Sunday, December 2, 2012

More on Suntech Power and U.S.-Listed Chinese Stocks($STP)

  • What's the story with these institutional owners of Suntech? There's not a whole lot, but why are there any? Who would own stock in a company with bonds yielding 500-1000% to maturity? Looks like CALPERS owned 800k shares as of 9/30 and had added recently. Others may just be asleep at the switch. Institutional investors who read this blog - would you subscribe to a service that alerted you to a company showing signs of imminent bankruptcy, like a rising Z score or tanking bond price, so that you could sell the common stock before it went to zero?
  • The short interest in Suntech is pretty high as well, and has been rising. That's surely people who are in the long bonds, short stock trade. There's evidence of an anomaly [pdf] where stocks with relatively high short interest subsequently experience negative abnormal returns.
  • As far as I can tell, the trading halts of collapsed Chinese stocks seem to have abated this year. I think people realized how poorly that worked and just made things worse. Also, Suntech doesn't seem like a fraud as much as just a bad business and the victim of an industry downturn. It has also stayed current on informing shareholders, for example the presentation to bondholders a couple weeks ago.  
  • Here is a fascinating FTI report "Scaling the Great Wall of Accounting Issues in Chinese Reverse Mergers". Besides talking about some of the issues with trading halts, the accounting "issues" are: The Existence of Cash, Revenue Recognition, Disclosure of Related Party Transactions, Loan Transactions with Related Parties, Subsidiary Ownership.
  • Another good article to read: "Failed PRC Reverse Mergers: Strategies to Maximize Stakeholder Recoveries"
  • Bloomberg keeps a Chinese Reverse Mergers Index, which has rallied bizarrely over the past couple weeks.
  • This Barron's article has a table of Chinese RMs and how long they were halted for.  It also said that "regulators from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and members of the securities-lending industry have huddled to develop new ways to let sophisticated investors close out long and short positions during an extended trading halt, while disseminating the resulting share price for use in calculating rebates paid by shorts who want to maintain their bets."
  • The best way to protect against these halts is probably to own put options with lots of time until expiry. Even when halted, these RMs always begin trading again eventually. As long as your puts don't expire, you can ride out the storm. 

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