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Harm Elderman
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I have over 9 years of experience in trading in a variety of products. Ranging from CFD's (contract for differences) to options and equities with a variety of brokers. I have worked in a variety of financial institutions doing all sorts of work (including Investment banking, structured finance... More
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  • Is ChinaNet Online Holdings Worth A Shot? Or Is It A Definite Short…

    ChinaNet Online Holdings (NASDAQ:CNET) is a business to business internet technology company providing online-to-offline sales channel expansion services for small and medium-sized enterprises.

    The Logo

    Source: ChinaNet Online

    The core advertising portal of ChinaNet is, the gateway on which ChinaNet tries to help (small) businesses expand their revenue and develop their brand. The firm also offers an increasing amount of options for franchise owners in China who are looking to increasingly enlarge its businesses and market in the country. This by, for example, its portfolio of advanced (cloud) related tools such as advertising and marketing solutions.

    Stock price

    The stock price of ChinaNet has been every direction besides a stable one:

    CNET Chart

    CNET data by YCharts

    Revenue pie

    (click to enlarge)

    Source: SEC Filing

    As shown by the revenue overview, ChinaNet clearly depends mostly on Internet related revenue. Gross Margin dropped from 55% to 17.2% due to a decrease in margins in the internet advertising business and search marketing service. The operating expenses increased nearly 30% to $3.5 million.

    Recent updates

    22 December 2014

    ChinaNet announced a long term strategic partnership with MediaFun Creative Co, a Taiwan based cloud print service. Its main products are related to the graduation market, this has potential as the graduate market in Taiwan is roughly 5% of the total population.

    12 December 2014

    ChinaNet's subsidiary website received a 'Diamond Partner' award from Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), this to honour the almost 10 year relation between Baidu and ChinaNet. Interesting, as the popularity of on the Google Trends has diminished significantly over time.

    Google Trends -

    (click to enlarge)

    Source: Google Trends

    While provides us with further useful information

    Source: Alexa

    1 October 2014

    ChinaNet Online received a letter on the 30th of September from the NASDAQ notifying the company that it has regained compliance with the minimum bid price rule. This as the company failed to maintain a minimum bid price of $1.00 over the 30 consecutive business days.

    While digging for more needles in a haystack, I found out that ChinaNet-Online was late on its last filing. With a bit more digging, one will notice they have been constructively late, 4 times this year. Excluding the years before that…

    Source: SEC Filing

    Intangible assets - Domain Name

    Source: SEC filing

    The one noticeable metric which barely changes over time is the valuation of the domain name (over a period of 3 years). However, by looking at the Google Trends, the actual trend of ChinaNet has been declining significantly rather than stagnant what the intangible valuation of the domain name might indicate. A domain valuation which remains equal is not a positive note in my short list, as internet valuations tend to fluctuate per month, not remain stagnant over a period of 3 years.

    Google Trends - ChinaNet

    (click to enlarge)

    Source: Google Trends

    Concentration of customers

    (click to enlarge)

    Source: SEC filing

    As depicted by the SEC filing, almost half of all revenue of ChinaNet Online Holdings is based on 2 clients. This is troublesome to say the least.

    Cash and Equivalents

    (click to enlarge)

    Source: SEC filing

    It becomes even more interesting to see that ChinaNet Online Holdings has been burning through its cash immensely. From $10.695 to only $1.898 in just 3 years, the company would be running out of cash if we follow in that trend.


    ChinaNet Online holdings have troubles smelling everywhere. The stock topped at $3 this year while earlier in January it was a penny stock of only $0.64. Every time the stock topped it crashed shortly after. Although the stock has used most of its short momentum, at $1.29 I still believe there are valid enough reasons for it to further decline under $1 as it has done before.

    There is definitely growth potential as the company is still relatively small, but with margins declining (significantly) while operating costs increase (significantly) it will become a difficult story in regards of upwards potential. When these 2 metrics increase, the company will have to have larger revenue growth in total to even offset similar growth as before, let alone actual positive growth.

    For now, I consider ChinaNet's valuation overvalued and there should be enough room for a short, however my advice would be to follow the news surrounding this stock closely as any positive news might propel this stock upwards (as it has done before).

    The lack of knowledge about this company makes it a little gem for most investors.

    Happy investing!

    Dec 26 4:07 PM | Link | Comment!
  • FDA Crunch Time For Novo Nordisk Brings Opportunities For Investors.

    Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) is the world leader in insulin and diabetes care with a market cap of 117 billion. It's headquartered in Denmark with production facilities all over the world whilst employing over 35k people. It's truly a pharmaceutical behemoth.

    Its product line currently consists of many diabetic products from the likes of Levemir, NovoLog, Novolin R, NovoSeven, NovoEight and Victoza and more...

    So far Novo Nordisk has sustained a global position in the insulin market and proven to be a strong competitor for Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) & Sanofi (NYSE:SNY). They are truly a force to be reckoned with. (click to enlarge)


    From a fundamental perspective, as shown in the table underneath, Novo Nordisk is performing outstandingly well. Almost everything, from revenue to gross margin has been improving annually from 2004-12 till now.

    (click to enlarge)

    Source: Morningstar

    Is constant development of such medication a necessity? Yes, diabetes is on course to be an epidemic of monstrous proportions. I use the word monstrous, as I consider 439 million people a scary number.

    The picture on the right explains the rule of halves. It shows that the real situation is actually a lot worse as it shows that only a small part truly gets the care it needs.

    (click to enlarge)


    Shareholders had nothing to complain about with a YTD of around 30% and return of the last 10 years has been almost off the charts.

    NVO Chart

    NVO data by YCharts

    Like every other pharmaceutical company, share price is heavily susceptible upon FDA approval. And one FDA approval is coming up in just a few days, more specifically on the 11th of September 2014!

    (click to enlarge)


    It's for product (NDA) 206321, liraglutide (Victoza) as injection. The company is looking to get Victoza approved for the treatment of adults suffering from obesity and overweight adults with comorbidities such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, sleep apnea or type II diabetes.

    For anyone interested in where these kind of meetings take place, take a look at this link. It will provide the location of this meeting on the 11th of September.

    Now comes the interesting part. FDA approval in the past had quite its effect on the share price. This brings a vast amount of opportunities for investors. The ones which already maintain a long position in Novo Nordisk and for risk and thrill seekers which would like to take a speculative bet before the day of trading commences.

    What can history tell us?

    It takes us back to the 11th of February 2013 when the FDA came back with negative approval of the drug Tresiba and demanded further study to assess heart risk in patients taking this medication.

    Share price plummeted 14% as shown in the picture below.

    (click to enlarge)

    Source: yahoo finance data

    NVO Chart

    NVO data by YCharts

    As shown in the 1 year graph of Novo Nordisk, any positive noise out of the FDA committee on the 11th of September will likely surge the share price of Novo up to an all-time high.


    FDA approval on the 11th of September will once again prove a great opportunity for buyers who want to acquire extra Novo Nordisk in case of a rejection. The business fundamentals of Novo are solid as outlined before and one does not get many opportunities to buy Novo Nordisk with such a potential discount.

    Under the circumstances that we will see a green light, Novo Nordisk could be topping to an all-time high which for some might be a good reason to cash in on their hefty Novo Nordisk positions.

    For all the other day traders, movement is to be expected and a speculative bet either way can yield impressive returns.

    I remain long for the time being.

    P.S. I am working on a fully detailed article on Novo Nordisk as this has been my main holding for the last 8 years and has been my star performer. Give me time :)

    Disclosure: The author is long NVO.

    Sep 08 7:38 PM | Link | 1 Comment
  • China Sanjiang Fine Chemicals, A Rare Gem With 100% Upside!

    China Sanjiang Fine Chemicals, a rare gem with 100% upside.

    If you know about China and ethylene oxide you know about Sinopec (NYSE:SHI) and PetroChina (NYSE:PTR). However, the third player is a company called China Sanjiang Fine Chemicals (after this called SFC) and it is the largest privately-owned manufacturer and supplier of ethylene oxide (EO) and AEO surfactants in China. These 3 hold the main EO market in China.

    Ethylene oxide is used in products like antifreeze, cosmetics, lubricants, paint solvents, detergents, soaps, natural gas purification and a variety of other products.

    In light of the last profit warning given by SFC I would like to shed additional information about why this still could be a fine gem for the value investor.

    A little bit over a month ago SFC reported that its net profit attributable to equity holders of the company will decrease substantially by more than 50% as compared to the net profit attributable to equity holders of the company for the 6 months that ended June 2013. Main reason given, average selling price of their foremost product dropped approximately 8%. They are currently cruising 1 dollar lower per share since last year as seen in the figure below.

    Figure: Share price SFC

    However, for anyone who was up to date with SFC knew this was coming. There is nothing new under the sun. They mentioned in the annual report of 2012 and 2013 a few reasons of concern in regards of the pricing of ethylene oxide and they adapted sufficient steps in those years to diminish the inevitable pain of volatility swings within those price levels. These plans come into effect end 2014/Q1 2015 which makes current times a good moment to step into SFC.

    Figure 1: Revenue SFC

    As shown in figure 1, SFC has a main dependency on ethylene oxide (87%) while the main price of their product dropped 8.3%.

    In 2012, as I told before the expectation was that the price of ethylene oxide could be an issue in the future therefore they switched additional focus towards building an upstream methanol-to-olefin (MTO) production facility to produce ethylene and propylene. This will give them the chance to diversify their product lines and since ethylene is the core feedstock of EO, it will secure several cost advantages. The construction of the production facility will be finished December 2014 and come into effect Q1 2015. By diversifying products to the propylene derivatives group it will lower pressure on the dependency of EO. Furthermore due to economies of scale, their dependency on the price of EO will lower. This is all good news.

    The Ethylene Oxide market

    The EO industry in China is oligopolistic. The main 2 producers of EO are state-owned, $SHI and $PTR. SFC is the third largest producer of EO.

    Entry to this market is relatively difficult. Production cost to set up a facility are expensive and considering EO is a difficult to transport good (due to its combustible nature) international trade is unlikely and main clients are often located close to the position of the plant.

    So where could growth come from?

    (click to enlarge)

    One possible answer is urbanization as China is undergoing that rapidly. The effects of this could have massive impact on the economy of China and this will go hand in hand with growing demand of cleaner and detergent products of which the main ingredient is EO, the product of SFC.


    There are obviously many risks involved. Considering it's a state regulated market, you never know when the Chinese Government might tamper with regulations which could offset some pull backs for SFC.

    It has a short listed history on the stock market and is not widely covered by analysts. Therefore it will take you, as investor, more time to do hands on research about this company.

    Another risk is the small number of suppliers of ethylene which predominantly come from Japan. This risk will hopefully be mitigated by the new production facility plant.

    It has a low P/E valuation. But what is low? It's not listed on any Western index and it's difficult to compare with other EO players. Funding of/by companies on the HK index seem to be quite adequate and better regulated and definitely a lot more safe than the Chinese counterparts in America who are listed on the NASDAQ where debt issues are a lot more severe.

    State owned parties are setting the price. It's difficult to compete in such an oligopolistic market.

    Additionally, since it's a Hong Kong based stock, one might consider that a risk as it's an investment in HK Dollars. However, I do believe that Chinese stocks listed in Hong Kong have a preference above the Chinese stocks listed on the NASDAQ due to stricter regulatory rules.


    The main 2 holders in SFC are Delta Lloyd, a big Dutch Insurer and Hof Hoorneman Bankiers, a Dutch fund management party. It's part of Hof Hoornemans China Value fund.

    This also adds to my previous assumption that SFC does not get a lot of coverage, as I'm not sure why these Dutch institutions seem to have a majority interest in this stock.


    Considering its origins, it's always good to know whether your investment is in safe hands. I have had a variety of experiences when it comes to Chinese management and that was not always positive. The last one being (NASDAQ:CXDC) which smelled a bit off…

    Although difficult to assess and compare, I find the management team convincing and most importantly honest. The man in charge has quite the experience in this field. Some of the reasons why the shares plummeted where mentioned by SFC ahead of time and a well experienced reader would also have read the precautions SFC took to lower the pressure on their books. In that case for the true value investor it was a simple accumulate opportunity by every major drop as I'm sure SFC will pay off in the foreseeable future.

    Financial Metrics

    Let's delve in the financial numbers of this Chinese Chemical operator.













    increase yoy






    Gross profit






    increase yoy






    Operating income






    increase yoy






    Interest Expense






    increase yoy






    Income before taxes






    increase yoy






    Net income






    increase yoy






    Net income available to common shareholders






    increase yoy












    increase yoy












    increase yoy






    Source: Annual Report SFC 13'


    SFC has been growing significantly year over year in an expanding market and shows a great deal of resilience in their numbers. Excess demand in EO will continue to let revenues grow and more importantly remain margin to a certain extent.

    SFC has been able to manage its risk accordingly and in my opinion its ability to mitigate risk has been misunderstood by other investors.

    In regards of valuation, they currently show a P/E value of 2.97/0.61 = 4.86. Although their gearing has increased the last few years it's important to keep in mind that there is a significant lag between investment in the production facility and the ability to generate cash flow which might dilute the actual figures at the moment. It won't start until end Q4/2014.

    If we assume EPS to increase the same as it did the last few years (although 2014 will be a significantly more difficult year) their EPS could be 0.80 for the year of 2015. That's a 30% growth over 2 years. Keeping P/E at 5 would justify a stock price at 6.25. Its current price is 2.97 and that would show over a 100% potential within the end of 2015. I think that lies within potential of this stock.

    Valuation with other stocks goes blank as the main 2 competitors are state owned and therefore lack the potential

    Let's say their earnings get cut in half. That would put their current P/E at 2.97/0.31 = 9.5 Keeping a in par expectation of growth with their EPS like before of 30% would generate an EPS of 0.403 that would justify a share price of 3.83, still 30% higher than its current share price.

    Their NAV would note around 3.03. They currently trade a little under discount in that sense.

    I'm always skeptic when it comes to EV/EBITDA & P/E values, but intrinsically SFC does note under discount. Time will tell how it looks like Q1 2015.


    SFC is an undervalued stock if we expect earnings to be in line and grow the moment the new facility comes into place. This will not only generate new revenue and income but also lower risks which were mentioned before. It currently already has a low valuation. They have been honest and fair about the upcoming issues for years and showed great business skills by starting to build the MTO facility far ahead of time which will lower their dependency on EO in the end of 2014/Q1 2015. They are uniquely positioned in an expanding business. Their growth has been solid for years and it's only a matter of time before the returns will head in the right direction.

    Although considered a risky investment, as with every Chinese stock, the potential upswing with SFC is undeniable great.

    Main risk in my opinion is the margin trouble on ethylene oxide. However I never said it was a safe bet. However the upside is bigger in comparison to the downside. And therefore as a risky investor, SFC is a good bet.

    I'm sure SFC will double before the end of 2015. However, before that happens, don't be surprised if SFC might cruise a little lower before it turns the tables.

    Aug 04 8:47 AM | Link | 2 Comments
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