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The 2014 All-China Research Team: Banks, No. 3: Yi (Winnie) Wu

< The 2014 All-China Research TeamYi (Winnie) WuBank of America Merrill LynchFirst-place appearances: 0

Total appearances: 5

Analyst debut: 2010

Falling from second place to third, the position she held two years ago, is Bank of America Merrill Lynch researcher Yi (Winnie) Wu, who wins investor praise for providing “unique insights into the Chinese banking system and publishing thematic reports that are key to understanding developments in the industry,” in the words of one backer. Wu has been advising clients of such changes in China’s banking market as the convergence of credit growth with gross domestic product expansion; an expected decline in real interest rates, which should cut nonperforming loan risk; and recent policy pronouncements on local government debt issuance that “should mitigate a key overhang on banks’ balance sheets,” she says. These factors, together with attractive valuations, underpin the Hong Kong–based analyst’s sanguine view of the sector. A name she has long preferred, Beijing’s China Minsheng Banking Corp., is her top pick in the space. The commercial banking services provider boasts a unique strategy for small- to midsize enterprises, strong execution capabilities, leadership on nonperforming-loan recognition and write-offs as well as superior profitability, advises Wu. Of the large players, she favors money center lender China Construction Bank Corp., which is also headquartered in Beijing, thanks to its strong balance sheet and capital position, management’s “prudent” growth strategy and the stock’s “undemanding” valuation.

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