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The A-H Premium: Same Stock, Different Story

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Editorial Credit: X.TIAN /[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


The A-H Premium: Same Stock, Different Story

Vivek Viswanathan, CFA, Ph.D.
Head of Research

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]You can buy a share in Fudan-Zhangjiang Biopharmaceutical for 2.26 USD in the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s STAR Market or for 0.49 USD in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The share listed in Shanghai is over 4.5 times more expensive. But both shares have the same claim on the firm’s assets, the same dividend rights, and the same voting rights.

In short, these are the same class of common shares dual-listed on different exchanges. While the Shanghai listing (ticker: 688505) has roughly 4 times the volume of the Hong Kong listing (ticker: 1349), it cannot reasonably justify a 4.5x valuation.

This might sound like a rare situation and while it is the most extreme example, there are 136 firms that dual-list in both the mainland China A-share market and offshore Hong Kong H-share market and all of them except China Merchants Bank are currently more expensive in the A-share market than the H-share market. The average dual-listed A-share is twice as expensive as its H-share counterpart on an equal-weighted basis and 45% more expensive on a cap-weighted basis.

How can this possibly be and is there any way to take advantage of it? My colleague, Priscilla Liu, and I published an article about the A-H premium in the Journal of Portfolio Management. The first thing to note is that the shares are not convertible. You cannot turn a dual-listed A-share into its corresponding H-share or vice versa. Moreover, not all investors can invest in both markets. You need a certain account size—500,000 RMB or about 77,000 USD. That is out of reach of most of the many retail China A-share investors. Lastly, it is very expensive to short A-shares, so even if they are more expensive, it is costly to bet on their fall.

The A-H premium differs from stock to stock and this distribution is remarkably stable over time. See the graph below for the A-H premiums of individual stocks. Luoyang Glass (highlighted line near the top) consistently has a high A-H premium while Anhui Conch Cement (highlighted line near the bottom) consistently has a low A-H premium. This discrepancy is predictable.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”52381″ img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]Stocks that have high beta, are older, have lower prices, earn less profits, are smaller, have poor momentum, have high idiosyncratic volatility, have high price-to-book ratios, and are SOEs tend to have high A-H premia. In short, A-share investors tend to behave more like retail investors, because they are in fact more likely to be retail than investors in Hong Kong. Moreover, as we show in our paper, the A-H premium negatively predicts future profitability and A-share prices tend to move towards H-share prices while H-share prices tend to be less drawn to A-share prices. In other words, the H-share prices appear to be more efficient.

How do we profit from this irrational behavior on the part of A-share investors? The simplest way is to buy firms with low A-H premia and sell firms with high A-H premia. We show the quintile sorts of A-H premia and return below. This strategy is exceedingly profitable with the lowest A-H premium quintile earning a 28% premium over the highest A-H premium quintile.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”52384″ img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]Will this premium always exist? I can’t imagine it will. Over time, China A-shares will become more institutional, which will generate more efficient prices and the ability to simply buy the cheaper H-share. The price of shorting in A-shares will drop over time, which will allow for the most extreme inefficiencies to be mitigated. But while these inefficiencies exist, we can capture them through effective strategies.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”custom” accent_color=”#003764″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1599171316359{padding-top: 32px !important;padding-right: 32px !important;padding-bottom: 32px !important;padding-left: 32px !important;background-color: #999999 !important;}”]

Important Information

Issued by Rayliant Investment Research d/b/a Rayliant Asset Management (“Rayliant”). Unless stated otherwise, all names, trademarks and logos used in this material are the intellectual property of Rayliant.

This document is for information purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument and should not be construed as an investment advice. Any securities, sectors or countries mentioned herein are for illustration purposes only. Investments involves risk. The value of your investments may fall as well as rise and you may not get back your initial investment. Performance data quoted represents past performance and is not indicative of future results. While reasonable care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, Rayliant does not give any warranty or representation, expressed or implied, and expressly disclaims liability for any errors and omissions. Information and opinions may be subject to change without notice. Rayliant accepts no liability for any loss, indirect or consequential damages, arising from the use of or reliance on this document. 

Hypothetical, back-tested performance results have many inherent limitations. Unlike the results shown in an actual performance record, hypothetical results do not represent actual trading. Also, because these trades have not actually been executed, these results may have under- or over- compensated for the impact, if any, of certain market factors, such as lack of liquidity. Simulated or hypothetical results in general are also subject to the fact that they are designed with the benefit of hindsight. No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve profits or losses similar to those shown. In fact, there are frequently sharp differences between hypothetical performance results and the actual results subsequently achieved by any investment manager.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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