Portfolio @ June 2018

June

Time flies, half of 2018 is over. As usual, its time for another portfolio update.

Current PortfolioPortfolio Value

Performance Indicators / Dividends

  • YTD Time weighted return: -2.20%
  • Dividends collected: $1,475.06
  • Upcoming Dividend Receipts:
    • Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust: SGD 103.50
    • SingTel: SGD 652.70
    • Bank of America: USD 16.80
    • Visa: USD 11.76

Commentary

The battle between Bulls and Bears rage on

I was preparing my portfolio update with a slight tinge of fear as I felt June had not been great for me. To my pleasant surprise, my portfolio ended up approximately $200 month on month. Despite horrible losses in SingTel, Keppel Corp and Starhill Global REIT, it was made up for by gains in my tech stocks Amazon, Google and Spotify. This is illustrative of the fact that we always remember of our losers, not our winners, at least for me.

The current issues clouding the market include the global trade war (thanks Donald Trump), the flattening yield curve and to a temporary extent, the World Cup (don’t ask me why that is a thing). This resulted in a re-rating downwards of yield assets (creating the June Great Singapore Sale in REITs and dividend stocks) and a flight to US stocks with little Chinese exposure as seen by massive fund flows to the US and tech stocks.

Of the 3 issues, I personally fear the trade war the most and given the no-holds-barred way Donald Trump has been stirring the hornet’s nest, I decided to hold more cash now in anticipation for further downside in Singapore stocks. Chances to snag good dividend paying stocks and REITs on the cheap have emerged in June and if you are into income investing, this could be your chance to increase your portfolio yield.

June transactions

This has been a rather busy month on the transactions front due to the Great Singapore Stock Sale and my decision to hold more cash now.

  1. Sold Micron Technology for a small gain as my speculation thesis didn’t work out to the planned extent thanks to trade war fears.
  2. Sold half my Bank of America stake. Essentially, I took out most of my cost in Bank of America having returned 90+% since I bought the counter 2-3 years ago. Will leave the rest hanging in anticipation of further rate hikes.
  3. Sold Spotify and Amazon after the meteoric rise thanks to fund flows back to the US into these stocks. Too far, too fast for me and momentum was flagging for these 2 counters towards the end of the month. Given my need to raise cash, these were the ideal targets.
  4. Bought Frasers L&I trust as part of the preferential offering as mentioned previously and added more in the open market on slight weakness to round out my position to roughly $20k.
  5. Initiated a position in Yuexiu Transportation Infrastructure on weakness. Essentially, this is the toll road operator of the Guangdong government, with expressways pre-dominantly in the Pearl Delta region. Highly free cash flow generative (since its a toll road, literally), stable increasing dividend history and a proxy for China’s increasing logistics and domestic consumption. Key risks include government regulations and “Well, it’s China” risk.
  6. Added more Starhill Global REIT on weakness. Nothing much to say here, I just don’t think it is as bad as what the market is saying. With potential catalysts in 2H 2018 for it’s overseas properties and potential recovery in Singapore Grade A office rentals, I’m willing to add to my position at 7% yield.
  7. Initiated AIMS AMP Capital Industrial Trust. A steady Singapore industrial REIT that I’ve admired for some time. A REIT that did not tank despite the yield asset re-rating, goes to show investors’ confidence in the name. Yielding a trailing 7.4%, it felt like an appropriate time to initiate my position.

Second half of the year tends to be better in my short investment journey. Hopefully it plays out this year as well.

Happy Hunting,
KK

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Is it responsible to have many kids?

Random family

Over the weekend, Channel NewsAsia published an article on the Hengs – a family with 7 kids and living on less than $3,000 per month. The article’s comments section largely revolved around the view that having that many children, and still wanting to have more if he were to do it again, was a irresponsible thing to do.

The debate intrigued me. As a topic vaguely related to personal finance, I thought I’ll examine the topic here, through the various lenses of Financial Responsibility, Social Responsibility and Family Responsibility.

1) Financial Responsibility

This aspect is the most clear cut facet of the debate. The more children you have, the more income you should have to adequately support your large family.

For the Hengs, for a take home pay of $2,500, that works out to $278 per capita per month. Even with external help, it works out to $333 per capita per month, based on their $3,000 of monthly expenses. Being able to live off of that as a family is most impressive.

Depending on your perspective, one could view it as most irresponsible financially as every person has had to make sacrifices in expenditure in order to maintain that level of expenditure. On the flip side, you could say that they were being responsible financially by living within their means.

For me, as a strong believer in self sufficiency, I feel the biggest problem is that they are essentially living paycheck to paycheck, with no savings / emergency funds / retirement for the parents. If something were to happen to Mr Heng, the family would have problems. If that doesn’t happen, Mr and Mrs Heng essentially have to rely on their children for survive in retirement. Asian values may encourage the children to support their parents, but that is not guaranteed.

2) Social Responsibility

This aspect is far more uncertain. If you are unable to support your family to a sufficient level, is it responsible for you to rely on charity or government support to raise your family?

The believer in self sufficiency in me once again rejects this concept. Why should you create a problem, once you can’t solve it, pile it onto others? No doubt this way of thinking is applicable to most problems people create for society.

That is until my father brought up the “National Service” aspect of the issue. Everyone knows how Singaporeans are simply not having enough children to replace themselves. GE 2011 also showed that we do not wish to have excessive immigration as a way to solve this problem. As such, shouldn’t we support those who embrace the “duty” of having more children even if they do not have the means? Isn’t it in the nation’s interest to ensure the success of such families?

3) Family Responsibility

This aspect refers to the strain on the constituent members of the family. Is it responsible to the members of the family to add further burden by having more children?

The strain on the Hengs is very much evident in the article. How Mrs Heng is overworked, having to cover all the aspects of the children’s lives alone. How Mr Heng and his eldest daughter Samantha have drifted apart. How 2nd daughter Rachael has had to take up the mantle of mother and peacekeeper. How Mr and Mrs Heng feel guilty about various aspects of their children’s rapid growth.

Every family will face different types of strain and problems. One might argue that growing up in challenging circumstances could give the children a strong and independent mindset, while growing up in a carefree environment can create a sense of entitlement. Another might argue the emotional strain will adversely influence the children’s perception of family and life.

Ultimately, every person and child responds to their upbringing in a different way. There is no way to judge the effects of this aspect definitively either way.

A Parent’s Ultimate Responsibility

Based on the 3 facets of responsibility, it is safe to say that it is financially irresponsible to have a large family if you can’t afford it, with the other 2 aspects a wash. At this point, we should consider a parent’s ultimate responsibility – to ensure that they raise good and useful members of society. If a parent wholeheartedly wishes to achieve that goal, like the Hengs, we as a society / nation should be supportive of that goal, even if it is financially strenuous. Especially in a time where we need more local Singaporeans.

What we don’t want is irresponsible parents maintaining a large broken family that only adds to societal problems. How charities / the Government are able to differentiate between the 2 is beyond me though.

Happy Hunting,
KK

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P2P lending tuition fees

I’ve mentioned previously that I had some money on the crowdlending site MoolahSense. Not very significant, but still a sum of money. I had hoped to peacefully experience the platform, learn the ins and outs and most importantly, get my money back.

One thing I’ve learnt through my career is that – Life never goes as planned.

Stressed Campaign

Welp, time to write off my Moolah

Of my initial investment of $2,000, I received $733.44 of repayments. If I were to write off the balance of the loan, that would represent a 63.3% loss.

So what can we learn from my $1.3k of tuition fees?

1) Never be greedy about yield

Most people look at the 18% headline rate and go crazy.

Huat ah

18% Return! Pump all my money in!

As investors in Hyflux 6% Perps found out, people can promise to pay you high yields, but there is always a reason for the yields. There is always the risk of going to zero.

2) Check your Risk N Returns before investing

Adding on to point 1, let’s analyse the numbers of the campaign I invested in: 12 months equal installment 18% loans. This is a very common structure on the MoolahSense platform.

  • Total Capital: $2,000
  • Total interest received if no default: $200.32
  • Nominal return: About 10%

This campaign was initiated during a time when MoolahSense had no servicing fees. Now, there’s a 1% fee on repayments, which will drive return below 10%.

Now think about it, would you risk all your money for a meagre less than 10% return?

I would argue no it is insufficient, dang I could earn that percentage on a average year in the market at a much lower risk! You should be demanding 20% return for it to be worth it (maybe?)

3) Diversification is important

When I was looking at campaigns to invest in, I could have put $1k into 2 campaigns instead of $2k into a single campaign to diversify a tiny bit. If I had done that and not been lazy as I was then, I could have saved 1 grand.

Also, thankfully, I didn’t put all my money into MoolahSense so the loss represents only about 1% of my portfolio.

Conclusion

As I’ve mentioned in my earlier post, I’ll be gradually withdrawing from the platform as  my other campaigns wind down as the Risk N Returns are simply not enticing to me. Tread carefully with Crowdlending, my friends.

Happy Hunting,
KK

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Scuttlebutt Report: Tianjin Eco City Visit

Regular followers of my portfolio would know that I am vested in Keppel Corp since the oil crash of 2015. I have divested some this year, but it still remains a part of my portfolio. The general perception of Keppel Corp is that it is mainly a company that constructs oil rigs and is highly correlated to the fate of the oil industry. Less is talked about its property or infrastructure division. And for good reason, as traditionally it’s a main driver of net profit.

Revenue breakdown

Net Profit breakdown

Source: Keppel Corporation Annual Report 2017

With the decline in O&M profits, Property and infrastructure will need to pick up the slack in the meantime.

Having attended this year’s AGM and read the annual report, Board Chairman Lee Boon Yang and CEO Loh Chin Hua seemed to signal a move towards more diversified streams of revenue. CEO Loh even mentioned that he hoped that the company’s shares will be “re-rated” given this new approach. This is evident in the theme of this year’s Annual Report: Solutions for Sustainable Urbanisation

Essentially, the direction revolves around Keppel Urban Solutions, the platform launched in 2017 to bring together Keppel’s various capabilities in property and infrastructure, marrying it with internal and external funds (through Keppel Capital) to design and manage smart sustainable cities of the future. The unwitting poster child of this approach is the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City (SSTEC), a city designed and built from scratch on non-arable land as a collaboration between the Singapore and China governments, with Keppel Corp playing the leadership role in the Singapore half of the joint venture.

With Keppel Corp securing another project to develop Saigon Sports City in Ho Chi Minh City, coupled with the prospect of spending 2 weeks in Tianjin (which is not known as a tourist destination) for a work trip, it seemed like a productive use of my time to check out SSTEC to see if it is viable.

Overview

Tianjin map - with annotations

Above is a map of Tianjin municipality, to give you a rough idea of where the significant locations of Tianjin are located. Tianjin New Binhai Area is a Special Economic Zone intended to replicate the development seen in Shanghai Pudong and Shenzhen. The majority of the New Binhai area appears to be for industrial use at the moment, with some MNCs setting up shop here. The area’s Yujiapu financial district is still under construction. SSTEC is a sub-district of the New Binhai area.

SSTEC is a roughly 1 hour drive from the downtown area and 40 minute drive from the airport. There are roughly 80,000 people living in the city currently according to statistics.

The Journey

The journey by car from the Tianjin downtown area (where I was staying) took over 1 hour. Here are some pictures of the road to SSTEC to give you an idea of the surroundings:

The City

This aerial shot will help you understand the scale of the project:

Tianjin Eco City - Aerial view

Source: Tianjin Eco City website

Here are some street level shots I took:

 

As you can see, the vast majority of the buildings up are for residential use. There are some amenities already up like schools and neighbourhood malls. The city was not really bustling with activity at the time (early afternoon), probably because the people living there are at work in surrounding industrial district. I visited some of the local showrooms to get a better idea of the future developments of the city. Here’s the showroom for Shimao Property, a China property developer listed in Shanghai, which accounts for most of the residential properties you see in the earlier pictures:

Shimao Map

Another representation of where SSTEC is located

img_2053

I also wondered around the science and technology district and came across a familiar logo:

img_2056img_2057

Keppel Land also had a showroom for some residential developments they have in the area. According the sales persons, they are priced at RMB1,500 per sqm, set to complete in 2020 and with only 15-20% of units remaining available.

img_2058img_2059img_2061

As seen in the map shown, Keppel’s residential units are pretty well located with nearby amenities and close to the bridge that connects to the surround industrial developments and the expressway to the city. There is also a lake district nearby.

I left the city late afternoon, flanked by flags and wind turbines.

img_2064

My thoughts

Singapore is renown around the world as a garden city, to see that same vision realised in a foreign country under our guidance brings me a deep sense of pride as a Singaporean, just like how we managed to hold the Trump-Kim summit. From a business standpoint, it makes sense to sell that vision and expertise especially to developing countries who wish to do it right and not succumb to excessive pollution. Keppel is uniquely positioned to be able to execute with its track record and in house property and infrastructure divisions.

As for SSTEC, it is currently situated in a pretty bad location with the CBD and Airport about 1 hour away. There are also limited things you can do nearby. However, with further development on its way with more industries setting up shop in the Binhai area and the eventual completion of the Yujiapu financial district, the land bank and developments Keppel has in SSTEC will appreciate over time.

Overall, I like the direction Keppel is taking and will look closely at the development of SSTEC, Saigon Sports City and other potential future deals that could represent significant upside.

Bonus

Here are some of my favourite photos of the Tianjin downtown area:

img_2137

Sunset on the Tianjin Eye

Happy Hunting,
KK

Disclosure: I’m invested in Keppel Corporation and this is not a sponsored post. The views here are my own
Disclaimer: The information presented does not constitute a call to buy or sell shares. It is for general information purposes only. Do your own due diligence before making a decision, friends.

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Frasers L&I Trust preferential offering results

Greetings from Tianjin! I’ve been busy these 2 weeks as I’m currently on a work trip, so no regular content last weekend. Chilling in my hotel room at the moment so I decided to give a quick update on my portfolio.

Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust

The Frasers Logistics and Industrial Trust PO results are in! As expected, I didn’t get all the excess rights I subscribed to:

  • Total units applied:
    • Entitlement: 1,500 units
    • Excess application: 6,100 units
  • Excess Units received: 1,500
  • Total units received: 3,000 units

Based on today’s closing price of $1.04 and rights issuance price of $0.967, that’s an automatic 7.5% gain. Sweet 🙂 The reason why I’m growing to love rights issues for REITs.

Yup that’s it for now. Stay tuned this weekend for a exclusive investment article about my time in Tianjin 😀

Happy Hunting,
KK

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Portfolio @ May 2018

May

Before I begin with my regular portfolio review, I would like to welcome the 7 email followers who subscribed after my last post on CPF Hacks. That single post garnered over 10k views, almost doubling the blog’s lifetime views over the course of a few days. Thank you for your support of this tiny blog and letting me know that I’m writing something worth reading.

Here’s my portfolio as the end of May 2018:

SG StocksUS Stocks

Portfolio Value

Committed cash relates to funds used for the Fraser’s L&I Trust PO

Performance Indicators / Dividends

  • YTD Time weighted return: 0.33%
  • Dividends collected: $917.76
  • Upcoming Dividend Receipts:
    • Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust: SGD 645
    • SingTel: SGD 652.70
    • Bank of America: USD 16.80

Commentary

Sell in May and go away

This age old investor adage proved true this year. With increasing geopolitical risk thanks to the Trump circus and their crusade against world trade, and Italy’s government (or the lack of it) woes, we face another sad month in the markets with losses largely driven by declines in Keppel Corp and Singtel. That said, that didn’t stop me from making big moves this month. After all, stocks do get cheaper in a downturn. Will June be better? Or will the market decline during the World Cup (apparently that’s a thing)? We shall see.

Transactions for this month

This was another transaction heavy month as I continue my pivot towards income and bidding farewell to more US stocks.

Purchases:

  1. Bought 15,000 units of Frasers Logistics and Industrial Trust (SGX: BUOU) ahead of the preferential offering as mentioned previously. Subscribed my 1,500 unit entitlement and applied for excess 6,500 units. I personally don’t expect to get much excess units, if any, given the intense interest in the REIT. Going forward this REIT will be a substantial driver of my passive income.
  2. Bought 1,000 shares of SingTel (SGX: Z74) after yet more selling pressure from institutional investors after earnings. The earnings itself was ok in my opinion, given regional associate troubles. The commitment to maintain a 17.5 cent dividend for the next 2 years was welcome too. Where the bottom is, I do not know. All I know is I’m buying a best in class telco with a decent yield. Will look to add again if it reaches the $3.00 – $3.10 range.
  3. Bought 80 shares of Micron (NASDAQ: MU) as a small speculation. Analysts are signalling doom and gloom for NAND and DRAM prices, I’ll take the contrarian trade as I feel with demand for chips should still be strong. The company also upped guidance for the year and instituted a monster buyback.

Sell transactions:

  1. Sold Frasers Commercial Trust largely to fund my Fraser’s L&I purchase. Trading in a sub par commercial REIT for a better quality one makes sense to me. That said, those who have a greater patience than I can consider FCOT at its current price as it has crossed the 7% yield threshold recently.
  2. Sold Lockheed Martin and Raytheon largely due to poor price action. I remain bullish on the US weapons manufacturers as a whole, but short term this sector should be under pressure due to confusing guidance and trade war related issues. Divested also mainly to concentrate funds in more important positions.
  3. Sold Walt Disney. This one pains me, as I really love their Marvel and Star Wars films, but this has been a big time under performer for me and with the continued uncertainty over the Fox deal, I really don’t feel like waiting around for this stock. Should I have sold sooner? Probably. I kept this around largely for diversification and love of the company, but at the end of the day, stocks are just pieces of paper.

Here’s to a better June.

Happy Hunting,
KK

Information presented in this post is for general information and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a call to buy or sell any stocks. Do your own due diligence, invest carefully and wisely my friends.

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CPF Hacks you should be aware of

CPF

The CPF scheme was originally conceived as a Government assisted retirement contribution scheme. However, over years of reading blogs, you come across interesting ways people use it to achieve certain outcomes.

Here’s a collection of my favourite CPF Hacks that I feel everyone should know about.

Credits: Some of the ideas originate from A Singaporean Stocks Investor (ASSI), a veteran financial blogger who believes that CPF should be the cornerstone of your retirement.

Basic Hacks

1) When you contribute matters

Contributing in January or in December in any given year affects the eventual amount of interest you receive at year end. This is because of the way the CPF Board computes the amount of interest to pay its members.

CPF interest is computed monthly, then compounded and credited annually to your respective accounts. CPF interest earned in the preceding year will be credited to members’ CPF accounts by the 3rd working day in January.

Source: CPF FAQ

This means that you will earn 1 full year of compound interest if you contribute in January, versus 1 month if you contribute in December. So if you intend to contribute voluntarily to your CPF, do it as soon as possible.

2) Accrued interest and how you should handle it

Accrued interest is a controversial topic that contributed to the “Return My CPF” movement in prior years. Accrued interest is the concept that CPF monies withdrawn to fund a property purchase has to be returned to CPF with interest upon the sale of the property. This created a “Ownself pay ownself interest” scenario instead of the Government paying you the interest if you had left the CPF monies in your OA.

While I can understand that most Singaporeans cannot afford to own a home without using CPF funds, given the accrued interest issue, you should look to refund your CPF principal and accrued interest as soon as you are able so that you can let the Government compound your money, instead of doing it yourself. Or better, don’t use CPF monies at all to fund your home purchase.

3) Contribute voluntarily and save on tax

I have written on this in depth previously here and here.

Advanced Hacks

1) CPF as the bond component of your investment portfolio

Portfolio theory advocates that you should diversify your investments into different assets and asset classes to diversify away single asset risk. Bonds play a role in portfolio construction. Instead of buying government bonds that pay less or buying corporate bonds that are more risky (Hyflux 6% Perpetuals anyone?), ASSI advocates topping up your Special Account (SA) as a alternative. He views the CPF SA as a high interest up to 30 year bond backed by SG’s ironclad reserves.

Depending on your risk appetite, this might be a valid portfolio strategy.

2) Using your parents’ Retirement Account (RA) to earn higher interest

A ASSI reader came up with a pretty brilliant way of using her homemaker mom’s (i assume) RA account to earn high interest rates on her funds. As her parent’s RA is low, she can top up her parent’s RA without triggering CPF Life enrollment. This allows her top-ups to earn up to 6% interest. Plus, she can earn up to $7,000 in tax reliefs on her top-ups. She will ultimately receive back the funds by getting her mom to nominate her as the CPF beneficiary.

A pretty niche hack, but fascinating nonetheless.

3) CPF as a legacy planning tool

Did you know that any Singapore citizen can have a CPF account, including your new born baby? You only need to contribute to it for the first time for it to be opened.

So let’s say you want to leave a sum of money for your children to secure their future and are worried that they become snobbish little brats? You can either create a trust to manage the funds till they are of age. Or you can top up your child’s SA and let the Government be the gatekeeper like how this couple is considering. What’s more, the Government is helping your child compound the sum at 4% p.a. for 65 years!

4) Government subsidised medical insurance

As you might know, the Medisave account (MA) funds attract a 4% interest. You might also know that health insurance like the Integrated Shield plans can be bought using Medisave account funds. This effectively means that the Government is subsidising your medical insurance costs.

In fact, if your MA has the current Basic Healthcare Sum (the current MA balance cap) of $54,500, your annual interests from your MA would be at least $2,180. This should be sufficient to cover your health insurance costs.

As such, if healthcare and insurance costs is concerning to you, top up your MA to give yourself that necessary peace of mind.

Summary

The CPF can be a very versatile tool. From saving for retirement, to tax planning, to legacy planning and health insurance, CPF has a part to play.

Do you have any other CPF Hacks that you know and use? Do let me know in the comments!

Happy Hunting!
KK