Mainland firms are fighting back against rumours they suspect were planted by hedge funds to profit from shorting strategies. China Yurun Food (1068), which makes pork products, met on June 27 with analysts to address rumours it was the focus of a Muddy Waters report.
Evergrande Real Estate (3333) took matters a step further on Tuesday when it bought back HK$655 million of its own shares.
A note from Yuanta Research says the firm set aside a HK$5 billion war chest for such buy-backs and has 'declared war on hedge funds'.
An analyst from another house says the firm wants to punish hedge funds that are planting negative rumours about Evergrande to profit from a short position. 'At the last analyst meeting, [the company said] if there is any rumour about the firm, and if the share price drops because of the rumour, they will take revenge,' the analyst says.
Kevin Gin (Yuanta Securities) has a buy recommendation on Evergrande. He says persistent rumours are circulating about Evergrande, most recently about the company having cash-flow difficulties. But the rumours are false, he contends, noting that as of June 28, Evergrande had declared cash reserves of HK$33.24 billion and undrawn banking facilities amounting to HK$40.67 billion.
'There's a divergence between the performance of the share price and the actual business,' says Gin, adding that the underlying business is strong.
Wee Liat Lee (Samsung Securities) says Evergrande is aggressive - and successful. Over the past three years, the company has seen an eightfold increase in contract sales.
'This is an interesting stock. If you look at the pace they are growing, even veteran titans such as Vanke [Shenzhen 200002] did not grow at the pace [of Evergrande],' says Lee. 'There is a camp who thinks this pace of growth is too fast.
'These are the sceptics of the China economy, who feel that China is going for unbalanced growth.'
Lee has a buy on the firm, mostly for its track record, but also for its transparency.
'Evergrande holds a monthly analyst meeting just to talk about their sales performance for that month. No other developer does that,' says Lee.
The views stated here are those of analysts and are not stock calls by the South China Morning Post