The past year has been turbulent for investors with a volatile macroeconomic environment that has seen Central Banks around the world hike interest rates to control rampant inflation. In addition to this, geopolitical turmoil between Russia and Ukraine and strained diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China have put global stock markets in further peril.
This is because a confluence of these factors resulted in supply chain disruptions and a softening of demand for different products from electronics to cars in different markets around the world, more specifically the U.S.
China, the global manufacturing hub saw a rocky start to this year as COVID cases surged in the country even as it backed off from its zero COVID policy that had seen strict lockdowns across the country.
The developments in China have resulted in Chinese stocks listed on U.S. stock exchanges having a volatile year. Many of the Chinese stocks listed in the U.S. also faced increased regulatory scrutiny in the past year.
Even crypto markets have not been immune to the global rout. This market put crypto investors on edge as it was rocked by scams, bankruptcies, and blockchain attacks.
In this scenario, let us look at two different asset classes, one a Chinese e-commerce giant stock, Alibaba, and Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that has been exceptionally volatile in the past year, and what 2023 could portend for them.
Shares of Alibaba have dropped more than 13% in value over the past year beating the S&P500 (SPY) which lost 17.1%.
In comparison, other Chinese stocks have fared relatively better with BABA’s peer JD.com (JD) losing only 9.3% while Pinduoduo (PDD) saw its stock rise by more than 65% in the past year.
The stock has been battered over the past year amid a broad selloff of Chinese stocks and increased regulatory scrutiny from both Chinese and U.S. regulators.
The Jack Ma-owned Alibaba has faced increasing regulatory scrutiny over the past two years. Back in 2021, it was fined $2.8 billion by China’s antitrust regulator for misusing its dominant position over its competitors and merchants on its e-commerce platforms.
Furthermore, the Chinese billionaire’s criticism of the Chinese Government back in 2020 also resulted in the scuttling of the world’s largest IPO of BABA’s affiliate, Ant Group.
However, there are signs of improvement for BABA with the stock already up by more than 20% in the past five days.
Even Morgan Stanley analyst Gary Yu is upbeat about BABA stock with a Buy rating and price target of $150. Yu stated that investors have “underappreciated Alibaba’s leverage to a consumption recovery in China” as the company strengthens its retail leadership in consumer products categories such as apparel and cosmetics.
Moreover, the analyst also expects BABA’s cloud business to stage a growth recovery in the first quarter of next year and expects the regulatory scrutiny to ease up for BABA.
Yu also approved of Jack Ma ceding control of Ant Group and its capital raise of $1.5 billion.
Besides Yu, other analysts remain bullish about BABA stock with a Strong Buy consensus rating based on 15 unanimous Buys.
Bitcoin saw an exceptionally rough year as the cryptocurrency more than halved in value. 2022 was the weakest year for crypto as digital assets saw inflows of $433 million, a massive drop of 95% year-over-year, according to a report by CoinShares.
The FTX-Sam Bankman Fried saga only resulted in putting crypto investors further on edge. Another crypto brokerage firm, Genesis is also mulling bankruptcy while crypto exchange platform, Coinbase Global (COIN) is doing another round of layoffs. The numerous risks associated with the crypto market have reinforced the need for regulation.
Looking at this scenario, will bitcoin only tank further? It doesn’t appear so as on Monday, the coin crossed the 17,000 level – its highest level since mid-December.
Over the past five days, while BTC has gained by more than 2%, in contrast, altcoin Ethereum (ETH-USD) is up by more than 6%.
This prompted Jiang Zhuoer, CEO and co-founder of bitcoin mining service B.TOP to tweet, “I expect #Ethereum (ETH) to start rising earlier than #Bitcoin (BTC) as the leader of the next bull market. This should occur between March and May 2023, the ETH price woule be permanently out of the current bottom range.”
It remains to be seen if Bitcoin will be able to sustain its recent rally over the rest of the year.
While the jury is still out when it comes to bitcoin and the overall cryptocurrency market, I believe BABA is a relatively safer bet as China eases up on its COVID-zero policy and talks about trade-friendly economic policies.
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