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Who's next after Yum, NuSkin China shockers?

A KFC restaurant in Beijing
Bernardo De Niz | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A KFC restaurant in Beijing

The unprecedented market turmoil in China this summer may have softened the second-largest global economy by more than investors had expected, if early earnings releases are any guide.

During China's summer market swoon, the S&P 500 corrected by as much as 12 percent and the Shanghai composite sold off up to 40 percent from its highs. It appears this sell-off caused a downturn in the economy so rapid, that even executives of companies with large units there did not see it coming.

Yum Brands and Nu Skin shares plunged 19 percent and 25 percent, respectively, Wednesday morning after both companies reported disappointing third quarter results because of China.

"During the (Yum) call this morning, management said that same-store-sales trends in its China Pizza Hut divisions were getting worse, in part blaming the macro environment," Nick Mazing of Ampera Capital said in an e-mail. "The health of the Chinese consumer is also questioned by a surprise revenue guide-down by cosmetics company Nu Skin, another company that sounded very upbeat about China at their Q2 conference call."

Not too long ago, these companies were bragging about their prowess in China.

Here's what Yum Brands CEO said in a press release after the company named a new China unit head on Aug. 18, which happened to be in the middle of the stock market turmoil there:

"I'm especially pleased this leadership transition comes at a time that same-store sales have turned significantly positive, demonstrating continued recovery in the business."

Investors also raised their expectations after the company vowed a strong second half in China on the second quarter earnings call in July. The Asian country represents 52 percent of sales, according to FactSet.

"With the continued progress we're expecting in China, we remain confident that we'll have a strong second half and deliver at least 10 percent earnings per share growth this year," Yum Brand CFO Patrick Grismer said on the second quarter earnings call, according to a FactSet transcript.

Tuesday night, Yum Brands reported same-store sales for their China division grew just 2 percent in the third quarter, way lower than the Street consensus estimate of 9.6 percent growth.

"The pace of recovery in our China Division is below our expectations," CEO Greg Creed said in the Tuesday press release. "We're experiencing unexpected headwinds (in China), making the second half of the year more challenging than we anticipated."

Investors were stunned and livid at Yum Brand's management for the incorrect forecast.

"The results … compared to August commentary indicate trends have slowed considerably in recent weeks," BTIG's Peter Saleh wrote in a note to clients Wednesday.

It also may indicate things are getting bad in China at a very rapid pace.

Similarly, Nu Skin was optimistic about its China business and then announced poor results. China represents 26 percent of Nu Skin's sales, according to FactSet.

"We are also pleased with our progress in several key markets, particularly Mainland China, where we generated healthy sequential growth in both sales leaders and revenue," CEO Truman Hunt said press release in August.

Nu Skin pre-announced lower-than-expected sales on Tuesday due to weakness in China of $570 million to $573 million. The company's guidance on Aug. 6 was $600 million to $620 million.

"Third-quarter results were impacted by lower-than-expected sales of our new cosmetic oils in China during August and September, which may be a reflection of economic conditions in China," Hunt said in the press release.

After these releases investors are now seriously questioning the China rebound thesis.

With the vicious negative market reaction to worse-than-expected results in China from Yum Brands and Nu Skin, investors may wonder what other companies have the potential to disappoint by over-promising and under-delivering in the coming weeks.

Here are some companies with large sales exposure to China that may be at risk…

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