If you have a working pair of eyes, you can easily understand why most investors are hesitant to buy into JD.com (NASDAQ:JD). Even if your vision is severely impaired, any cursory look at a technical chart will reveal a harrowing drop. Unless a miracle occurs, JD.com stock will lose roughly half its market value this year.
Yet that’s what might be occurring. While devastation is the recurring them for Wall Street in 2018, the markets have experienced a significant comeback recently. True, the newfound optimism doesn’t overturn prior losses. However, we’re moving in the right direction. And for JD stock specifically, shares of the Chinese ecommerce giant have stabilized since the second half of November.
Is this sentiment shift enough to eventually recover — and overcome — this year’s losses? It’s a heavily-contested topic. Here at InvestorPlace, we have Will Healy who believes JD.com stock could rise above the trade war. On the other hand, Vince Martin cites tough fundamental challenges that could undermine JD’s ambitions.
Splitting the stalemate is Chris Tyler, who has a bearish take on JD stock based on technical performance metrics.
Everyone involved has delivered well-reasoned arguments. As it stands, I don’t want to jump into a barroom brawl. Instead, I’m going to go over the pros and cons of buying JD.com stock at this juncture, and include a final blurb on the topic.
Pros: JD.com Stock Has the Numbers
Here at home, most analysts, including yours truly, are long-term bullish on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). You’re crazy if you’re not. Every major study indicates that ecommerce represents a growing proportion of total retail sales.
Not only that, we have an emerging demographic in Generation Z that knows almost nothing about analog technology. To this group, digitalization isn’t just the future; it’s the only path to success.
What’s particularly impressive about JD.com stock is the underlying company’s proven statistics. JD features over 305 million active users, which is almost what the U.S. has in people. It has also attracted 200,000 merchants, and developed 550 warehouses and over 3,500 delivery stations.
These aren’t just cute figures to fluff up a marketing presentation. Strong, double-digit revenue growth has previously bolstered JD stock. Moreover, in its 2018 Singles Day campaign, the ecommerce firm generated $23 billion in sales. That’s over 40% of Amazon’s revenue for the third quarter of this year.
Given the continued growth in the Chinese middle class, this trend has to interest even those bearish on JD stock. Multiply that sentiment five-fold with its currently-deflated price.
Pros: Trade War Ceasefire
Trump is anything but soft-spoken. If he feels slighted, you’re going to hear about, whether his accusations have merit or not.
Regarding the ongoing trade war, I personally believe the Trump administration is justified in holding China accountable. As much as we would all like to sing Kumbaya together, that’s not how the world works.
That’s especially not how communist regimes work. Make no mistake about it: no matter how much the Chinese government presents themselves as an open and free society, they represent the exact opposite. Before anybody gets too soft on China, let’s remind ourselves that routinely violate basic human rights.
Given this backdrop, you’d think that JD.com stock, along with other famous Chinese companies like Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) and Tencent (OTCMKTS:TCEHY) are doomed. However, I’m also reminded that both sides are incentivized to find a lasting resolution.
For China, their populace has grown impatient after years of phenomenal growth. This is the first real hiccup that many young, affluent Chinese professionals have experienced. Openly hostile complaints against the government confirms they’re not handling our tariffs too well.
For us Yanks, we need an endless supply of cheap junk to buy at Walmart (NYSE:WMT). That doesn’t happen if we have an indefinitely-aggressive policy towards the Chinese.
I’ll gladly admit that the trade war looks ugly. At the same time, the doomsday scenario isn’t quite accurate.
Pros: Technicals Look Positive for JD stock
This is a short, but important point: I like what I’m seeing in the technical charts.
Seemingly, I’m countering what Chris Tyler said. But I’m not discounting his analysis, which I encourage everyone to read. Rather, I’d like to point out that over the long-term, the $20 level has held up to bearish pressure.
For instance, in the middle of 2016, JD stock appeared to tumble into crisis mode. But a bearish position back then would have been a disaster. Shares eventually soared to over $50.
Of course, historical performance doesn’t guarantee an encore. Nevertheless, I still like the fact that JD.com stock has stabilized since the latter half of November. After all, we have plenty of reasons to doubt Chinese stocks, yet they’re doing relatively well over the past weeks.
Cons: China Doesn’t Have to Play Nice
Trump routinely has bragged about his ability to lead from strength. But with the recent wave of controversies, I don’t think the White House looks strong. At the very least, the administration appears compromised.
You know who else thinks like me? China. Today, the president must worry about multiple investigations into various collusion and misconduct allegations. Critically, these investigations have directed the unwanted spotlight onto his children.
I can’t quite remember a time when the leader of the free world was so embattled. If the Chinese are smart — and they are — they will use this pressure to their advantage. Why suffer perceived indignities when you can go on the offensive?
As such, a road certainly exists where the trade war can last longer than anybody envisioned. That will hurt domestic markets, which in turn does no favors for JD.com stock.
Cons: JD is Possibly Too Ambitious
JD is an ambitious company. Typically, this is a selling point for anyone on the fence regarding JD.com stock. However, a fine line exists between ambition and arrogance. We’re about to find out which way the company will decisively go.
As InvestorPlace feature writer James Brumley noted, JD desires an American footprint. Management is setting up an online store “that will specifically target U.S. consumers.”
Competing against Amazon in Amazon’s backyard? I’m not sure how that will go down. One thing I can absolutely guarantee, though, is that it will not be cheap.
For now, JD doesn’t have to worry about that because it features relatively-stable financials. However, I can’t help but notice that the company has tacked on more debt over the years. This trend will accelerate if they’re serious about their whale-hunting endeavors.
To Vince Martin’s point, one of the vulnerabilities for JD.com stock is margins. Again, going after industry titans won’t help alleviate this problem.
Cons: Asian Markets Are More Volatile
I must address an impolite and perhaps politically-incorrect topic: Asian markets are simply more volatile than western markets. Given that we’re in bear market territory, that doesn’t bode well for JD stock.
One explanation is that the Asian region is incredibly diverse. For instance, Japan is a balanced powerhouse because it features a strong economy and high GDP per capita. China, as we know, focuses on the collective, and tends to ignore its alarmingly-low GDP per capita.
The rest of Asia features a vibrant and eclectic group of emerging markets. Some countries are commodity and production-centric, while others specialize in technology and innovation. It’s a wild, exciting arena, so volatility is a natural byproduct.
But also, the Asian investor is typically more risk-tolerant than the westerner. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Asia has largely embraced cryptocurrencies, while America has not.
Taken as a whole, this tells me that JD.com stock will throw many surprises. A good chunk of these unexpected moments will not be pleasant.
This is just a small taste of the tug-of-war involving JD stock. I don’t think it’s possible to have a one-size-fits-all perspective on the company.
I’ll say this: if you’re a conservative investor, I’d stay away from JD.com stock. We’re already in a volatile market. Throwing in a Chinese company into the mix can only heighten entropy.
On the other hand, if you’re the adventurous type, I like what I’m seeing. Yes, the trade war, the aggressive corporate strategy, and the bear market worry me. However, JD has a viable shot at sparking a breakthrough. Management is going on the attack because they believe they can win. The evidence backs up this thesis.
Plus, you’re taking this risk at a mind-blowing discount. As a contrarian, you couldn’t ask for anything more.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.