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Why Nam Tai Electronics, Inc. Shares Plunged

By Steve Symington – Jan 27, 2014 at 4:43PM

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Is Nam Tai's drop meaningful? Or just another movement?

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Nam Tai Electronics (NTP) fell more than 11% Monday after the electronics and LCD-maker released quarterly results and affirmed that it will discontinue the majority of its struggling LCD module operations in favor of developing its real estate assets.

So what: Fourth-quarter sales fell 24.7% year over year to $234.9 million, which translated to a 75% plunge in diluted earnings per share to $0.20. The vast majority of this revenue was attributed to the production of high-res LCMs for smartphones at the company's Shenzhen facility.

Going forward, with the exception of around $50 million in LCM orders for automobile applications during the first half of 2014, Nam Tai states that there are no additional sales in its pipeline.

Now what: Once Nam Tai fully shutters its core LCM production business, management insists that it plans to "thoroughly focus our efforts on developing two parcels of property in Gushu, Shenzhen, and Guangming, Shenzhen [...] into high-end commercial complexes." At that point, Nam Tai will act as "landlord and manager" of the complexes. In theory, with the help of its $270 million cash hoard, Nam Tai will have transformed its business from electronics manufacturing to property development and management.

However, while Nam Tai's entire market capitalization is currently just $260 million, keep in mind it'll undoubtedly burn much of that cash during its transformation.

In the end, I think the move rightfully serves as a huge red flag for investors, who are leery after watching the business so radically shift its focus. Until Nam Tai can prove it has what it takes to be a successful property manager, I'll stick to investing in established real estate investment trusts with a solid track record of delivering returns.

Fool contributor Steve Symington and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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