Research

TREASURY WINE ESTATES (TWE AU)

Full-year results allay concerns…somewhat

Nigel Stevenson · 16 August 2019

Treasury Wine’s full-year results undoubtedly showed a major improvement in operating cash flow, as receivables declined from elevated levels. While channel-stuffing cannot be ruled out, there is limited evidence of this in the latest financials. Our concerns have been somewhat allayed, although questions remain regarding earnings quality. The direct gains from acquisition accounting appear to have wound down, but we suspect there could be some lagging profit benefits from the sale of other held-back inventory. We maintain our AVOID recommendation given the ongoing uncertainty over earnings quality. GET PDF


SHORT-SELLERS

Blue Orca attacks Ausnutria

Gillem Tulloch · 15 August 2019

In the 8th short-seller attack on Hong Kong listed companies this year, Blue Orca alleges that Ausnutria has been faking sales and profits. The company’s shares are suspended pending a rebuttal from management. It is sometimes possible to demonstrate that a company’s financials do not reflect the allegations, but not here. The company shows similar financial traits to past frauds, and these have become more pronounced over the past two years. Ausnutria’s unusual corporate structure, with production assets in Europe and sales in China, might help explain some of these traits. The best shareholders can hope for is a comprehensive…
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TREASURY WINE (TWE AU)

Disappointing vintage

Nigel Stevenson · 7 August 2019

Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) may have inflated profits by up to 50% over the last two years through the use of acquisition accounting to write-down inventories and establish other liabilities. Weak operating cash flow with a widening divergence from cash profits raises additional concerns that profits are being manipulated. Tell-tale signs include rising receivables and inventories which suggest possible channel-stuffing and deferral of overheads. The winding down of benefits from acquisition accounting may have left a hole in earnings; if we are correct, there is 35% downside to A$10.60/share. We currently recommend investors AVOID the stock but poor forthcoming results…
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CIMIC (CIM AU)

Worse than we thought

Nigel Stevenson · 18 July 2019

CIMIC’s 1Q19 results show continued signs of profit and cash flow inflation, reinforcing the thesis of our recent in-depth report which concludes that profits have been inflated by 100% over the past two years. Contract debtors (primarily unbilled revenue) in 1Q19 have continued to grow, suggesting aggressive revenue recognition. Meanwhile, the gap between average and period-end debt figures remains high, which indicates period-end balance sheet window dressing. This is supported by continued rises in non-interest finance costs, suggesting high levels of factoring. Therefore, while CIMIC’s headline performance was largely as expected, we reiterate our target price of A$23/share based on…
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ON THIN ICE

Cash flow shortfall risks are rising

Mark Webb · 17 July 2019

An inability to generate operating cash flow will, at best, cap dividends and long-term investment; however, it can indicate more serious problems, such as profit manipulation or solvency. We have scanned across almost 1,300 large Asian companies and highlight nine that have either suffered from prolonged operating cash flow weakness, or recently reported a sharp deterioration. We have concerns that China Everbright Intl, Beijing Enterprises Water and China State Construction Int. are front-loading profits; CR Pharma, CIMC, Shanghai Pharma and Vipshop look to be window-dressing balance sheets and cash flows; meanwhile, there is alarming inventory accumulation at Celltrion Healthcare and…
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THE US EQUITABLE ACT

Nuclear option

Nigel Stevenson · 11 July 2019

Recently announced draft legislation could result in Chinese companies being delisted from US exchanges if they fail to allow US regulators access to their audits. While companies are not in any immediate danger, it is another sign of rising tensions between the US and China which investors should not ignore. In the near term, the proposed law could increase the popularity of Hong Kong and mainland exchanges for new listings, and may ultimately result in existing stocks transferring to these markets. GET PDF A long-running dispute between securities regulators in the US and China over the auditing of US-listed Chinese…
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FAKING CASH 3

Kangde Xin Composite and Xinyi Glass

Gillem Tulloch · 8 July 2019

Xinyi Glass’ rebuttal to our report confirms what we already knew: (i) that dividends have been primarily financed with offshore debt and (ii) the company has never transferred onshore profits offshore, making it difficult to validate domestic profits. Other than that, the rebuttal was uninformative. Again, we ask management to respond to the questions provided to them. On a related note, last week’s disclosure that Kangde Xin Composite faked four years’ worth of profits adds to concerns over companies running highly liquid balance sheets, like Xinyi. We would like to see Xinyi transfer surplus cash from China to Hong Kong…
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FAKING CASH 2

Xinyi Glass (868 HK): Avoid/Sell

Gillem Tulloch · 26 June 2019

There is no evidence that Xinyi Glass has ever remitted cash from China to Hong Kong in order to pay for dividends, making it impossible to verify profits. This is unlike most other high dividend yielding H-shares. Dividends appear to have been entirely financed with HK dollar debt and offshore asset sales, most recently the surprise disposal of part of its stake in associate, Xinyi Solar. The result is a large build-up of onshore cash, matched by growing offshore debt. Worryingly, Xinyi Glass triggers a number of other traits similar to past frauds, such as our fake cash flow and…
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LEASE ACCOUNTING RULE CHANGES

Operating profit, debt and cash flow implications

Mark Webb · 13 June 2019

New rules on accounting for leases coming into effect this year are inconsistent, subjective and complicated, leading to potentially huge adjustments to balance sheets, income statements and cash flow, as well non-GAAP metrics such as EBITDA, net debt-to-equity and free cash flow. However, few companies in Asia appear to have adequately briefed investors on the impact. Our research and other studies show retailers and airlines will be most affected. We are particularly concerned with the IFRS cash flow treatment as comparative periods will not necessarily be restated and may materially inflate free cash flow metrics. Investors need to be aware…
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FAKING CASH

Coming to an A-share near you?

Gillem Tulloch · 5 June 2019

The fake cash flow fraud epidemic has arrived in the Chinese A-share market following the disappearance of US$4.4bn of cash at Kangmei Pharma, the default of Kangde Xin and investigations into Tunghsu Optoelectronic and Yihua Lifestyle. The financials of all four are not only startlingly similar to each other, but to past frauds.


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