Department stores disappoint buyers

INVESTORS with a yen for stock shopping came up short-changed when they bought into the initial public offerings of Jusco Stores and Yaohan International Holdings.

Both Japanese department stores have proved the biggest disappointment among the new listings and rank among the 10 worst performers over the year.

Yaohan International was the sixth worst, down 46 per cent from its issue price to $1.45.

Its competitor, Jusco came in just behind as the seventh worst new listing, down 38 per cent to $1.

Rising rents and tighter margins have taken the shine off both companies, but it was a high price at listing that is most to blame, according to analysts.

'Department stores trade at a low price-earnings multiple, but at the time they were listed they were already very expensive,' said a Japanese analyst.

'Japanese department stores just do not do as well as Lane Crawford,' he added.

Car distributors also failed to warm up after starting.

SAAB distributor Ankor Group was down 58 per cent from its issue price, making it the second worst performing new issue.

Motoring close behind was Suzuki distributor Cheung Tai Hong Holdings, which is trading 53 per cent below its listing price, making it the third worst new listing.

If retailers and product distributors were the worst performers, then it was well-known brands that were the best performers.

Strong retail investor interest saw fashion firm Esprit Asia Holdings oversubscribed 185 times while drinks maker Vitasoy International Holdings was 50 times oversubscribed.

Both companies are brand leaders in their fields and have firmly entrenched themselves in their respective markets.

Esprit was the second best stock of the year and is up 82 per cent since listing.