Despite the hype about China's phenomenal economic growth, Los Angeles investment advisors are telling clients to be wary.

The biggest trouble comes from China's two domestic equities markets, which recorded the worst performance of any global market in 2004. The Shanghai Stock Exchange fell 15.2 percent and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange was off 16.5 percent last year, even as Hong Kong benchmark Hang Seng index rose 13.2 percent.

"The disconnect good economy, bad markets is no accident," wrote Donald Straszheim, of Straszheim Global Advisors LLC. "We remain highly skeptical of these markets. Almost every way is a better way of participating in China's growth than buying their equities."

More than 90 percent of all stocks listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges are state-owned enterprises, while high-quality Chinese companies typically list on the Hong Kong or New York stock exchanges.

Investment manager Payden & Rygel urges in its Quarterly Review that Chinese officials lift restrictions in the banking sector and liberalize the exchange rate policy to revalue its currency, the yuan. But it cautions that Chinese policy makers may institute new regulations and taxes to avoid scaring U.S. investors, who have already plowed $70 billion in speculative capital into China in the past year.

Kate Berry

Fashion Plate

Clothing designer Liz Claiborne Inc. has purchased C & C; California Inc., a Los Feliz designer and wholesaler of colorful T-shirts, for an initial equity stake of $28 million, plus additional payments in 2007, 2008 and 2009 based on future earnings.

C & C; California posted roughly $21 million in revenue last year, primarily in sales to specialty retailers such as Ron Herman, Dari and Planet Blue in Los Angeles, and Scoop in New York. It also sells at department stores Barneys New York, Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus.

The company's co-founders, designers Claire Stansfield and Cheyann Benedict, got a boost of free advertising last year when they were featured in a Visa ad and later appeared on the "Oprah Winfrey Show."

Liz Claiborne said it expects the purchase to add 3 cents per share to fiscal 2005 earnings. Sage Group Inc. acted as the investment banker on the deal.

Kate Berry

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.