Thursday, September 30, 2010

Travelling through time with the Universal Travel Group

Universal Travel Group just held an investor conference call to answer investor questions about their business.  They answered some and left many unanswered.  However I just want to focus on one thing:  the Chinese language websites.

They said the Chinese website running smoothly and that “we will try our best to maintain and upgrade in the future.” 

That is good – because there are either a few “easter eggs” on the site or they are selling time-travel.  I am going to show you how to book tickets for the 2007 Sinopec Formula 1 Grand Prix. 

First you go to the www.cba-hotel.com site.  Here is a screen shot.

image

I have used Google Translate to change this page to English.

image

 

At the top of the page are the key tabs – things you can do on this website – things like book hotels or tickets.

The sixth tab – in a fairly prominent place – is for F1 tickets.  I pressed it – and translated to English.  Here is a screenshot. 

image

This is precisely as it seems – you can still buy tickets to the 2007 Sinopec Formula 1 Grand Prix.  (I hope they let me bet on the race because I know the winner!)

This is from a site they maintain – and it is not deep in the site – it is a click on the main tabs on the front page.   I made a Youtube video as well.

 

 

Still the company wishes to maintain the site in future – and 20 percent of their business comes from these sites according to the conference call we just heard.  So maybe we will soon be able to rent a really fast car to help us get to the race on time.

I report – you decide.

 

 

 

John

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Timetravel is pretty expensive too (as it should be, I suppose) - USD prices are in millions.

John Hempton said...

I noticed. There are plenty of other easter eggs.. some are cheaper.

Nick said...

John,

I appreciate the thorough work you've done here and shared with us. My one question is: let's assume everything you say is true, at what point will a regulator do something?

At the minimum you've showed serious inconsistencies with how they have marketed their company to investors... is this not something the newer, meaner SEC is supposed to care about?

Anonymous said...

My favorite part was when the CEO asked shareholders to "monitor" posts like yours. how about they focus on their business model?

Also enjoyed "our new auditors have not yet reviewed our financial statements and have not expressed concern" well yeah, they haven't reviewed it yet.

to be fair, UTA did provide answers to a handful of questions, but there were way too any answers followed by "However..." We accept credit cards; however... Our website is working properly; however... and on and on and on.

time will tell

John Hempton said...

Yes - it is something the SEC should care about - so should the NYSE who maintains standards.

Whether they do or not - that is in the lap of of the SEC.

I think the Warren Buffett attitude to praise and criticism applies though. Buffett always criticises actions but praises individuals.

I will do so too. The SEC fails generally to police anything. The financial markets are riddled with nastiness.

Some officers however are fantastic - and some I am happy to give the benefit of the doubt to.

The organization has improved under Shapiro. Alas I think it has improved from truly terrible to merely not good.

Shapiro has a big ship though and it is imrpoving through dint of her hard work.

There - I said it.

J

MT said...

John, I have idea if UTG is a fraud or not. That said, I would say this about Chinese websites. The English pages are usually just for show, and they don't actively maintain it. I am being the devil's advocate here. I doubt UTG actually conducts any business through the English portion of the their site.

The reason I say this is because I am a frequent travel to China for business. And I have been using Ctrip.com (the biggest in China) for the past 5 years. Even up until recently, their English portion was a mess with lousy updates and broken links. If I wasn't bilingual, I would be out of luck.

What I am saying is this, UTG maybe real fraud, but your latest finding is neither here or there.

John Hempton said...

My latest finding is on the CHINESE section of the website. Not ENGLISH. The only ENGLISH you see is GOOGLE TRANSLATOR.

Try it yourself.

John

Anonymous said...

After you finish perusing United Travel Group's websites, you might take a trip down memory lane through the company's SEC filings, which chronicle how a small Shenzhen-based travel company with 2005 revenues of US$2.7M manged to parlay an OTC listing acquired through a a convoluted 2006 merger with a Nevada-listed liquor management education company with no assets or income into several key acquisitions, eventual funding from several investment groups (including Chinamerica Fund, Access America Fund, Pope Investments II, Heller Capital, and Investment Hunter), and, finally, the much coveted listing on the NYSE with a current market cap of US$87.5. Your research tools may turn up more interesting titbits along the way...

Anonymous said...

Is there transcript for the conference call? Would make for rather interesting read...

Anonymous said...

Agree with previous comment, looking for a transcript of conference call. Everybody knows now that the website isn't up to standard or even up to their claims, but what about the other issues (nbr of employees, return on cash, etc...) ?

Anonymous said...

shorties....keep shooting...

take over rumors on the way....

keep coming.....

Anonymous said...

A buyout of UTA by a larger travel agency would be the end-game for people who are short.

At that point, people who are short UTA will have no recourse since there would no longer be a way to drive the price down.

At that point, your paper loss from your short position would become a real loss.

Anonymous said...

I hope UTA longs get out while they can. These scams tend to bleed out slowly.

Ted K said...

You Australa man, westa man, miss big point. This China website with "Chinese characteristics" China da best, China alway da best. Also we have speciaw toilets for you, low centa gravity when you take a clap.

Now takaw yaw floating cullancy and hang yourself westa man.

(the above was intended to be biting humor, aimed at the more dimwitted nationalists that we might know)

Brian Maloney said...

UTA sure seems weak today, anything brewing?

Ted K said...

Mr. Hempton,
I'm actually enjoying your persistence on this. I would definitely raise a glass of alcohol if the share price goes to zero.

Just put my 2 cents in on Mary Schapiro. I think she has done better than Christopher Cox, but all she would have to do is come to work and turn the lights on and off to surpass that worthless loser. She has committed to many things that she didn't follow through with action.

And I want to say my BIGGEST problem with Schapiro is she is the former head of FINRA. Finra is even MORE useless than the SEC (if you can imagine) and I think anyone who has spent time in Finra is way too cozy with the securities dealers/brokerage industry.

Brian Maloney said...

Another day where UTA seems to be coming apart - related to auditor story?

John Hempton said...

It is hardly positive that the auditor has resigned.

On the conference call on the 29th the company said it had no issues with its auditor.

The auditor had resigned effective 27th - but they say they only got the letter on the 29th.

Oh - and they did not tell the market for another week of trading days.

Yes - I guess that is a falling-apart story. But the timing could be genuine...

I don't really want to speculate.

John

John Hempton said...

It is hardly positive that the auditor has resigned.

On the conference call on the 29th the company said it had no issues with its auditor.

The auditor had resigned effective 27th - but they say they only got the letter on the 29th.

Oh - and they did not tell the market for another week of trading days.

Yes - I guess that is a falling-apart story. But the timing could be genuine...

I don't really want to speculate.

John

Anonymous said...

https://denebleo.sec.gov/tcr/add.action?c=12

have you reported this yet? I've submitted... the more the better.

Anonymous said...

hi losers...sorry shorties.

happy losing money in short....this is just the begginig...the shares of UTA are going up....so prepare....liers...

you cant destroy a name and make a profit...here you will lose money for real...keep shorting..

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