Shaanxi, or Shanxi? Non-Mandarin speakers picking over China’s reopened domestic market for initial public offerings had best pack an atlas along with their cheque books. Both are coal-producing provinces with eponymous miners. But Shaanxi Coal Industry is the one that just halved its planned listing. Shaanxi has not said why, but it probably has as much to do with the outlook for China’s coal industry as with the Shanghai market.
Yanzhou Coal and China Coal Energy were the two worst-performing Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies in the past year, as coal prices reached six-year lows. Both fell more than 50 per cent. Add in China Shenhua Energy’s one-third fall, and the three lost $47bn in market capitalisation – as much as the value of the world’s next five biggest coal stocks combined. That fall has improved valuations, with China Coal and Shenhua trading at 9 and 8 times forward earnings – at least a fifth below their average. The problem is finding a reason for coal prices to rally given overcapacity and a gradual policy shift away from coal. Coking coal prices have suffered as China has slowed. Thermal coal – four-fifths of China’s production – is trading at Rmb590 per metric ton, off last year’s Rmb510 low but still down a quarter from its 2011 peak. Producers’ break-even is roughly between Rmb550-600.
The factors that had boosted prices – limited supply, infrastructure bottlenecks, China’s own breakneck growth – have faded. Prices are unlikely to collapse but nor are they likely to gain much. Overcapacity from new projects tempts miners to lift output whenever prices rise.
Good luck to Shaanxi (and Shanxi Coal International Energy, its locally listed rival). The Shanghai market is very volatile. Meanwhile, their Hong Kong-listed peers are unlikely to fall another 50 per cent. But nor are they likely to rally, either.
陕西，还是山西？非普通话人士在重新开放的中国国内IPO市场上挑选股票时，最好是在支票簿以外，再带一本地图册。陕西和山西都是产煤大省，连矿企的名字都很接近。最近将股票发行规模减半的是陕西煤业(Shaanxi Coal Industry)。虽然没有说明原因，但此举可能不仅和上海IPO市场状况有关，还与中国煤炭行业的前景有关。
随着煤价降至六年来低位，兖州煤业(Yanzhou Coal)和中煤能源(China Coal Energy)成为去年香港股市上中国企业中表现最差的两家，股票市值均下跌逾一半。加上市值缩水三分之一的中国神华能源(China Shenhua Energy)，上述三家公司的市值共损失470亿美元，相当于排在它们之后的世界最大五只煤炭股票的市值总和。市值下跌使估值变得更为合理，中煤和神华眼下的预期市盈率分别是9倍和8倍，比它们的平均水平至少低了20%。在产能过剩和能源政策逐渐向非煤炭燃料倾斜的情况下，如何找到提振煤价的理由是关键。受中国经济增长减速的影响，焦煤价格走势不佳。占中国煤炭产量五分之四的动力煤，目前的交易价格为每公吨590元，虽然比去年的510元低点有所回升，但比2011年的价格高点仍低四分之一。煤炭生产商收支平衡的价格大概在每吨550-600元之间。
沪市的波动性很大，在此只能祝福陕西煤业及其竞争对手——山煤国际能源(Shanxi Coal International Energy)了。至于它们在香港上市的同行们，股价再次腰斩的可能性不大，但反弹也同样不大可能。