China's escalating crackdown on business is moving stocks - 6 minutes read
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The whims of regulators in Beijing have always posed a risk to investors looking to tap into growth in China, the world’s second largest economy. But navigating a worsening crackdown on private business is becoming increasingly tricky.
What’s happening: After humbling many of the country’s top technology companies, including Alibaba and Didi, Chinese officials have turned their attention to the education sector.
New rules published over the weekend take aim at fast-growing tutoring companies, barring them from turning a profit or raising funding on stock markets. The announcement from China’s Ministry of Education has wiped billions of dollars off the market value of several major, publicly-traded education firms.
See here: New Oriental Education Technology
(EDU) plunged nearly 50% in Hong Kong on Monday. Combined with similar losses on Friday, when reports of a crackdown on the sector first emerged, the company has lost roughly $7.7 billion dollars in market value.
Asian markets were also broadly shaken Monday. The Hang Seng index fell more than 4%, its worst day in more than a year. The Shanghai Composite slumped more than 2%.
Watch this space: It’s tempting for foreign investors to see this as a regional problem. But the fallout from Beijing’s latest moves is global.
New Oriental Education Technology is also listed in New York, where shares fell 54% on Friday. New York-listed TAL Education crashed some 70%, losing more than $9 billion, while Gaotu dropped more than 60%, erasing $1.5 billion in value.
The chaos is part of a wider clampdown on private Chinese businesses that’s making investors nervous. The government has taken forceful action against some of the country’s best-known tech names, such as ride-hailing service Didi. Regulators announced they were investigating the company just after its high-profile US IPO last month.
The SP/BNY Mellon China Select ADR Index, which tracks American depository receipts of top US-listed Chinese firms, is down 7.5% in the past week and 24% so far this year. (For comparison, the SP 500 is up 17.5% year-to-date.)
And there are signs Beijing’s work isn’t done. Shares of Meituan, China’s largest food delivery service, plummeted on Monday after the government posted notices that online food platforms must treat their workers better, Bloomberg reports. The company was already under investigation for potentially violating anti-monopoly laws.
Analysts at Nomura said in a research note that the latest developments have “the potential to further dent foreign investors’ confidence in China stocks.”
“Bruised and shaken investors are now likely to ponder which other areas could potentially become the next target of expanded state control,” they wrote.
Since reaching a record high in late January, Tesla
(TSLA) shares have plunged nearly 30%. Can the automaker’s latest quarterly earnings, due Monday, spark a turnaround?
That depends on the answers to these questions, my CNN Business colleague Chris Isidore reports.
How are things going in China?
Unlike other automakers, Tesla typically doesn’t break out sales by country or market. But if it wants to reassure investors, it may need to give details on its sales in China, the largest market for auto sales.
Tesla has been hit by widespread reports of safety problems in China, including the recall of almost all cars made at its Shanghai factory and a protest by Tesla owners at the Shanghai auto show in April. That’s a problem, given the importance of China to the company’s overall growth.
Are sales of regulatory credits still big business?
Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expect Tesla to report net income of about $650 million, which would mark its eighth straight quarterly profit after years of losses.
But critics point out that net income has never exceeded the money Tesla gets from selling regulatory credits to other automakers, who use them to meet environmental standards and avoid large fines. Should that change this quarter, that would be a positive development — especially since this source of revenue is due to wane as other automakers start selling more of their own electric vehicles.
What’s the impact of supply chain issues?
The entire global auto industry is struggling with a computer chip shortage, and with other automakers ramping up EV production, Tesla has greater competition for raw materials such as lithium.
In May, Musk tweeted that Tesla had to raise the price of its cars because of rising raw material costs. Investors will want to know what the company forecasts from here on out.
What’s the latest on new plants and the Cybertruck?
How quickly Tesla can finish building new plants near Austin, Texas and Berlin, Germany will have a major impact on the outlook. It’s also racing to debut the Cybertruck, with Ford
(F) and General Motors
(GM) on the verge of launching their own electric pickups. CEO Elon Musk isn’t known for sticking to timelines — but as competition heats up, they matter.
Less cereal in the box. Smaller snack sizes. Ice cream gone missing in a container.
You’re not losing your mind, my CNN Business colleague Nathaniel Meyersohn reports. You are actually paying the same price or more these days for everyday items in your fridge and pantry, while running through them more quickly.
The reason? A tactic known as “shrinkflation,” deployed by consumer product brands and grocery stores. The phenomenon — getting less for your money because a manufacturer has reduced the size of the product— has been going on for decades, but it typically becomes more common when companies’ costs go up, as with the inflation surge we’re seeing today.
How it works: When costs rise, manufacturers of consumer goods look for ways to offset the increases they’re paying for expenses like commodities, transportation and labor. Consumers are sensitive to price hikes, but they pay less attention to how much a product weighs. That means it’s easier for a brand to sneak a slightly smaller box on the shelf or take a few sheets out of a toilet paper roll without stoking a consumer rebellion.
“Consumers are price conscious. They will notice if an orange juice manufacturer, for example, raises the shelf price from $2.99 to $3.19,” said Edgar Dworsky, a longtime consumer advocate who tracks product downsizing on his website ConsumerWorld.org. “If the manufacturer makes the carton of orange juice several ounces less in each carton, they know consumers may not catch it.”
(HAS) and Lockheed Martin
(LMT) report results before US markets open. Tesla
(TSLA) follows after the close.
Also today: New home sales for June post at 10 a.m. ET.
Coming up: On Thursday, July 29 at 11 a.m. ET, CNN Business presents “Foreseeable Future: A Conversation about the Workplace Revolution.”
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