve noticed this trip is that lots of Chinese youths are so busy looking at their smartphones that they walk right into you.
Apple stores in China, like the one behind me, are always packed.
Overwhelmingly, the smartphones they are so engrossed in are iPhones from Apple (AAPL).
Back to our tour …
Beijing in August is extremely hot and humid, so I duck into an air-conditioned Marriott hotel to cool off. Marriott (MAR) has committed to opening at least one new hotel in China every month for the next three years and is benefiting from the booming travel business in China. A purer China hotel play is Home Inns & Hotels Management (HMIN), the Howard Johnson of China.
One of the Chinese taxi drivers that I meet during my trip gives me a friendly but serious lecture that American companies are making Chinese women fat! I agree that the Chinese are fatter today than they were when I first started traveling to Asia. But that is what happens when you start eating McDonald’s (MCD) french fries and drinking soda pop from Coca-Cola (KO).
The sightseeing is enlightening and encouraging, with one small drawback …which is that I’ve developed a persistent, ugly little cough that started shortly after I landed.
The air pollution in Beijing is as bad as I’ve even seen it. And the Chinese government needs to do “something” because the health and social consequences from long-term exposure to this much pollution has got to be dire.
Whoever helps China clean up that air pollution is going to make a ton of money. That someone may be Fuel Tech (FTEK), which has been working to expand its scrubbing technology for coal-fueled electrical plants into China.
After a long, long day, I need a cocktail so I drop in on a Wangfujing watering hole. The place is plastered with signs for Johnnie Walker Red, which is the No. 1 foreign liquor sold in China.
Diageo (DEO), which makes Johnnie Walker, has seen its scotch sales increase by 50% over the last five years largely from its soaring Asia sales.
And that is just the tip of the business iceberg. I could go on and on. But I need to digest some of my meetings (and the fantastic meals I’ve enjoyed) before I pull the trigger on any new investments.
I can tell you, though, there is more opportunity in China than I’ve ever seen before. And I firmly believe that China is a definitely a market that you want well-represented in your portfolio.