The biggest IPO of the year prices tonight, but how much are investors are willing to pay up for access to the elusive Chinese consumer?
Chinese delivery service ZTO Express (ZTO) prices Wednesday for trading Thursday at the NYSE, seeking to raise 72.1 million shares at $16.50 to $18.50 or roughly $1.3 billion.
It's not just the biggest IPO of the year, it' s the biggest IPO by a Chinese company in the U.S. since Alibaba in 2014.
"Our mission is to bring happiness to more people through our services." — ZTO Express
You know you're dealing with a slightly different mindset than Western companies when Chinese delivery service ZTO Express says right at the top of its F-1 registration statement that their mission is to "bring happiness to more people."
Bring happiness. Wouldn't that be great if that was a line item on a corporate income statement? Somewhere after "interest expense" but before "earnings before income taxes"?
They go on to state several other goals,including "to provide timely and reliable express delivery services to consumers" and concluding by saying what they want is to "ultimately help ordinary people accomplish their goals."
That would be another great line item. Maybe right after "discontinued operations", but before "net earnings."
Interest is strong, and with good reason:
Still, there's plenty of reasons to be cautious before bidding the stock up on its first day of trading:
Regardless, interest in the stock is high. There's talk it may price above its range.
Why? The company represents the intersection of two powerful trends.
"There are very few stocks that allow access to the Chinese consumer, and this is one of them," Cindi Profaca at IPOfinancial.com told me. "And industry trends in e-commerce are all pointing upward, at least for the moment."
There are the two magic phrases: Chinese consumer and e-commerce.
The two are a strong combination.