Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Noble group, its bonds and more

I wrote a few times about Noble Group, but nothing recently. I was interested in the case because of the strange valuation of its holding in Yancoal. That valuation seemed way of the mark (needless to say, DCF was used, the weapon of choice for these kind of occasions). The logical follow-up question would be, if the same would apply to some of its other assets?

Its share price has since come down quite a bit, and more worrisome (recently) the price of its bonds.

"The Macro Tourist" wrote an interesting article about Noble "Was Noble the silver seller?".

It describes a possible involvement of Noble with silver. It is a speculative assumption, but it does show a few nice charts.

Friday, 12 May 2017

China Automobile Parts: "bad reputation"? (2)

In addition to my previous blog post about this subject, things have possibly made a clear turn for the worse, according to its latest announcement.

The Company’s auditor, PKF has requested to carry out certain procedures that include the verification of the Company’s value added tax devices with the relevant tax authorities’ system directly and complete the verification of the consignment notes/appropriate delivery documentation against the sales invoices. The Company wishes to inform that the tax system in Fujian Province, China underwent three major upgrades and reforms within a year and this may have resulted in certain tax information being inaccurate. In order to meet PKF’s request, the person in charge of the Company is in the midst of liaising with the tax department, so that the auditor can clarify directly with the tax department where necessary.

This seems like a good action by PKF, comparing the official tax numbers with the alleged comparable numbers as provided by CAP. Many short sellers use indeed tax numbers of the company, its subsidiaries or trading partners.

On the auditor’s request to seek confirmation with the banks on the Company’s recorded bank balances, the Company will co-ordinate and make the necessary arrangement with the bank for PKF to seek confirmation verification where applicable.

And this also deserves attention, in several cases of Chinese companies listed on Bursa I have strong doubt about the bank balances. I even recommended Bursa to let all these China based companies to do a voluntarily, independent confirmation of the bank balances by an expert party. If the cash is not there, immediate action can be taken, and there would be no need to throw more good money after bad money (for instance through a rights issue). However, if the cash is really there, then that might add to the credibility of the company.

This confirmation has to be done in a proper way though, there have been cases where a company falsified the statements and the online banking system, and even the regional branch manager of the bank was in the fraud.

The auditor highlighted that it has come to their attention that there appears to be certain ongoing litigation involving the Company and certain of its directors whereby certain records appear to indicate amongst others that the Company had undertaken significant borrowings and had defaulted in repayment, resulting in a claim and litigation during financial year ended 31 December 2016 (“FYE 2016”) against the Company and certain of its directors by the lending bank. The Company wishes to inform that it has appointed a lawyer, Fujian Shi Long Law Firm, to verify and confirm the litigation cases involving the Company and certain of its directors. The Company will make announcement on the development of the above matter in due course if necessary.

If the underlined is indeed true (and the auditor must have had pretty reliable information regarding this, otherwise the above would not have been published), then that would be an extremely serious matter.

Shareholders should brace themselves for the worst.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Maxwell: More Mayhem (2)

Maxwell finally published its annual report, bit too late, but better late than never.

The start is promising:

"Moving Forward", interesting motto, but how to move forward when the revenue of the last three quarters has been exactly zero? In other words, the company has ceased all its business.

Regarding its financial position, the company remarks:

"The Group owned a cash and cash equivalents of RM360.673 million (2015: RM366.713 million) with zero debt as at the end of the financial year 2016. The Group has been in net cash position for the past 6 financial years since it was listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad back in 2011."

That sounds good, RM 361 Million cash, but the accounts are again heavily qualified by the auditors, and again in relation to its alleged cash (among many other items):

As disclosed in Note 10(b) to the financial statements, during the financial year, Jinjiang Zhenxing Shoes & Plastics Co. Ltd., a subsidiary company of the Company, placed RM337.21 million (RMB510.00 million) with an asset management company, Jinjiang Jin Chuang Private Capital Management Co. Ltd., (“Jin Chuang”) (晋江晋创民间资本管理有限公司). The management of Jinjiang Zhenxing Shoes & Plastics Co. Ltd., are unable to provide the relevant information and supporting documents to the Company in respect of the placement of the cash with the asset management company.

On 26 April 2016, the Company announced that Jinjiang Zhenxing Shoes & Plastics Co. Ltd., had on 6 April 2016 notified Jin Chuang to transfer all the funds. On 19 July 2016, the Company announced that the funds placed with Jin Chuang would be transferred into Jinjiang Zhenxing Shoes & Plastics Co. Ltd.’s bank account or a bank account nominated by Jinjiang Zhenxing Shoes & Plastics Co. Ltd., upon maturity.

We were unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence on the cash and cash equivalents
as at the end of the financial year. Therefore, we could not determine the effect of adjustment, if any, on the financial statements of the Group.

It really seems that the company is dragging its feet in proving that the funds (RM 337 Million) really exist. One possibility (which is rather likely, in my humble opinion) is that the cash is simply not there, it probably never was. It would not exactly be the first time that this would happen to a company from China.

The company further stated:

On 14 April 2017, the Company announced that the Company, Jinjiang Zhenxing Shoes & Plastics Co. Ltd. and Maxwell (Xiamen) Co. Ltd. appointed a legal firm in PRC, namely Shanghai Zinger Law Office (上海致格律师事务所) to conduct a special due diligence on Advertising and Promotion Expenses (Note 30.1(1)) and funds placed with Jinjiang Jin Chuang Private Capital Management Co. Ltd. (晋江晋创民间资本管理有限公司) (Note 30.1(2)) and to issue a special legal opinion thereon. As at the date of this report, the lawyer has yet to issue any legal advice on this matter.

I wrote about this marketing issue 18 months ago, why wait so long to appoint a legal firm to conduct due diligence? What have the independent directors and/or the regulators done all this time? Has there been any activity and/or pressure from their side, or do they let the company continue in this rather shameful way?

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Goodway: Path to recovery?

Goodway Integrated Industries announced its annual report. One snippet:

Path to recovery? You would not assume that, looking at the following extracts:

Please note that the left bar represents the latest (2016) numbers. In other words, the revenue numbers show a clear down trend.

More worrysome though are the profit numbers, which look pretty horrendous:

But that is not all, the accounts are qualified by the auditor, a very clear red flag:

Any mentioning of a "recovery" seems therefore rather premature.