Exchange traded funds offering exposure to Chinese Internet and technology shares have been star performers in what has been an otherwise mediocre year for ETFs tracking the world’s second-largest economy.
One theory is the China Internet ETFs have been bid higher on speculation of an initial public offering from e-commerce giant Alibaba. Earlier this week, Citigroup pegged Alibaba’s valuation at $90 billion. Some have said the company, which is likely to list its shares in the U.S. not Hong Kong, could see a valuation of $100 billion. Those are staggering numbers, but they do not mean funds like the KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (NasdaqGS: KWEB) need Alibaba to keep trucking higher.
“The average investor in America doesn’t know about Alibaba,” said KraneShares Managing Director Brendan Ahern in an interview with ETF Trends at the Morningstar ETF Invest Conference in Chicago.
KWEB’s timing has been good. The ETF debuted in early August within weeks of the ramp-up of Alibaba IPO speculation. KWEB has since surged 19%, but there is only so much a still private company like Alibaba can do to help any ETF. [KraneShares Adds China Internet ETF]
Ahern attributes some of KWEB’s immediate success to fundamental factors.
“There are only 140 million Chinese with broadband Internet access,” said Ahern. “Most of the companies in KWEB are e-retailers with very strong growth. More and more Chinese are joining the middle class, so there is still room for these companies to grow. KWEB is not dependent on an Alibaba IPO.”