Hong Kong shares tumble after holiday break, Lenovo hammered

Mon Feb 3, 2014 11:54pm EST

* HSI -2.4 pct, H-shares -3.2 pct, China still shut

* Hong Kong reopens after New Year holiday, China reopens on Friday

* Anemic China, U.S. data aggravate jitters, deepen selloff

* Lenovo headed for biggest single-day loss since 2009

By Clement Tan

Feb 4 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares stumbled in their first Year of the Horse trading on Tuesday, as the reopened market caught up with plunges elsewhere and Chinese growth-sensitive sectors led losses that made benchmark indexes reel.

Lenovo Group was a striking underperformer as Hong Kong resumed trading after closing at midday Thursday for the Lunar New Year holiday. The stock fell 14 percent, hit by a series of broker downgrades on fears recent deals would dilute earnings amid reports of another joint venture with Sony.

Mainland Chinese markets remained shut for the holiday and will reopen on Friday.

At midday, the Hang Seng Index was down 2.4 percent at 21,511.1 points, just above chart support seen at August lows at about 21,465.7. The China Enterprises Index dived 3.2 percent to its lowest since August.

Losses tracked a rout on Wall Street after data showed new U.S. manufacturing growth plunging by the most in 33 years, adding to the gloom after China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI), released over the holiday, hit a six-month low at 50.5 in January versus 51 in December.

Adding to jitters on slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy, China's National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday the official non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to a five-year low of 53.4 in January from December's 54.6.

The Hang Seng benchmark has now slumped more than 10 percent from Dec. 2 highs, while the H-share index is off nearly 18 percent. Both are now less than 10 percent above June 2013 troughs.

"We are getting within 7 percent of last year's lows and at that level, fundamentals would offer some support at six times price-to-earnings," said Erwin Sanft, Standard Chartered's Hong Kong-based China equity strategist. "It is not common to see a market trading at 0.9 times book value for a prolonged period of time."

"Experienced emerging market investors would be looking at this selldown with great interest, looking to pick up quality names on the dip, but they are still in the minority for now," Sanft added.

One such counter could be Lenovo Group, whose shares plummeted 14.3 percent on Tuesday in heavy volumes, headed for their biggest single-day loss since January 2009. Among the brokerage downgrades were ones from UBS, Morgan Stanley and Jefferies.

Lenovo's acquisition of Motorola Mobility for Google Inc. "is a correct move, but will lead to multi-year negative impact on earnings," Jefferies analysts said in a report dated Feb. 3. They cut their target price for the stock by more than 20 percent and downgrading it from "hold" to "underperform".

Last week, Lenovo wrapped up two deals totalling $5.2 billion, including the $2.9 billion Motorola Mobility purchase, a deal some in the market saw as too expensive.

On Saturday, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that Lenovo was in talks with Sony about a possible joint venture to take over Sony's loss-making Vaio PC business outside of Japan - a report Sony said was inaccurate.

Since hitting their highest close in almost 14 years last Wednesday, Lenovo shares have plunged 21 percent, shaving some HK$24.3 billion ($3.13 billion) off its market capitalization. They are currently trading at 15 times forward 12-month price-to-earnings, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.

On Tuesday, Chinese financial counters were the leading drags on benchmark indexes. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank each slid nearly 3 percent, while CPIC tumbled almost 6 percent.

In another indicator of the extent of Tuesday's selloff, about four stocks declined for every counter that advanced. Midday turnover was the most robust this year, with short selling accounting for 11.4 percent. Short interest accounted for 84 percent of turnover in the tracker fund.