How the new Nasdaq-like tech board in Hong Kong will benefit investors and tech giants

  • Analysts say the new index will likely lead to more money coming in for those 30 stocks in Hong Kong, adding to a booming year for Chinese tech companies and the Hong Kong market.
  • Currently, the top five firms listed on the index are Alibaba, Tencent, Meituan Dianping, Xiaomi and Sunny Optical. Together, they make up more than 40% of the index.
  • Under the new tech index, its constituents are reviewed quarterly and would allow tech companies that are listed in Hong Kong to be included if they meet certain requirements.

Hong Kong launched a new, Nasdaq-style technology board this week — the Hang Seng Tech index which tracks 30 of the largest tech stocks listed in the city.

Analysts say that's likely to lead to more money coming in for those 30 stocks in Hong Kong, adding to a booming year for Chinese tech companies and the Hong Kong market.

There were a few mega initial public offerings in Hong Kong this year as U.S.-listed Chinese tech giants flocked home for secondary listings. Some examples included gaming giant Netease and e-commerce firm JD.com.

More are likely to return, following tensions between the U.S. and China that led to a U.S. bill that could essentially ban many Chinese companies from listing on American exchanges, analysts predicted.

That spells good news for the Hong Kong market, they said.

Under the new tech index, its constituents are reviewed quarterly and would allow tech companies that are listed in Hong Kong to be included if they meet certain requirements.

Currently, the top five firms listed on the index are Alibaba, Tencent, Meituan Dianping, Xiaomi and Sunny Optical. Together, they have a combined weighting of more than 40%.

Here's what the new index could mean for investors and the listed companies themselves.

More money set to flow into those stocks

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other fund products will probably be launched to track the new index, and that will spur more inflows into the stocks under the index, Morgan Stanley said in a report this week.

More investors have in recent years flocked to such passive investing by putting money into such funds, as opposed to individual stock-picking.

The new index is likely to draw some interest away from the tech-heavy Nasdaq in the U.S. and lead to more turnover at the Hong Kong stock exchange, said Citi analysts in a note on Monday. They also flagged that more index-linked funds could be issued.

The following stocks will likely to enjoy the most inflows, compared to their own daily average trading volume in Hong Kong, according to Morgan Stanley.

  • Hardware: Lenovo Group, FIT Hon Teng
  • Software: Kingdee International Software
  • Semiconductors: ASM Pacific Technology
  • Online retail: Tongcheng-Elong Holdings, Maoyan Entertainment
  • Digital finance: Yixin Group

New tech index versus Hang Seng composite

For investors looking to decide what funds to get into that track the indexes in Hong Kong, it's worth noting that the new tech index would have achieved higher returns than the main Hang Seng composite index, according to back-testing data by the Hang Seng Indexes company.

That data showed the tech index would have returns of 36.2% for 2019 and 45.5% as of July 17. That compares to 10.95% and -2.44% respectively for the main Hang Seng index.

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The new index trades at about 45 times price-to-earnings, versus the Hang Seng Composite Index's 12 times PE, according to data published by Hang Seng Indexes Company before the new index's first day of trading.

Chinese tech giants that will benefit

Alibaba, JD.com and Netease will likely benefit from more inflows as mainland investors would now be able to buy these stocks.

Mainland investors currently access Hong Kong-listed stocks via the Stock Connect Southbound channel. The stock connect is a program which links the exchanges of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen, and allows investors to trade selected securities on the participating platforms through their home exchange.

However Alibaba, JD.com and Netease are not included in the Southbound initiative because they all have secondary listings. Their primary listings are in the U.S.

Morgan Stanley pointed out that mainland investors would now be able to invest in funds that track the new tech index via a scheme between Hong Kong and the mainland that would allow them to do so.

— CNBC's Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.

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