Hong Kong shares sink to 3-1/2-month low, China rebounds

Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:51am EDT

* HSI -0.2 pct, H-shares -0.5 pct, CSI300 +0.9 pct

* CR Power buoys China IPP jump, positive earnings trigger upgrades

* Tingyi extends slide after earnings miss, DB downgrade

* China property A-shares lifted as policy mist clears

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, March 19 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares ended at a 3-1/2-month low in thin trade on Tuesday trade, reversing modest midday gains, as lingering concerns over the stability of the euro zone kept many investors sidelined.

Attention was largely focused on a few sectors such as power producers being driven by corporate results.

Onshore Chinese markets rebounded modestly, led by the property sector as policy uncertainty eased after the official China Securities Journal reported Beijing city may introduce new home sales curbs targeted at the secondary market by end-March.

The Hang Seng Index slipped 0.2 percent to its lowest close since Dec. 4 after failing at chart resistance seen at around 22,185, which is the bottom end of a gap that opened up between Monday and last Friday.

The CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings climbed 0.9 percent from Monday's two-month low. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent from its lowest close since Dec. 28 set on Monday.

The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 0.5 percent as turnover in the territory sank to the lowest in more than a week. Shanghai volume stayed below its average in the last month.

Much of the trading interest on Tuesday focused on Chinese power producers. China Resources Power jumped 8.1 percent in more than triple its 30-day average volume. It has now surged 44 percent from an Oct. 15 nadir.

"This rally in Chinese IPP (independent power producers) share prices on declining coal prices is a theme that has been played for a long time and a short-term correction could be due," said Wang Aochao, UOB-Kay Hian's Shanghai-based head of research.

"They could be vulnerable to a correction in the next beta rally or to any coal price increases, particularly since some of the coal producers are trading at pretty attractive valuations after recent losses," Wang added.

The gains on Tuesday were CR Power's best since December 2008, lifting its sector rivals in both on- and offshore markets, and came after several brokers upgraded their target price for its stock following its positive 2012 earnings.

Analysts at JP Morgan raised their earnings estimates for 2013 and 2014 by 5 to 10 percent, lifting their target price for CR Power by some 8 percent, taking the company's higher capex guidance to suggest further gains in the longer term.

CR Power has gained around 15 percent so far this year after a 32 percent jump in 2012 and is trading at an 8 percent discount to its forward 12-month earnings multiple, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.

Shares of China Shenhua Energy, due to post 2012 earnings on March 22, shed 1.2 percent in Hong Kong.

Down 17 percent on the year, shares of the country's biggest coal producer are trading at a 26 percent discount to its historical median forward 12-month earnings multiple, according to StarMine.

Huaneng Power jumped 5.3 percent in Hong Kong and 2.8 percent in Shanghai ahead of its 2012 final results later in the day. In the last 30 days, 6 of 26 analysts have downgraded their full-year 2012 earnings-per-share estimates for Huaneng by an average of 3 percent.

But while earnings for CR Power impressed, those from consumer-related sectors disappointed. Food and beverage giant Tingyi's earnings miss triggered a series of broker downgrades, sending its shares down 3.4 percent.

Deutsche Bank analyst Anne Ling downgraded her rating for the stock from "buy" to "hold" while trimming her price target by 20 percent, expecting lower beverage and noodle sales in 2013.

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