Thursday, September 19, 2013

Zuoan Fashion Ltd (ZA): A No-Brainer For Big Returns

Just took a long position in Zuoan Fashion, Ltd. (NYSE: ZA), opportunities like this come few and far between. Not far from its IPO back 2011, Zuoan Fashion is a design-driven fashion menswear company in China that has taken a beating for no apparent reason.

The No-Brainer Aspect

The reason to me this is a no-brainer investment is because while the company is currently priced at $2.17/share, a quick look at their balance sheet in 2012 shows they have $5.96/share in net cash alone (cash minus debt). Furthermore, if we take all the current assets and pay off all outstanding debt, we're left with $11.79/share. What this means is that if the company liquidated everything tomorrow, that's how much shareholders would receive per share, which makes this a textbook Buffet/Graham/Klarman value play with a 82% margin of safety. Wow...

And the story gets better. The company has no long-term debt and no short interest whatsoever. Below is my analysis of the fundamentals versus the stock price over a 5-year period:

Zuoan Fashion Quality of Earnings Vs. Stock Price (2008-2013)
(click to enlarge)

So what we have is a company who's fundamentals are clearly growing stronger over time while the stock price is diverging to reflect the opposite. No financial shenanigans here either, their financial reports were signed off by Crowe Horwathe, one of the top 10 auditing firms in the United States. Zuoan is essentially like a straight-A student in a bad high school, the top institutions are overlooking her just because she's small and didn't go to Harvard Academy. Their loss...

Not only has their fundamentals improved, but their ability to self fund with cash is getting stronger too (defensive), which means they can weather any storm that may lie ahead because their industry is so competitive.

Industry Recognition

So what about the company? Well, the fashion industry is highly fragmented. While the company has no defensible competitive advantage against competition and its success is dependent upon its ability to recognize and create appealing fashion styles in the years to come, the company has received the #1 spot of fashion designers in China by Apparel Magazine two years in a row now, beating out major competitors such as True Religion, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Urban Outfitters, & lululemon, two times over. From the July 2013 issue of Apparel:

(click to enlarge)

And as apparel magazine mentions, they sponsor and are regularly featured on the Chinese equivalent of Project Runway, "Hello Gorgeous." What better marketing avenue could a fashion company ask for? As China's middle class grows, Zuoan's affordable fashion line stands to benefit which makes this not only a value opportunity, but a growth one as well.


Baseline valuation is $9.08/share (assuming a 50% write-off of Accounts Receivable in a liquidation event), but if the trend continues I may hold on until $12-14, making this one a potential 6 or 7-bagger. Estimated time to value realization, 2 years, maybe even sooner.