Walking Dead – Thoughts/Reflections on work (part 1)

It has been a while since I last blogged about anything. The world is making history every single day with notable events such as Brexit, Donald Trump becoming president, and yet for myself, life is still much the same. As we near the end of 2016, I feel that I need to write down my thoughts on work. This was sparked by the online application form which I needed to fill up for a job position I applied for and it was a question on how many months have I worked for.

As I thought about it, I started work in Oct 2012, and now that it is coming to the end of 2016, I have worked for approximately 4 years, and yet have nothing to show for at the end of it. I did not manage to save the amount I expected to save, I did not make much progress in terms of career progression, and no purpose to work in life.

To sum up my work experience so far, I have worked for 3 different companies, worked in 5 different roles, and only had a single pay raise of $16 when I worked longer than a single year at a position (and the pay raise is not even at my current job). In case you are wondering, all my job have been contract jobs so far. Things are getting rough in Singapore, with its economy stalling and not doing well in the current economic climate, it is difficult to get a long term stable job. Even so, the initial bunch of colleagues who started work around me have gone on to find permanent jobs during the same 4 years while I drifted along, from job to job. Sometimes, I wonder if there is just something wrong with me, that I am the only one unable to find a stable job. Well, people say that be fortunate to have a job. It is true, and I guess that’s a relative thing. To know that you are fortunate, you are inevitable comparing yourself to someone in a less fortunate position in order to know that you are in a better position. Anyways, when my boss told me that during my contract annual review, it doesn’t exactly inspire me to want to do my best for my current job. As such, I am perpetually late for work, and really don’t feel the need to push for things in the work arena.

In any case, I digressed. “Walking dead” basically summarizes how I feel about my work currently. I wake up every morning not wanting to start the day and go to work. I take my own time to shuffle to office, and look forward to the end of the day to return to my own room. This process repeats itself everyday. There is no end in sight. Apologies, but this is going to be a rant post but I suppose I need an outlet to organize my thoughts and let off some steam. It mainly boils down to 2 reasons why I feel this way.

Lack of Interest in Job Scope

My current job scope is a Business Analyst at a local bank. It sounds fanciful but it has nothing to do with the bank business side or Front Office. It mainly consists of gathering user requirements when they want to implement some changes in the source system, and writing out the functional specification documents and then performing UAT on the systems. This is not what I wanted to do when I studied Finance and Economics years ago. I suppose that no one really does what they study and having an interest/passion in one’s job is not a necessity but a luxury, but I feel that I am not able to accept this. As work takes up such a huge amount of your time, doing something I do not enjoy does not make me look forward to living and to begin the day. This does not make me feel alive and I feel like a part of me dying everyday. A lot of people at church tells me that the idea of work is just a means to put food on the table and that is God’s plan but I do not agree with this view at all. I have tried to accept this thinking and my job but it does not work for me. The longer I do this, the more I am convinced that I am unable to do this for the rest of my working life. I am not entirely sure, but it might also be due to the fact of the lack of career progression/direction which caused me to feel this way towards my current job.

Lack of Career Progression/Direction

It is difficult to feel there is progression or direction in terms of career when all my jobs so far have been contract jobs, and there is also no reward for loyalty to the company. As a contractor, there is only so much you can try to learn by yourself and there is no annual review of your work or any sort. A contractor is just like a mercenary, you go to whoever pays you. My multiple job-hopping has been more of desperation rather than progression, as the departments that I have been in are redeployed overseas or undergoing massive restructuring. As I speak, even in my current role, they are decommissioning the database that my department is in charge of and slowly restructuring/dismantling the team. This results in me being lost and disillusioned, feeding into the loop that I can’t accept this. It doesn’t help that there is no increment for staying on longer in the company, no bonus for contract completion and only 12 days of annual leave per year, which is sad. There is just no motivation to work hard as there is no satisfaction or end goal to reward your effort or a job well done.

There are many times I do wonder, like why do the people around me seem able to find at the minimum permanent jobs and at least are able to enjoy the benefits while I am unable to do so? They may not be totally passionate about their jobs but at the very least, they have the benefits of being a permanent staff to enjoy. Is there something wrong with me or am I just always at the wrong place at the wrong time? I don’t seem to have luck at clearing the interview hurdles as well as most of the interviews I have gone to, I have not been offered positions while I see my friends going for seemingly less interviews than me getting offers. Is there really something wrong with me?

Well, that’s the end of my ranting. I guess the more important question is what to do from now on. I can continue to rant and feel sorry for myself but that is not going to help me move forward. As a new year beckons, I should really start to think even harder about what I can do. There is even greater pressure with each passing week and month as there is wedding, and family to start thinking about. It is really frustrating. After typing this, I realise I sound like a spoilt brat, whining and complaining just because things don’t go my way. Okay, nobody is going to care about how I feel. What’s more important is how do I react to the situation. Also, I suppose that it does not matter that much what others say as they are not in my position and probably do not understand me. This is something I need to know, to really place less weight on what older people from church say. It feels like church people have it wrong in a couple of things, not just pertaining to this.

Anyways, I really do need to put a lot more effort and thought into planning what I need to do for 2017 if not I will not get anywhere. Really need to find a way to sustain my energy reserve and also the drive to push me to forward. I suppose that will be for another post but it really does make me feel better to have written this post out. That’s all for now, will try to rush out a couple more posts soon in the near future.

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Reflection on CFD/FX trading around and after Brexit

As the title suggests, this post is going to be about my reflection on 2 weeks of trading around and post the Brexit. Yup, I have decided to venture into trading to build up my income. Perhaps I do feel inpatient and feel the need to increase my monetary net worth at a fast pace as I feel that my share portfolio moves at a slow pace. Moreover, I do not have the vast amount of cash as Warren Buffet does to make a sizeable profit on. 20% of $1 billion is $200 million while 20% of $1k is only $200. For investing in shares, I think that size does matter, and it does works in the long run, but it needs to be scaled upwards. For now in the short run, I think that trading is the way to go to scale up. Of course, everybody knows that trading is difficult and depending on who you ask, 95%-99% of traders lose money. It is difficult to trade and I understand it at least intellectually until I started trading and experienced it personally. I have only read like 1-2 books on trading and got started as Brexit is a once in a life time event, and hard to come by. So my trading basis was mainly on my ideas of how events could unfold and rudimentary technical analysis of support and resistance based on what I read. To cut the long story short, I funded my account with $5k and within the span of 1 week, I made $1k+ with it and in the following week, within 2-3 days, I lost most of it. Quite a humbling experience frankly, and I realize the need to really study the various techniques out there before committing into trading further. It was an exhilarating experience to trade too. Felt like I was on a high when my trading thesis was correct and it was quite exciting. The highlight for the month of June for me actually, the only thing that kept me looking forward to each day. At the same time, I knew it was difficult to preserve capital and little did I know that losses could mount up so quickly as well. Guess I need to work on my risk management on trading. So in short, to summarize the learning points from this trading session:

  • Forex trading is too volatile. Best is to start by scalping and to initiate positions of 10,000 denominated currency. I don’t quite have the stomach to take swing or position trades base on my own analysis yet. Many a times, I took a position, see it go against me and hours or a day later to an ITM position after I close out at a loss.
  • Limit margin usage to approximately $500 per trade with an account of $5k or limit to maximum $1k per trading position
  • Start out with CFD share trading to practise reading the charts and indicators
  • For Forex, using clean charts and learn about flow order trading first
  • For Forex, take note of the release timings of economic data as it causes forex trading to be volatile. Forex definitely need to monitor closely, and not open the position for long
  • It is okay to trade on news or especially massive events, but on a day to day basis, need to stick to good old technical analysis
  • Keep in mind the risk-reward ratio, however it seems for forex scalping, the risk-reward ratio is skewed towards higher risk and volatility

Going forward, I will really read up and try to understand more first before entering trades. It is going to be difficult as I have a gambler’s mentality and my fingers always itching to enter trades but I need to build up discipline to do so and to strive for capital preservation as much as possible. Hopefully I will be able to start trading soon and earn some profits by the end of 2016. Will need to prepare to top up my account with another $5k in the near future. Of course, there is no guarantee that I will make money but I will see this as a learning points in life as I see this as necessary to build an alternative cash-flow apart from my monthly income and investing capital gains/dividends. This is a dream but part of me still hope that I can do well in trading and maybe become a full-time retail trader, but the eventual hope is not to trade forever, but to use the profit to invest into shares or some other worthy ventures.

Investment Analysis of Religare Health Trust [RF1U]

***Please note that this does not constitute a stock recommendation for buy or sell. This is purely my own analysis and is to be taken as my own personal opinion and not to be taken as correct. Kindly do your own diligence in purchasing stocks.

This is an analysis of Religare Health Trust [RF1U], a business trust listed on SGX which consists of healthcare assets in India. I have recently initiated a long position in it and I plan to hold it for the long run.

religare logo comparison

Doesn’t the logo look like a green inverted tilted DBS?

It has a short listing history, only listed on SGX since 2012, and it has an investment mandate to principally to invest in medical and healthcare assets and services in Asia, Australasia and emerging markets in the rest of the world. RHT may also develop medical and healthcare assets. (Although for now, it seems like it is only developing its assets in India.) Currently it has 18 assets spread across India, 12 clinical establishments, 4 green-field clinical establishments, and 2 operating hospitals. Clinical Establishment refers to a fully centrally air-conditioned institution established and specifically customized and fitted with all fixtures, fittings, medical equipment and infrastructure required for running and operating a hospital, offering: (1) services for diagnosis and treatment for illness, disease, injury, deformity and/ or abnormality; (2) diagnosis of diseases through radiological and other diagnostic and investigative services with the aid or laboratory or other medical equipment; and (3) beds for in-patient treatment. The Greenfield clinical establishments mean that the investment is in an area where no previous facilities exist, and the Group is able to build according to its own specifications.

So where does its’ revenue come from? This is the part where it gets a bit tricky and I am slightly unsure and might be wrong. Its’ revenue is divided into 3 portions – Service fee, Hospital income and Other income.

Service fee: Aggregate of the base and variable service fee for providing Clinical Establishment services, including but not limited to the out-patient department services (OPD) and the radio diagnostic services (RDS). Based fee is an amount agreed upon with Fortis group and increases 3% p.a. revised upwards for capex/expansions and variable fee is 7.5% of the Fortis Hospital’s operating income. Sounds good on paper that it is able to participate in the operational growth of the Fortis hospitals.

Hospital income: Solely arises from the provision of medical services of the 2 operating hospitals under RHT.

Other income: Includes lease income from pharmacy, cafeteria, bookshop, automated teller machines and other amenities in the Clinical Establishments of the Group

This is slightly confusing as if I understand correctly from the prospectus, the hospital service companies will hold all of the RHT clinical establishments in the initial portfolio, and will enter hospital and medical services agreements with Fortis entities, which will manage and run the operations of those establishments and provide additional healthcare above those provided by the hospital service companies such as in-patient and emergency services. Sounds a bit odd to me, but I am definitely unfamiliar with the way how this works.


Anyways, diving straight into my own estimated calculations, using the Gordon Dividend growth Model, assuming no growth rate and constant capital structure, the back of the envelope computes the share price to be approximately $1.02.

Shareholder equity (S) – 739,608

Debt (D) – 269,795

Cost of equity – 7.0% [assumed as the yield rate that the Group’s investors seek, which can also be taken as yield investor is seeking, and actually the yield rate I am looking at]

**Note that cost of equity above is different from distribution payout amount below, (cost of equity may vary, depending on the entry price)

FY2012 – $0.0355 (half year data available due to listing in Oct 2012)

FY2013 – $0.0405+$0.0414 = $0.0819

FY2014 – $0.0361+$0.0371=$0.0732

FY2015 – $0.039+$0.0382=$0.0772

Cost of debt – 6.5% [conservative estimate, with 4.5% fixed rate note from multicurrency MTN]

WACC – 7.31% [(S/(S+D)*(Cost of equity) + D/(S+D)*(Cost of debt)]

Valuation – $1.026 [(Cost of equity)/(WACC), Assuming no dividend growth]

For this share, I bought it at a fair price of $1.01, which is different from other shares which I buy them undervalued instead. Going by its NAV of $0.927, it is currently trading at a premium of approximately 8.95%. It also have a lot of room for expansion/acquisition via debt, with its current gearing ratio at 18.1%, and management is voluntarily adopting a gearing limit of 60%, with a target policy of 30-40%. Currently it has a distribution policy of distributing 95% of distributable income for FY2017, and have 5% retained for future capital expenditure in relation to expansion or replacement initiatives.


So why was I attracted to this? It’s for the reasons below:

Growth of Healthcare

Healthcare is always necessary and the demand for it will only rise over time. It has blossomed well in Singapore, with healthcare becoming more expensive over time (just look at the share price of medical related companies), and India being an emerging company, there will be plenty of opportunities for it to grow and develop. People are also getting more affluent in India, which results in an increase in lifestyle related diseases for the Indian locals and a growing medical tourism industry will only increase the demands for the healthcare sector. This is also receiving a boost from the government, whereby government encourages industry players to provide quality healthcare through public-private partnerships, tax incentives, and subsidies, and promoting health insurance market to make private healthcare more affordable. Moreover, Religare has a very strong sponsor, Fortis, and have rights of first refusal over the clinical establishments it own, allowing Religare opportunities for expansion of assets. Also, despite the premium over the NAV, it does not seem to earn rental fee of the hospital establishment, but rather providing medical services. Comparing to other players in the similar industry, healthcare REITs also tend to command a premium over NAV as well.

Business trust structure and distribution policy

I have been looking for an investment with constant recurring income and I guess a business trust structure fits the bill. Singaporeans in general prefer REITs, and especially with the current downturn in occupancy rates for Singapore REITs, it might be a good time to look at REITs but the reason I am not choosing a REIT is for the simple reason that I am lazy. Buying REITs, there might have a higher distribution cost and lower corporate tax, but it comes at a cost to a personal income tax. Typically REITs have a 2 tiered distribution, a component which is not taxable, and the other component is taxable. I am simply lazy to include it when filing for tax, and hence I’m looking for business trusts instead. Business trusts are not obligated by law to distribute at least 90% of income, but generally they do and since management has announced its policy so as previously mentioned, it should be okay to have a recurring income. Over time, as the green-field establishments get upgraded and with the services fees increasing each year, hopefully the distribution will increase over time as well.


So what are some of the -ve things to consider?

INR currency

As with all companies who have their business outside of Singapore, it is unavoidable that there will always be currency exchange risks. Religare is no exception, with its business in India. Management have taken steps to mitigate this risk by entering forward contracts to hedge close to 100% of cash flows for distribution, which is a good thing. I don’t think anyone can accurately predict the INR/SGD rate in the near future and hedging to lock in a fixed rate is good as it provides certainty, which equates to a more stable distribution.

Exposure to India laws

With its’ assets situated in India, it is naturally subjected to Indian laws and government rulings. I am not very familiar with Singapore laws much less Indian laws, and taking a cursory glance at the prospectus, it might be scary, as it flags out issues such as not able to validate title deeds, ability to repossess land etc. Such an example is the disposal of economic interests in Fortis Hospotel Ltd to FHL. I am unsure of the difference between economic interest versus equity interest as I always thought they are the same. Guess I need to find out more. Regarding this, I can only put my trust in the managers to see that operations and things run smoothly over there.

Complex trust structure

religare health trust structure

Enough said. The trust structure diagram is complicated and confusing. I am also unsure of how the relationship between Religare and Fortis work out to be and it does not seem to be as simple as it is.

Fee Structure

Base fee – 50% paid in units

Perfomance fee – 50% paid in units

Development fee – payable in the form of either cash or units

As you can see, there is high potential for dilution, something to watch out for.


Conclusion

In closing, I think it is a fair price for its value and I plan to hold this share for a long long time. In the short run, there will definitely be a dip in revenue due to the Fortis Hospotel Ltd sale transaction to FHL, but I am optimistic of its’ long term prospects to be a dominant player in the India healthcare field. However, a part of me is unsure of how this can be beneficial to society as a whole in providing affordable healthcare as the hospital service business is to charge the patients a high fee for medical care. This is probably compounded more by the fact that the board of directors is mainly composed of finance trained people and only a single person with a degree in medicine in the mix. Any thoughts or comments? Let me know what do you think or if I am wrong in any area.

Eventful Month of May

It has been quite some time since I last written on anything on this blog/wordpress. Quite a bit has happened since April, so perhaps it would be good to run through some of the more noteworthy events that have happened. First up is regarding work. My contract was due to expire nearing the end of May and so I had a chat with my boss during the end of April regarding it. To my surprise, though it was communicated to me at the start of the contract that there would be a pay raise after 1 year, surprise surprise there wasn’t any. During my 3 years of working, I’ve only had a single pay raise for a single job role which I have held onto, and to top it off, it was a measly pay raise of $16. I was really disappointed, quite angry and quite unmotivated to work anymore. Thinking back, I’m not sure why I felt so angry back then when I am already used to not having pay raise, and the only pay raise I get is from job-hopping. I suppose it was due to the expectation of the pay raise as there was nothing else to look forward to in the job, as there was no prospects or any chance of conversion in my current department as they are planning to decommission the database that my team is in charge of. Since then, the perm staff themselves are leaving one by one. Time for me to start looking for a new job again. I guess I wore my emotions quite openly on my sleeves as my boss noted my drop in morale and spoke to me about career and wanting to do things in life. It was a good session, but still I guess it is time for me to leave soon. Even after that talk with him, I still am not sure of what is it that I really want to do. It seems that I am unable to sustain my interest in things over long stretches of time. Also, I am still struggling with what does work mean for Christians. I guess that I am unable to accept the concept of work which was put forth by my church and I will not detail anything regarding it here as it will be quite long. Might consider writing another post on it.

In any case, since then I have signed an extension for my contract. My plan was to extend first and in the mean time, look for another job. I still do not know what is it that I want to do, but I will keep searching. It seems that I time is running out on me, but I have to keep searching. In May, I took one week off as well to study for my FRM level 2 exam. I failed last year and this was a retake. It was difficult and I am not sure of how my chances are but hopefully I will pass this time. The exam results are out on 28th June. Am honestly not sure of how useful this will be to my career path as well. Shall see how things go in a few months time. The one week study leave was good, and I really enjoyed not going to work and able to do things at my own time. Guess that was a taste of how a day is like in financial freedom (of course without the studying of FRM). Managed to catch X-men Apocalypse during the opening week as well. Was also struck by the fact of inflation being prevalent in everyday life. In the past, a Yakun toast set 1 was $4, but when I had it, it was $4.80. I thought that there was mild deflation, but guess foodstuff are not affected.

Another thing was the conversation after church with my girlfriend and one of the churchmate. We were just sharing about stuff, and it was then that I realised that I really needed to work on my communication skills and not layer my own impression of how my girlfriend thinks upon her. This was quite serious as through the session, I discovered that I appeared to have many wrong impressions and she was really disappointed. They could be classified in the table below:

Untitled

There could have been more issues but I forgot them. What I think was the impression I formed when we discussed these issues privately and it appeared that they were not true as of 22 May 2016. This is something which I really need to learn, which is to understand my girlfriend better and not form my own images and impressions.  To top it off, I briefly shared about my dream of trading for a living and staying home to take care of the house and children and she seemed appalled at the idea. She said she was risk adverse and it was unfair that the family had to rely on her single income for stability. Though I did say that I would only do that only if I was very confident of my own skills, she was still not convinced. On hindsight, that did seem like a far-fetched idea and not feasible. In any case, that is now just a dream , as the famous saying goes, “the journey to a thousand miles begins with a step”. I will begin to learn how to trade in the mean time in order to supplement my main income. Of course, like mahjong, trading requires a person to pay “school fees”. I have started by setting aside $5k SGD to begin and learning along the way. This episode kind of made me thought that she din’t trust my judgement and money management skills. This was also raised a year ago when I wanted to invest $1k SGD in seoul yummy via MoolahSense as an investment in crowd-funding in order to earn a 4.5% interest. I am still not sure if she trusts me or not but it’s ok, I need to believe in myself and have confidence in myself. Will try to learn trading for now, at the same time learning how to understand my girlfriend better and see how things go.

First visit to AGM – Sunningdale Tech Ltd 21st AGM

**Note that the below is merely my own opinions and based on my own memory of the AGM. It may be biased and may not be accurate at all. Readers please be advised if you are planning to invest in the stock, kindly do your own diligence. Thanks.

This is a late post as the AGM for Sunningdale Tech Ltd was held on the 18th April 2016 at Pan Pacific Hotel and I was distracted by events that happened the past week. This was also my first time going for AGM. I have always wanted to visit one in the past, notably for Saizen REIT, but my previous work doesn’t allow me to do so. Thus, I was quite excited and happy that I was able to attend this one. Visiting AGMs will allow shareholders to understand the company better via issues raised and discussed which can’t be found in the annual reports or from websites and also to be able to listen to viewpoints from other shareholders and to learn from the more experienced shareholders.

 

Sunningdale Tech Ltd (BHQ) is a company listed on the SGX, and it is a manufacturer of precision plastic components. It has 4 main business segments – Consumer/IT, Automotives, Healthcare and Mould fabrication. It’s main clientele is from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. It is considered a micro-cap company, with approximately $200M SGD market capitalization. It is currently trading at a low P/B ratio of approximately 0.644 and has a P/E ratio of about 5.It has a global presence via the multiple manufacturing facilities throughout the world, giving it the strategic position to target and capture opportunities in diverse business sectors globally.

As I look around the people who attended Sunningdale’s AGM, I noticed that most of the people are quite old, whereby most of them looked to be above 50 yo, and very few young people. As per the annual report, the shareholding is quite fractured and mostly owned by retail investors. Also mentioned by the Chairman during the QnA session, the shareholder base is quite stable, as he noticed the same bunch of people at the AGM over the years. However, I can’t help but notice 2 young people decked in suit with their suitcase who are most probably institutional investors.

The AGM began with the CEO [Mr Khoo Boo Khor] giving a short update on the financial statements of the company, which could be found from the annual report, and followed by the integration of their acquisition of First Engineering Ltd. Looking at how they praised the efforts and glowing reports of the integration, I must say they are very happy with their acquisition.

After the very brief presentation by the CEO comes the QnA session. This is the most anticipated time for me as I get to hear the concerns and viewpoints of other more experienced shareholders. I supposed I was quite fortunate due to the fractured shareholding, many various shareholders raised questions and I got to learn quite a bit from it, compared to the STARBURST Holdings AGM which I attended a few days later, whereby 80% of the shares were held by the Chairman and CEO and few questions raised by the shareholders.

Some of the questions raised were pertaining to future company revenue growth, currency volatility impact on company’s profits, insider buying/selling, impact of 3D printing, dividend payout policy, etc etc. Most of the questions were actually answered by the Chairman [Mr Koh Boon Hwee]. I was quite impressed as despite his age, he was still sharp and quick-witted. After returning home and digging his background, only then did I realized that he was previously the Chairman of DBS and SIA as well. However, it seemed to me that he overshadowed the CEO and the CEO seemed to have a smaller presence in the room compared to the Chairman.

So here are some of my takeaway points from the AGM:

  • Diversified business segments – Despite revenue from healthcare segment dropping, the Chairman noted that this is due to timing issues of revenue recognition and healthcare projects tended to be realized over a longer period of time 3-5years compared to that of Consumer/IT which has a shorter period of <1 year. Also, due to the stiff competition in plastic precision parts, their strategy is not to specialize in a single product and they plan to expand their product offering in order to capture a bigger variety of markets instead.
  • No fixed dividend payout policy – A shareholder pointed out that even though revenue has increased 41.8% y-o-y, dividend payout has not increased to match revenue growth. In fact, it has only increase by 25% to 5cents per share for FY2015. The Chairman reiterated that there was no designated dividend payout policy communicated.
  • Pricing pressure from customers – Due to devaluation of RMB and various factors, they are facing strong pricing pressure from customers. The Chairman has pointed out that this is a risk and they are picky about the customers they work with and customers which they can do business with for a long time. They will not accept businesses with single digit profit margins, and are striving to keep profit margins at double digits.
  • Credit concentration risk – They are careful that credit risk with respect to trade receivables are not concentrated within a few clients. From their annual report, it can be seen that it has approximately 31% due from 5 major customer groups which are established MNCs. The Chairman also noted that this is low relative to its industry peers where credit concentration norm is approximately 70%.
  • CCY exchange risk – With the central banks of various countries intervening so often, the currency exchange volatility is increased. The Chairman pointed out that most of the transactions are done in USD, and would definitely gain from an appreciation of USD. Also, they have tried to mitigate this risk by way of natural hedging through the foreign currency borrowings they have as much as possible.
  • Rising wage cost in China – Despite the devaluation of the RMB, as with all emerging countries, as the economy develops and grows, wage cost will rise along as well. This is a clear issue for Sunningdale as they have quite a number of plants situated in China. To combat the rising wage cost, specifically from Shanghai, they are building a plant in Suzhou, which will hopefully reduce cost. They are monitoring this closely.
  • Strong positive cash flow – Enuff said, cash is good, and they have been generating positive cash flow over the past few years. Of course granted that past actions are no predictors of future actions but if they have a track record of doing so, I don’t see why they won’t maintain to generate positive cash flow. As of now, they are in a net cash position of $6.3M, which will be reduced after paying out dividends for FY2015.
  • Focus on operational efficiency and full integration of all acquisitions and subsidiaries – Guess this is right up in the CEO’s alley with his years of manufacturing operation experience. There is an emphasis on operational efficiency, which will hopefully bring down cost. There is underutilisation in the Southern China plants, and they are making plans for restructuring exercise. Also, there are synergies between the various subsidiaries due to streamlined processes and unified systems and processes across all the entities. This should be good as people can communicate to each other with the same terminologies and understand things better.
  • Potential dilution of shareholding – Motion was passed to grant the board the mandate to be able to issue shares up to 50% of the issued shares of the capital of the company. This is a cause for concern as it may result in the company causing massive share dilution if it requires to raise significant amount of capital for aggressive growth via acquisitions. Hopefully this won’t come to pass.

After the QnA session and the voting on matters put forth on AGM and EOGM, the meeting is concluded with a mini lunch buffet outside the room. As I was seated in the room till the end, I could see that people were leaving halfway throughout the meeting and only when I exited the room then I realised why. The old aunties and uncles were crowding around the table jostling for food. I could see that there was not much food left. Thankfully, some nice uncle came over to me and shared some of the puffs and pastries which he has accumulated on his plate. I had some bee hoon as well.

Overall, it was an eye-opening experience for me and I highly recommend shareholders to attend the AGM of their vested companies. Granted, different companies will have different settings and ways of conducting their AGMs but it would definitely be a good experience to learn more about the company.

Also, just an update on the Q1 results of Sunningdale Tech Ltd for FY2016, net profit actually dropped 49.3% y-on-y. This might seem like a big deal, but on closer inspection, it appears that this drop is due to a  $1.1M in 1Q15 compared to a foreign exchange loss of $3.2M in 1Q16. This surprised me a bit as I was not expecting the FX volatility to have such a significant impact on the earnings. Guess I need to learn more about the currency volatility impact on this. Despite this, revenue has actually increased 4.4% y-o-y with gross profit margin somewhat flat. Can only wait and see how things go…

Things to look out for when considering a broker

Just thought to share my 2 cents worth on certain things to look out for when choosing a broker. As part of investing, you need to have a broker in order to book trades. I’ve had to look for a suitable broker and here are just some of the things to look out for when considering a broker. But first, what is a broker and why do we need them? From Wikipedia, a brokerage firm is an institution, who buys and sells stocks and other securities for both retail and institutional clients, through a stock exchange or over the counter, in return for a fee or commission. We need them to help process our transactions in buying or selling securities and they earn a fee on each transaction we make. Now we can begin considering the things to look out for.

Investment Style

Everyone has their own individual bias and investing style. Similarly, no brokers are entirely alike and they may be catered to different investing styles. Some are more suited for high trading frequency, which caters to the traders, and others are more suited to buy and hold, where they do not charge you for holding periods. You have to decide which path you want to take and find out more information on the brokers on how are they charging you. Do they charge you only per transaction or do they charge you for the duration that you hold the security?

Type of Securities

Next, decide the type of securities you want to invest/trade in. There is a plethora of products out there, from shares, bonds,CFDs, options, futures, commodities, etc., and not all brokers will allow you to transact in all of them. Most of the local Singapore brokers will provide the usual shares, bonds and ETFs, but may not have access to the more complicated derivatives while the foreign brokers will typically provide a buffet of securities for you to choose from.

Market

Different people also have different preference for stock markets, and you have to decide which market you want to invest in. Some people may find SGX stock market boring and prefer to want something more interesting like in the US markets or somewhere else. Just note that not all brokers will allow you to trade in all the global markets.

CDP Account and Custodian Account

When you buy securities, you need a virtual storage place to put them in. In the past, shares change hands via a physical stock certificate. Now, everything is virtual. What is CDP? It is actually the Central Depository, the virtual storage place for SGX securities. Take note that it is separate from the broker account but typically you are able to open a CDP account along with your broker account. Your broker will help you to process your CDP account opening. This will take approximately 3-4 weeks. Mine took about 2-3 weeks where both my CDP and brokerage accounts are opened. So if you have a CDP account and you buy some shares, they will be stored in the CDP account and you will own those shares. However, there are some brokers which have something called the custodian account, which in simple terms, more like an account placed at the broker, but you do not own the shares, the broker does. The shares will be deposited in the broker’s account and you will be able to see the shares in your account with the broker. This gives the broker more flexibility with the securities and on the other hand, you pay less commission fees compared to a broker account with a linked CDP account. Take note that though you pay lesser commission fees, in the event that the broker goes bankrupt, there is no certainty that you will be able to retrieve your shares while if they are stored in your CDP account and your broker goes bankrupt, you still own your shares and you just get another broker to perform transactions for you. Take note that this is only applicable for local Singapore shares. If you are planning to invest in overseas stock market, your broker will definitely place your shares in  their own custodian account.

Brokerage commission fees

Different brokers have varying competitive advantages and this can translate into slight variance in commission fees. I say slight variance because most of them charge almost similar rates. For the local brokers, the minimum charge is typically around 25SGD or 0.2+% for online trades along with the mandatory transaction charges such as clearing fee and SGX trading fee. Of course, if you are not using online broker but human broker, the charges are more expensive. Someone has to pay the broker for his manual labour to perform the transaction after all. Also, if you are planning to invest in overseas market, do remember to compare the rates for custodian, dividend collection, corporate action, etc. Different brokers charge differently due to their competitive advantages. There are also slight variants of cash-upfront accounts, whereby you put cash into your account with the broker and you will get better commission fees.

Order types

This is crucial in helping you get the best price out of the transaction be it buying, selling or short selling. The most common order type seen will be the “limit order”, which is to buy or sell a number of designated shares at a specific price or better. There are many other order types such as market-to-limit orders, market orders etc, and brokers may offer different order types and for different markets as well. It would be good to go through the kind of order types that each broker may offer and also match against your own individual investment philosophy to determine what kind of order types you need.

Currency exchange rate/currency account

This pertains to more of investing in stock markets other than SGX or those stocks listed on SGX but denominated in a different currency. Currency risk is subtle, but different brokers will probably have different exchange rates with varying spreads. Would be good to know if the difference in exchange rates will eat into your PnL and how much does it affect your stock portfolio.

Taxes

Ok, so this factor doesn’t really pertain to the consideration of broker, but still good to bear in mind the tax factor. The good thing about trading in SGX stock market is that there are generally no capital gains tax no dividend tax except for dividends from REITs which have a taxable component as REITS are to distribute almost all their earnings to shareholders. There is a taxable component for their dividends distributed which is taxable at the personal income level and not the corporate level. However, the tax rules that applies to Singaporeans investing in SGX shares may not apply to foreigners/non-residents investing in SGX shares and it will be a different case in the various  stock markets. For example, for a Singaporean investing in the US market (assuming he/she meets the definition of a foreign investor in US terms), he/she does not have to pay capital gain tax, but there is a 30% withholding tax from Uncle Sam. This means that instead of a $1 dividend expected to receive from the US share, only $0.70 is paid out.

 

In conclusion, more in depth research and comparison is required to find the best suited broker for your needs. However, there is no need to only have a single broker. You can have various brokers to cater to your different needs. After all, they are more like your clothes or underwear, where you can have a variety and don’t have to wear the same stuff everywhere and less like your girlfriend/boyfriend, whereby one is enough.

First Post

This is just a simple first post on this word press page, to start off on my journal entry journey. I have just recently decided to have an online journal to record down things which I have been spending time thinking and reflecting about in life, and also the experiences which I have. This will also partially be about investing, as it is my interest, whereby from time to time I will detail records of my transactions and analysis of companies. I am not a guru, as I have just started out investing not too long ago, and I will make many mistakes, but I am willing to learn from my mistakes in order to be a better investor. Similarly, I hope to be a better person as life goes on, and as I look back at my posts years from now, hopefully I will be a better person than I am now.