Sunday, January 17, 2010

China Integrated Energy, Inc. (CBEH) - Smallcap Chinese Oil Play

I think it's fair to say that Chinese oil consumption is only going to continue it's upward trend in the coming few years. China has already surpassed the United States in car sales as more people relocate from rural farming communities into the cities. Many industries are expanding, bringing in more workers willing to commute longer distances. All of which points to increasing oil consumption in China. The question is, what is the best way to play this ongoing trend? Many Chinese energy plays remain undervalued at this time despite recent gains, giving many options to play the trend. While not to everyone's taste, I personally like to focus on smallcap stocks that I believe are undervalued.

One company that has caught my eye in recent months is China Integrated Energy, Inc. (CBEH), formerly known as China Bio-Energy Holding Group. The company is engaged in three business segments, the development, production, and distribution of bio-diesel, the wholesale distribution and processing of heavy oil and finished oil products, and the sale of gasoline and diesel at retail gas stations. Actually, the bio-diesel segment really doesn't excite me especially. The main reason I like this company as an investment is the growing network of retail gas stations.

The company recently announced the purchase of 2 additional gas stations in Shaanxi province, bringing the total to twelve at this time. CBEH also plans to acquire a further 5-7 gas stations in the coming 12 months. The company has the ability to provide stable supply to all of the gas stations in its network. Being a vertically integrated energy company allows the company to achieve higher profit margins, and the simplicity of the company business model is something I find attractive as an investment. As of September 2009, the company reported average gross margins of 13.3% for its retail gas stations, a figure which I would anticipate growing significantly in 2010 with increased sales.

So how do the fundamentals stack up? The company has a market cap of $276M, with very little debt and a current ratio of almost 9. CBEH boasts a return on equity of almost 25% and a price to sales ratio of just 1.08. The company has demonstrated a trend of increasing sales and revenues over several years and has established a strong cash position in order to undertake further acquisitions. The shares currently trade at $8.49 and I would anticipate a 12-month target of $11-13.

Disclosure: At the time of writing the author held shares in China Integrated Energy, Inc. (CBEH).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chemspec International (CPC) - A Chinese Stock With All The Right Chemistry

In recent times there has been a lot of focus in looking at overseas markets for superior gains and as a hedge against the falling dollar. One country which has received a huge amount of attention and investment dollars is obviously China, however, it appears to me that finding value in China is getting increasingly more difficult. There has been somewhat of a herd mentality with many people rushing out to buy stock in Chinese companies, with little or no regard to whether or not it represents a good investment. Some people who would normally spend hours when researching a domestic company as a potential investment seem to throw caution to the wind when it comes to overseas investments. To some extent "a rising tide floats all boats", but there are excellent opportunities in China and there are, how do I put it, "less than stellar" opportunities in China. When the inevitable correction comes we will see which companies are the real deal and which are just playing with smoke and mirrors.

One company that I believe is the real deal and represents true value for the investor is Chemspec International, Ltd. (CPC).

Chemspec is a contract manufacturer of highly engineered specialty chemicals and the largest manufacturer of fluorinated specialty chemicals in China. The company is headquartered in Shanghai, with four additional facilities in surrounding provinces. The company’s chemicals are used as building blocks for more advanced chemicals or to enhance the performance of the end products of its clients. It sells primarily companies in the electronics, pharmaceutical and agrochemical sectors. Chemspec was founded in 1996 and underwent IPO in June of 2009, with a price of $9.

The area of contract manufacturing has grown immensely in recent years, both domestically and overseas, with many companies choosing to outsource what would have normally remained in-house. Chemspec's blue-chip end-users include major global TFT Liquid Crystal suppliers, one of the world's top global agrochemical companies and four of the world's top ten pharmaceutical companies by sales.

Chemspec trades at a P/E of 7.1 and a price/book of 1.51 with a current ratio of 2.99. The company has demonstrated excellent profitability in the past, however has been affected a little by the economic downturn, resulting in reduced earnings. The management appear to be making all the right moves to navigate through these difficult times, focusing on R&D and expanding facilities. The stock currently trades at $7.31, up significantly from the 52 week low, but still well below the IPO price. I would anticipate a 12-month target price of $9-10.

Disclosure: At the time of writing the author held shares in Chemspec International, Ltd. (CPC).