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streetbeat By Kathryn M. Welling

FEBRUARY 28, 2005

The Golden Fleece?
Dryships Debut Shows Speculation, Liquidity Trumping Experience
Street Beat It was surreal. When someone asked why he with surging Far Eastern demand for energy and
was doing the deal, herenow, he actually said, basic commodities, has been one of the stock
Hot Shipping IPOs basically, Because Americans are the dumbest markets few truly bright spots for more than a
Likely To Sink investors around, and theres lots of liquidity in year. He knows well, too, that institutional mem-
Many Investors, this market. ory in the investment world, other than in a few
relics like himself, these days has a lifespan
Much As Did Prior The man sputtering on the other end of my rivaling that of a fruit fly. Still, hed thought, the
Junk Bond Deal phone line several weeks back is no innocent red herring was so outrageous, the deals timing
By Dryships CEO abroad in the wilds of so brazenly on the
Wall Street. Not with heels, practically, of its
PA G E 1 more than 40 years principals last disas-
experience in buying trous (for the public)
Listening In and selling institutional foray into the public
Sid Klein, securities under his markets, that sparks
Long-Time Japan belt. And not with the would just have to fly
sort of rare and envi- when this fellow dared
Watcher, Says Fun able track record he show his face in New
Has Barely Begun has to his credit, one York. Where the audi-
In Stocks Serving based on consistently ence was sure to
preserving, as well as include more than a few
Home Market And increasing, other peo- investment pros whose
Rest Of Asia ples capital. Turns out very own institutions
PA G E 4
that this consummate John Trever 2005 all rights reserved
had been stiffed in his
pro had just gotten last deal, floated barely
back from a roadshow lunch for a Cantor seven years earlier.
Guest Perspectives
Fitzgerald deal. A luncheon hed attended, quite
John Hussman: frankly, because his sardonic sense of humor I was treated to a spectacle, all right, he
Market Returns has, if anything, only been sharpened by his recounted. The spectacle of a room full of port-
years of toil in the Street. He had expected, he folio managers being led like lambs to slaughter.
Going On A Diet admitted, to be provided a little mid-day comic No one even asked what happened to the $175
ON WEBSITE relief. million this fellow raised in junk bond financing
Jim Paulsen: for something called Alpha Shipping Plc, back in
Instead, hed gotten acid indigestion and yet 1998. Granted, these were mostly equities guys,
The 1990s Are another in your face demonstration of how and everyones a specialist in his own little area
So Over; Act Like It utterly the institutional investment world has these days, but someone besides me has to
ON WEBSITE changed over the last decade or sonot to men- remember how this guy hung some of the
tion a little real-time immersion in the rising sea biggest institutions in the Street out to dry. How
Acute Observations of speculative sap flowing around anything even he defaulted within a year of selling that pack-
ON WEBSITE remotely connected to the energy sector. He age of 10-year 9.5% senior unsecured notes
shouldnt have been so taken aback, he later through Citicorp Securities, with Credit Suisse First
Talk Back
reflected. For he knew darn well that the marine Boston and SBC Warburg Dillon Read as co-managers.
ON WEBSITE transportation group, linked at the hip, as it is,

RESEARCH welling@weeden FEBRUARY 28, 2005 PAGE 1

The gentleman in question is one George The candid if legalistic disclosures in the document
Economou, a MIT-educated scion of a prominent run the gamut from the mildly spicy (both Mr.
Greek shipping family. The 51-year-old has been Economous wife, and his ex-wife, through separate
Published exclusively for
actively involved in the shipping trade in both Liberian corporations, called (respectively) Advice
clients of Weeden & Co. LP New York and Athens for more than 25 years. Investments and Magic Management, are listed
Mr. Economou is chairman and chief executive with him as principal shareholders in Dryships), to
Kathryn M. Welling of Dryships Inc., the company subject to the lat- the familial: Among the first vessels Dryships
Editor and Publisher est underwriting; he had styled himself general planned to buy with the offering proceed were six
manager of the failed Alpha Shipping. owned by companies controlled by Economous sis-
ter. Likewise, both Cardiff Marine, the affiliated
Jean M. Galvin On the available evidence, Gorgeous George Liberian-registered shipping management company
Business Manager and Economou, (as a long-term professional observ- that will actually handle Dryships operations, and
Webmaster er of the shipping scene swears Economou is Drybulk, S.A., its Liberian-registered broker for
Karin-Marie Fitzpatrick familiarly known in industry circles, in part for charters and ship trading, are strictly family affairs.
Editorial Assistant his louche mane of blonde hair and in part for Economou owns 70% of each through something
Alexander Isley Inc. a reputation for really knowing how to party) is called the Entrepreneurial Spirit Foundation, a
Graphic Design one persuasive wheel- Liechtenstein entity he
er-dealer. Dryships (DRY) controls. (This same
Weeden Securities Corp.
foundation acquired 70%
Board of Directors
Case in point No. 1: No of Dryships, pre-offering,
Donald E. Weeden
fewer than 20 of the 26 in exchange for transfer-
Barry J. Small
Alpha Shipping vessels ring effective ownership
Robert A. Cervoni
on which he raised the of its initial six-ship fleet
Timothy McDonald
$175 million in 10-year to the IPO company).
Robert DeMichele
junk financing were Meanwhile, the other
Daniel V. Panker
then already more than 30% of both Cardiff and
Richard Sharp
20 years oldand Drybulk are held by his
Richard Schmaltz
described at the time sisters Prestige Finance
Craig Hetherington
as elderly by the S.A., yet another Liberian
Christopher Mahler
authoritative Lloyds entity.
Todd Trimmer
welling@weeden, an The prospectus for
exclusive service for clients Point No. 2: Though the shipping and junk mar- Dryships (a company Economou formed, perhaps
and prospective clients kets crateredand Alphas bonds were downgrad- for varietys sake, in the Marshall Islands) is rife, in
of Weeden & Co. LP,
is published biweekly edwithin months of that February 1998 deal, other words, with convoluted related party transac-
on Friday mornings, and although Alpha defaulted within a year on tions.
by welling@weeden, interest due to U.S. institutional investors,
a research division of
Weeden & Co. LP.
Economou negotiated a sweet restructuring Not that it isnt up-front about them. Take the fact
Editorial and partnership deal via a quick scheme of arrangement in the that Dryships has only two employees, its CEO and
offices are located at Isle of Man courts and a related pre-packaged a CFO, and so will conduct virtually all of its opera-
145 Mason Street Chapter 11 in the Southern District of New York. tions through Cardiff, which Economou created
Greenwich, CT 06830.
Telephone: (203 ) 861-9814 Bottom line: He convinced UBS/Credit Suisse back in 1991. Its right there, under risk factors, on
Fax: (203) 618-1752 (which had scooped up three-quarters of the page 12. And all that a prospective shareholder had
Email: junk issue at distress prices) to settle for 37 to do was flip to the top of the next page to learn,
cents on the dollar. Sure, he had to scrap and you will have no recourse against Cardiff. A little
First-class postage is paid
sell a few ships, but by July 99, LLoyds List was farther down that same page, furthermore, some
at Stamford, CT
headlining that Economou had regained control of fairly standard boilerplate verbiage about
his fleet. Economous stakes in both Cardiff and Dryships
Copyright Warning
& Notice:
creating potential conflicts of interest is capped
It is a violation of No. 3: The success of Dryships recent IPO, in with an unusually blunt warning that blood is thick-
federal copyright law to which this latest Economou venture raised some er than water: Cardiff may give preferential treat-
reproduce all or part of this
publication or its contents $270 million through the sale of 15 million ment to vessels that are beneficially owned by
by any means. The Copyright shares (roughly a 50% stake) to U.S. investors related parties because Mr. Economou and mem-
Act imposes liability
of up to $100,000 per issue at $18despite a 194-page prospectus (not bers of his family may receive greater economic
for such infringement.
welling@weeden does not counting amendments and exhibits) that is elo- benefits.
license or authorize quent testimony to the well-intentioned futility
reproduction by clients or
anyone else. However, of the full-disclosure standards enshrined as By then, however, even a mildly attentive reader
multiple copies are available investor-protection in the U.S. securities laws. should have been getting the idea. As early as page
to clients upon request and
limited reprint arrangements (While its true, as Judge Learned Hand wrote, 3, the document revealed that, immediately prior to
are available. Copyright that sunshine is the best disinfectant, its also the public offering, Dryships planned to dividend
2005, K.M. Welling and
Weeden & Co. LP. true that there are none so blind as those who $69 million, or substantially all of its retained
All rights reserved.
will not see.) earnings and cash on hand (save $7 million), to the

welling@weeden FEBRUARY 28, 2005 PAGE 2

private Economou-family
interests that controlled

Stacked up against that

sort of candor, its per-
haps an unseemly quib-
ble to note that the little
matter of Alpha
Shippings junk bond
default, and the lead
roles that both Mr.
Economou and Dryships
CFO Christopher Thomas,
played in it, are relegated
to the disclosure docu-
ments 67th page, where
theyre dispatched in a
brief paragraph.

And my telephone infor-

mant, the sort who long
ago cultivated a habit of
inquiring, before hed Mike Keefe 2005 all rights reserved
even open a red herring,
tions of DRYS ships have been independently certified, signal
about which firms had turned down the deal, wasnt really terribly
something isnt right, he warned.
surprised that this detail had escaped his luncheon companions
ken. The shipping space has been hot for quite a while now,
But it took a call to a senior shipping industry observer in London,
Dryships isnt the first of these deals to come to market, nor will it
a man oddly enough rather sympathetic to Mr. Economou, to get
be the last. It would be wonderful if people learned, but they dont.
to the nub of what isnt right about the Dryships deal.
The market has changed, its all about demand. Everybody needs
merchandise. The brokers will make good money this year, if they
It isnt that, in any other business, Economou would be dismissed
can keep these deals coming at a pretty good rate. Because the
as a disgraced junk bond salesman trying to float a bag of old
liquidity is out there. Especially in the hedge funds, most of which
shipsthough that is true. The bigger issue is what does it say
hold nothing long enough to concern themselves with anything as
about the market that, given his track record, hes succeeded in
old-fashioned as fundamental investment value. They care only
floating Dryships?
whether they can use the positive carry and highly leveraged
money to trade vehicles like thisand show some performance.
You very well could interpret Economous deals as much as criti-
cisms of the extreme naivete of the professional investingand
On that score, so far, DRYS has yet to disappoint, as the chart
bankingcommunities, as of Economou himself, this Brit sug-
over yonder shows, climbing from its $18 offering price to a high
gests. No debate, hes an opportunist. But I venture that hes
of 23.75, before closing last Friday at 23.16, up .26 on the day. To
been as much talked into doing the deals as hes talked others
be sure, Gorgeous George has been visibly doing his part, even
into doing them. It takes two to tango, and the investment banks
participating in the opening bell photo op at the Nasdaq market
who brought these deals, I promise you, got their fees. They did
site on Feb. 7. So even the most skeptical of observers Ive
their figures and decided these things were good enough to shove
encountered expect the stock to take time to develop into a
down the throats of their professional investor clients.
great short. Although I found little doubt that it will.
Clients, it must be said, for whom this fellow in London feels little
Korean shipbuilders have record orders for drybulk carriersand
pity. The rule is caveat emptor. If you spent even 15 minutes
no one knows how many the Chinese, who are developing even
doing research before buying a tanker or bulk ship, youd realize
greater shipbuilding capacity, have on tap, marvels the portfolio
there is no guessing where these markets are going to go. Yet
pro who phoned after DRYS roadshow. Yes, freight rates are way
heres DRYS, a deal clearly priced on current earnings in an
up, but this is a very cyclical industryalways has been, and
extremely volatile market. This, in a business where the only real
always will be.
profits, historically have come not from operations, but from time-
ly asset sales! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that it is
Another shipping analyst, one who took the time to delve into the
the private Economou family companies, again, that are making
numbers in the prospectus, came away stunned that Economou
money in the dealby locking in profits on ships. So it is the public
made so little on DRYS vessels while day rates soared over the
investors who can go swing with the markets.
last couple of years; increasing their time charter equivalents (a
standard industry measure) only by a factor of four, while the rele-
Such a deal...
vant index soared better than six-fold. That performance leakage,
and the lack of any indication in the prospectus that the valua-

welling@weeden FEBRUARY 28, 2005 PAGE 3

An unorthodox check on valuations can
The Civilized China Play
be found by looking at the number of
IPOs being conducted in Japan.
Corporate managers are likely to issue
less equity when it is expensive to them
(i.e. cheap to investors). Conversely, Long-Time Japan Watcher Finds Value In Firms Serving Home Market
they will be very willing to supply shares
to investors when such shares are
deemed to be cheap from the corporate Way back in 1989, Sid Klein was telling my old while alive. Now, there is something like $11.5 to
perspective (expensive from the Barrons colleague, Peter DuBois, that the Tokyo $12 trillion U.S. dollars of savings in Japanand
investor's viewpoint). At over 150 per market was heading for a major crack-up. And boy, about $5 trillion of that is in the hands of people in
month we are witnessing equity issuance was it. Well, since 2000, Sid, who publishes the the highest tax bracket. So, if only 5% of that comes
on a scale not seen since the bubble Japan Asia Investments letter from Montreal, has out as inter-generational gifts over time, that would
years of the late 1980s! been telling anyone wholl listen that what he calls amount to a transfer of $250 billion to people much
From our perspective, the evidence sug- more likely to circulate it through the economy and
Japanese domestic demand-oriented value stocks are
gests that Japan simply isn't cheap
going to erupt to the upside. And while the Nikkei the financial markets. Now, this is something thats
enough to account for the cyclical down-
turn. So we can find little reason for took it on the chin, again, with the Nasdaq and S&P, just warming up, but youve got to pick your sectors
investors ignoring the slowdown in until 03, his Japanese value stocks did, by and with that knowledge.
activity that appears to be ongoing. The large, hold their ground. This year, theyve come out
chances of a reality check are increasing of the gate strong again. So I checked in with Sid And those are sectors that serve Japan and
by the day. Bottom up orientated recently to see what hes thinking. export China?
investors may not realise that a slow- KMW Well, Im looking more first for a major percent
down is at hand until it shows up in their Youre still a bull on Japanese stocks, I take it, move in certain stocks because of the valuation play
portfolios, but...this day is coming ever but only selectively here, Sid? coupled with expectations of future growth. Thats
closer. Short Japan. where the initial big move is; thats why the swings
Thats right. First of all, I have my own proprietary
As the other side of the trade, I offer up
indicators for what I call value, which is why, as a off of the January lows were so strong. All last year, I
a long Korea position.
Korea is a cyclical economy much like group, the stocks Ive recommendedand which had been writing in my letter to expect big correc-
Japan...The Korean economy is looking bottomed in 2000havent revisited those levels. I tions into November-December. And we had very
quite a mess. Exports have been drop- focus on companies that primarily do business with- big bottoms and big retracements in Japanese stocks
ping off the edge of a cliff, industrial in Japan or with the rest of Asia. What Ive identi- right before yearend. But the way theyve turning up
production is slowing sharply. The con- fied as domestic demand-oriented value stocks. this year only convinces me further that were talk-
sumer, in the wake of a credit card bust, These are stocks trading at totally washed-out valua- ing about the best market in the world.
is barely breathing...But perhaps above tions. Meanwhile, money is more and more flowing
and beyond all else Korea is cheap. The into Japanese investments. The pot of money is get- Youre starting to sound like a broker. Besides,
12 m forward P/E is just 8x, the average it wont be long now until the March 31 end of
ting bigger and bigger, especially the part controlled
since the mid 1980s is 12.5x. The trailing
by hedge funds. And the reason is clear: When the Japans fiscal year. Which, for U.S. investors,
P/E is also 8x. ... On a Price to Book
basis Korea is trading at 1.4x, higher Nikkei goes from 11,000 to 14,000, these are the often feels more like Halloween.
than the short historical average of 1.2x sorts of issues that will soar by 70%-100%. Very high Well, thats all wrong, the cyclical lows in the
since the mid 1990s, but it is amongst outperformance. Japanese market tend to occur at the very end of the
the cheapest of the global emerging calendar year, as they did in 2004,because a lot of
markets on this basis. Really? I dont suppose you know exactly trading there is driven by U.S. and British tax con-
On our trend earnings P/E measure, when the Nikkei will accomplish that feat siderations. The thing is that the proper analysis of
Korea is trading on just below 15x, com- No, but cycles in Japans markets requires something like a
pared to an average of closer to 17x, and 20-year study, which is something Ive done, but not
a massive discount relative to Japan's
Or when domestic demand will be resurrected something that a lot of other analysts have bothered
from the dead in Japan? Its been pretty much with.
given up for dead, you know.
James Montier Oh, thats crazy. There is so much pent-up demand I dont know, theres something about the way
A tale of two basket cases in Japan, thats been built up over the last decade Japanese banks have all too often driven
Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein Global its not just a recent thing. And major changes are investors to hari-kari with March surprises
Strategy Unit occurring in Japan that are making this recent rally Oh sure, in any given sector which an investor may
Feb. 15, 2005 look to me like just a first move in the economy, at happen to own, there can be trading extremes in the least in terms of the very big picture. first 15 days in March that then in the reverse direc-
tion. But whether that extreme is to the downside or
For instance? the upside really depends on the sector and the
Something I wrote about in my letter way back in stock. And it surely doesnt mean that you can count
2003. Theyre making tax changes that would allow on Japanese stocks all bottoming into March 31.
people who are 65 and up to make gifts to people
who are 20 and over at a tax rate of 20%. In other Isnt it premature to call for a bottoming in
words, make it so that people no longer have to wait Japan? Western investors really poured back
for people to pass away. They call it inheritances into Tokyo last year. And there even have been

welling@weeden FEBRUARY 28, 2005 PAGE 4

signs of the speculative sap rising in Japanese investors, stories about China and Korea and whatever else?
like the surging small-cap MOTHERS [market of the high- Maybe for the same reason that they dont recognize that
growth and emerging stocks], and trading volume. risk-averse yet high-return-oriented investors is an oxy-
Im buying stocks that are the exact opposite of speculative. That is moron? Still, the Nikkei is up some 4,000 points from its
another area of the market that will correct. The hedge funds low. That doesnt exactly look like neglect.
putting money into those things is trying toincorrectlyhedge the Yes, you can look at the Nikkei and say it has rallied 4,000 points
leverage and risk they perceive in the North American markets. As from the low. But the reality is that 7,600 was never a real number
for the domestic Japanese money that will be burnt in the MOTH- anyway; there was almost no trading there. The Nikkei was theoret-
ERS, itll just be a small factorand those investors will soon ically undervalued from 9,000; thats where I drew its support. And
enough join the rest of the crowd in chasing the Japanese value it actually didnt even get there for long, though that was the right
stocks higher. neighborhood. It did trade at 10,200, though, as recently as 2004.
So theyll get religion after getting
singed? So youre implying its only really
I dont think investing in MOTHERS is up around 1,500 points, instead of
reflective of the average Japanese The future is Asia. 4,000? Thats still a pretty good
investors. More and more, theyre look- move. Especially compared with the
ing at companies whose dividends yields The doorway to it goes U.S. market lately.
are as much as or even more than the What Ive been writing for better than a
10-year bond rate. So I see the Japanese through Japan. year is that after last Decembers lows,
public actually becoming a further fac- wed see a rally that will carry through
tor supporting the market for domestic In fact, the most risk-averse the first half. So, by July 1, youll have a
value stocks. One of the ways they will
do that will be through growing sales of
and yet most highly leveraged lot of these Japanese value stocks up
50%-100%. But then, I expect a general
mutual funds. Thats why brokerage way to invest in Asias future is correction in the second half, especially
because I anticipate a lot of
firms have been an early focus for me.
As far as China goes, Japanese compa- through Japanese domestic pressuresellingcoming out of New
nies are setting up factories in China. York. So it may be that youll want to get
But one of the things that created such demand-oriented value stocks . out of these stocks that youve done very
great, cheap valuations in Japanese well in around then, even though, from
companies is the perception that all an extremely long-term perspective,
business is going to move to China. So many Japanese companies they will still be trading at only fractions of their ultimate highs. Its
are trading at very low P/Es because their perceived future growth just a question of whether people are intermediate-term or very
rates are really flat, conjuring expectations of earnings declines long-term investors in the Japan. But there are big potential gains
and fears of assets being marginalized. But you know how markets to be found in Japanese value stocks, and now, in my opinion, is
are. They go to an extreme. So you try to buy stocks when they are time to get started in them. The move has already begun.
at ordinary valuations that can give you 50%-100% moves, as they
go to an extreme. In part, I guess, because you see little excitement here?
Correct. What is going on is a major secular transition. Even if the
What are you calling an ordinary valuation in Japan these Japanese market pauses at 14,000, in another year, Id expect to see
days? the Nikkei at 18,000. Then at 24,000 and then its going to go back
That depends on the company and the industry. You have to look at through 36,000. The future is Asia. The doorway to it goes through
it on a case-by-case basis. Japan. And in fact, the most risk-averse and yet most highly lever-
aged way for you to possibly invest in Asias future is through the
Well, do the domestic value stocks you like tend to congre- sort of Japanese domestic demand-oriented value stocks that I have
gate in a particular section of the Japanese market? identified. Remember, the Nikkei
No, my theme is not married to a sector or size, or to whether its /Dow ratio was at 14 in the beginning of 1990. Its recently been
large-cap, mid-cap, or small-cap. My own approach to value around 1.06 and in January, it got down to 1.02. It dipped just
involves fundamental and technical analysis. below 1, very briefly, about a year ago. Well, you have to go back to
the Korean War to find another time that ratio has been so low.
Before we go down that road, let me ask again: Youre really Thats a relationship that tells us a lot. It also explains why I see a
certain Japan has finally shaken off its deflationary funk? lot of strategic opportunities for investors willing to increase their
Yes, a couple of years ago, I put out a chart indicating that key portfolio exposure to Japan.
deflation indicators had already turned positive, it was just a hard
story to accept, because they were still in negative territory. Japan A lot has changed in the marketsand the worldsince the
was still in deflation but the indicators I charted were telling you Korean War.
that it was coming out of deflation. But now I see evidence that Granted, there are more ways today, for investors to try to balance
Japan has completely emerged from deflation. Meanwhile, rest of there portfolios; synthetic ways to create various exposures
Asia is facing inflation. And that is another reason that risk-averse through things like iShares and other ETFs and financial futures
yet high-return-oriented investors are looking toward Japan as a and all the rest. Nevertheless, as investments, none of those alter-
sophisticated way to invest in Asia. Japan represents about 60% of natives can even approximate the performance of appropriate stock
Asias GDP and market cap. Its legal and banking systems are well- selection. Thats been shown repeatedly to be the case since 2000.
developed. So why do people even bother to come up with fancy

welling@weeden FEBRUARY 28, 2005 PAGE 5

have access to from here. Its just a question of tun-
Hunet Inc. (OTC) ing into that market and understanding something
Shares (millions) 114.309 about it. You dont have to live in Tokyo for that.
Market Cap (millions) Y19,775.490 Remember, too, that I dont try to gather my own
Earnings 5.870 fundamental research on Japanese companies. I rely
Last Dividend 4.000
Estimated Dividend Yield 2.312 on analysts there to do that.

Besides, you dont speak Japanese, right?

No, but there are information services that offer me
absolutely everything in English. Research, statis-
tics, in real time. Besides, because I know what I am
looking for, in terms of fundamentals and valuations
and technicals, I can skip through a whole lot that is
out there and just concentrate on what is meaningful
to investment results.

And what is that, exactly, in the Japanese

Well, in terms of the fundamentals, what I want to
Japan Lifeline (OTC) see is an extremely low valuation and a strong bal-
Shares (millions) 12.302 ance sheetpositive cash flow, an improving earn-
Market Cap (millions) Y11,244.030
Earnings 41.590
ings growth trend, recent positive capital spending,
Price/Earnings 21.337 high real dividend yields.
Last Dividend 25.000
Estimated Dividend Yield 2.735
Earnings growth? I thought you liked value
I like to see a trend towards earnings growth but
because Im a value player, Ill be a bit patient. I like
to buy stocks when their earnings have just started to
turn up and I like to find ones whose products and
services are consistent with my big picture outlook
that places Japan at the center of Asias future
growth. I mentioned that I want either positive cash
flow or positive cap-ex because, while I want to find
companies with certain solid balance sheet relation-
Youre saying the right stocks have beaten ships, I am not particularly inspired by companies
the returns achieved in no-decision instru- that are just sitting there with their money. Back in
ments like ETFs. But isnt that the catchfind- 2000, I was looking for companies where I could see
ing those right stocks? that their negative growth trends were stalling out,
Not really. You have had lower risk and higher even though their valuations were extremely nega-
returns, if youve had a basket of 15 of my stocks tive. But things have improved in Japan, clearly. So
since the year 2000. now we are looking for positive growth trends and
earnings that are at least starting to turn up off the
Any 15 of them? Or a basket chosen retrospec- bottom. And if those earnings are being generated by
tively? products and services in areas where we can see sus-
I have identified 300 domestic demand-oriented tained growth in demand, so much the better.
stocks that I am talking about.
So you actually pay attention to such old-fash-
How have you gone about finding these gems? ioned indicators as price-to-book, P/E and
I scour through all the research I can find. Monitor price-to-cash flow?
all the wire services. Im an information junkie, Sure, but there are actually some relationships
Nikkei News, Japan Handbook, even research by bro- between balance sheet and income statement items
kerage firms. that I have come up with myself that have worked
even better since 2000.
You dont find it a handicap to be doing it
mostly from Montreal? Do tell.
No, while I do visit Japan, the reality is that it has Well, theyre really proprietary. But they are essen-
probably helped me a great deal to be mostly observ- tially just indicators of valuation. Ones that tend to
ing the Japanese markets from afar. Its probably focus more on the relationship between things like
made it it a little easier to keep some emotional dis- price and book value, than on just their levels. Its
tance from the market. Besides, theres absolutely no the relationship between them that my proprietary
information service on Japanese stocks that I dont indicators of valuation track. But dont get the idea

welling@weeden FEBRUARY 28, 2005 PAGE 6

its rocket science. What I basically look for are things
like a favorable P/E versus the historical data and or ver- Tohoku Pioneer (T)
sus growth projections, for instance. Or price to cash Shares (Millions) 20.046
flow versus its history. Market Cap (Millions) Y37,085.470
Earnings 16.610
Price/Earnings 16.068
Let me take a wild guess: You like to buy them Last Dividend 15.000
when they look cheaper in terms of those compar- Dividend Yield 1.622

But you also pay attention to what sort of squig-

gles these stocks have been tracing out on
I find that very helpful. Before I buy, I like to look at the
stocks chartsagain, in relation to other indicators. I
pay attention to things like resistance levels as they
relate to the discounted fundamentals in these stocks. I
like to see things like trend reversals, moving averages
and trading volume confirming the quantitative conclu-
sions Ive come to about a stocks fundamentals. It gives Shinko Securities (T)
me a measure of confidence when a stocks perfor- Shares (million) 811.119
mance, relative to its industry or market, is turning up. Market Cap (million)Y278,213.700
Earnings 19.910
Its all pretty standard blocking and tackling, when you Price/Earnings 19.600
come down to it. Then again, Im following a universe of Last Dividend 5.000
300 stocks, out of which I basically look at 20 carefully Dividend Yield 1.458
every month. So, when I construct portfolio recommen-
dations, they generally include 15-20 of these domestic
demand-oriented value stocks. These tend to be estab-
lished companies in the Japanese and Asian markets,
but not the ones, often, that are household names in the

Why not?
Among other reasons, because I try to avoid companies
that might still be exposed to the unwinding of cross-
holdings. These stocks tend to have inordinately high Well, in stocks, not considering, say, gold and silver and
risk-adjusted return potentialin no small part owing to such. Ive been saying the same thing for five years; Im
their extremely low valuations. I mean, many of these not going to downplay it now.
issues have sustained 90% price declines over the last
decade. Could their share prices fall further? I suppose Okay, what industries do these Japanese value
its possible. But I like the risk/reward. Especially stocks tend to operate in? Finance, perchance?
because, as I said, these companies are well-situated to I dont look at financial stocks, I dont own any banks, I
benefit from strong regional demand in Asia. dont recommend any

Still, if growth slows in the U.S., as you expect, No? Why not.
thats bound to put a damper on Asias. I dont look at the bank stocks. But when I talk about
Im not so sure that impact on Japanese stocks would be value stocks that are cheap and a leveraged way of play-
all that bad. Ever since 2000, what had long been a very ing the Nikkei, people tend to jump to the conclusion
distinct inverse relationship between Japanese stocks that I mean the bank stocks. But if youre trying to put
and U.S. equities has reasserted itself in these domestic together balanced portfolios, you dont look at just one
value stocks. Besides, Westerners are underweighted in sector. Besides, most of the Japanese financials dont
these stocks, so they dont represent any sort of poten- meet my value criteria, even in many of the stocks do
tial selling overhang in them. The reality is that right look like theyve finally turned, and theres no denying
when the U.S. indices were topping, between January that theres a lot of leverage in them, thats true.
and March of 2000, when the Nasdaq hit 5000, the
Japanese domestic demand-oriented value stocks were Whats more appealing?
bottoming. There is an inverse relationship between First, while I focus on stocks that tend to be smaller
Japanese domestic stocks and U.S. market over the caps, theyre mostly still very active and some can trade
longer term. Particularly on a risk-adjusted basis, this is in very high volumes at times. But I also will look at a
the best investment theme in the entire world. few that just need to be accumulated, because Japanese
stocks will surprise you and trade outrageous volumes
Youre not much given to hyperbole, are you?

welling@weeden FEBRUARY 28, 2005 PAGE 7

as they move up. Ive seen ones that traded maybe 2,000 explosive upside over the next two or three years. But
shares a day when no one cared actually trade over even over the next year theres a lot of potential to the Welling@Weeden Staff Conflicts
600,000 shares a day when they got hot. Even a relatively upside. This is a stock that has retreated to the low Avoidance Policy Disclosures
In keeping with Weeden & Co. LPs reputa-
small company like Hunet Inc. (JP:8836) has over 114 1,800s after rallying to 2,800 last April. tion for absolute integrity in its dealings
million shares out. On a bad day, it will trade 300,000 with its institutional clients, welling@wee-
den believes that its own reputation for
shares and it will easily give you a million shares on a Have they been having trouble competing with independence and integrity are essential to
good one. Chinese importsor are they outsourcing pro- its mission. Our readers must be able to
assume that we have no hidden agendas;
duction to China themselves? that our facts are thoroughly researched
Is Hunet a good example of the sort of stock you All those kinds of concerns are really already in the and fairly presented and that when pub-
lished our analyses reflect our best judg-
are keen on here? stock price. Whatever downsizing they had to do to ments, not vested pocketbook interests of
our sources, colleagues or ourselves.
One of the smaller ones, yes. Hunet is in the real estate make themselves competitive, weve already seen Neither Weeden & Co. LP nor w@w engage in
business and also makes and sells liquid crystal displays, reflected in the valuation at this level. that reflected in investment banking; w@ws mission is
strictly research.
but mostly its a brokerage company. It also designs con- valuations because were looking at. It has dropped to
All information gathered by welling@wee-
dos and custom-made houses, which puts it in the fore- a low P/E, by Japanese standards, trades relatively den editorial staff in connection with
front of the new Japan I see coming out of the major cheaply versus its book value and also relative to sales. her/his job is strictly the property of
welling@weeden. It is never to be disclosed
tax overhaul. I think it will create a multi-hundred-bil- This is a company thats very liquid, and will respond prior to publication to anyone outside of
welling@weeden. Editorial staff (a group
lion-dollar movement into financial and hard assets. very quickly when they see a pick-up in demand. broadly defined to include Kate Wellings
Another is Japan Lifeline, (JP:7575). It may appear to be immediate family) will not buy or sell any
security mentioned in the journal for at
less than liquid now, because it may trade only 5,000- And it pays a dividend? least one week after publication. Staff will
10,000 shares a day while it is moving up from very Yes. Tohoku Pioneer pays a good dividendat least in avoid not only speculation but the appear-
ance of speculation and may not engage in
depressed levels, but I am looking for stocks that should the sense that its a better yield than you can get on a short-term trading, the short selling of
at least double. At just over 900, its already begun a nice 10-year bond in Japan, 1.55%. Japan Lifelines is 2.8%. securities, or the purchase or sale of
options or futures. Staff may not be other-
move over the last year from the mid-700s, but Im These companies also have cash, so if opportunities wise compensated for securities recom-
mendations in these pages. No w@w staff
expecting it to hit maybe 1,400 within a year and, longer arise, they can take advantage of them. will serve as an officer or director of any
term, go much higher than that. publicly traded company. All securities
positions entered into by w@w editorial
Are you eyeing any stocks I might have heard staff will be held for at least six months
What is Japan Lifeline, an insurance company? of? unless dispensation is received, in extraor-
dinary situations, from Weeden & Co. LPs
No, theyre basically a trading company for pacemakers One thats a bit more recognizable is Shinko Securities compliance officer. Any securities position
and a lot of other medical devices. This company is very (JP:8606). Its obviously a play on the market and also in any company, mutual fund or partnership
portfolio featured in welling@weeden that
cheap on valuation. If it gets more aggressively involved very cheap. Theyre associated with the Mizuho was acquired by staff in advance of the
publication decision will be specifically dis-
in what is going to be an expanding medical market in Financial Group, which is among the worlds largest. closed at first mention. No such reportable
Japan, it could have huge potential, but even just as a Shinko was the first securities firm in Japan that Im positions exist. And that position will be
frozen for six months from date of publica-
trading company, but even as a trading company, from aware of to aggressivelyyears ago when there was tion, again, absent extraordinary dispensa-
this level, the stock should produce a very good return. nothing but darkness in Japanpay commissions to get tion from compliance.

brokers to sell mutual funds. Theyre very adept at Weeden & Co. LPs
The term trading company covers a lot of sins in using the strengths of the Mizuho network, so its a Research Disclosures
This material is based on data from sources we
Japan. Does this company actually make pace- way of playing the financial sector in Japan, without consider to be accurate and reliable, but it is not
makers? buying a bank. Back last April, it rallied as to just guaranteed as to accuracy and does not purport
to be complete. Opinions and projections found in
No, theyre strictly wholesalers, buying and selling under 460, but its only around 340 now. This stock this report reflect either our opinion (or that of
things like pacemakers, heart valves, catheters, and arti- touched 100 back in 1998, only to shoot as high as 600 the named analyst interviewed) as of the report
date and are subject to change without notice.
ficial organs. in 2003. Again, its a nice way to play for beta on the When an unaffiliated interviewees opinions and
projections are reported, Weeden & Co. is relying
Nikkei. If the index goes from 1100 to 1400, this could on the accuracy and completeness of that individ-
Tell me about another company. easily double. Of course, I cant argue that its as cheap ual/firms own research disclosures and assumes
no liability for same, beyond reprinting them in an
Tohoku Pioneer, (JP:6827) They make speakers and car as the others, but financials are different animals. adjacent box. This report is neither intended nor
stereos. Frankly, I prefer stocks that will give you a cushion if should it be construed as an offer to sell or solici-
tation or basis for any contract, for the purchase
something really crazy happens and the Nikkei tanks a of any security or financial product. Nor has any
Is it an offshoot of Pioneer Electronics? quick 1,000 points. A financial stock isnt likely to give determination been made that any particular
security is suitable for any client. Nothing con-
Yes, of some sort. What I like here is that there is this you time to react and sell into a rebound, unlike my tained herein is intended to be, nor should
it be considered, investment advice. This
perception that the production of all these sorts of elec- real domestic value stocks, if only because the Nikkei report does not provide sufficient informa-
tronics products is rapidly being shifted to China. I think is banks and techs. But Shinko has the right funda- tion upon which to base an investment
decision. You are advised to consult with your
that perception is running ahead of the realityand caus- mentals and technicals, and the right partners, and broker or other financial advisors or professionals
ing such an enormous undervalution of stocks like Im only sacrificing a little on valuation to get some as appropriate to verify pricing and other infor-
mation. Weeden & Co. LP , its affiliates, directors, officers
Tohoku Pioneer that the upside potential is pretty big, if exposure to the leverage in the financials. and associates do not assume any liability for losses
the company just manages to turn in reasonably dynamic that may result from the reliance by any person
upon any such information or opinions. Past per-
returns. Any indication that this company can show Thanks, Sid. formance of securities or any financial instru-
ments is not indicative of future performance.
some sexy earnings growth again, could really produce From time to time, this firm, its affiliates,
and/or its individual officers and/or mem-
bers of their families may have a position in
W@W Interviewee Research Disclosure: Sid Klein writes and publishes the Japan Asia Investments newsletter in Montreal. Although the author is a registered investment advisor at Desjardins the subject securities which may be consis-
Securities Inc., his newsletter is not an official publication of Desjardins Securities Inc. The views (including any recommendations) he expresses in this interview or in his newsletter are those tent with or contrary to the recommenda-
of the author alone and are not those of Desjardins Securities Inc. They are subject to change without notice. The information conveyed is drawn from sources believed to be reliable but the tions contained herein; and may make pur-
accuracy and completeness of the information is not guaranteed, nor in providing it do the author or Desjardins Securities Inc. assume any liability. No solicitation to buy or sell securities chases and/or sales of those securities in
should be inferred from either the contents of this interview or his newsletter. Each potential investment decision and its appropriateness must be considered within the context of the entire- the open market or otherwise. Weeden & Co.
ty of the individual investor's circumstances. This information is current when published and neither the interviewee nor Desjardins Securities Inc. assume any obligation to update the infor- LP is a member of NASD and SIPC.
mation or advise on further developments relating to the information provided herein. For further information, see or email: (514)939-2221.

welling@weeden FEBRUARY 28, 2005 PAGE 8