The S&P China 500 gained 5.0% in Q1 2023, continuing to claw back some of the losses exhibited in 2022. Developed markets broadly had a strong quarter, with Chinese equities underperforming global equities while outperforming emerging markets. Communication Services led sector performance for the start of 2023, up over 20%. Energy and Information Technology also had a strong quarter, contributing to positive returns.
There was a large return dispersion among Asian markets in Q1. The S&P Korea BMI and S&P Taiwan BMI were the strongest markets, posting returns of 13.3% and 13.2%, respectively. The S&P China 500 outperformed the S&P Hong Kong BMI and S&P India BMI, which retracted 2.4% and 5.5%, respectively.
The S&P China 500 continued to maintain positive performance over the long term. With annualized gains of 5.9% in USD terms over the 10-year period ending in March 2023, the index has easily outperformed the S&P Emerging BMI, which gained only 2.9% per year over the same period.
Onshore Stocks Outperformed Offshore
The distinctive sector composition of offshore and domestic China listing types can sometimes result in performance variances. However, both delivered positive returns during the quarter, with China A-Shares outperforming China H-Shares. The S&P China 500 is diversified with both onshore and offshore listings and thus outperformed indices with higher weights in Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies.
Communication Services and Information Technology Led the Gains
Communication Services and Information Technology companies led performance in Q1 2023, gaining 20.6% and 17.0%, respectively. Energy also had a strong quarter, up 14.4%. Real Estate was the largest drag on the S&P China 500 performance, as it declined by 5.1%. All other sectors delivered a positive return during the quarter.
At the company level, the largest contributor to index return during the quarter was Tencent, which was up 20.9%, continuing the positive momentum from Q4 2022. Alibaba was also a notable contributor, up over 10%, and Kweichow Moutai had a solid quarter as well. In terms of standout performers, 360 Security Technology Inc, Zhongji Innolight and Zhejiang Dahua Technology each gained over 100% during the quarter. A number of technology stocks have outperformed amid investor enthusiasm over the commercialization potential of generative AI products.
Meituan (down 18.3%), JD.com Inc (down 21.8%) and PDD Holdings (down 6.9%) were among the few noteworthy relative detractors to index return during the quarter.
Valuation Metrics Remain Attractive
The S&P China 500 trailing P/E increased to 14.3x in Q1 2023 (14.1x in the prior quarter); however, it remained below the 3-, 5- and 10-year average. The rolling 1-, 3- and 5-year P/E ratios remained slightly above the longer-term average.
The trailing P/E for the S&P Emerging BMI also increased to 13.5x, as security price gains outweighed the losses across emerging markets. The S&P China 500 dividend yield, meanwhile, decreased from 2.44% to 2.34% on a quarterly basis.The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.