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What Wangshi and KFC dont know

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We all know the terrible earthquake happened in China, and the Chinese goverment and people are doing the best helping the survivors. There are many many heart touching stories since May 12 when the quake hit. NPR Melissa Block and Robert Siegal (read their Chengdu diary) did a good job from a foreign journalist perspective.

Wang Lao Ji tea drink pic

But I also noticed it is not free of controversies in this all out effort to save lives and help the needy. Notably, Wang Shi (王石), the chairman of Vanke (largest home builder in China), is inadvertly got into this “donation gate”.

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Wang Shi spoke about housing price

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Q&A about housing price in China, by Vanke (000002.SZ) Chairman Wang Shi. He wrote those Q&A in his own blog.

I put it together here because it’s a bit hard to read 7 articles separately. I left out couple tables because it’s hard to paste.

I’m interested in the Chinese housing for two reasons:
1) My wife and I are thinking about work and live in China in the future.
2) Like the Chinese stock market, the China housing market is also very interesting. I think there is a lot to learn from the leader like Vanke (how they got here, which direction are they going), either from business or social point of the view.

Q7 问:高档住宅供应少,调整的可能性不高,不是吗?

Q6 问:工厂化生产的住宅更贵,性价比并不高,您怎么看?

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Vanke: good stock at bubble price?

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Stock Price
Shares of Vanke (sina, Google Finance) has gained more than 200% YTD, but it is taking a hit lately. A while ago I read these two interesting articles (21cbh, sina) about the valuation of Vanke share. The key question is whether it is over priced, considering its growth potential. Of course no one can predict the growth. At the beginning of 2007, has anyone predicted the housing price in Shanghai would go up 30% to 50% this year? I know I did not…

Housing Price
Vanke chairman Wang Shi said the Chinese housing market is at its turning point now. I don’t know whether the Chinese housing market is peaking out or not. In the following I used its monthly sales data and tried to calculate the average price in last 7 months. The ave price went from 7,634 Yuan per sqm in May to 10,393 Yuan per sqm, a 36% gain. From May 31 to Nov 30 its stock went from 19.41 Yuan to 31.55 Yuan, a 63% gain.

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Compare Vanke with Toll Brothers

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Vanke is the No. 1 home builder in China. Toll Brothers is a US luxury home builder. Comparing the profitability of those two are not really comparing apple to apple. But, the buyers of Vanke homes in China are mostly middle class, or in other words, their relative affulence level in China is about same the US buyers of Toll homes. Anyway here goes the data from Reuters (via Google Finance). I can see the following from the data:

1) Vanke is more profitable then Toll, because real estate is a long term growth industry in China. This is from net profit margine and operating margin.

2) Margin for both companies are declining, more so for TOL than Vanke. It’s understandable for TOL because of the weak US housing market. For Vanke it could be two things: increasing competition; sacrefying profitability for growth.

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Shanghai housing market

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I read some interesting Chinese posts from soufun today. I just put the links here: thought we may get a better picture of Shanghai housing market by reading them all.

Pudong new housing one day tour 浦东看房一日游.

Songjiang overview 松江新城高品质公寓 (the author appears to be biased toward Poly since he/she is Poly West Bay 保利西子湾 owner); also post about lastest price at 保利西子湾.

Vanke housing buying experience 谈谈买房经历和体验 (this one is funny, in progress); another guy one month house hunting journey 一个月火速抢房日记.

Note I have not toured any of those properties, so use the reviews as your reference…

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Wang Shi: Vanke not endorsing house flipping

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vanke pic

“万科不鼓励炒房”, the original Chinese article is here at 21cbh.






My take: house flipping has been highly profitable in the past few years. Besides the famous Wenzhou housing flippers, I have heard brokage firm such as E-Housing (NYSE:EJ) has made money from this too. But Vanke is not interested in making this. They are focusing on their main business: build the homes that (potential) customers will love, crave or dream about.

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CROX not so fantastic quarter

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Crocs (Nasdaq:CROX) reported a solid quarter yesterday. It also raised its own year 2007 guidance, but the number is not enough to exceed the street’s “sky high” expectation. The stock already got crushed in the after hour and pre-market trading. It’s likely it will suffer for a while. But I think the fundamental of the business is intact. From my observation in China, this thing just got started…let’s see what Olympics can do for this next year.

Another interesting story about Crocs. When I told my wife that I will have big “paper loss” on CROX stock today, she said why didn’t I sell it yesterday. Yeah, I agree I was a bit too optimistic about the stock. She also said the Crocs should sell few shoes as the weather becomes colder. Very much true. I think that’s one reason the company guided conservatively for the Q4 (and 2007 full year) results.

Seasonality is more an issue for international growth because Europe and Japan, the main growth area currently, is usually colder than US in winter. Unfortunately Australia and Brazil can not make up that…

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Travel, weather and stocks

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Vanke (00002.SZ) expects a 100% to 150% profit growth in 2007 (vs. 2006). That translated to a 67% to 100% increase of earning per share. Chairman Wang Shi is saying the China real estate industry is still fragmented: Vanke has 1.25% of market share.

Longtop Financial (LFT), the new IPO, is under pressure today. Bought some more at $27.87. As one would expect, the stock went lower after I bought.

St. Louis is colder and drier than I thought. Not a warm welcome to my wife Ruixian, either 🙂

Afraid of all the fall leaves being gone soon, we toured the scenic Missisipi drive from Alton to Graftion yesterday afternoon. There are plenty of people at “loading docks” etc. Back to American way of leisure…

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Introducing Vanke

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Vanke is No. 1 home builder in China. Today. Vanke A share (000002) went up 10% in Shenzhen, after it moved sideways for about two months. Note today is the first trading day after China national holiday break.

Real estate companies in China don’t get much respect these days. No matter how many new homes they built, how much tax they pay and how many jobs they create. This is similar to the US big oil companies. In this case it’s because the housing prices in China cities spiked again. The hot topic in China these days are “why the new home prices increase so fast”, “why those guys bid the land at such a high price (down the road, they will sell the homes at price even higher”. The “conclusion” is the developers must make good money off home buyers. This is certainly not accurate. I’m not saying the banks are making all the money, while the real estate companies are getting nothing. They certainly get a fair piece of the pie so that they can feed their families.

Front sign of Vanke Baima garden in SH:

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Secular growth, Mindray, New Oriental

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I was looking for a secular growth stock in China. By secular growth I mean the business grows continously without the normal business cycle. One benifit of secular growth is it usually does not go up or down a lot as economy cycle does. A side benifit of this is we (investors) can sleep better in the night 🙂

The opposite of “secular” is “cyclical”. For example, we normal think the following industries are “cyclical”:

1) Oil, metals and other commodities;

2) Real estate (we have seen the downturn in the US housing market lately);

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