Total return calculations for Hong Kong stocks is a very helpful tool for researching Hong Kong-listed stocks. Run by David Webb, a former Hong Kong stock exchange independent director, the site pulls together news and information about the officers and related parties of listed companies to make it easier to find links between them and hopefully spot corporate governance red flags.

Webb also publishes regular articles on governance and regulatory issues in Hong Kong and if you’re interested in Asian markets, it’s well worth signing up for his free newsletter to get these.

The site has just added something new: A tool for calculating and comparing total returns on individual stocks with data from since 1994, which seems to be the first such free source for the Hong Kong market.

No other web site that we know of provides total returns time series for HK stocks, including the reinvestment of distributions such as dividends, demergers (distributions of shares in other companies) and bonus warrants. Distributions are a huge component of the overall market return. This leaves retail investors unable to know what their total investment return would have been over any period, or to fairly compare the graphs of two stocks which have different dividend yields … We are aware that a professional terminal, which costs around US$2,000 per month, includes a total returns service, although we doubt that it fully adjusts for some of the more novel distributions in Hong Kong, such as bonus warrants and warrants attached to rights issues. So even if professionals and academics have access to that system, they may be relying on understated returns.

Importantly, the data includes delisted companies – allowing you to adjust for survivorship bias – and Webb says he plans to link the returns database to the records of directors, making it easier to see how their past companies have performed. Overall, this looks like it could become extremely useful for anyone studying historic returns among Hong Kong stocks.

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