Orsus Xelent shares soar, buck China weakness
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of Orsus Xelent Technologies Inc ORS.A rallied on heavy volume on Monday, continuing a recent meteoric rise for the Beijing-based maker and distributor of cell phones.
The stock advanced more than 70 percent before paring gains to close at $5.50, up 44 percent. Volume was more than 4.17 million shares, about 14 times the 50-day average volume. Since a recent low of $1.45 reached on June 6, the stock has surged more than 320 percent.
The catalyst for the rise in Orsus was not clear, and the company could not be contacted for comment; the phone number for Orsus' New York office was not in working order and no one answered at Focus Asia Partners, its investor relations firm.
Orsus rallied as other well-known Chinese names continued to suffer. Popular Internet ADRs, such as Youku.com (YOKU.N), Renren Inc (RENN.N) and E-Commerce China Dangdang Inc (DANG.N) were all hammered anew. E-Commerce China lost 19 percent to close at $10.74, while Renren and Youku each lost 14 percent.
Brokerages have imposed greater restrictions on borrowing money to buy certain Chinese stocks of late, which has intensified the pressure on many Chinese names amid a rash of accounting scandals that have resulted in numerous share trade halts and suspensions.
The scandals recently prompted the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a bulletin of risk against investing in companies that enter U.S. markets through reverse mergers, as Orsus Xelent did.
Two companies whose share trading was halted in March, China Intelligent Lighting and China Century Dragon Media, were blocked from selling more shares to private investors by the SEC on Monday.
The increasingly cautious tone on Chinese companies sparked a rash of selling, with investors cutting positions in stocks based in the country, including names not listed by brokers as appearing risky, as well as industry bellwethers.
Orsus made its most recent regulatory filing on May 23, when it detailed delayed first-quarter results. Orsus swung to a net profit in the quarter, though sales were down about 49 percent to $3.9 million. It has not issued a press release since December 30, 2008, when it gave the minutes to its 2008 annual shareholders meeting.
Interactive Brokers Group Inc (IBKR.O) recently listed Orsus as among those whose shares it would bar buying on margin by clients, citing "elevated risk concerns." More than 160 securities were listed by Interactive, which made the announcement following a rash of accounting scandals that have led to delistings. Scottrade later released a list of 55 stocks that investors are prohibited from buying on margin.
The gains in Orsus are notable for coming at a time when investors have become more guarded on the region. However, short interest on Orsus has surged, rising 634 percent in the second half of May, according to data from Amex, where Orsus is traded.
Despite the recent gains at Orsus, the stock remains well under an all-time high of more than $90 reached in October 2007. Its current market capitalization is less than $10 million.
The company was created in March 2005 through a reverse merger between Universal Flirts Corp, a Delaware-based company, and United First International Ltd, which was the parent of Orsus Xelent. The name was changed shortly thereafter to Orsus Xelent, according to regulatory filings.
(Editing by Leslie Adler)