Right now, there are a lot of U.S.-listed Chinese companies that can’t get any respect from the marketplace. Stock picking in this sector has been difficult lately, because the marketplace is suffering from confidence issues. The entire sector has been hit hard, especially related to issues involving accounting and reporting. Institutional investors have been scared off the sector and there is a lot of value around right now.
Consider, for example, a company called Lihua International, Inc. (NASDAQ/LIWA). Here is a growing Chinese enterprise that just reported very good financial results in the fourth quarter, but the stock just can’t see to generate much interest from the Street.
Lihua International is a company that manufactures copper replacement products for China’s magnet and fine-wire market. The company manufactures and distributes lower-cost, high-quality alternatives to pure copper magnet wire, including copper-clad aluminum wire and recycled scrap copper wire. Customers include the consumer electronics, automotive, utility, telecommunications, and specialty cable industries.
According to Lihua International, its revenues for the fourth quarter of 2010 increased 164% to 135.5 million dollars. This compares with revenues of 51.3 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2009. Management cited continued sales growth in wire products as well as the revenue contribution from a new product, copper anode, as reasons for the sharp increase in revenues. Earnings for the fourth quarter of 2010 were 9.9 million dollars, or $0.33 per share, based on 30 million weighted average diluted shares outstanding. This compares with earnings of 4.2 million dollars, or $0.18 per share, based on just over 24 million weighted average diluted shares outstanding in the fourth quarter of 2009. Lihua International finished the year with approximately 90.6 million dollars in cash (just over $3.00 per share) and about 2.3 million dollars in short-term bank operating lines.
Company management expects the business to achieve non-GAAP earnings growth of between 52.0 million dollars and 54.0 million dollars in 2011, representing year-over-year growth of 30% to 35%, respectively.
If Lihua International were a company operating in the domestic market, the stock would probably be trading at three or four times its current level. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but the growing Chinese companies that make it through the current shunning from Wall Street should, in my opinion, turn out to be strong wealth creators.
I fully understand that the Chinese economy is a bit like the Wild West. There ain’t much law around, and it’s difficult to enforce regulations and standards in a place with such a large population and an economy at an early stage of modernization. But not all U.S.-listed Chinese companies are frauds and the entire group has taken a hit, because quite a number of short sellers have really played up investor fears.
As a speculative investor, I’d own a basket of U.S.-listed Chinese shares. Like I say, those companies that are profitable and growing (and that come through the current reckoning) should by all rights turn out to be decent investments.