Category Archives: China Consumer

Great Wall Hits A Pothole

Great Wall April Units

Data source: HK filing

Great Wall Motors, 2333 hk, disappointed with April sales down 8.1% year on year bringing its year to date sales growth to 4%. Sequentially the picture was much worse, with a decline of 14.3% from March.  As can be seen above, April is typically lighter than March but the drop from 2016 same month sales could be a signal for more pain to come.

 

Great Wall April ytd monthly sequential

Data Source: Hk Filing

Great Wall is not alone in this decline, with the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) reporting that in April China’s broad-sense passenger vehicles sales were 1.6934 million units, showing 1.7% yearly decrease and 13.7% monthly decline.   A 5% growth for the full year has been projected, despite the rise in tax from 5% to 7.5% on small liter engines. Home grown Geely, however, managed a 94.5% increase in April year on year which translated to a 94.4% year to date increase over 2016 and a minor -.3% drop from March.

Geely April ytd yoy

Additionally, Guangzhou Auto, a China brand produced by GAC AUTO, managed to increase its April units by 55.8% for April, bringing year to date sales up 64.2%.  It even managed a sequential increase of 27.1% thanks to its popular Trumpchi GS4 compact crossover.

Guangzhou April

Data Source: Hk Filing

A major portion of the decline for Great Wall was due to the drop in sales of its aging SUV Haval H6.  While some analysts have said it’s due to competition from the Trumpchi as well as Geely’s Boyue, (although the Boyue only just 21,693 in April, up from 20,461 in March – wasn’t selling in April, 2016); Great Wall’s H6 sales were 36,367.  Great Wall partly made up for the decline in the H6 with the H2’s 36% April increase but it’s still less than half the sales of the H6, even at April’s lower units.Great Wall detail April.PNG Data Source: Hk filing

Great Wall’s descent warranted a downgrade in the stock price by Credit Suisse from hk$ 8.5 to 8.00 and kept at neutral.  The bank noted that the decline came despite major price concessions by Great Wall such as the RMB1 billion “red packet” cash incentive program and RMB 9,000-15,000 per unit discounts on selected models.  Finally, it noted that sales for the first week of May had fallen by 24%.  Thanks to the drop, Credit Suisse expected Great Wall to aggressively discount and therefore revised its earnings down by 2-3% for the year.  As shown here, Great Wall’s first quarter net profit showed a decline of 18% despite a unit increase of 8.9%.

Since Great Wall is heading into the slower sales period in China, it will be some time before there is clarity on its direction or profits.  Caution signals are flashing.

Great Wall Stock.PNG

GAC Stays in the Fast Lane in April

gac overall units

While April US auto sales have disappointed across the board, with declines in all major automakers, China has yet to release numbers for April, with the exception of GAC, 2238 HK.  If March offers a clue as to performance, it will be a mixed bag.  For those with declines in the first quarter, the increase in the sales tax on the majority 1.6 liter or less vehicles was blamed; Ford and GM. Despite the change in tax, some auto makers saw sales growth in China.  Hyundai, however, saw a dramatic decline as a result of stoppages related to discontent over the US THAAD missile in South Korea.  VW Audi, took a dive at least partly due to dealer discontent over its planned 2nd jv with SAIC.  Thanks to company specific issues, the outlook for overall China growth, projected at 5%, is cloudy. (The data is primarily from Reuters except for Chinese makers Geely, GAC, Ford and Daimler which were based on SEC and HKEX filings).

Major Autos China March

Skies are sunny for GAC, however, which just reported 36% growth ytd in April over 2016.  If revenues and costs stay on track from the first quarter as reported here, it bodes well for the GAC’s stock.

GAC April

Honda and Toyota have shown significant growth, but the proprietary Guangzhou has been an out sized contributor to growth as has Fiat Chrysler.

Guangzhou units

FCA April

While recent performance is no indicator of the future, at least in the short term GAC is conservatively valued with a trailing p/e of 9.

GAC stock

China Airlines Crash Land

China Eastern, 670 HK, CEA NY,  and China Southern, 1055 HK, ZNH hk posted moderate revenue increases of 4.3% and 10.6% respectively for the quarter but gross margins plummeted.

China Eastern q1 2017.PNG

hk filing

China Southern 1q 2017

hk filing

China Eastern managed to eke out an increase in net profit of 6.6%, but this was primarily thanks to the gain it recorded for transferring ownership of China Eastern Logistics to parent company CEA Holdings.   China Eastern’s capacity year to date increased by 10.8% (RPK), its load factor was at 81.6% for passenger, just 39.3% for cargo and mail. For the month of March, the passenger load factor declined by .76% points with the most profitable international routes down by 2.03% points. The freight load factor increased by .99% points.

China Eastern issued new H shares sold to Delta Airlines, DAL in 2015. Additionally, it issued new A shares to help finance its continuous airline purchases.  Shares issued to Delta totaled  465,910,000 and raised 6.4 Bill $HK at 7.49 $hk per share. China Eastern, 670hk, last  closed in Hong Kong at 4.08 $hk.

China Southern’s net profit declined by 42.4%, despite an increase in non-operating income of 26%.  China Southern’s year to date capacity increased by 12.6% (RPK), its load factor was at 82.6% for passengers, just 49% for cargo and mail.  For the month of March, the passenger load factor increased by 1.93% points with the most profitable international routes down by .11 %points . The freight load factor increased by 4.8% points.

China Southern issued 270,606,272 new H Shares of the Company at the subscription price of HK$1,553.28 million, representing HK$5.74 per share to American Airlines, AAL. China Southern 1055 hk, last closed at 5.18 $hk.

Besides the alarming drop in gross margins, year on year load factors are critical to watch as China and  South Korea tensions escalate over THAAD missile placement in China, which has already reportedly severely dropped Chinese travel to South Korea.

China Auto Stocks Drop on Uncertainty

traffic-light-876046_640

Hong Kong Listed Chinese auto stocks were mixed yesterday, 4/11/17, despite a minuscule drop in the Hang Seng.

Auto Stocks upd

 

Data Source: Bloomberg

All of the above stocks, with the exception of BAIC 1958 hk, had previously reported sales for March.

Update: China March Overall Auto Sales

Depending on which source you read, and what they interpreted, monthly and year to date auto sales were up.  How much is apparently subject to interpretation from a meeting with the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, (CAAM).  However, nothing has been published on the CAAM website regarding the update.  Unlike other international auto manufacturers, sales are not presented as seasonally adjusted.

January and February are poor monthly indicators due to the China Lunar New Year, aka Spring Festival.  For 2017 it fell on January 28, 2017: 2016; in 2016 it fell on February 8, 2016. Technically it lasts approximately one week, when all of China is on vacation – but the impact can be felt as workers leave or change jobs two weeks in advance. This even makes January to February sequential sales and year on year data unpredictable.

Reuters:

First Quarter Auto Sales China up 7%; March up 4% to 2.5 million units

Wall Street Journal:
First Quarter Vehicle Sales China up .59% to 2.84 million units; Passenger Sales March up 1.7% to 2.1 million units.

Both agreed that CAAM held to its earlier projection of 5% auto sales growth in China for 2017.

China March 2017 Auto Sales Picture – Proceed With Caution

The downward slide yesterday occurred as two reports threw tacks on the road of this fragile, critical barometer of China’s economy.  Now the biggest single car market in the world, the closely watched auto sector is under scrutiny.  2016 managed overall increases thanks partly on the sales tax reduction from 10% to 5% for the year on smaller liter engines, (1.6 liters – the majority of autos sold in China in 2015).  Under pressure to continue growth, instead of resuming the 10%, the tax was partially raised to 7.5% starting in January 2017 through the end of the year.

First Report: High-flying Geely 175hk, was flagged by Credit Suisse, its report, said

..this is the first monthly decline in March in over ten years. Continuing the falling trend for four days, it once fell to $10.44 at most, hitting over 1-month low; it last printed at $10.52, down 4.7%, on surging volume of 117 million shares.

It went on to project Geely’s gross profit margin would be under pressure and kept it at neutral with a target price of $11.4 hkd.

Geely had actually released its numbers on April 7th, with strong year on year growth so the blame for the drop on that report is most likely misplaced.

Geely March

Production Cut

While Geely’s drop is of concern, a report by CICC, 3908 hk, (Per Bloomberg, the Goldman Sachs of China), was more alarming, with an output cut of 16.7% by Great Wall Motors 2333hk.  Although other companies weren’t cited, the report implied other auto makers had done the same.

Slow Lane Data Releases

Auto sales data, unlike elsewhere in the world, is slow to be officially released in China.  The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, CAAM, releases data for the prior month around the 22nd of the following month.  Specific company data is sporadic and lacks conformity either in presentation and or release dates. This creates the perfect situation for the market’s most hated state: uncertainty.

Mixed Picture

Adding to the uncertainty, March numbers in China reported to date from domestic and international players have been inconsistent.

In China, Nissan reported year to date sales in March up 5.3%; GM saw a ytd decline of 5.2% with Toyota up just 1.7%.

Domestically, auto sales were seemingly resilient, with the exception of Great Wall 2333   hk and Dongfeng 489 hk. Great Wall is a home grown auto company while Dongfeng sells autos produced by joint ventures with Nissan, Honda, PSA and Renault.

Great Wall March

Dongfeng

GAC 2238 hk, showed impressive growth, buoyed by increases in its proprietary brand Guangzhou as well as its JVs with Honda, Toyota and Chrysler.  A breakdown of those brands was shown here.

GAC Mar

 

BAIC 1958 hk, hasn’t yet reported sales.  However, as noted previously, China’s unhappiness with South Korea has prompted reports of Hyundai reducing production hours in China.  Hyundai units made up 60% of BAIC’s unit sales in 2016.

As sales data for March trickles in, these stocks look poised for more negative surprises.

(Sales data and graphs compiled from HK filings.)

China Anger with South Korea is Bad for Auto Stock BAIC

baic chart

China’s displeasure over South Korea’s move to allow the U.S to deploy the THAAD missile system on its territory is being felt by Hyundai.  Reports of lower production in China is bad news for BAIC 1958 hk, since Hyundai represents the largest portion of its unit sales.

BAIC hasn’t yet released its March sales. But year to date February sales and annual unit sales in 2016 indicate a large negative impact of a decline in Hyundai sales.

BAIC Jan Feb Sales.PNG

baic annual auto sales

BAIC closed down on 4/5/17 but hasn’t yet reported March sales. While it makes the biggest profit from its subsidiary, Beijing Benz, at 55% to 60% of its unit sales, a decline in Hyundai sales will hurt.

Auto Stocks Hong Kong Listed

 

China Auto Stocks Could Get Boost From GAC’S March Sales

GAC chart March

Source: HK Filings

While overall auto sales in the US disappointed for March, one of the first auto manufacturers to report in China, Guangzhou Auto or GAC, 2238 hk, had surprisingly good numbers.

GAC SALES March Spread.PNG

Source: HK Filings

The company sells its own brand as well as Honda, Toyota, Fiat and Mitsubishi. Guangzhou Auto and Fiat took the lead in growth both for March and year to date.

gac sales by manu march

As has been the case with China overall, SUV’s showed the greatest growth, overtaking sedans in terms of numbers and growth.

gac SALES BY TYPE MARCH

Sentiment for auto sales in China has been flat to negative thanks to the increase in the sales tax on smaller liter engines, from 5% to 7.5% starting in January.  In December, the tax is scheduled to revert to 10%.  As the top chart shows and was the case for many automakers and sellers in China, this caused a spike in last quarter sales of 2016.

GAC’s 2016 annual earnings were strong, with a net profit increase of 35.8% thanks primarily to the earnings from its joint ventures.

GAC financial annual

While it’s increasing sales of its own, less than profitable Guangzhou brand, the strong performance of its joint venture partners could give its first quarter results and price a boost.

Hong Kong listed auto stocks closed down on April 5th, except for Great Wall, 2333 hk, despite a rise in the Hang Seng.

Auto Stocks Hong Kong Listed

 

 

Index Changes HSI and HSCEI: In with the New, Out with the Old

Old Timers Li & Fung, 494 HK and Tsingtao Brewery, 168 HK  will be booted out of Hong Kong Indexes due to poor performance and or international dealings.  They’ll be replaced by home-grown Geely, 175 HK,  and infant IPO Postal Savings Bank, 1658 HK, favoring made in China and SOE investments, respectively.  The stock performance and market caps give a clue to the underlying reason but don’t explain it all.

hong-kong-index-changes

Data Source: Bloomberg

The mature, 50-member Hang Seng Index, HSI, loses Li & Fung, a member since 2000, as its profits and core earnings continue to drop.  It’s last reported interim statement showed a gross revenue drop of 6.4% and a core profit drop of 14.2%.  Li and Fung, a Wal-Mart and Marks and Spencer supplier, most recently reported getting 62% of its sales coming from the US.  It’s being replaced by Made In China and Sold in China: Geely Auto.  As Li and Fung’s stock has dropped, Geely has shot upwards, helping it achieve a market cap 3 times the size of veteran Li and Fung.  Geely’s sales climbed 50% in 2016, fueled by a 50% drop in the sales tax on cars with less than 1.6 liter engines.  While Geely’s annual sales climbed 50%, it reported on January 6, 2017 a preliminary profit climb of over 100%.

geely-annual-w

Geely has apparently kept the pedal to the metal with January year on year sales reported at an   annual increase of 71% although down 5.15% from December.  This increase is astounding, with the Lunar New Year starting in 2017 on Jan. 28 vs. 2016 in Feb. and Ford and GM both reporting yoy China drops of 24% and 32%, respectively, from HK filings.

geely-jan

As Home town Geely replaces exporter Li and Fung; Tsingtao Brewery, the first China incorporated  H-listed stock in history, is being removed from the younger Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, HSCEI; to be replaced by recent IPO Postal Savings Bank.  Tsingtao has faced declining sales; its last reported revenue drop of 5.3%.  However, perhaps more importantly, it has also been hit by rumors that Asahi Breweries of Japan is hoping to dump its 19.99% ownership interest. (The majority-holder of Tsingtao is Qingdao SASAC).  An index removal could reflect the  dissatisfaction of the effects of outside interests on Chinese companies.

The possible rationale for replacing Tsingtao  with Postal Savings Bank is more difficult  to explain than Geely replacing Li and Fung.  While Geely has been climbing, Postal Savings Bank has actually declined in price since its September IPO.  It’s first half report for 2016 was uninspiring, with loans increasing but net interest margin dropping significantly and a low core ratio.  It’s non-performing loan ratio of .78 is difficult to believe as world behemoth China’s Industrial and Commercial Bank,  1398 HK, ICBC, reported a npl ratio of 1.55 for the first ½ of 2016.  In the first half, ICBC had a capital adequacy ratio of 13.11 vs.  Postal Savings Bank’s first half CAR of 10.04% .

Postal Savings Bank had a less than spectacular IPO, heavily dependent upon its mostly majority state-owned cornerstone investors, which purchased over 75% of the offering.

Postal Cornerstone.PNG

 

 

Source: HK filings

*Acquisition Loans “may be” financed by SOE China Banks: China Construction Bank, 939 hk, Bank of Communications, 3328 hk, and Agricultural Bank of China, 1288 HK.
**One of 4 asset management firms set up in the 1990’s to deal with bad debt, related to the big 4 banks.  China Great Wall was linked with Agricultural Bank of China.

Rather than a strictly index-related move, the inclusion of Postal Bank could be more to the aid of those cornerstone investors,  which would face an expiration of their 6-month lock-up period close to the time of the index inclusion.  Whether this will give Postal the boost it needs remains to be seen.