BNP Paribas yesterday unveiled a short list of long-term stock picks for the region, suggesting there were still viable investment opportunities in the down market. Companies based in Hong Kong and on the mainland took seven of the 28 spots. HSBC Holdings and Swire Pacific headed the local picks. Prominent H shares, such as China Merchants Bank, Tencent Holdings and China Shenhua Energy, were also selected. BNP limited its research to large-cap stocks and made its recommendations based on an analysis of companies' balance sheets, cash flow and performance in market crises. The winners were characterised as the stocks with the best chance to survive the current financial crisis and thrive when the market recovers. 'We've seen these cycles come and go. They are gut-wrenching to live through, but there are also some fantastic money-making opportunities out the other side,' said Jonathan Harris, the regional head of equity research at BNP. 'We wanted to be early to bring to our clients some of the areas where we think there is a degree of safety but also a strong degree of upside once the crisis eventually does turn.' Mr Harris said some of the recommended companies might not start to separate from the pack until the third quarter of next year at the earliest and could incur further share price losses in the near term. Most stock indices around the region have tumbled by at least 45 per cent so far this year. Some of the locally listed stocks on BNP's list of winners rebounded sharply yesterday. China Merchants jumped 5.47 per cent and PICC Property and Casualty surged 8.55 per cent. The two mainland-based firms are still down 58.81 and 73.84 per cent, respectively, so far this year. 'Most of the time, when investment banks release their top picks, they will attract some bigger institutional funds to follow them,' said Ricky Tam Siu-hing, a director at Champlus Asset Management. 'That will create some upward momentum for those stocks.' In October, BNP upgraded its rating on the Hong Kong-listed shares of mainland companies to 'overweight' from 'underweight', citing historically low valuations and new growth trajectories for the domestic economy. BNP had maintained a bearish position on H shares since November last year.