Global Trader: New Chinese Education Stock Is Interesting, If You’re Brave

Follow the lawyer. Two under-the-radar IPOs in the last three weeks have soared while almost everything else coming to Wall Street is still struggling to find its footing. And they’re both from China.

While I’m still extremely reluctant to make long-term investments in Chinese companies until the regulatory environment gets a little clearer, I am always interested in short-term trading opportunities.

That’s why I’m keeping an eye on Golden Sun Education Group (GSUN), which went public at $4 on Wednesday and is above $20 as I write this. Not my kind of opportunity, but it got me thinking.

GSUN gives Spanish lessons. That’s the business plan. Despite China’s vast population, it’s unlikely to ever be huge. Right now, that operation translates into about $15 million a year in revenue.

At $4, that cash flow made sense. Here at $20, it’s more than a little severe. And with so many U.S. offerings breaking down with depressing regularity, I had to know why this stock was priced so reasonably and went the right direction for a change.

And then I found another Chinese stock with a similar trajectory: online brokerage firm Zhong Yang Financial (TOP). It’s even farther off limits by my standards, with barely $17 million a year in revenue to anchor what’s now a $190 million market cap . . . but it’s a long way from its $5 offering price.

Who was the underwriter that pushed this one out at a price Wall Street couldn’t resist? None of the usual suspects, and not even the same one as GSUN.

But the law firm advising the underwriters in both deals seems to be the shared link. Hunter Taubman Fischer & Li show up in the paperwork. I think they’re the brain behind each of these companies going out at a reasonable price at a reasonable time.

I’ll be watching their action to see if we can get in on the next one. For now, GSUN needs to come down a lot to be interesting in the long term . . . and TOP is even more precarious.

After all, I’ve seen Chinese education stocks rise and fall. Take a look at the long-term chart on New Oriental Education & Technology Group (EDU) for that gruesome story.

EDU looks great on paper. Huge company, comfortably doing $2.4 billion a year in sales now. At the valuation GSUN currently gets, it should be a $75 stock.

When EDU is a $75 stock again, you’ll know the Chinese education group is back. Until then, I’m going to say GSUN is more a factor of those smart lawyers than anything else.

Sure, massive lockdowns in China push people to teach their kids (and themselves) online. But EDU is actually teaching the kids . . . I don’t think Spanish classes are the hottest thing in Shanghai right now.

And we have a good way to test Wall Street’s appetite for education in itself.  Visionary Education Technology Group (VEDU), a Canadian company taking a page from EDU’s business plan, went public about a month ago.

That deal was extremely ambitious and has since fallen apart. Even at a $4 deal price, VEDU just didn’t have the critical mass to keep shareholders on board.

Here below $2, it still isn’t an attractive stock. But it shows us that “education” in itself isn’t hot stuff on Wall Street right now.