If you simply looked at the June’s chart for Chinese e-commerce outfit JD.com (NASDAQ:JD), you wouldn’t think that a trade war would be raging between the U.S. and China. In the month so far, the JD stock price is up 8.7%, while the S&P 500 index gained 5.7%. So much for the fallout from the trade dispute!
Not only that, additional fundamental news items suggest that JD.com stock has every reason to continue moving higher. Around the middle of the month, several publicly traded Chinese companies moved higher on positive geopolitical developments. At that time, President Trump confirmed that he spoke with his counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping. This weekend at the G20 summit in Japan.
Of course, this alone doesn’t tell us much. Throughout the past several weeks, both sides exchanged aggressive rhetoric. Naturally, each side points the finger at the other. In addition, the wildcard here is Trump. With such an unpredictable and arguably volatile personality, it’s difficult to know what he’s really thinking. That’s the obvious downside to future prospects for the JD stock price.
But the upside here — and it’s a big one — is that the two nations are talking. They’ve also taken the major step toward a possible trade deal. If they agreed to terms, I don’t have to spell it out for you: JD.com stock, along with compatriots Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) and Tencent (OTCMKTS:TCEHY) will soar.
Still, I wouldn’t chase the JD stock like the market is doing here. If you like shares, fine. But it’s worth noting that if talks break down, so too will JD.com. What then is the likely outcome?
Bull and Bear Cases for JD Stock
On one hand, the biggest case for JD.com stock in my opinion is the underlying company’s constant push for innovation. Together with Alibaba, JD drove the latest China tech revolution. Within a very quick time period, they caught up to speed with developed nations.
Now, they have an opportunity to take the lead in one crucial segment of technology: big data.
Recently, Chinese e-commerce companies have taken an interest in big data to effectively sell to their customers. With tech already a vital component of young and upwardly mobile Chinese workers, such information can help companies pinpoint behaviors. And because the trade war is currently raging, competitors are always looking for an edge.
Another crucial element favoring the JD stock price longer-term is societal: Chinese consumers don’t have the same reservations about data privacy like we do. Therefore, JD.com and its ilk can fine-tune their data platforms, becoming decisive leaders in consumer-based artificial intelligence.
Take the trade war out of the picture, and you’ve got a very good case for JD.com stock.
But such prognostications are dangerous to make. While the two sides have toyed with the idea of a deal, something always gets in the way. However, the geopolitical angle isn’t the critics’ best argument.
Instead, it’s the fact that China has already had problems before the second round of the trade war. A growing problem that could escalate into a crisis for everyone is the Asian power’s debt boom. It helped fuel China’s dramatic growth, but you eventually have to pay the piper. The perhaps inevitable ripple effect could easily take down investments like JD stock.
Furthermore, JD.com’s revenue growth looks tapped out. In prior years, you could count on strong double-digit growth. But the last two quarters featured weak and declining growth.
How to Approach JD.com Stock
I’m going to do something rare for me and that’s to cut to the chase: I think the smarter play is to hold off on JD.com stock.
First, let’s talk about the technicals. Although shares are doing well in June, they haven’t done so well since the beginning of May. You’ll recall that during that period, things started to unravel in terms of the trade war. JD stock is down 12.1% since May Day, while the Invesco Golden Dragon China ETF (NasdaqGM:PGJ) — in which JD.com and Alibaba are the two biggest of the 60 China holdings in exchange-traded fund — is holding pretty much flat. So, the trading dynamic for the JD stock price is not yet convincing.
Second, I don’t like the geopolitical undertones. Check that: I absolutely hate them. With Iran taking a strong military action against the U.S. by shooting down one of its military drones, the President is already under severe pressure. That he retaliated with economic sanctions makes him look weak.
As such, he’s in no mood to do China any favors. So while most investors are apparently optimistic about the G20 sit-down, I’m left wondering why. From what I can see, geopolitical tensions have only worsened. That translates into JD stock being an investment to avoid at the moment.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.