Tiger Global Sticks to Turbulent Chinese Stocks

The firm’s bets on companies based in China are among its biggest losses this year, according to its third-quarter letter.

Shanghai, China (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Shanghai, China

(Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Tiger Global Management is sticking to strategy in China despite it being a rough year for stocks in the country.

The Shanghai Composite is down 21 percent this year through November 9, while the Hang Seng Index is down about 14 percent. Many stocks of Chinese companies are down much more than that.

Still, Tiger Global, a high-profile firm with a big bet on Chinese stocks, recently told investors in its hedge funds and long-only fund that it remains committed to its long-held China strategy.

“Despite short-term market fluctuations, China remains an important theme for us,” Tiger Global Management said in its third-quarter letter to these investors. China represents more than 20 percent of the total long exposure at both the long-short and long-only funds, the firm said in the letter, dated October 31.

At the end of the third quarter, Tiger Global’s long-short fund was up 19.3 percent. It remained up 7.6 percent after losing 9.4 percent in October, according to a person with knowledge of the performance.

Tiger Global acknowledges in the letter that its emerging markets holdings, particularly companies based in China, accounted for many of its funds’ largest losses this year. The firm singles out six stocks, four of which are Chinese: Alibaba Group Holding, JD.com, Tencent, and TAL Education Group. Tiger Global also pointed to Latin American online travel giant Despegar.com, held only by its long-short fund, as an emerging-markets loser. The sixth company that Tiger cited in its letter is Argentine internet giant MercadoLibre.

Tiger Global reminded investors in the letter that many China stocks were up around 100 percent last year, with TAL up 155 percent, Tencent gaining 115 percent, Alibaba up 96 percent and JD.com rising 63 percent. “Subsequent declines should therefore be kept in appropriate perspective,” the firm said in the letter. “This type of stock volatility is not new, nor is it unique to China.”

Tiger Global, founded by Chase Coleman, reminded its clients that it began investing in China more than 15 years ago. These days its strategy for China is spearheaded by Scott Shleifer.

In the letter, the hedge fund firm said that China has become “a leader in innovation” and “the most advanced internet market in the world by most measures.” Tiger Global added that the Chinese e-commerce market is roughly double the size of the U.S. market.

With this in mind, the volatility of Chinese stocks hasn’t changed the firm’s outlook on the region.

“None of these recent moves have changed our opinion that China provides an exceptional backdrop for prospective returns with the internet and consumer space,” Tiger Global said. “We intend to remain patient and take a long-term view of the potential value creation we are playing for.”