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3 Stocks Exposed to China; Should Investors Be Worried?

The news out of China yesterday was ugly. The government released trade statistics that showed an 18.1% decline in exports year-over-year. This came after a March 2 report that showed a decline in manufacturing activity.

As a result, commodity prices plummeted. Copper prices fell 5% while iron ore fell 8.3%, and both metals finished at multi-year lows. The day reignited talk of the end of the “commodity supercycle”, an era in which demand from China fueled abnormal commodity prices for more than a decade.

Many Canadian stocks felt the pain from yesterday’s news, but some more than others. Below are three companies that have especially large exposure to the Chinese economy.

Teck Resources

Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B)(NYSE:TCK) makes money from three commodities: coking coal (47% of gross profit), copper (38%) and zinc (15%). Coking coal is used exclusively in steelmaking, and China accounts for 45% of steel demand worldwide.

It is important to remember that if China suffers a slowdown, steel will almost certainly suffer more than copper. This is because steel use is heavily weighted towards construction. And if China suffers a correction, construction (and thus the steel market) will be hit especially hard. So Teck investors are certainly hoping that yesterday’s news was an aberration.

Unsurprisingly, Teck shares fell 2.46% on Monday.

Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corporation

Even more dependent on the steel market, Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corporation (TSX:LIF) makes all of its revenue from iron ore – this means that the company makes all its revenue from the steel market as well. Thus LIORC is especially dependent on China.

Many investors are drawn to LIORC’s dividend – last year, cash distributions totaled $1.875 per share, not bad for a $31 stock. But these are not stable dividends at all. For example, when the steel market softened in 2012, cash distributions dropped by a third.

LIORC shares dropped even more sharply than Teck’s, down nearly 4% on Monday.

Capstone Mining

Capstone Mining (TSX:CS) makes all of its money off of copper, which should make the company less exposed to China than the two companies above.

But Capstone is much more ambitious about growth. The company hopes to develop a large copper mine in Chile, called Santo Domingo. Capstone estimates that Santo Domingo’s cost will fall between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion, a steep price tag for a company with a $1 billion market capitalization (Capstone owns 70% of Santo Domingo).

Capstone also has a more levered balance sheet than Teck and LIORC. So even if copper isn’t as risky as steel-based commodities, Capstone shares are still a more daring China bet.

Unsurprisingly, Capstone shares fell by 5% on Monday.

Foolish bottom line

The companies listed above are all very dependent on the Chinese economy, and are thus very risky bets. Investors who have confidence in China, and are looking for a way to profit from a rebound, may want to consider these names. But investors who prefer not to make such gambles should instead stay on the sidelines.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Benjamin Sinclair holds no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

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