Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2008, 12:00am

Auspicious stock picks for the Year of the Rat

Happy birthday to you all. Today is the seventh day of the Lunar New Year and it's everyone's celebration, according to Chinese tradition.

There is no better time to look for Lai See stocks, which usually bring in a tidy profit without requiring much risk.

Our selection is simple: We pick companies with a significant anniversary to celebrate in the Year of the Rat, on the assumption that these companies will work extra hard to achieve memorable earnings (and not lose face) with a jackpot of special dividends.

Last year it worked well for our anniversary portfolio starting with Wing On International, which celebrated its century mark last year. It competed with China Mobile, which overtook HSBC, as Hong Kong's No 1 stock for its 10th anniversary.

On top of our list this year is Bank of Communications, which is to celebrate its 100-year anniversary on March 4th.

Chairman Jiang Chaoliang made clear in his chairman's statement last year that as a century old national financial brand in China, the bank was determined to add a glorious chapter to the bank's history book.

Shares of Bocom have fallen 41 per cent from a peak of HK$14.92 to yesterday's close of HK$8.69.

Celebrating probably the longest history in the banking sector will be Standard Chartered, which is going to commemorate its 150th anniversary in China and India this year and Hong Kong next year.

Celebrating their 75th anniversaries are local players Hang Seng Bank and Wing Lung Bank. Hang Seng Bank will report its results on March 3rd, the day it was founded in 1933.

Marking their 25th anniversaries will be blue-chip China Resources, China Everbright and Shun Tak Holdings. Both Wheelock & Co and Guoco Group are in their 20th year of listing.

Property firms celebrating 20 listed years are HKR and Lai Sun Development, while mainland property firms Hopson Developments, Sinolink Worldwide and Shimao International are celebrating their 10th year of listing.

Last but not least, we note Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels is approaching its 80th anniversary, while Esprit Holdings will have its 40th anniversary.

Words of greeting

Turning from celebrations to greetings, how many four-word Lunar New Year best wishes other than Kung Hei Fat Choi (or Gong Xi Fa Cai) can you think of?

Try C C U E, which literally means 'everything goes smooth' in both Cantonese and Mandarin.

For brokers, what about 'Buy low, sell high' for your clients?

Looking good

Who says reading corporate announcements during the Lunar New Year is a boring job?

We were quite surprised by the latest Regent Pacific personnel announcement, which included Lunar New Year greetings photos.

It's not often that corporations include photos in their announcements, although they are permitted to do so. Still, a colourful press release definitely helps give the eye something to look at.

Value for money

Blame it on the near-zero interest rates in Hong Kong.

We were amused by Anta Sports Products, which decided to exchange its unused net proceeds raised six months ago into yuan to ride the currency's appreciation.

The sportswear manufacturer had a cash pool of at least HK$557 million, which probably paid a little more than 1 per cent interest after a 100 basis point cut last month. That was much less than the 4 per cent paid to such large deposits on the mainland.

Anta said it would ensure all such currency exchanges are conducted in compliance with mainland laws and regulations. Assuming it uses the orthodox method of transferring HK$20,000 each working day into yuan, we estimate it will probably take more than 100 years to get the deal done.