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. Reports of medical tourism slowing down in Singapore started to surface in early 2016. Apparently, Singapore Tourism Board stopped providing market data for medical tourism since 2015 but industry players have pointed out that neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have stepped up their game in recent years to compete with Singapore in this arena. Basically, private medical players in Singapore, such as Raffles Medical Group, have priced themselves out of the market.

In view of the bearish market sentiment, Raffles Medical Group share price has been …

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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. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

Read my other article on Creative Technology:

  1. Creative Technology won the battle but lost the war

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Noble Group new white knight?

Can founder Richard Elman save Singapore-listed, Hong Kong-based commodity trader, Noble Group? This is the most pressing concern for shareholders as the crisis-hit company battled crisis after crisis for over two years. The latest news on investments from a surprise Middle East investment group, Goldilocks Investment Company (GIC), must have brought a huge relief for shareholders.

While I certainly do not deem GIC as Noble Group’s new white knight, the latest investment is a sign of endorsement for Noble Group. GIC is part of Abu Dhabi Financial Group, a diversified global group with asset management of USD5 billion. The Middle East investor has a reputation of buying distressed companies.

According to the SGX filing on 22 June 2017, GIC purchased 50,546,000 ordinary shares in Noble Group. Taken together with GIC’s existing 15,454,000 ordinary shares it purchased on 19 June 2017, GIC became a substantial shareholder of NGL on 20 June 2017.

Noble Group

I am careful not to label Goldilock as a new white knight as the investment is not a form of cash injection in return for equity stake. It seems that the Middle East investment group bought the shares from open market and built up its stake within two days of the week. Given that Noble Group is in the midst of raising capital, this development may not seem to provide much aid for the struggling commodity trader. But somehow, it is encouraging evidence that Noble Group still possess value which continues to attract global institution players.

The vote of confidence from a Middle East strategic investor came on the back of recent extension of credit facility with several banks. Shareholders can certainly do with these slew of good news as Noble Group has been hit by relentless crises for more than two years. The troubles it encountered seem so …

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Can SingTel fight gravity?

Hailed by many analysts as Asia top telecommunication company, SingTel is facing heightened competition from emerging players seeking to knock it from the perch. Australia’s TPG Telecom stunned the market by not only becoming Singapore’s 4th telecommunication player in late 2016, but also Australia’s 4th telecommunication player in early 2017. Given the increased competition in Singapore, Australia and India, can SingTel fight gravity?

To put things into perspective, SingTel did not sleep walk into the dominant position in Asia by chance. Listed in SGX main board back in 1993, the company embarked on a slew of overseas acquisitions spree, with backing from Singapore sovereign wealth fund, Temasek Holdings.

As a result, SingTel enjoyed a massive investment moat of 600 million mobile phone subscribers across South East Asia countries like India, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. This is an impressive feat that took more than 24 years to establish. In this regard, it is unlikely that TPG Telecom’s entry would pose short-term threat to SingTel.

In Singapore, the telecom industry is regulated by IMDA. When the regulator announced that a fourth license would be issued a couple of years ago, many investors and industry players were puzzled. While consumers certainly wish for a price war in light of the increased competition, having four players in Singapore wireless market does not make sense. After all, with a population of 5 million, Singapore’s market is just too small and saturated for another mobile phone player to gain a meaningful foothold.

SingTel

The local pie is just not big enough for the new firm to generate efficient network scale and earn reasonable returns on invested capital. Indeed, scaling is important as it allows telecom players to efficiently deploy new network technologies, reduce overhead costs and marketing costs. For TPG Telecom, it needs …

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Temasek Holdings’ Pre-IPO investment in HRnetGroup

On 16 June 2017, HRnetGroup’s IPO on the SGX Mainboard created much hype among retail investors and local finance bloggers. Many investors had wanted a slice of the IPO because of the excellent financial performance indicated in the prospectus. But many investors may not be aware of Temasek Holding’s Pre-IPO investment in HRnetGroup.

What is pre-IPO and does it matter to you from the perspective of a stock investor? Read on to find out how the big boys make money in this game.

HRnetGroup and the big boys

Fundamentally, how big boys like Temasek Holdings make money is very different from retail investors in the market. Most of us made money upon selling the shares allocated during IPO. But then again, there is no guarantee that you would be allocated the IPO shares because for the public, the shares are allocated through balloting. There is also no assurance that the share price would rise above the IPO offer price. In short, for the man in the street, it is like punting when it comes to IPO.

HRnetGroup

However, pre-IPO works in a different manner. Big boys like Temasek Holdings want certainty in their return of investments and they also want to win the game. In return for a sum of initial capital, they would demand for a portion of the IPO in the form of pre-IPO shares. Usually the pre-IPO shares would be offered at very dirt cheap level, maybe at only a fraction of the IPO price. After two or three years, the big boys would slowly divest their shares at market price to make explosive profits.

Hence, big boys make money at the point of buying the pre-IPO shares because of the safety margin given to them. This is how the rich become richer.

Most investors have been asking …

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Retrenchments for Singapore Airlines?

After announcing a recent shock quarterly loss of $132 million, CEO Goh Choon Phong hinted that there could be retrenchments for Singapore Airlines (SIA). Arising from the first quarterly loss in five years, the premium airline has set up a Transformation Office to conduct a wide-ranging review, encompassing network and fleet, product and service, and organisational structure and processes.

Upon closer examination of the financial results, the explosive loss suffered by Singapore Airlines was largely due to the provision of $132 million for the EU court fine slapped on SIA Cargo. More than ten years ago, SIA Cargo was alleged to participate in an air cargo cartel with 10 other airlines. Due to this, the EU antitrust regulator fined the airlines a total of $1.2 billion.

Singapore Airlines

The massive fine incurred by SIA Cargo was a wake-up call and reflected the structural change in the air freight market over the years. This could explain the rationale for re-integrating SIA Cargo as a Division within SIA. The move is expected to be completed by first half of 2018 and aims to improve synergy and efficiency. However, the quarterly results indicated that SIA Cargo was one of the best performers within the SIA group. It clocked in operating profit of $3 million, a reversal from the loss of $50 million last year.

Retrenchments for Singapore Airlines?

Retrenchments could be imminent because the group, together with its affiliates and units, is estimated to employ about 24,350. This is a large number by any standard for a large organisation and some jobs may be deemed “irrelevant”.

Given that Cathay Pacific Airways announced job cuts of 600 in Hong Kong as part of business review, it is likely that Singapore Airlines could [wim_ismember]retrench about 400 staff. This was roughly the number it culled back in 2003 …

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Horror show of SingPost shares

SingPost shares took a hit as the company announced a stunning quarter loss of $65.2 million. The loss came about after SingPost decided to write off $185 million for the ill-fated TradeGlobal, S$20.5 million for Postea Inc., and S$9.3 million for an industrial property at 3B Toh Guan Road East.

The latest setback for Singapore’s postal service provider came at a time of transformation for the 150 years old institution. As more and more companies switch to electronic statements, SingPost is transforming its business to eCommerce logistic. At the centre of the storm was the significant impairment of TradeGlobal, which was only acquired by SingPost less than two years ago.

Many investors were shocked that SingPost decided to write off its investment in TradeGlobal so soon. Two years are considered a relatively short time frame to judge a company’s potential growth. One plausible factor could be that the management is not convinced of a turnaround for TradeGlobal and hence, made the decision to cut losses early. It was reported that instead of a projected profit of S$9.4 million for FY16/17, TradeGlobal incurred a significant loss of S$25.8 million.

Given the extent of the impairment to SingPost’s investment in TradeGlobal, SingPost also appointed FTI Consulting, an independent global business advisory firm, which has verified that the impairment provision was properly calculated following an appropriate review process and that the assumptions adopted were reasonable.

SingPost

Following the failed investment in TradeGlobal, investors might be questioning SingPost’s ability to transform itself into an eCommerce player. Make no mistake, when it comes to technology companies, there is always a high risk of failing. Out of ten companies, seven or eight would fail. To win the game, SingPost must push on and continue to invest in technology companies which are aligned to its business model. But …

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A Better Florist Blooming Flower Business

If you’re someone who doesn’t like to spend a lot of time shopping online, scrolling through endless choices that force you to eventually give up, A Better Florist is the florist for you. They make your complete shopping experience a total breeze. Not only is it easy to shop via desktop or mobile, they offer high-class blooms at lowest prices.

florist

If you’re impressed by quality not quantity, this is the florist that is going to suit your taste. Their website isn’t overflowing with information. They know their clientele is there to purchase authentic, impressive blooms, and they are dedicated to giving you enough choices but not so much that you aren’t able to decide. At all times, you’re able to jump on their website, and choose one of the most popular bouquets, arrangements or bundles, that are always ready to go. Just click on your favourite, and your shopping experience may begin.

It’s my favourite cheap florist in Singapore, whose blooms impress me over and over again. Not only are they fresh, they are carefully and thoughtfully designed into a bundle that is sure to impress even the most avid flower connoisseurs.

They call themselves the bloomcrew, and their expertise definitely deserve even a higher title than just crew. They custom make all kinds of bouquets, hampers, fruit baskets, bundles… If you have a flower wish, they will bring it to life.

Their passion for flowers seeps through every single bouquet they make. If you take a closer look at their social media, you will see that every new bouquet is more beautiful than the rest. Only a first-class business is able to impress you after you’ve already been impressed.

It’s also impressing to see a passionate and dedicated team go above and beyond to cater to their clients. …

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Will Noble Group shares see daylight again?

The month of May had been horrendous for investors of Noble Group and many of them must be wondering if the shares would ever see daylight again. The short answer to this would be: not at the moment.

After two years of struggling, Noble Group was about to stage an impressive recovery when it announced a shocking quarterly loss of USD 129 million in May. That stunning news really knocked the wind out of investors and led to the collapse of its share price. The free fall of its shares also turned off potential white knight, Sinochem Group, which subsequently gave Noble Group the snub.

The financial results raised fresh question marks over the management’s ability to revive the company’s fortune and fulfill the debt obligations. Because of this, credit ratings agencies had been ferociously downgrading Noble Group’s credit ratings for the past few weeks. On 26 May 2017, it was reported that Fitch Ratings Ltd cut the commodity trader’s rating for the second time within the space of 10 days.

Noble Group

As far as I can recollect, it is very rare for a credit ratings agency to downgrade a company’s rating within such a short span of time. While such downgrading was common during the Great Financial Crisis period, we are talking about peace time here. Hence, the downgrade of Fitch credit ratings should raise alarm bells and investors must thread with caution.

The credit ratings downgrades issued by various credit agencies would have negative impact on the commodity trader’s business because they would make it extremely difficult for the Hong Kong-based company to refinance credit facility. For a commodity trader, credit facility is like the bloodline and if liquidity is dried up, the end could be imminent.

At this point of time, investors must be trying hard to fathom …

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SingTel’s NetLink Trust IPO application approved

On 2 June 2017, SingTel received SGX’s approval to list NetLink Trust on the Mainboard, paving the way for the mega IPO of the year. This will be a short post to provide an update on the NetLink Trust IPO.

Since 9 February 2017, SingTel had announced that it had hired three banks to manage the initial public offering for its broadband subsidiary NetLink Trust. This is pursuant to Singtel’s undertaking to the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to divest its stake in NetLink Trust, a 100%-owned associate of Singtel, to less than 25% ownership by 22 April 2018.

NetLink Trust designs, builds, owns and operates the passive infrastructure for Singapore’s Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NextGen NBN). Under the IMDA’s structural separation requirements for the NextGen NBN, Singtel does not have effective control in NetLink Trust.

Stock investing

Most Singaporeans would be more familiar with OpenNet, the predecessor of NetLink Trust. In 2008, OpenNet used to be 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.

As a result of the acquisition, OpenNet ceased to exist and was renamed to NetLink Trust. The move sparked off an unprecedented protest from the six Singapore broadband players, who slammed the consolidation. This was because the acquisition effectively gave SingTel 100% monopoly on the fixed telecommunications network in Singapore. The industry’s concerns were centred on unfair competition and lack of transparency.

To address these concerns, it was highlighted that [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.]

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Health insurance

My mother-in-law recently got admitted into a public hospital for an operation and was warded in a subsidized Class B2 ward. For the past few days, she had been complaining about being unwell and in acute pain. On a few occasions, we informed the nurses about this but they appeared nonchalant and were not helpful at all. It was indeed a frustrating experience but it also vindicated my decision to upgrade my family’s health insurance to private medical shields since last year.

The follow-up appointment was an even worse experience. We waited for 7 hours before the doctor’s consultation. The nurse was also very rough in her handling and caused a lot of discomfort for my mother-in-law.

When Singapore government rolled out the Medishield Life in 2015, many Singaporeans assume that there is no need for private medical shield plans. After all, the coverage of the new Medishield Life seems comprehensive, covers everyone and protects you for lifetime.

health insurance

So why waste money on upgrading your health insurance to private medical shield plans? But then again, not many people realize the gaps that exist in the system.

Firstly, since Medishield Life [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.]

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SingTel at a cross-road

The gloves are off as SingTel engages in a battle with Australian rival, TPG Telecom. In late last year, TPG Telecom won the rights to become Singapore’s fourth telco operator. In early April this year, TPG shocked the market by winning the rights to become Australia fourth mobile operator in Australia.

It is still early days to assess the impact of the heightened competition from TPG but SingTel is at a cross-road as it has to compete with TPG in both the Singapore and Australia market. While the impact of a fourth telco in Singapore would have minimal impact on SingTel, the same cannot be said for the entry of a new competitor in Australia. This is because the Australia market is very important to SingTel, which traditionally derived the bulk of its earnings from the regional businesses.

In the fourth quarter ending 31 March 2017, EBITDA from Optus, SingTel’s subsidiary in Australia, was A$741 million, more than half of the Group’s EBITDA of S$1.31 billion. This is not surprising given that the Australia market is so much bigger than Singapore. Net profit was up 1% to A$250 million while operating revenue rose 1.6% to A$2.11 billion.

Singtel

Against the backdrop of increased competition, Optus continued to enhance the competitiveness of its network – with A$1.5 billion in capital expenditure. At the end of March 2017, Optus’ 4G network reached 96.1% of Australians. Through the deployment of significant spectrum holdings and innovative technologies such as 4.5G and native Voice over WiFi, Optus is improving network coverage and download speeds for customers.

Despite the challenging outlook, SingTel reported strong core revenue and earnings. Year-on-year for 4QFY17, operating revenue grew 5% to $4.3 billion and EBITDA increased 4% to $1.31 billion. Among its overseas joint ventures,  Telkomsel’s pre-tax profit contribution rose 17% as …

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Is ISOTeam over-rated?

ISOTeam, a Catalist-listed company that specializes in eco-conscious Repairs and Redecoration (“R&R”), Addition and Alteration (“A&A”) and complementary niche services specialist in Singapore, announced a set of mixed financial results for 9MFY17. The group maintained its net attributable profit at S$5.1 million for the nine months ended 31 March 2017 despite a 5.2% dip in revenue to S$61.2 million.

One question that I have been asking myself is whether ISOTeam is over-rated. ISOTeam is Nippon Paint’s exclusive applicator of paint works for R&R projects and both companies had formed strategic partnership over the years with Nippon Paint taking up stakes of approximately 5.93% in ISOTeam through a shares placement in 2014.

Despite this, investors must realize that the R&R segment is an extremely low barrier industry and basically many companies can do the jobs that ISOTeam are doing. To put things into perspective, the exclusive applicator of Nippon Paint would not provide much competitive advantage for ISOTeam.

At the end of the day, when public organizations or companies tender R&R jobs, it is all about dollars and cents. The company which can do the jobs “cheaper, faster and better” will win the contracts.  This is apparently the case when ISOTeam’s topline in both 3Q2017 and 9M2017 was affected mainly by the decline in revenue generated by its core R&R business, which had faced intense price competition.

To differentiate itself from its competitors, ISOTeam has no choice but to [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.]

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Collapse of Noble Group share price

It is a battle that Noble Group cannot afford to lose. Today, the company requested for trading halt after it’s share price plunged by 32% following news of credit rating cut by S&P Global. This latest setback came after yesterday’s report that potential white knight, Sinochem Group, was not interested to invest in the embattled commodity trader.

The latest blows sent the Noble share price into tailspin, causing its market value to shrink to USD 400 million, a massive decline from USD 6 billion in 2015. This dark chapter of Noble gripped the market in maximum fear. Many shareholders would not be able to sleep well, fearing the worst for their investments. Can the beleaguered company turn the tide and emerge from the battle victorious?

Stock investing

The unfolding events of Noble Group are nothing short of intriguing. Once the largest Asia’s commodity trader, it used to be among the elites and was part of the Straits Times Index (STI) as recent as last year. In 2010, it’s share price was even trading at a high of $3.43. Those days must be surreal to existing shareholders who watched in horror as the share price keep falling over the past two years.

Some investors blamed the founder, Richard Elman, for the current situation that Noble Group is facing and there were calls demanding for him to step down as Chairman. In 2015, the Group was mired in controversy as a little known financial blogger accused it of dubious accounting practice. This led Noble Group to engage PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to review its accounting method. PwC subsequently confirmed that Noble Group followed international standard for its accounting.

Read my previous updates on Noble Group:

  1. Noble Group will swim or sink?
  2. Meltdown of Noble Group shares
  3. Is Noble Group doomed?
  4. Will Noble Group do an Osim
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Sheng Siong share price inflated?

Sheng Siong is a local supermarket chain with 43 outlets located across Singapore. Listed in the Singapore stock market, this counter is popular among investors. When it got listed in the SGX mainboard on 17 August 2011, the IPO price was $0.33. Fast forward six years later, the share price has surged past the $1.00 milestone recently but investors must be wondering if Sheng Siong share price is inflated.

With a population of 5.3 million, the market for supermarket chain is very small in local context. Furthermore, the market is also saturated with other players, not to mention the mom-and-pop stores. Sheng Siong’s closest rivals are NTUC Fairprice and Dairy Farm which operates the Cold Storage and Giant outlets. Among the trio, Sheng Siong is the smallest operator. To compete effectively against these big boys, Sheng Siong must have the economy of scale and operating margin.

For many years, Sheng Siong’s gross profit margin had been excellent, averaging at least double digits. For 1Q2017, the gross profit margin was 25%, a slight increase of 0.5%. However, operating margin was only 9.5% for 1Q2017. What is the difference between gross profit margin and operating margin? Why is it important for investors to understand this financial metric?

Investing

To put it simply, gross profit margin only reflects the difference between the gross revenue from sales and the cost of goods. It does not include other variables. On the other hand, operating margin includes the costs of taxes and interests, providing a more holistic financial picture than gross profit margin. In this regard, Sheng Siong should continue to improve the operating margin, which was less than ideal.

The main driver for growth for the supermarket industry is still brick and mortar. So, the mode of growth in Singapore is still through the expansion of …

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Exchange traded funds (ETFs)

If you are a busy professional who have no time for stock research but would like to build a diversified investment portfolio with global exposure, then exchange traded funds (ETFs) may be for you.

Generally, there is still a lack of awareness among retail investors on this class of investment probably because ETFs passively track indexes. Thus, it may take the thrill out of stock picking. Nonetheless, ETFs offer an alternative path to seek returns from the market.

Broadly speaking, ETFs is a type of collective investment scheme that pooled money from investors and invested according to the fund’s objective. In a way, it is similar to unit trust. However, the main difference between unit trust and exchange traded fund is that the former is actively managed by professionals while the latter passively track a specified index. Because of this, ETFs are open-ended investment funds and are traded on a stock exchange.

The interesting thing about ETF is that it replicates an index and do not try to outperform the underlying index.Take for example, if an ETF tracks the Straits Times Index (STI) which declines in value, the ETF would produce a return that reflects the drop in value.

Stock investing

There are several advantages in investing in exchange traded funds. Firstly, if you have limited capital but would like access to blue chips, then ETFs offer a low cost and simple way for you to own index stocks. For example Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF offers investors an opportunity to invest in the top 30 companies listed to SGX.

Secondly, retail investors do not [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.]

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Meltdown of Noble Group shares

Noble Group suffered another major setback when its shares experienced yet another bout of massive sell-offs, triggering the activation of SGX circuit breakers. Upon the commencement of trading on 12 May 2017, shareholders of Noble Group ran for their lives and dumped the shares like no tomorrow. The rout resulted in the activation of circuit breaker at 9:01 am.

However, the circuit breaker was futile in stopping the carnage. Share price continued to fall by as much as 22% compared to the day before. The sell-off came fast and furious, prompting another circuit breaker at 9:54am. At the rate of declining, Noble Group was set for an explosive free fall.

The crisis in confidence came about as the commodity trader issued a profit guidance of a loss of USD130 million loss for Q1FY17. This incurred the wrath of shareholders and ignited the meltdown of Noble Group shares.

Noble Group

The circuit breaker system was introduced by SGX only in 2014. Following the plunge in penny stocks of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold, SGX saw the need to introduce circuit breakers. According to SGX, “the circuit breaker is activated when an incoming order could potentially match an existing order in the order book at a price outside the circuit breaker price bands. The price bands comprise an upper and lower price limit based on a deviation of 10% from a reference price”.

When the circuit breaker is activated, a cooling off period of five minutes will take place. During the cooling off period, trading can still take place within the price bands of no more than 10% away from the reference price. With this system in place, the regulator hopes to reduce wild fluctuations in share price and safeguard investors’ interests.

The latest horror show of Noble Group occurred in a difficult …

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Noble Group will sink or swim?

Fresh from a 10-into-1 shares consolidation, Noble Group share price free fall by 33% at one point during the trading day of 11 May 2017. The sharp correction was due to the bombshell dropped by Noble Group announcing that it is likely to record a net loss of around USD 130 million for 1Q2017. Investors must be wondering if the embattled Noble Group will sink or swim after two years of roller coaster ride.

After reporting a profit of USD 8.6 million for FY16, the commodity trading company recently irked investors with the ill-timed shares consolidation. It was reported that massive number of investors stormed out of the special general meeting, even though the proposed consolidation move was eventually approved.

The shares consolidation raised a lot of controversies because it came in the midst of a respite from a horrendous USD 1.6 billion loss in 2015 and negative reports over its accounting practice. Amid the vicious short-selling attacks, the share price tumbled to record low of $0.12. Recent positive financial results and reports of major investor’s interest in Noble Group led to a brief recovery in share price. Nonetheless, Noble Group did itself no favor by announcing this shock shares consolidation exercise.

Stock market

I am not vested in this counter but I can empathise with existing shareholders of Noble Group. First of all, there is no guarantee that after the shares consolidation, the share price of Noble Group will remain north of $1.00. Many SGX listed companies fell below the $1.00 mark after shares consolidation. K1 Ventures is one good example. K1 Ventures’ share price used to trade around $0.18 to $0.25 level. After the five into one shares consolidation, the share price dropped from $1.00 to $0.70.

Some investors may have thought that the shares consolidation exercise of Noble Group …

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Short selling on SingTel shares

On 12 April 2017, SingTel shares experienced heavy shelling by short sellers. On that fateful day, the short sales volume was 21.7 million, with market value of $82.7 million. The heavy attack led to a decline in SingTel share price from $3.84 to the current $3.75. What could have caused the big boys to do massive short selling on SingTel shares?

The short selling of SingTel shares was disturbing because it has been on-going for several weeks. From 3 to 7 April, there was 16.7 million of short sales volume, with total value of $65.4 million. The week before it was 21.7 million short sales with total value of $85 million being shorted. Prior to that, another ferocious attack occurred in the week 13 to 17 March, with 20.4 million short sales volume of $81 million value.

Stock investing

It may sound far-fetched to investors but the reason for the SingTel shares attacks could be attributed to short-sellers plotting to pull back the Straits Times Index (STI), which closed 0.98 percent lower on 17 April 2017. Being the stock market bellwether in Singapore, it makes sense for the big boys to target SingTel in a bid to engineer a stock market correction in Singapore.

Previously, I have posted a series of research on this telco giant in this blog. Readers may refer to the following links:

  1. SingTel shares to rocket on NetLink Trust IPO?
  2. SingTel share price in supreme form
  3. SingTel increased investment moats aggressively

Most investors would view short-selling negatively but nonetheless, such activity is needed to prevent market prices from becoming out of whack.

According to Monetary Authority of Singapore, short selling refers to the sale of securities that the seller does not own at the time of the sale, short selling may either be: ‘covered’ or ‘uncovered’ (also referred …

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OCBC Bank to rock the market with multi-billion dollar hidden assets?

Following the news of OCBC Bank looking to sell its stake in United Engineers Limited last year, the share price of the famous local bank has been on a mighty hot streak. On current bullish form, breaching the $10 per share support level seems inevitable. Will OCBC Bank rock the market with more divestment news?

In my previous article, several readers expressed cynical at my valuation of OCBC shares. Based on the valuation of its equity stake in United Engineers, there is no way OCBC Bank shares would hit the $10 mark. On this, I did not dispute. But market sentiments always play a part in a stock performance. As Warren Buffett often said, price is what you pay but value is what you get. There is often a gap in the intrinsic value of a stock vis-à-vis its market price.

Previously, I have written a few analysis on OCBC Bank shares that I feel are must-read for investors of OCBC. Readers may want to check out and read the following blog posts:

  1. Will Ezra sink OCBC share price?
  2. OCBC considering the sale of United Engineers Ltd
  3. OCBC multi-billion worth of hidden assets

Singapore banks

For OCBC Bank, its hidden assets consist mainly of properties and securities worth $6.45 billion in terms of unrealized valuation surplus. This amount is largely unchanged from $6.42 billion from last year.

Investors must note that when we talk about “unrealized valuation surplus”, it is not the same as the prevailing market value of the assets. According to OCBC Bank’s financial report, the unrealized valuation surplus “represents the difference between the carrying values of its properties and investments in quoted subsidiaries and an associate, and the market values of those properties and quoted investments at the respective periods”.

What the above means is that OCBC Bank may …

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Is Noble Group doomed?

By now, investors of Noble Group must be feeling jaded. Investing in this SGX-listed commodities trader has been challenging with the wild swing in share prices in recent months. The roller coaster ride was a result of various key developments taking place within a short span of time. So, is Noble Group really doomed?

The past two years had been a scary nightmare for Noble Group as the group was initially criticized by research house, Iceberg Research, over its accounting practice. The negative report unexpectedly led to ferocious short-selling attacks and caused the share price to plunge to frightening new lows.

As the management fend off the relentless attacks, former CEO Yusuf Alireza resigned in May and Chairman Elman announced that he would step down within 12 months. To make things worse, Noble Group announced a record loss of USD 1.6 billion for 2015, its first loss in almost 20 years. Many investors feared the worst for Noble Group.

stock investing

In my previous article, I wrote an analysis of Noble Group and determined an entry price of $0.12 which provided me a level in which I would feel comfortable to invest in. Honestly, in my point of view, it is unlikely that Noble Group will fold because of its long history of strong backing from China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp (CIC). But the rights issue, coupled with the debt obligations, made me feel that Noble Group share price was grossly inflated. Despite this, many readers were cynical and rubbish the idea that Noble Group share price would ever revert to the $0.12 level.

Previously I have written several articles on this stock. Readers may want to check out the following posts:

  1. Will Noble Group do an OSIM or Swiber?
  2. White Knight for Noble Group
  3. May Day for Noble Group!
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Is The Singapore Stock Market Healthy? A Billionaire Speaks Out

Billionaire investor, Paul Tudor Jones, has a stark message for fellow investors in Singapore. Years of low-interest rates, avers the legendary macro trader, have bloated stock valuations to a level not experienced in the country since 2000. He states that it happened before the tumble of the Nasdaq, which stood at 75% over a period of more than two years. He argues that such a value of the stock market in relation to the status of the economy should be a cause of concern for investors.

stock market

Hedge fund warning

Jones was speaking at a Goldman Sachs Asset Management closed-door conference, as revealed by people privy to the meeting. The billionaire investor was voicing what many hedge fund and financial managers, including companies such as CMC Markets, have been warning other investors in Singapore. Stock trading has hit unsustainable levels. However, not many of them can be as explicit as Jones, predicting a major market tumble by year end.

Just last week, Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partner, admitted that he expected an early fall this summer – or a significant correction. Another entrepreneur, Philip Yang, seems to agree with Minerd. Yang, who has been running Willowbridge Associates since 1988, foresees a stock plunge of between 20% and 40%. Larry Fink of BlackRock Inc. predicts an up to 10% if the current earnings are anything to go by.

But the grim view of the future isn’t widespread. A few financial managers have suffered for raising the red flag as the eight-year substantial equity continued to march forward.

The warning signs

However, there is no lack of warning signs: US stocks are now 2% below the all-time high experienced on March 1. The S&P 500 index is currently trading at about 22 times earnings, the highest in the last ten years.

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Self-leadership

Learning to learn is a key part of how we manage our lives on a daily basis. Most of us tend to view learning as academic but it actually can be the way we live our lives. In essential, learning also means making the effort to develop self-leadership and knowing more about the people around you.

Recently, I had some really frustrating moments at home and faced challenges in parenting. I had been losing my cool and yelling at my kids when they misbehaved. At the rate it is going, my approach is not going to be healthy for my family’s physical health, mental health and emotional well-being. So I am making the effort to change. After all, as a wealth builder and being the head of the household, it is important for me to develop self-leadership so that I can be effective role model for my children. To improve the situation, the change has to start from myself.

Previously, I have shared with readers on my family’s wealth journey. Feel free to read the articles again:

  1. My family’s wealth journey
  2. SG Wealth Builder’s journey
  3. Build wealth with property

I found the guiding light in Dr George Kohlrieser who spoke at the inaugural lecture of the Lifelong Learning Council’s World Speaker Series held earlier this month. There are important life lessons that can be gleaned from his speech and so I am sharing the learning points with my readers. I also hope that in years to come, my children will read this article and appreciate the journey I am going through.

Self-leadership

Better version of yourself

Learning is about how we deal with the good things and bad things. An interesting sharing from Dr Kohlrieser was how the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela, emerged from prison after 27 years during …

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SingTel shares to rocket on NetLink Trust IPO?

When Kimly Group, a local coffee shop chain, was listed in Catalist a couple of months ago, it generated much interests among investors and local finance bloggers. With a market capitalization of only $288 million, Kimly Group does not fall in the league of the big boy category nor the blockbuster type of listing that SGX mainboard should be gunning. In this regard, all eyes must be on the mouth-watering NetLink Trust IPO.

To put things into perspective, if SGX’s strategy was to sell itself as “Asian Gateway”, then it must seriously start to attract billion dollar listings. Aircraft lessor, BOC Aviation, which is based in Singapore and used to be owned by Singapore Airlines, has previously given SGX the snub. The lessor chose to list in Hong Kong instead. It was a massive blow for SGX as the company is estimated to be worth a whopping $6 billion.

Then again, with a slew of privatisations taking place, SGX management has more pressing issues to settle than attracting billion dollar listings. Among the many delisted companies, homegrown OSIM applies for listing in Hong Kong as V3 just months after exit from Singapore stock market. This shock move should be a wake-up call for SGX and something drastic should be done to stem the decline.

Stock investing

NetLink Trust will certainly fit the profile of listing that SGX should be aiming for. NetLink Trust is an associate of SingTel which announced in February that it is hiring three banks to advise on the impending NetLink Trust IPO. The move is due to the April 2018 deadline set by Singapore authority which requires SingTel to divest its stake in NetLink to below 25 percent. During the briefing, CEO Ms Chua Sock Koong did not reveal the size of the proposed offering. However, analysts estimated …

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The Gift of Life

Over the years, I noted a significant change in the social behavior among Singaporeans. We have become more cynical and developed a tendency to politicize issues in our daily lives. The mood has changed to the extent that I feel that we have lost the appreciation of the gift of life.

Being the most expensive city in the world, it is true that many of us struggle to make a living in Singapore. But then again, everyone encounters struggles in their lives as well. Nobody is born into this world without any struggles, worries or challenges. If you are able-bodied and is in the pink of health, consider yourself to be very lucky and do count your blessing.

Health is an incredibly important asset that is often being overlooked and under-appreciated. We start to cherish health only when we are about to lose it. This should not be the case. In fact, to be alive and able to enjoy the gift of life is a form of privilege. We should not abuse this privilege. Instead, we should always strive to identify the abundance of opportunities when we are healthy and make the best out of them.

Success

Then and now

In my point of view, the major source of our discontentment can be attributed to our desire for more material comforts. Unlike the Pioneer Generation and the Baby Boomers, this generation of Singaporeans have not endured the horrors of World War II nor the hardships of the post-war era. In short, we have not experienced tough times that our forefathers had endured. When compared to them, we do not understand what it’s like to be physically hungry, penniless, illiterate, homeless, critically-ill and no access to clean water. We also do not have to live in constant fear of being tortured, robbed …

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Current Estimated Potential (CEP) in Singapore Civil Service

In respond to public perception that the civil service placed too much emphasis on paper qualifications, the Public Service Division (PSD) announced that the civil service has stopped grouping its officers according to their education levels since 1st January 2017. This is a good move because it means that our civil servants will be judged based on their work performance rather than their academic results. This article will discuss the Current Estimated Potential (CEP) in Singapore Civil Service.

According to preliminary data from Ministry of Manpower (MOM), 16,600 workers were retrenched in Singapore in 2016. This is a record high since 2009, the peak of the Great Financial Crisis. With retrenchment so prevalent nowadays, job security is certainly at the top of many Singapore employees’ mind. Long considered an iron rice bowl, a job in the civil service is highly sought after because of the perceived high pay and work-life balance.

CEP

Nonetheless, you must have the right mentality in order to join the civil service. Money is important but if that is your primary motivation, then this may not be the best place for you. After all, the civil service is non-profit driven organization and career progression hinged largely on several key factors – readiness to take on more responsibilities, vacancies, performance and CEP.

CEP is devised by Shell to assess their employees’ leadership potential. This appraisal system has since been adopted by our civil service to groom leaders. Essentially, this system determines the highest job responsibility level an officer is capable of handling in the future.

BullionStar

Thus, when an officer [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.]

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Self cultivation

Very often, we get so busy making a living that we forget to live a life. The woodcutter story never fails to drive home in me the importance of self cultivation. The story goes like this:

One day, a timber owner advertised for a helper to help him cut the trees. A very strong woodcutter applied and got the job. The pay was good and working condition was excellent. Eager to impress his boss, the woodcutter was determined to do his job well and so started work the next day.

In his first day, the woodcutter was extremely motivated and managed to cut 20 trees. The boss was delighted and praised him “Good job and well done!”

On the second day, driven by his boss’ praise, the woodcutter tried even harder but surprisingly could only deliver 10 trees. The third day, he tried his very best but managed to bring in only 5 trees. The next day, he could not cut a single tree and began to panic.

The woodcutter went to see his boss and profusely apologized for not delivering in his job. Curious, the boss asked him “Did you sharpen the axe?”

“Huh? Sharpen the axe? Gosh no! I have been busy cutting the trees that I have no time to sharpen my axe!”

financial destiny

Learning points

In today’s context, most of us are so busy in our daily work that we sometimes forget to sharpen the “axe” in us and do self cultivation. Like the woodcutter, we all want to impress our boss so that we can get our work noticed and get promoted. There is nothing wrong with that because as a wealth builder, our goal is to make money and build a better life for our loved ones.

But in the midst of our busy schedules, …

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Singapore gold bullion market

In the aftermath of the Singapore’s GST exemption for investment grade precious metals since 2012, many bullion dealers has set up shop to take advantage of gold liberalization by Singapore government. In its latest financial results, it was revealed that BullionStar led in Singapore gold bullion market.

According to data released by World Gold Council, the overall bullion demand in Singapore decreased to 1.2 tonnes in 1Q16 from 1.6 tonnes in 1Q15. The sluggish demand in physical gold could be attributed to the surge in gold prices seen in 2016. Gold price exploded during that period of time because of the crash in China stock market. As a result, the high gold prices cooled demand among wealth builders. Interestingly, BullionStar sold 0.5 tonnes of gold bullion, thereby contributing to 42% of the total Singaporean bullion market.

As we enter into the 2nd quarter of 2017, the world continues to witness uncertainties arising from USA trade protectionism and the negotiations of Brexit with European Union. On the other hand, the recovery of USA economy and the positive employment data drive America stock market to new highs.

Wall Street continues its mighty bull run and at one point, broke the record of 21,000 points. It is unknown whether there would be further upside in stock prices but investors should exercise asset allocation to diversify risks in their portfolio. Gold bullion offers one of the best opportunities for wealth builders to de-risk their portfolios in the face of market volatility.

UOB

Gold spot price had held up surprisingly well in the first quarter of 2017, rising by 9% year-to-date to USD1255 per ounce. At a time when the US Federal Reserve signaled at least three interest rate hikes, many thought that gold spot price would crash because of the opportunity loss …

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Singtel share price in supreme form

At a time when Starhub and M1 share prices are dropping like flies, Singtel share price is in supreme form. The corrections for Starhub and M1 shares are due to the announcement of the entry of the fourth telco player, TPG Telecom, which made the winning bid of $105 million for the licence in December 2016.

When investing in stocks, always place your bets on the players with the biggest investment moats in the industry. Size matters and you don’t want to catch a falling knife investing in smaller companies which cannot withstand changes in market forces.

Singapore market

Over the past twenty years, the telecommunication industry in Singapore has witnessed an explosive growth in mobile phone penetration rate, growing from 20% to the current 150%. In view of this, the market is already very saturated and the potential for growth is also limited because of Singapore’s small market size. Investors who had placed their faith on domestic players like Starhub and M1 must have reality check as these companies’ growth hinge purely on Singapore market.

Starhub and M1 have amassed huge following among Singaporean investors because of their attractive dividend payouts over the past decade. But experience has taught me that while past performance is relevant, it cannot guarantees future performance. This principle also applies for dividend. Changing market dynamic and competition often impact the smaller players because these factors bite into their market size. Inevitably, companies that lack investment moat will see their profits erode and would be forced to “right-size” their dividend payouts for sustainability purposes.

Singtel

To put things into perspective, both Starhub and M1 recorded really disappointing financial results for 2016. Starhub’s net profit declined from $372 million in 2015 to $341 million in 2016. M1’s fate was even worse – net profit declined 16.1% year-on-year …

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KFC founder got rejected 1009 times at age 65

This will be a short post that I hope to inspire readers. Recently when I tried to order Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) online, I wondered how come the logo consists of a picture of an old man. Why not a picture of the founder in his prime? It was then I found out that the KFC founder, Colonel Sanders, got rejected 1009 times at age 65 before he found success.

Colonel Sanders was forced to start life all over again in his twilight years. But more amazing was that he got rejected 1009 times before his chicken recipe was accepted! That was a crazy number of failures and to be frank I don’t know how many folks in Singapore can manage to handle so many rejections.

Nonetheless, it was fortunate that Colonel Sanders persevered and went on to build a “finger licking good” global empire. His true life story is very inspiring and made me rethink about failures. On looking back, I feel that I should have remained sanguine in the face of some setbacks and managed certain situations with the spirit of Colonel Sanders.

financial destiny

Like many people, I find it hard to remain positive when dealing with rejections or setbacks. It is definitely not a nice feeling when you are being criticized or having your idea being thumbed down. Maybe I had been too negative in those situations and did not see the opportunities to improve. Perhaps I had given up too easily and did not put up a good fight.

But through the KFC success story, there are a few enlightening learning points. Firstly, to achieve our dreams, we must have the conviction and the will to put in the effort and energy. Colonel Sanders did not let his age became a handicap for him nor did he …

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