China Merchants Holdings' core businesses include shipping, industrial operations and infrastructure projects. This time a year ago, Indosuez WI Carr upgraded the company's stock to a buy, saying at the time it offered an 'undemanding' price to earnings ratio of 8.4 times, against a market average of about 10 times. Compared with the market, the company had lower currency risk, higher earnings stability and possible upside from more investment capitalising on its low gearing, the brokerage said. Unfortunately the Hang Seng Index has outstripped the company's stock in the past 12 months by a margin of 31.25 per cent. On September 20 last year the company had reported an eightfold jump in attributable profit for the first half and announced ambitious US$40 million plans to expand into the mainland toll road business. Earlier this year the company said it expected more asset injections from its parent this year after it announced a year-on-year earnings growth of 17.49 per cent in first-half profit to June 30. Last month the company was forced to shelve a five-year guaranteed exchangeable bond issue to raise up to US$150 million to repay short-term debt. The company's shares closed at $2.00 on Friday, off from their high of $2.60 reached on August 10 this year.