Focus Media (Nasdaq: FMCN ) has had enough.
Shares of the Chinese advertising giant rose nearly 10% yesterday, after the company agreed to return 25% of its adjusted earnings to its shareholders the following year in the form of quarterly dividends. Based on the $1.83 a share that analysts see Focus Media earning in 2011, we're looking at a yield of 2.2%. The good news is that if we go by the $2.24 a share that Wall Street is targeting, adjusted profits out of Focus Media this year the yield would pop up to 2.7%, based on yesterday's close.
Focus Media isn't doing this to be generous. After going a few rounds of refuting bearish claims in a scorching Muddy Waters report -- accusing the company of overstating the size of its advertising network among other things -- Focus Media feels that it's best response now is to simply show its investors the money.
It's a smart move. It may not silence the knocks entirely, but it's hard to knock a company for its accounting practices if it's returning a good chunk of its earnings to its shareowners.
China gets cheap
There's no denying that 2011 was a bad year for Chinese equities. A few stocks imploded under the sharp attacks of diligent worrywarts, but even the clean stocks felt the brunt of global investors moving on from the Chinese miracle.
I'm going to dive into a few of my favorite Chinese growth stocks that are a lot cheaper now than they were a year ago. The combination of three things -- growing earnings in 2011, falling share prices in 2011, and healthy expectations for growth in 2012 -- make these stocks that should be going off on your radar if you're willing to take on the risk.
Let's get to it.
|Stock 2011||EPS Growth 2011||EPS Growth 2012||P/E 2012|
|Sohu.com (Nasdaq: SOHU )||(21%)||27%||18%||10|
|51job (Nasdaq: JOBS )||(15%)||59%||29%||16|
|Giant Interactive (NYSE: GA )||(5%)||17%||23%||5|
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
We're already covered the bearish attack that has keep Focus Media in check. However, the company's fleet of ad-spewing LCD screens, billboards, and elevator inserts is hard to ignore in an economy that may certainly be slowing but still growing at a headier clip than the balance of the world.
Sohu is an online portal with some online gaming interests. Earnings grew nicely through 2011, even as the stock shed more than a fifth of its value. As a result of this disparity Sohu's forward earnings multiple is a bad trading day away from dropping into the single digits.
51job is a leader in online workforce recruitment. Matching employers to those looking for work seems like an all-weather business, and 51job has seen its margins explode as it goes from what was originally weekly listing of regional job openings in newspapers to a dot-com force.
Giant Interactive has been historically portrayed as a slacker among the five Chinese online gaming companies that trade publicly over here, but how tempting must it be to jump on a growing company fetching just five times this new year's projected profitability?
More than meets the eye
Even some of the stocks that did manage to squeeze out gains are cheaper now than they were a year ago.
Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) is the dot-com darling of China. Shareholders may consider themselves fortunate to own of a company that managed to see its stock surge a little more than 20% during an off year for Chinese stocks. However, earnings growth is on a pace to nearly double by the time 2011 results come out in a few weeks. Baidu has never been cheap, but now it's historically cheap trading at less than 30 times this year's profit target.
There are certainly risks in China. The government clearly takes a hands-on approach in limiting freedoms and keeping capitalistic baby steps in check. However, for those that can stomach the risk, there doesn't appear to be a better time to scoop up some of the country's most promising companies at bargain prices.