Few stocks draw such mixed reviews as Giordano. The one-time darling retailer has lost favour with the investment community after a host of misleading statements about its troubled China business. Shareholders got a further shock with the announcement of a $93 million fine for breaking mainland customs regulations. The company had warned of a penalty, but few reckoned on it being so large. Management has played fast and loose with the firm's credibility over the last year. Now it is engaged in a share buy-back programme after initiating the action a few months ago. Yesterday it apparently continued the buying spree. At 11 times prospective 1997 earnings, with at least $200 million cash on hand, the company sees the stock as deeply over-sold. Presumably no deal with a mainland party is imminent given the buy-back programme. Still, there are those who say the stock is over-valued at present levels. As long as existing management remains, a deal with Chinese parties is out of the question, they argue. Adding to its woes is diminishing market share due to competition from low-end, bright-and-breezy apparel retailers in major markets such as Taiwan. HSBC James Capel maintains a speculative buy on the company in the event of a possible takeover bid. Remember, Giordano has no controlling shareholder these days.