HK Web Sites Offer Investors Research Edge

Hong Kong firm Asia Strategic has launched two financial services Web sites in the last year, T8research.com and Cyber-tank.

T8research.com, short for Typhoon Eight-research.com, was launched in September last year and provides visitors with financial research information and detailed recommendations on stocks to buy or sell, according to Asia Strategic.

Cyber-tank.com was launched in February this year and offers visitors statistical data on current stock movements and stock-related news reports without making recommendations toward purchasing or selling, company officials said.

Douglas Hansen-Luke, chief executive officer of Asia Strategic, explained the company's business model: "We make money in three ways. One (way) is (through) business-to-professional sales. We have got a Securities and Futures Commission license, so we advise proprietary traders and hedge fund (managers). The second business is a (business-to-business model). We provide content for Web sites. The third is business to consumer. We also aim at professional investors for Net companies," Hansen-Luke said.

Asia Strategy is targeting those investors interested in short-term trading horizons, according to Hansen-Luke. "Anyone who wants to buy equity and earn money within three days or three months, these are the ones who should have a look at our research," he said.

At the moment, the Web sites are in English, but according to the company, Asia Strategy is now working on bilingual version -- English and Chinese -- for each site.

"We basically carry out research on equity stocks, (and mainly) stocks listed in the Hong Kong market," said Lachlan Christie, chief operating office of Asia Strategy, adding that half of Asia Strategy's staff come with backgrounds in stock trading. To clarify their market position, Christie emphasized that the sort of research available through their Web sites differs from research associated with stockbrokers.

"We focus on people with short time horizons, we don't focus on traditional fund managers who might buy stock for two to five years. We focus on retail traders, professional traders, retail day-traders and the retailing business. Their time horizon is much shorter, from three days to three months ... so that's (our) sort of research," Christie clarified.

Hansen-Luke said that T8research.com operates with an advantage over investment bank's analysts when making recommendations to their clients and visitors.

"We are very different, because first of all we can say, 'sell.' Very, very few investment banks will say 'sell'," Hansen-Luke said. "Secondly, our recommendations are very short compared to Goldman Sachs, who write their (recommendations as) 90-page reports. If you want to buy in three days, you need to make the decision quickly. It will take you three days just to read the 90-page report," he said.

Hansen-Luke stressed that Asia Strategy's research covers the types of companies that ordinary people, rather that large trading firms, want to look at.

"We are very different (from other analysts) in that we actually cover the companies that people in Hong Kong trade, not the companies that institutions trade, like China biotech (stock) for example, which is one of the most traded (types of) stock in Hong Kong, (though) no other analysts will cover (these companies)," Hansen-Luke said.

At present, T8research makes an average of 12 to 18 daily recommendations, though sometimes this figure can be as high as 30, company officials said.

Cyber-tank, on the other hand, gives reports and statistics from which investors can develop their own appreciation of the market, Christie said.

Key features of the Cyber-tank site are the BlackBoxes. With these boxed-out windows, users receive varying types of market information, including company profiles, stock quotes, charts showing price variations and a unique grading feature.

Asia Strategy believes now is the prime time for its Web businesses to succeed. "Our position on (the) Internet here is a great opportunity for us," Christie said.

Christie is unperturbed by the recent rash of dot-com failures. "There are three ways at the moment for Internet companies to survive," he said. "Either buy companies, or sell the company to someone else, or to liquidate. We see this (as a) great opportunity (for us) to put together the companies that want to buy or they want to sell their company. We have been developing (the way to do that) for a little while (by building) basically an Internet company market place online," he said.

In Hong Kong, T8research and Cyber-tank have been providing market information and services to Stockhouse, Sun Hung Kai Online, Hongkong.com, 2cube.com and others.

Users will also be able to access T8research and Cyber-tank services via WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) handsets and PDAs (personal digital assistants), according to the company.

Raymond Wong, an analyst programmer at T8research, said WAP users will be able to receive market data on a free two-month trial basis. For users who want to access their information on the Web, the service will remain free for now, though a charge may be imposed in the future.

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