Noble Group’s horror show

SGX-listed, Hong Kong-based Noble Group warned on Wednesday that it is set to post a devastating loss of USD1.8 billion for the second quarter. The shock loss surpassed the full-year loss of USD 1.6 billion back in 2015 and brought to light the significant challenges faced by the commodity trader.

The market reacted immediately on Thursday morning, with Noble Group share price plunging by as much as 49% to $0.295. The counter recovered to close at $0.395 at the end of the trading day.

Record loss

The amount certainly blew me off and made me blinked twice. USD1.8 billion is a colossal amount of money. We are talking about losing USD1,800 million for one single quarter. Translated into Singapore dollar, that would mean SGD2,400 million. Make no mistake, founder Richard Elman has previously warned that Noble Group is likely to suffer losses until 2019. But nobody could have foreseen losses of such magnitude.

Noble Group

Compared to the second quarter loss, the first quarter loss of USD130 million seemed like peanuts. But the announcement of that loss back in March had bombed out Noble Group stock price. With the gigantic loss in second quarter, the share price is likely to experience another bout of carnage. 

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Three-way battle for SingTel, M1 and StarHub

It’s going to be a three-way battle for SingTel, M1 and StarHub as competition intensified with the entry of a new player in the telco industry. Against this backdrop, will SingTel acquire M1 or StarHub? Recent developments in Singapore’s telecommunication industry suggest that such consolidation is only a matter of time for the incumbent players.

With Australia’s TPG winning the fourth telco license in both Australia and Singapore, it is imperative that SingTel take decisive actions to defend market shares. It is now or never for SingTel.

The battle of the giants

With a gigantic market capitalization of $63 billion, SingTel is obviously the leader of the pack and is in pole position to gobble up either of the two smaller players. Among the three existing players, M1 has the smallest market capitalization – $1.75 billion. Since 2015, M1’ share price crashed from a high of $3.96 to $1.88 level. With the current form, M1 could easily fell prey to a hostile takeover.


Incidentally, M1’s substantial shareholders, Keppel Corp and Singapore Press Holding (SPH) are going through hard times as well and they may be tempted to offload their shares in M1 to SingTel. Keppel Corp may want to sell its stakes in M1 and raise capital to focus its fight against the slump in the oil-rig industry.

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OCBC shares worth $50?

Is OCBC shares worth $50? Maybe even more. Recently OCBC made waves when it announced the offload of its 33.5% shares in United Engineers (UE) to a consortium led by Yanlord Group and Perennial Real Estate Holdings. The block sale consisted of shares held under OCBC, Great Eastern Holdings and the founding Lee Family. News of the deal propelled OCBC share price to a 5-year high and triggered a mandatory takeover offer for the rest of United Engineers shares.

The United Engineers Deal

The offer price for the UE deal was $2.60 and represented a price-to-book value of about 0.88. The fact that OCBC sold its stake in UE at a price below book value reflected the poor market sentiments. After all, United Engineers is still making healthy profits and is not considered a distressed asset at all. For the record, UE made a profit of $7.1 million in 1Q2017, a decline of 25% from last year. Hence, in my point of view, the block shares sale should have fetched higher price.

For OCBC, the deal would unlock value for shareholders and made business sense as property development is not OCBC’s core business. The sale is worth an estimated $550 million and is a windfall for OCBC.

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Is Old Chang Kee a value trap?

Since young, I have always enjoyed eating Old Chang Kee’s signature curry puffs. The history of Old Chang Kee, however, goes as far back as 1956 when it was just a small stall in a coffee shop outside former Rex cinema. In 1986, the current chairman, Han Keen Juan bought over the control of the company and subsequently transformed the stall into a listed company.

On looking back, Old Chang Kee is a story of coming of age and its brand is synonymous with Singapore food heritage. With a humble beginning, Han Keen Juan has certainly grown the Old Chang Kee into a household name.

When it was listed in Catalist in 2008, the IPO price was $0.139 and the shares were 111% over-subscribed. Now trading at $0.815, it is time to examine whether investing in the shares is worth the effort.

Old Chang Kee

Fourth quarter loss

The Group was cruising along finely when it was [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

Read my other articles on SGX stocks:

  1. Formidable Challenger for Challenger Technologies Limited
  2. The Hour Glass Limited
  3. Raffles Medical Group’s Return on Equity

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Judgement day for SPH?

It certainly seems like Judgement Day for SPH as the media conglomerate’s shares plunged to an 8-year low. The share price free fell to $2.95 on 18 July 2017, below the $3.00 support level. During the dark days of the Great Financial Crisis, the lowest trading price was $2.40. But hey, we are not having a major market crisis now, aren’t we?

What’s going on and what’s wrong with SPH? Should investors run for their lives?

Like fellow SGX-listed SingPost, SPH belongs to the old economy. Both are struggling to adapt themselves in the new digital era. Technology has devastating impacts on their businesses as their models are being disrupted by consumers’ lifestyle changes.

For SingPost, most companies are switching to electronic statements instead of traditional postages. Hence, SingPost is now transforming itself into an eCommerce logistics by leveraging on its existing postal networks. Similarly, SPH is facing disruptions from technology as most people switch to digital instead of printed newspaper. This is understandable as who would want to read yesterday’s news when you can receive the latest updates on the breaking news from online or through social media?


But what is shocking for investors was the massive decline seen in SPH’s advertisement revenue.

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Understanding Joint Tenancy and Tenancy-in-Common

In my previous article, I shared the strategy of using 99-to-1 Tenancy-in-Common to avoid paying hefty Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) for investors looking at buying second property. Some followers were skeptical while there are those who may not seem to grasp the concept. As such, this follow-up article will explain in more details on how the strategy works.

Before I proceed, readers must understand that 99-to-1 Tenancy-in-Common only works for Executive Condominiums (EC) and private properties. This is important to note because in April 2016, HDB has banned the transfer of HDB flat ownership among married couples. So now married couples cannot decouple their HDB flat. However, this new HDB rule is not applicable to private properties.


When you buy your first property with your spouse/family, it is important to understand the implication of “Manner of Holding”, specifically the significance of Joint Tenancy and Tenancy-in-Common. This is because this relatively unknown term could have major impact on your future property investments and could even result in bitter court cases in the event of divorce cases or death.

No, I am not exaggerating. In my blog, several readers have written in to share their sad stories. This is real and I want you to fully comprehend this article before making judgement.

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99-to-1 Tenancy-in-Common

During the Singapore’s Budget this year, many Singaporean investors were disappointed that the government retained the current Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD). However, instead of wishing for the stamp duties to be reduced or removed, do you know you can actually beat the system without paying an arm or leg? In this article, I will share with readers on how to avoid paying the ABSD with Tenancy-in-Common.

Note that the strategy I am sharing here is not “decoupling” (Resale part-share) for HDB, a popular move which involves the transfer of HDB ownership between married couples. In any case, Singapore government has clamped down on decoupling and tightened the rules in April 2016 to ban the transfer of HDB flat ownership between married couples. However, private residential owners are not subject to this rule.


Background of ABSD

ABSD was introduced by Singapore government among a slew of property cooling measures to stabilize market prices. It was revised upwards in 2013 in light of escalating housing prices. Under this rule, home owners are required to pay ABSD if they are buying second property or if they are not Singapore citizens.

Many property investors may have come across articles on property cooling measures in Singapore.

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NetLink NBN Trust Biggest Risk

On 10 July 2017, NetLink NBN Trust registered its final prospectus with Monetary Authority of Singapore, paving the way for the biggest IPO of the year. The offering price is $0.81. Initially, the offering price was estimated by analysts to be between $0.81 and $0.93. The low-end of the offering price could be indication of weak demand from the big boys.

With net asset of $3.07 billion and total units of 3.02 billion, the Net Asset Value (NAV) is about $1.01. Given that the offering price is only $0.81, NetLink NBN Trust IPO is considered surprisingly under-valued. It should be noted that the majority of the assets is the network infrastructure, which are recognised initially at their fair value at the date of acquisition and then depreciated over their remaining useful lives. The estimated remaining useful life for the purposes of calculating depreciation for NLT’s network assets is between 25 and 50 years, depending on the type of assets.

As cited by several local investment bloggers. there are a few risks that investors need to note for NetLink NBN Trust.

NetLink NBN Trust

First, a few bloggers had mentioned that although NetLink NBN Trust has a monopoly in the residential fibre network, it is tightly regulated by IMDA.

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United Overseas Bank (UOB)

Once upon a time in Singapore’s banking fraternity, there were four local “Heavenly Kings” – Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), United Overseas Bank (UOB), Overseas Union Bank (OUB) and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation. They are all household names and I believe most Singaporeans have experiences with their bank products or services.

On looking back, the devastating effect of the Asian Financial Crisis in the nineties and the industry liberalization brought forth by the new Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) regulations changed the banking landscape forever. Through the years, UOB has staved off these challenges and emerged as one of the most powerful forces among its peers.

Among the four “Heavenly Kings”, OUB was the smallest player and was founded by the late Lien Ying Chow. In the early 2000s, the local banks were under pressure by the government to consolidate. This was because Singapore government wanted to reduce the number of local banks to pave the way for bringing in more foreign banks.


The vision was to shape Singapore into a global financial centre with strong presence of international banks that can bring in investments and thus create high value banking jobs for Singaporeans.

Being the smallest bank, it was no surprise that OUB was the target of a bidding war between DBS and UOB.

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Three things about NetLink Trust

The biggest IPO since 2011, NetLink Trust will be listed in SGX main board at offering price of between $0.80 and $0.93, raising between $2.3 billion and $2.7 billion.

When investing in stocks, always invest in companies in which you understand their business models, their products and services. It is also important to assess the companies’ competitors and financial performances. This article will share three things about NetLink Trust which I hope investors will find useful.

NetLink Trust background

Most Singaporeans may be more familiar with OpenNet, the predecessor of NetLink Trust. In 2008, OpenNet was owned by a consortium consisting of SingTel (30%), SP Telecommunications (15%), Singapore Press Holdings (25%) and Canada’s Axia NetMedia (30%). However, in 2014, SingTel, through NetLink Trust, bought over all the shares of OpenNet from the rest of the major shareholders.

On looking back, the 2014 consolidation should be part of the strategic plan to implement Singapore government’s Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN), which is a project under the Intelligent National 2015 (iN2015) masterplan seeking to transform Singapore into an intelligent nation and global city, powered by infocomm.

NetLink Trust

Next Gen NBN is Singapore’s ultra-high-speed broadband network capable of delivering speeds of 1Gbps and above, offering connectivity to homes, offices and schools in Singapore.

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Raffles Medical Group Return on Equity

On 24 April 2017, Singapore’s leading private healthcare provider, Raffles Medical Group, announced that it is developing its second international tertiary hospital in China.

When completed in 2018, RafflesHospital Chongqing will be able to serve local and expatriate patients in the western part of China as well as foreign patients from Central Asian republics. Meanwhile, construction of RafflesHospital Shanghai has commenced and is proceeding smoothly.

For the past few years, Raffles Medical Group has been building its investment moat by increasing number of clinics, expanding its flagship hospital in Singapore, refurbishing existing clinics, acquiring overseas medical centres and developing new hospitals in China. Clearly, its intention is to grow into a regional healthcare player in order to capture market share.

Raffles Medical

Raffles Medical Group competitive advantage

Raffles Medical Group’s key competitive advantage is that its strong operating cashflow enabled the Group to support its various investments. This means that its existing operation activities are able to generate enough cash to fund business growth. For 1Q2017, the Group maintained its strong cashflow from operating activities of S$18.2 million in Q1 2017. This figure is more than sufficient to meet the investment and capital expenditure of $14.4 million in Q1 2017.

The need for overseas expansion is driven by the small market in Singapore.

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The Day Creative Technology Ltd sued Apple Inc

In 2006, Singapore-based Creative Technology Ltd sued Apple Inc for patent infringement over a menu interface for an MP3 player. It was an epic corporate story of David versus Goliath and pitted Singapore entrepreneur, Sim Wong Hoo squarely against the late Steve Jobs.

But the outcome was beyond what most people had expected. In fact, Apple had actually agreed to pay Creative Technology Ltd a massive USD100 million to settle the suit.

The battle against Apple marked a turning point for Creative Technology, which at that point of time, had been searching for another holy grail to replace its blockbuster SoundBlaster audio systems. More than a decade has gone since the legal dispute, but Creative Technology is no longer the force it used to be. Although it has won the corporate battle, the business had declined to an almost unbelievable level.

Creative Technology

Sales for the fiscal year 2005 was at a peak of USD 1.2 billion but by fiscal 2016, the sales amounted to only a paltry of USD 84.5 million. That was a massive decline by any standard and something must [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only.

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