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China Southern Airlines remains explosive

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airline_ZNH_tumb April 22, 2010 (Chinavestor) Shares of China Southern Airlines (NYSE:ZNH) advanced for three days in a row thanks to a strong 2009 Annual Report. The company reported 2009 total revenues of RMB54,802 million ($8.06 billion), a small -0.9% decline from last year while operating expenses fell -10.4% to RMB55,351 million ($8.139 million). Thanks to other net income, total profit for 2009 amounted to RMB1,440 million ($211.7 million) compared to a substantial loss of (RMB5,646) (-$830.3 million) a year earlier.  



What's behind the numbers is strong operational results. The company reported total traffic increase of 12% and a passenger capacity increase of 9%. Another positive development was the decrease in kerosene prices compared to a record in the summer of 2008. Given that jet fuel costs make up over 50% of total operating expenses for Chinese airliners, a sharp drop in kerosene prices helps the bottom line tremendously. According to the 2009 Annual Report, jet fuel costs made up 52.9% of all operating expenses in 2009 compared to 56.6% in 2008.


Source: China Southern Airline (NYSE:ZNH) 2009 Annual Report

Chinese airliners, including China Eastern Airlines (NYSE:CEA), shored up their balance sheets in 2009 via cash infusion from state owned parents. For China Southern Airlines (NySE:ZNH), the casdh injection followed the following path: "the company successfully obtained a capital injection of RMB3 billion through a non-public issue of 721,150,000 A shares to China Southern Air Holding Company (“CSAHC”) and another non-public issue of  721,150,000 H shares to Nan Lung Holding Limited (“NanLung”) a foreign wholly-owned subsidiary of CSAHC. The proceeds replenished the Company’s capital and lowered the gearing ratio, thereby laying a solid foundation for improvement in the financial position as well as the future development. To further reduce the gearing ratio and financial burden and support the strategic development with funds, the Company is planning to raise an amount of RMB10 billion through non-public issues of A shares and H shares in 2010." - ZNH 2009 Annual Report.

While cash injection did help the company to straighten out her balance sheet, additional dilution of the shareholder base is not necessarily in the best interest of retail shareholders. While the possible Yuan revaluation will help improve liquidity measures, its effects may have already been priced in the share price of the company.

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