Eye-opener to those who trade from afar

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 June, 2008, 12:00am

Does China's economic revolution belong in your portfolio? This is not a question best answered by someone whose investments are limited to fixed-term deposits and a catholic selection of shoes.

Instead, wealth manager James Trippon gives it a shot in Becoming Your Own China Stock Guru - The Ultimate Investor's Guide to Profiting from China's Economic Boom. It's just a pity that the book is too thin and United States-centric to truly benefit anybody within a stone's throw of the mainland.

Trippon promises to show the garden variety investor how to make the most of China's economic miracle. It's a tempting offer, even without the free bonus coupons to the author's subscription e-mail service, training sessions and DVD of The Hidden China in which the viewer is invited to go to areas strictly off limits to tourists.

'Modern China is now a place where you are more likely to see a Mercedes-Benz or BMW than a bicycle,' he says, just a touch apocryphally.

China's expanding economic might is poised to consign the United States and all other global players to the wings. It already dominates production in a long list of industrial sectors from drills to textiles, cash-rich mainland companies are looking offshore for acquisition targets and the west is selling off the technological expertise that underpinned its industrial base. In short, 'the world's economic centre of gravity is shifting [towards] China'.

Readers must ask themselves if they are going to be a China loser like those unemployed former US textile workers or a China winner, like just about everybody in Hong Kong. If they are determined to make a changing future their servant and not their master, then they are ready for the China stock guru path. But first there are another 50 or so pages of China Economics 101 to get through.

The reader has to make it to chapter 16 to start learning the secrets of building a successful portfolio. As an author, Trippon is not afraid of hyperbole but as an adviser he is much more grounded. Stick to fundamental measures of value, have enough capital to own at least 10 stocks and manage risk through diversification, he suggests.

This is where the author starts giving readers something they may not already know and might want to underline for later reference.

The book is aimed squarely at the author's home market and the bulk of its content could be an eye-opener to anybody who still refers to China as part of the Far East and who is surprised to hear that some international luxury retailers have a presence in second-tier cities. As such, it is fine as a primer but even Laura and George from Houston could do without the tourist guide recommendations to Beijing. It would have been more compelling and fruitful to consult an alternative list of tailor-made China Stock Guru sights that included a trip to a housing fair or a metropolitan train station during the Lunar New Year. It would have also been more insightful if Trippon had not tried to deplete the world's reserves of Benjamin Franklin quotes and given the space at the beginning of each chapter to some of the people the author has encountered on his trips through 'Hidden China'. After all, they are some of the best primary sources for China investment information.