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Agri machinery maker is ChiNext darling

By Li Xiang (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-03 08:06

No investor would have expected a retailer of agricultural machinery to be the dark horse on ChiNext, China's NASDAQ-style trading board that has remained subdued after a roller-coaster ride post-debut.

The share price of Sichuan Jifeng Agricultural Machinery Chain Co Ltd yesterday jumped by the 10-percent daily trading limit to 88.11 yuan ($12.91) after rising consecutively over the past 13 trading days.

Agri machinery maker is ChiNext darling

The Chengdu-based agricultural machinery firm has exceeded investor expectation since its debut on Oct 30, running ahead of hi-tech enterprises and the star-studded film producer Huayi Brothers, as the best-performing stock on ChiNext.

Its share price has so far experienced a nearly four-fold jump from its initial public offer price of 17.75 yuan. Even though it made a net profit of just 27.62 million yuan in 2008, the company's market value is now more than 5.5 billion yuan with a price/earnings ratio of 200.

Meanwhile, the wild ride in its share prices has made Chairman Wang Xinming and his wife Wang Hongyan the two largest shareholders in the company, among the richest people to own companies trading on ChiNext.

In just a month, the total market value of the stock they held advanced from 730 million yuan to 1.82 billion yuan.

"We didn't even expect such a strong market force. It's becoming hard for us to remain low-profile," a senior executive of Jifeng Agricultural Machinery was quoted by the 21st Century Business Herald as saying.

The executive said there was not much change in the company's fundamentals and it is facing huge pressure because of the skyrocketing price of its shares.

Jifeng's stock price rose by just 99 percent on its first trading day, compared with a 209 percent rise of that day's biggest gainer, Chengdu Geeya Technology.

The surprise came the next day when its shares touched the 10-percent trading limit even as all other stocks nosedived. The steep climb even forced the company to suspend share trading twice since the listing.

Analysts said the lower market valuation of the company initially and its promising business model, were the twin factors that market speculators exploited to beef up the share price.

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The country's largest farm machinery firm now has 70 directly operated chain stores and a sales network of 550 agents, mainly in Southwest China. Its business grew rapidly in the past three years with its net profit touching 25.08 million yuan in the first half of this year.

Some analysts, however, warned that a sharp fall in its share prices was likely in the future as the high valuation of the stock was beyond the normal range and that the market was overestimating the company's future performance.

"The price has clearly run wild and the market value has risen beyond the normal range," said Qian Weihai, an analyst at Shanghai Securities. "It is facing the risk of a sharp fall at any time in the future."