China Bounces Back

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At least one analyst is taking a closer look at China's fallen dot-com darlings at a time when many investors are punching out.

Barclays Capital analyst Alicia Yap initiated coverage on several of the country's biggest online companies yesterday.

Baidu.com (NAS: BIDU) , Youku.com (NYS: YOKU) , SINA (NAS: SINA) , and NetEase.com (NAS: NTES) received "overweight" ratings. Sohu.com (NAS: SOHU) and its majority-owned online gaming arm Changyou.com also received Yap's bullish rating.

Renren (NYS: RENN) and Tencent were tagged with neutral "equal weight" calls, while online retailer Dangdang (NAS: DANG) was the only bearish pick in the bunch.

Yap's thesis -- as retold by Barron's Tiernan Ray -- is that China's cyberspace migration will continue. She sees 675 million Chinese Internet users by 2014, a healthy step up from today's connected base of 485 million people.

She isn't ignoring the economists predicting an economic slowdown in the world's most populous country. Yap just feels that the shift to online consumption -- and the migration of ad dollars to reach the growing number of Internet users -- makes Chinese dot-coms a compelling place to be. It's for this reason that she favors the larger and more traditional ad-based companies over the more economy-sensitive e-tailer Dangdang. Online gaming and social networking may also get pinched, even though Renren's healthy cash position should provide some level of support if "China's Facebook" keeps inching lower.

All of the Chinese Internet companies that Yap initiated coverage on -- including Dangdang -- rose yesterday.

China's stocks have been a cluttered minefield lately. Between fraud allegations and questionable corporate practices, it's just not safe for investors these days. However, the potential upside for the dot-com leaders at these marked-down prices is getting pretty hard to ignore.

If you want to see where these Chinese stocks go from here, add them to My Watchlist to track news as it happens.

At the time this article was published Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of SINA, NetEase.com, Sohu.com, and Baidu.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

 

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