Car rental in China is booming
Everyone knows that Chinese car industry has seen unprecedented growth in the last decade, car ownership increased significantly, although as of 2013 it was 101 cars per 1000 people, which is very low compared to USA's 800 cars per 1000 people. China has a big pollution problem, and the government already limits car ownership in certain big cities, no to mention scarce parking. Revenue in car rental market is rising much faster, from 9 billion yuan in 2008 to 34 billion yuan ($5.6 billion) in 2013 —and it is expected to reach 65 billion yuan by 2018 Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.
China has more than 13 000 car-rental firms, however the whole industry had a combined fleet size of only 369,000 vehicles in 2013, about 0.4% of the country’s passenger vehicles outstanding. Compare this to 1.6% in the U.S. and 2.5% in Japan.
The industry has two major players, CAR Inc (Owned partially by Hertz Global) and eHi Car. Enterprise Holdings, largest car rental company in USA has acquired a 20% stake in EHIC, marking it's entry in China. CAR is a bigger company by any metric and also holds larger market share (7% according to Frost Sullivan), while EHIC stood at 2.1% in 2013. However, EHIC is growing revenes at a faster rate 50% vs. 30%. Both companies are investing heavily to expanding their fleets and number of cities, hence their earnings and cash flow are depressed (although CAR achieved profitability in 2014, with a 12% profit margin). Let's look at EHIC financial statements:
EHIC and Didi Kuaidi, China's Uber
The interesting thing about EHIC stock is, that in April 2014 they purchased 4.7 million preferred shares in Travice Inc. for $25 million, representing 8.4% of then outstanding capital. Travice operates Kuaidi Taxi application, which merged with Didi app, forming the largest car sharing application to fight Uber in China. The new company has a market share of 99%, significantly slowing down Uber, which entered late into Mainland China. Recent funding deals increased value of Didi Kuaidi to $8.75 billion, with Farallon Capital Management, Coatue Capital, Tiger Global and Alibaba (BABA) among investors.
EHIC still carries the original investment at a value of $25 million on their balance sheet, although their stake in the combined Didi Kuaidi entity is certainly diluted, even 1% would give them a value $87.5 million, or 11% of current market cap ($800 million). Value of this holding is expected to grow in the future, once they cement their dominant position and start monetizing the car sharing app.
EHIC is a fast growing company in an infant industry. I expect it to grow significantly, and achieve profitability in next 3 years. It might seem expensive at P/S of 5, but with profit margins around 10%, accelerating growth and interest in Didi Kuaidi, EHIC stock offers a lot of potential. Their competitive advantage lies in the chauffeured services market, where the Chinese government selected them as their preferred transportation provider. Also, they signed a deal with Ctrip.com (CTRP), where they provide pickup and transport from airports to corporate clients and individuals. CTRP also invested $100 million into EHIC.
Before it went public, there were allegations that the company misrepresented it's statements and conducted fraud. These were not yet confirmed, as I couldn't find any hard evidence, also short float is quite low (8%). I think the stock offers big upside at current prices, with some risks which are worth taking. I am going long today (5% initial position), with a stop loss like always.
Good luck in investing!