Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Buy Stocks?

I was doing my regular reading on and came across this :

The part I want to highlight is this since a lot of people are thinking of investing in gold/property and other investments (palm oil investment schemes come to mind) is this:

" Returns. Over the long term, stocks have delivered impressive returns. According to the 2002 edition of Jeremy Siegel's book Stocks for the Long Run, stocks returned 6.8% per year above inflation between 1871 and 2001. That compares with a loss of 0.1% per year for gold and an average gain of 2.8% per year for bonds. Cash, of course, almost always has a negative return as it earns nothing and simply absorbs the impact of inflation. But over the past 10 years, the stock market has actually fallen more than 6% as measured by the S&P 500, which is a good reminder that the returns from stocks may not always be consistent. However, the stock market's history gives us good reason to think that over longer stretches investors can do very well."

So, if this doesn't convince you, I don't know what will! Also, being Malaysian, we are in an emerging market - there will be lots of money will be flowing in the middle of the year. The only worries about investing in Malaysia for me are these:

1) The Credibility of the Financial Reports- This is a problem in general, it also happens in the US as was the case in Enron. But this problem is more prevalent in Asian countries as our financial reporting standards is not up to par and that old joke comes to mind where an accountant is looking for the job is asked - How much is 1+1? And the accountant replies : Anything you want!

2) Market Manipulation - Compared to the SGX and US markets, we trade in rather low volumes which mean stocks can be more volatile and move quickly. Anecdotal advice of syndicates in Malaysia is plenty and you do worry at times!

Best to stick to bigger, blue chip stocks which would be harder to manipulate and would have better accounting standards.

My suggestion is to look abroad to other markets as well. But start small. Start with a tracker fund which will track , an ETF which can do the same or a mutual fund - All these options takes away the stress of actually picking stocks. ETFs have much lower management fees than mutual funds and are easily trade able.

But you still need to research on how close to they track and in the case of mutual funds, whether the manager is any good. There is matter of timing the market and holding it for the long term.

Pick up some books, learn and read to make your money work harder for you! You don't have to be day trader and/or do momentum investing. The biggest downfall of stocks is one's emotions. I have said it many times but it is worth remember what Warren Buffet says - "I will tell you how to be rich : When others are greedy, be fearful, when others are fearful, be greedy!"

So be patient. Now, being the CNY and being the holidays - the KLSE is really quiet and stocks are down so now, would be an ideal time to pick up some stocks actually!

If you're interesting in looking at the US market, check out and they services give you the option of a one month trial period. They also occasionally will offer free reports on certain picks.

Full Disclosure: I have said this before but yes, I am a subscriber of the Fool's Stock Advisor Service.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to Make Money Or How to End up Swimming with the Fishes

How to make quick money?

Be a tax fraud, I mean Tax Informer!

You will earn 50% of the tax gained from the tax recovered from the offender and... it's tax free! (but read on to hear the dangers!)

Okay, so we had a tax consultant give us an in-house talk about Taxes- Auditing & Investigations: How to be Prepared. It was very interesting, thorough and enlightening yet entertaining talk!

So, let me share a few things I learnt with everyone here.

1) Getting on their radar - The speaker has 43 years of experience in Tax - 35 years of those in the Inland Revenue Board (IRB). The usual people on the IRB's radars are non-fixed income individuals and businesses. Why not employees? Well, they are the easiest to check based on the

Apparently the IRB's computers does a comparison across the sector to see anyone who sticks out and also if the numbers look too consistent or fishy, then, that will give rise to an audit/investigation.

2) Are you a Mutual fund/Life Insurance dealer? Well, these are normal culprits of tax evasion and they are the bigger showoffs! Taking pictures of themselves on fancy holidays and equally fancy cars are dead giveaways! IRB will always check your expenses against your declared income and you will need to be able to justify the reason.

3) Myth - Counting plates? The Speaker said it's abit of a myth how IRB actually sits a hawker stalls and count plates. They do observe suspects and what they see has to match what is actually reported. For example, a store that empties it tills 3 times day, does it have 3 bank-ins in its bank accounts a day as well?

4)Going back to be an IRB informer, yes the reward are great and the speaker told us stories of friends and lovers betraying each other so be warned! This is another reason why you should not go around making enemies or better still, document and file your taxes properly to give them ammo to pin you down.

If you do become an IRB informer, be warned by how the speaker related that during one of his past investigation of a suspected tax offender, the suspect was willing to contest the investigation but.. even offerred RM50k to reveal the informer! And if the informer was revealed, one can only imagine what would happen to the informer or his family! So, it's a risky life indeed!

And remember... once a rat.. always a a rat!

Once a rat.. always a rat!

Any lessons to take away for you and me? Always have all your documentation kept properly! If you do come under suspicion, it will be for you to justify why you under declared or how that extra 100k is in your bank account. Stay calm, get your tax advisor and accountant and keep cool and don't let IRB frighten you if you have nothign to hide. The speaker said they usually can be very reasonable and would usually give you the benefit of the doubt.

Another follow-up post more on this perhaps when I have the time!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Deustche Bank Report Featured on Edge

It's gonna be a, Bull market! (work with me on this, will yer?)

So Deustche Bank says it's going to be a BULL MARKET in Malaysia this year. Its pretty optimistic with Malaysia's outlook given the Megaprojects, IPOs (think Petronas Chemicals) and subsidies being cut for financial austerity. Also cites increased consumer confidence and increase in M&A activity as reasons. Read it here:

Pinpoints financials, O&G, Plantations and Property as sectors they like. Read there for some definite picks they like. I'm no way endorsing what they pick and you know me, I'm not very excited with momentum investing. Long-term winners for me, please!

One portion which caught my eye was this:

"Recently, FTSE upgraded Malaysia from secondary emerging to advanced emerging status, placing the market in the same category as Taiwan. The change will be effective June 2011. Victor Phua, from our derivative strategy team, tells us that the upgrade in status will likely induce an additional US$392 million of equity inflow into Malaysia from passive funds tracking the FTSE World index series (which covers developed and advanced emerging countries). He also believes that the positive investor sentiment generated from being recognised as an advanced emerging market can be a catalyst for the equity market. In the two previous country upgrades (Hungary and Poland), the domestic market outperformed the regional benchmark by as much as 27.1% in the three months going into the effective date in September 2008, and further extended the gains by an average of 13.4% in the month after."

What this means is big caps/Blue chips in Malaysia will gain slightly from passive funds buying them up to reflect their exposure to Malaysia. So, it's quite a certain thing that blue chips will go up as demand goes up when June 2011 comes. The only question now is whether these stocks have priced this in yet?

I can't tell for sure. But if you're holding onto Telco or Financial stocks, you should be rubbing your hands with glee as passive funds usually build their exposure around such stocks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Rise of China from a Western Perspective

If there's one great site you must visit it is this : which is like Youtube except for spreading ideas - be it to do with business, science, global issues, technology, faith or entertainment. Speakers are specially recorded by them and the videos are put on the website to engage people and try to spread ideas.

I first heard it being played on BFM and I checked out the website and it's brilliant!

The videos load easily (yes, on streamyx) and you can even have subtitles with some videos having up to 25 languages!

One of the vidoes I wanted to highlight is this:

This was taken sometime in October 2010 so its still quite recent. Watch it till the end not only for the insight into China's rise and how it is different from the West but you'll be surprise what the Chinese invented that is so popular in the west!

Check it out!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

No time to invest? Try Joel Greenblatt's Magic Formula Investing!

Really don't have time? Worried you will be swayed by emotions and *gasp* panic sell?

Try's Joel Green Blatt's Magic Formula Investing which is basically a formula which looks for undervalued top-ranked small-mid cap companies to invest in and its mechanical because you punch in your criteria into the free search tool and you buy the stocks that come out and hold for a year before selling, and repeat the whole process.

Check out: - the free screening tool is here. - Jim Royal on the Fool seems to endorse it alot. Search for his articles to read more.

I have listened to the Audiobook for this and it does makes sense and has consistent returns of 20% (based on historical analysis if you had punched in the formula and chosen the stocks that come out over the last few decades) and above but recognises that times have changed and the US is in decline so expect less. But thinking about it 15% is not bad returns - Double your money every 5 years?

One of the downsides is because of its lack of fundamental analysis of the companies that pop up - diversification (ie buying 20-30 stocks) is a must! If you have too small a portfolio, a few stocks going bad can really affect your portfolio! The formula does not account for say management, disaster (think Australia's flooding!) or fraud issues that can sink a stock.

Vs. Mutual funds
More troublesome than a mutual fund and requires slightly more time. But take a look/listen to what he has to say and you find he has decades of market data showing consistent returns. History is on his side and it makes perfect sense as it looks for undervalued companies in the market.

One for the Future
I definitely will give this option a go if I wanted to cut down the time I take looking and reading at news and spotting trends. All you need to do is spend time once a year and selling systematically.

Problem with having a diverse portfolio of 20-30 stocks needed means you need quite a lot of capital. Let's say you take medium-sized positions of USD1000 in each (RM3000*30) - Need RM 90k. :s (not including brokerage and other fees) Maybe one for the future.

Note: For us non-resident foreign investors, we do not have a capital gains tax fromselling earlier than one year. (

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lines/Soundbytes that annoy me...and you better watch out for!

When reading an article or listening to a sales pitch, do you ever read/hear a line that sounds too good to be true that it's annoying? Well, I do! So here's my rant/dissection of these lines which I think are just annoying!

Screen Shot of Pemandu's Website

1. "Yes, and you know the Government has the ETP..."

Context: Anything! If you're trying to sell something which remotely has anything to do with one of the many projects or the companies benefit ting from the government's ETP plan ( or anything to do with Malaysia, mention the ETP!

Yes, mentioning those 3 letters will make you think of the billions of ringgit being pumped into our Malaysian economy. I remember I was being given a sales pitch for a Palm Oil Investment Scheme and I listened carefully, being quite intrigued until the saleslady mentioned ETP and I just looked at her. She said "You know alot of money coming in from the ETP..." and I could only just playing along "yeah.. yeah.." yet alarm bells was going into my head.

In fact, our PM has mentioned how this has benefited the stock market! And that is true, the KLSE is at its highest ever and reaching new highs the last few weeks.

But whoa... let's think about it carefully. Where is this money actually going into? If it's a company getting a contract from the government like say Gamuda-MMC who will develop the MRT system, of course it would rise being a direct beneficiary. From the economic point of view, besides directly benefiting companies like Dialog in the O&G department, there is generally a trickle down effect as the employees of these companies directly benefiting would earn more (or more people will be employed and more money will go around) and will buy more goods and services from other companies. And this cycle continues as people from those companies spend more too. This will naturally boost the economy all round and is known as the 'trickle-down' effect.

The point I am trying to make is that don't be taken in by such sweet words and always do your research and back it up with cold hard facts/figures and not to be taken in by generalisations (especially those with these 3 little "magic" letters!)''

This post is not to examine the pros and cons of the ETP in fact, the spirit of achieving a high income economy is admirable but don't let your emotions be swayed by it. I will admit there is a good momentum going with some stocks because of the ETP news but remember, all good things must come to an end.

My philosophy's not about chasing the next trend but choosing a strong fundamental investment with long term potential. If it's a beneficiary of the ETP, that's the icing on the cake but not the main reason why I am buying into something.

A green light for property? (image credit: Dreamtime, Phil Date)

2. "Property prices in KL have not reached the same levels as in Singapore and Hong Kong"
Context: Investing in KL property and even Penang.

This line seems to be used by anyone talking up the property sector in Malaysia. This gets speculators' excited but does not actually examine the fundamentals of the location or growth of KL/Penang.

First thing, Singapore and Hong Kong has limited land area right? This comes with being Islands having limited land and they are even forced to spend millions on land reclamation to create more land!

Does KL have the same problem?No. Maybe, Penang does.

Kuala Lumpur is growing and in fact, it has merged with its satellite towns like Bandar Utama, PJ and more developments are coming out on the outskirts. Yet, if you read this : it would seem high end rentals are down.

And also let's face the facts - KL versus Singapore and HK - are our economies as vibrant and robust as these two cities? As much as I wish to say yes, the reality makes it very hard to say No. Let's see facts:

Infrastructure wise : We still face perpetual traffic jams against such efficient public transport systems in these two cities. Need I say more?

Growth-wise : Yes, we do have Malaysians from other states coming to the Klang Valley as the better paying jobs are coming in but not all areas will be desirable and factors like distance and accessibility to workplace/education are key points to research.

Expat/Foreign Occupants growth wise: Maybe with the ETP - more projects - even the nuclear plant would need foreign specialities. But I won't be quick to say we have much more to offer than say, Singapore!

Economy-wise: Whoa, don't get me started here. HK and Singapore are considered developed nation states with much higher GDP per capita. Their citizens earn much more and naturally are willing to pay more for property. What about KL? A city with the highest twin towers at best! In fact, a minister just said that RM3,000 is high income!

Supply-wise: So, we have dealt with demand-side, there's still the matter of whether there is a good supply or even over supply of property in KL. I can't really comment for sure but my observation of condos that seem unoccupied and the huge amount of properties coming on-line seems to tell me we have a good supply meeting demand or I might even say there is an oversupply. The reason why most property are being sold but not rented up is because these properties are being bought by baby-boomers (those 40 and above) who have reached the peak of their earning power by moving high up in their career ladders and are looking to buy 2nd, 3rd homes and so on. In fact, read into Bank Negara's measure last year to increase the down payment to 70% for housing loans for 3rd homes onwards as confirmation of this. (Of course, in any market you will have your bargains and there are niche markets like landed property and certain areas where this is the exception so make sure you have a good margin of safety and/or know your stuff when looking for a good deal!)

In conclusion, is it really fair comparing our humble KL (which I do love still with its imperfections!) compare to Singapore and HK?

Again, like the 1st line I hate- This is probably an-over generalisation a myth. In fact, I will be careful when I hear this line.

Don't get me wrong - invest in KL/Penang property and make sure you do your due diligence/research! Don't simply buy into simple lines like these.

3. "Only time will tell..."
Context : End of any article!

This has to be the biggest cliché used which is like an escape clause of any writer/analyst at the end of their articles. I mean, comeon lar! If time could tell, I would look at my watch and not read your article, right?!


That's the end of the rant-ish post. *phew*

But I would love to hear from you guys! What common lines do you hate the most and why?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Review: You can become Rich in Property by Peter Yee

While during some Christmas Shopping last year, I came across this book which caught my eye : (yes, it was 50% off if you buy one more >.<)

Watch out world, I'm the next Investment Tycoon!

How was it?

It was a good entry level book into property investments with a good overview of everything you need to know from the why, how, defensive strategies, when, 3 different strategies and short stories on real experiences. It does also identify a few areas in KL and even goes into detail what kind of lots you should be looking at (commercial properties) taking into account say parking lots and even feng shui.

I like the fact that at the end of the chapters, there are bullet points summarising the chapter. That said, it already is an easy to read book and shouldn't take more than an hour to go through.

Just to give you a snippet - Basically, there are 3 strategies:
1) Buy and Hold (buy more for long term capital appreciation)
2) Flipping (short term, improve the home and sell)
3) Positive Cashflow(Buying properties where the rent more than covers the loan payments)

Peter Yee also has a website - and check out the history where there may be some gems of information there :

In fact, I downloaded the BFM podcast but have not gotten the time to listen to it.

The most interesting thing for me was how Peter Yee's examples seem to take the the property market can be divided into 4 seasons - Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. Summer being when markets peak, etc.

In fact, the year 2011 is supposed to be a winter month with alot of property coming online in the market and there is a visible pattern of when the property market heats up and cools down. So, this year apparently will be good year to look into dipping into the property market according to Peter Yee.

This is a view I do share -I think the KL property market - There's an over supply of apartments and perhaps terrace houses too. I won't even go into Bungalows/Semi-Ds because I don't think any of the readers here can afford it like myself!

So, it will be a good idea to keep an eye on the property market these few months. If you're not financially ready for property, don't worry. Be patient and markets will always go up and down. Continue to do research on the market and have some friends

I don't think the book goes into specifics on exactly what to do and I think maybe it's more for a stepping stone to their seminars. For buying the book, I get to go to a free talk and I know they'll try to sell me their other seminars and other products but I will go just to see what they have to offer but maybe I should leave my wallet at home!

My conclusion : A good, easy-to-read, book to get acquainted into the basics and why you should invest in Malaysian Property. If you're just starting or getting your first home, its a book worth getting first. Its the biggest investment of you life.. so best to read up something, no?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Reproduced : Power of Compound Interest

This was my guest post on my buddy's blog :- - A quintessential guide to Russel Peters says : Be a Man! (do the right thing!)

I was guest posting trying to convince people that the time to start saving & investing is now... and why? The power of compound interest is why! This is the
1st Part of my 3 part series of guest posts on his blog. Read on!

Compound Interest here we go!

The Power of Compound Returns
This is the First Part of a Three Part series on “Getting Started to Managing Your Finances” by Joe. Yes, he’s your average Joe and he’s probably in not much better shape financially that you are but hey, you can’t blame a man from trying, no?

First off, if you’re reading this you’re probably in your 20s maybe 30s and sharp, good looking and having not too bad of a time with the opposite sex, thanks to Straight Guy (and Gal now!).

But have you thought to yourself – I don’t have enough money! I wish I was earning more money!

Sure, you can get a new, better paying job - but I'm not here to interview you for a job opening - instead what I'm here for is to share some basic skills and knowledge that everybody, and I mean everybody, should have. Managing your finances, as they call it - to make more money with what you already have.

For my first part, I want to share a very simple concept before diving deeper into the art of managing your finances. It is not only an essential concept but indeed one that is very powerful and handy to know.

It was Albert Einstien who said : "Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn't ... pays it."

If the world’s smartest man to have ever lived said that, boy, don’t we all have to sit up and listen what he has to say! But wait - just what does this "compound interest" mambo jambo mean in real life?

It means two things.

First of all, it’s a powerful tool to make your money work harder for you. It’s funny how we all work so hard for our money, and yet never have given thought to how it can work harder for us.

Let me give you a quick and simple example.

I. Love. Coffee.

I love it so much that every single day in the year I spend RM9.50 on a grande Cappuccino at Starbucks. Doing the simple math of RM9.50 x 365 = RM 3467.5 (assuming it’s not a leap year).

Now, how much do you think I'd save annually if I had taken that money and put it into a fixed deposit account instead (with say 5% interest per year and the interest is left in the account to accumulate – ie: compound interest.)?

Doing the math, by the end of the 20th year, I would have RM 114,656!

Okay, but what if I'd just saved that money in a jar under my bed? (that would be a lot of jars!)

RM 3467.5 x 20 = A mere RM 69, 350.

Thanks to compound interest, I'd have effortlessly made myself an additional, sweet RM 44k!

What compound interest can do to a man.

This in turn, leads me to introduce the Rule of 72.

If you had a fixed amount of money and you wanted to calculate how many years it would take to double it, just divide the rate of your returns against it.

For example, you have a fixed deposit which gives you a returns rate of 6% per annum. 72/6 = 12 years for your money to double.

This rule also works if you want to calculate the returns rate which you need to double your money in a certain number of years - e.g. say 6 years which is 12%. (72/12 = 6 years)

However, the only downside to the above is this rule is less useful if the number that divides it is 20 or above.

So, what now?

With that realization, I hope you've come to understand two things - It is worth saving and investing money here and now!

1) Start early.
Use the power of compound interest to make your money work harder for you. Each ringgit saved is akin to a "biblical mustard seed" if invested well.

2) Don't Take too Much Debt.
Conversely so, you should avoid raking up excessive credit card/personal loan debt as this is the flip side of the compounding interest action, making you poorer and the banks all the much richer!

That is all for now. Look out for my 2nd part of my guest series on the HOW to manage, after we've dealt today with the WHY. Until next time!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

For the Income Investors out there - Digi and Maxis?

While doing some other research, I came across this report by Insider Asia on Maxis and Digi -

Basically, Maxis and Digi have been paying about market dividends of over 6% in the past year and are steady picks to continue doing so!

If you're thinking of investing in an alternative in investing other than Fixed-Deposit... check these stocks out. Easy to understand businesses, Both pay out dividends quarterly and would make good income spinners for those looking for a steady cashflow yet not willing to risk too much. Don't expect too much capital gain though!

The only concern I can think off my head is their mobile internet market might shrink and also, you have to consider whether they can keep up their high dividends.

Generally, stocks that pay dividends outperform stocks that don't. Its a sign of confidence of their businesses that they can reward their shareholders. More on that... next time!

MEGB retracted - Greater Safety of Margin?

One stock in my portfolio is MEGB.

Today, after news on Monday (10/11) that Insider Asia's model portfolio (which I follow quite closely) acquired shares at 20k shares at RM2.39 I felt more confident on my long-term pick. But then today, it dropped further to RM 2.34 with news that a foreign fund had sold 174million of its shares last week -

That may have caused some panic understandably and some have sold off in a panic.

Here's where I quote Buffet on being a contrarion investor - Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful!

As such, this retraction gives a bigger margin of safety f0r retail investors (yes, you and me!) to jump in. Yes, there is a concern that FMR LLC may know something we know but that will be pure speculation. The IPO was priced at RM3.80 which was way too much to begin with! Let's examine why I like it and its downsides:

Why I like it?
I like it because it's my two favourite industries - Healthcare and Education. If you don't know already - Masterskill Education Group Berhad (MEGB) provides higher education and training in nursing and allied health sciences and you can see they are quite well advertised everywhere!

They are also undervalued in terms of PER compared to its other Malaysian Education stocks - Help and SEGI.

Being a top down investor, let me first explain what's so great about these two sectors and why I believe besides its defensive nature (low volatility), I believe there's growth:

Healthcare - With a growing, ageing population (living longer than ever to add!), there will be a need for better healthcare provision around the world. As such, there is a growing demand for healthcare professionals to cater to that need.

Education - Its an Asian thing to have a good education for our children so there will be demand to send children to higher education no matter the price! Asian parents will save on everything but will definitely spend on their Children's education! On top of that Masterskill's courses tend to have a higher margin than say HELP's or SEGI's because of the nature of their courses offered.

Potential Downside

PTPTN loans - There's a problem collecting these low (to no!) interest loans from graduates and these loans provide funding for most of MEGB's students. This was widely reported 4Q2010 resulting in the drop of its share most of that quarter.

But, no worries for help is on the way as the tax department, IRB announced this year that they will automatically be deducting the monies owed as soon as these graduated students start working with the help of legislative enactments/amendments.

The number of students currently affected - awaiting for their funding from the government are only 2% and are in Kuching. So it's overblown, some research houses have said.

Heavy Gearing? - A friend of mine mentioned they are heavily geared. I'll be honest. I took a glance here -
and first glance, it looks okay. But I will need to take a closer look.

Uncertainty for its intake of students - This is linked to the PTPTN loans but I remember a research house indicating that MEGB is a top ranked institution and it would be one of the last to get its funding cut/reduced. Also, I reiterate I am confident on these two sectors.

Fundamentals/Growth/Profits - The IPO was to generae funds to purchase and construct new buildings and expands it existing campus so the growth prospect is there.

In the last 3 financial years MEGB has a Pre-tax profits of - 56.485, 80.058, 112.289 for 2007-2009. So that's a good track record of profits! It's margin in % has steadily been around 40%!

That's quite a few thumbs up!

The only concern is the gearing which I will look our when the 2010 Financial Year Report is out. Might acquire more from my small position I have on it at the moment. I am holding this for the long term- Given my past mistakes, I need to discipline myself and learn to hold longer!

Well, that's all for me. Remember to do some of your own research before you take a plunge!

Are you a student with MEGB or investor who would like to add their 2 cents? Leave a comment below.

Disclosure: Yes, Joe does own shares in MEGB and shall not trade in it for the next 3 days.

Update 16/1- As for the end of the week - MEGB has dropped to RM2.20 - I say, still a good margin of safety to dip in.
Also - A post of interest to do with MEGB - (warning, a risky move.. purely for blogging research purposes)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Portfolio Review for 2H 2010 - Pt 1

My losses/gains in 2H 2010 and notes(Click on the pic to enlarge)

I lost money on MYEG, SEGI warrants, Notion Vtec and Rubicon Minerals (an American listed Gold mining company).

Over these few days I shall examine these losses. Two at a time.(if all at one time, too painful!)

MYEG - was one of the first purchases. I was convinced that this was a good buy at that time because I was thinking it was the only E-gov provider providing such services as renewal of road tax, maid licenses, etc.The next few weeks eyeing the stock, it jumped and I got excited and thought I had missed the boat. When it retracted, I jumped! It was RM0.80+ then and I had taken quite big position by my standards.

Next, I waited. A few months later, I was reading about other stocks and grew impatient and MYEG was barely budging and if fact, it was dropping. So, I decided to sell into other stocks at a loss of about a few cent per share. *sigh* I also realised I did not look at the companies fundamentals and fully understand the stock. This was my first loss.

MYEG going forward - But, I still believe MYEG at first glance looks like a good idea with its unique position (only e-gov provider of services) and it was listed in Jan's Personal Finance Money as a pick for 2011 for Kenanga Research.... ****

Notion Vtec -Besides Personal Money, I also read the monthly shares digest aptly called - Shares. One of its picks that month was Notion citing that all the chip producing companies had doubled and were looking strong. Based solely on that, I took a medium position in the stock. Next thing I knew, it dropped by 10% and mentally setting my losses to be capped at 10% I sold.

Why 10%? It was a sell rule I had picked up reading a book called "24 Essential Lessons for Investment Success" by William J. O'Neil and 10% was the biggest lost I was willing to take.

Wow, writing all that makes me feel really dumb right now.

But it would have been dumber if I had held Notion Vtec which now had dropped from the RM2.70 I sold to RM 1.50 or lower! This was down to some problems it had with it factory and the general slump chipmakers were going through in 2010. So, the positive was that the market turned the other way.

NOTION going forward - Last I read in the Edge was Notion was attempting to grow in the Camera Sector but I am generally sceptical as the slump in chipmakers is quite bad with the rise of smartphones and tablets affecting sales of netbooks.

Moving Forward now...

So, peeps, how can I improve? Next time...

1) If you read some stock tip/advise, research, research,research! Does the business outlook support your assumptions? Do the numbers add up? How do the ratios compare to other competitors in the market (locally and regionally)?

2) Sit out and think about it and think whether there are better opportunities out there. Let the 'hot tip' simmer in your head and talk it over. Do others share your enthusiasm? Or are you just wanting to hear what you want to hear?

3) Take a small/moderate position in the stock. Remember to diversify and not to pull all your eggs in one basket!

That's all for now, peeps.. Tomorrow I will talk about my two biggest losses - RBY and Segi Warrants.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Second Week of the Year - Trade War? Collapse of USD?

I was told pics of hot chicks would increase my blog's traffic...

It's just the second (working) week of the year! KLSE and markets around the world have pulled back a little - minor correction? or profit taking mostly?

Still a relatively New Year I say and I have been thinking about some stuff I have written and realised I did neglect to mention one concern which seems to be brewing these days - A currency/trade war and perhaps a word on the USD/US stock market.

Commentary: Currency/Trade War or Collapse of the USD?,s01=1.html

Reading around this issue, I think I can best sum it up this way - Western developed nations like Japan, US, UK are net lenders of the world running humongous deficits but also in an attempt to spend their way out of the downturn, pumped even more money increasing the supply of their currencies. The effect of this is of course to devalue their debts as well.

So, some countries like Brazil are shouting: Hey, That's not fair! And we're suffering because the value of your currency is way too low and ours is way too high because we're not flooding the markets with printed money.

The result of that is their exports are more expensive and less desirable than their goods which are artificially cheaper because of a weak currency.


Another commenter is Stephanie Flanders who does point a finger at the US and with good reason perhaps-

How serious are these things? Well, currency/trade war - With US pumping more money in the middle of the year and stubbornly going ahead with it - this is one to watch. It may just be noise but the market is reacting to it. I think its more saber rattling than anything and more for the benefit of the voters at home.

As for the devaluation of the USD or worse, the collapse of it, I say it may happen but not so soon. The US is still the largest economy and the world can afford it to collapse and China is holding ka-zillions of US bonds and would sink along with the Titanic that is the US!

Yes, the US is still quite in a mess and they cannot seem to get their act together but I do invest in the US stock market because it is still the biggest of markets (spoilt for choice in terms of stocks!) and my current portfolio there has more international exposure than US exposure. I also think there's more fear than rationality there so there is value there and it's always good to diversify your holdings.

Then again, for the medium term with the rise of China and all - I should really start looking at the markets closer to home - ie: SGX and Hang Seng!

The Week Ahead

Also, for this week I have decided I shall analyse my gains/losses in the last year. Well, half of the year because I only started investing in stock the 2nd half of the year!

Perhaps, my dear readers, serve as a word of caution of what to do and what not to do!

I have made my fair share of mistakes and I hope there's something you can gain from my follies!

Till' next time.


Image Credit : Melis82 (dreamstime)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Observation : Car Sales up - Green shoots of Spring or False Dawn?

Green shoot of Spring for the Global Economy?

I tend to watch the US market closely not only because I do invest in US stocks but well, it is the largest economy in the world. As the saying goes - When the US sneezes, the world catches the flu!

One piece of news which did not get much media in Malaysia was the rise of sale of motor vehicles in the US -

Why is this significant for some observers?

During downturns, consumers tend to delay their decision to pay for high expense items like cars until they feel the economy is doing better. Also, there was no government policy to encourage car sales (ie: tax wise or scrapping old cars) So, could this be an indication that consumers are feeling more confident of the economy?

Stocks markets around the world are also generally up but this may be down to the January Effect where generally most Januaries, the stock market goes up and this may be because investors in the US sell their shares before the year and repurchase them for tax purposes. On top of general optimism of course.

My take? Believing the worse is over and spending your way out of a recession is very important for the recovery. As such, I will be cautiously optimistic but look out for these things:

1) Inflation/Hyperinflation - With record low interest rates in developed nations (US, Japan) and loose monetary policy (ie: QE) everything is rising with the latest concern being food prices. This would put strains on the recovery as people's money is worth less so they buy less goods. So companies sell less and growth would be lessened or more layoffs may happen.

2) Rising Interest rates - Once central banks raise their interest rates, in theory, there is less money going around with more expensive debt and consequently, asset prices (ie: commodities, stocks, property) tend to fall.

Also, look out for these potential time bombs:

1) The EURO Debt crisis - The debt crisis in European nations known as the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) has not fully played out?

2) The state Debt crisis in the US - States in US such as California and New York are in heavy debt and are cutting jobs/funds left,right and centre! See:,8599,1991062,00.html

3) Credit card debt crisis - Alot of Americans who have lost their jobs are not only unable to pay off their mortgages which led to the 2008 subprime crisis but they have outstanding credit card debt. This may be the next bubble.

With all these concerns, I would be prepared for anything and be cautiously optimistic this 1st half of 2011. Observers have correctly pointed out that the fundamentals may not have been fully resolved so we can only cross and fingers and hope.

If the theory of cyclical downturns is to believe, we have had crises in 1986, 1997, 2008.. so the next one should be 2019 but hey, history doesn't always repeat itself, does it?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Alternative Investments : Gold?

Gold seems to be the investment on everyone's lips these days.

A financial guru's opinion was that it is a safe haven and given the uncertainty of the times we are in, it has much upside and will hit USD 2,000. (Today's price is USD 1371.00)

My take? It may be worth a bet but if you think about it - What do we actually use gold for? Jewellery? Dowry in places like India?

The answer is Gold isn't that useful and doesn't create value or generate income (unless you sell it).

The recent meteoric rise of it was due to the recent financial crisis as people fled to safety and also the pumping of monies from the western economies to save their economies caused a oversupply of cash and commodities/metals to generally rise.

As such, I think you are better off investing off in something that actually is useful such as copper which is required for the wiring and building key infrastructures in developing nations such as India, Indochina and China or even Lithium! Yes, Lithium. With the rise of use of electronics such as tablets, smartphones and even, electric cars, there is a genuine demand for lithium which is a key component to the batteries of such goods! Read more here for an interview with a manager of a ETF for Lithium :

If the economy recovers, you not hedge against inflation (which is why many people flee to gold) but you have more upside if the economy recovers.

I think we are in for better times rather than worse as after the bust in 2008, chances are we are going into a boom.

However, if you're still interested in Gold, you have to be aware on how you would want to invest in it. Shares of companies mining it? Actual physical gold bullion? Gold coins?

I shall find the elaborate the ways to invest in Gold generally and also in Malaysia in another post. Watch this space!

EDIT: Another reason why not to invest it gold - Its average returns just beats inflation - the stock market is best off -

"Gold, over the whole of the 20th century, rose from $20.67/oz in 1900 to about $300/oz in 2000. That’s a fifteen-fold increase in 100 years. However, if you sold a few years earlier or later you could have gotten $400/oz, so allowing the benefit of the doubt let's call it a twenty-fold appreciation over 100 years. That is equal to about 3% compounded annually which, coincidentally, was almost exactly the average rate of inflation for the century. So if you bought gold in 1900, you only broke even after inflation 100 years later. Your ounce of gold still bought you a suit of clothes."

Image credit : (Batman2000 |

Risky Move - Contra Trading

No, No.. Cool game but we're talking about Contra Trading larr....

Contra? You mean that uber awesome tv game we used to play as kids!

I'm afraid not! I am referring to how I made a contra sell the last few days.

Let me explain:

Contra trading is when you purchase and sell stocks by not putting the actual money down. Online brokers give you 3 days from the day you purchased it (known as T+3) to put the money down for the purchase (including brokerage fees).

If not, they will force sell it on (T+4) for you and charge you for any losses made. But the upside is if it did go up within those 4 days, you profit.

What happened for me was I have been eyeing Masterskill Education Sdn Bhd (Ticker: MESB - It has been a stock I already have a small holding of it and have been eyeing since it had dropped to an all-time low of RM 2.03 since its IPO debut last year or RM3.80. I was thinking of increasing my holdings believing in Education and how undervalued it is to its peers (HELP and SEGI) but also took into account the concern over PTPTN loans funding its students were in trouble.

So, I bought 6 additional lots at RM2.12 on Monday for long term holdings but for research purposes I thought I would let it force-sell to see what will happen given it rocketed up to RM2.40+ the next few days.

Eventually, Friday (T+4) came and I got a call around 9am from CIMBiTrade inquiring whether had I paid for the stocks and they would force-sell it by noon if I don't force-sell it myself.

I did do so and sold them at RM 2.44 to make a quick tidy but small profit of RM 100+ (yes, force-selling does incur brokerage charges)

Ok, the reason why I relate all this to you is to give a very real example but NOT to say yes you WILL make money contra trading. Most contra traders actually lose money!

By saying I will buy at RM2.12, I have to pay within 3 days. If I don't, up or down, I pay for brokerage fees and any losses! Noone can really tell if a stock will go up in 3-4 days. While MEGB was deeply undervalued, it could have plunged further or what is stopping a plunging stock from plunging further (think: winding up, fraud, etc)

If you're banking on some news like say a takeover, some takeovers don't happen for whatever reason, the price plunges, and you're stuck with a stock with a loss!

Let's go through all the risks involved:

1) If the stock plunges, you have to pay for all the losses not made back by the broker's force sell.

2) If the stock is suspended (it can happen) or suddenly for whatever reason de-listed, you can't sell, you still owe the bank RM X which you have promised to pay legally. This may incur high interest rates until you can pay it off on top of the losses/profits made later from the sale.

3) You may have no control on how much to sell (but in my case, I did because the bank gave me until lunch time to force sell it myself.. I am not sure how often this is the case)

4) Brokerage fees will kill you in the wrong run! Day trading or Contra trading - You will incur lots of brokerage fees! Take my example - you would think 600*(2.44-2.12) = RM 192 profit! Nope - Brokerage fees (including stamp duty) was 56.67 - So I only made RM 135.33 (30% of my profit loss because of brokerage). In the long run, you will have more misses than hits (especially learning this risky play) and you will feel the impact of brokerage fees.

The only benefit I can think of is:

1) No model required to pay down the cost of the shares but see downside no 2)! Ie: Leverage

The biggest assumption running here is everything goes well between your purchase and the trade of your stock.

To end, again I do not endorse this move and I did so with MEGB because a) it was a stock I was willing to hold for long term and b) decided to try this for this blog's research. In the long run, brokerage fees will kill you.

If there are any contra traders reading this, please share any tips or correct me if I have made a mistake somewhere.

While researching for this post, I came across this link: - read the comments - contra trading takes up 50% of the trading volume in Singapore and your comment practice among brokers apparently.

Full Disclosure : Joe does own shares in MEGB and will not trade for the next 3 days in MEGB.

My Investment Philosophy - Warren Buffet

I would like to share my investment philosophy and aims which are pretty simple.

I am primarily a long term value investor yet I am willing to diversify my portfolio with some risky plays and some income plays. My modest aim is to have annual returns of 15-20% on my stock investments. I calculate that I would need roughly 4-5 years to double my money at those returns.

How am I going to do it?

If there's one philosophy I'm trying to stick to, it's Warren Buffet's investment philosophy. Afterall, he is arguably one of the best investors around, yes? He has beaten the market (the Standard & Poor/S&P) by more than 300% from 1977 to 2010 to have returns of 27.5% versusthe S&P's meagre 8.9%! (

How many can consistently give returns of 27.5%! Warren's the man!

As such, I admire not only his ability, discipline and patience and there are only things some of us can strive for.

The key take-away principles from his philosophy for me are:

1) Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. That's how you get rich according to the 'Sage of Omaha' (as he also is known as)

2) Buying stocks are like buying pieces of a business. You're actually buying into the business and into it future success.

2) Always keep in your circle of competency - Ie: Businesses YOU understand and instruments you understand. He stayed away from the 2002 internet stocks bust because these were businesses not only did he not understand but the numbers did not add up!

3) Have a safety Margin. You can never be sure that your valuation of a great business is correct. So always purchase stocks which are lower than your valuation in case you are overestimating its future sucess!

4) Be patient. Economies go through booms and busts. See 1)!

What about you guys? What investment ideas/philosophy do you guys subscribe to?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tip on Saving Money No. 1- Bookxcess

Love books? Audio books? Know someone who loves books and you need to get him/her a gift?

Check out: and the actual shop in in Amcorp Mall, PJ if you don't know about this great place, already!

Sign up for membership and they even give a discount of 5% on purchases above RM50, 10% for purchases over RM150 and above + updates on the latest books. Membership is free - Spend RM 100 and above and you get membership for 3 years.

It sells hardcovers, bestselllers, audio-books and much more at unbelievable prices. I once got a hardcover book for less than RM20.00.

Do note that the condition of the books may not be perfect but hey, at these prices, you'll do anything!

Full Disclosure : If you're wondering, no, I'm not getting paid to post this but this is just a great place to great deals on books. The selection may be lacking but they do get some bestsellers in and good self-help books in!

Stock Comment : Activision Blizzard (ATVI)- Hell, yeah!

There must not be a guy reading this who does not know Starcraft, WoW, Diablo, Warcraft RTS - All games produced by Blizzard which merged with Activision a few years ago. Activision are equally as famous for games such as Guitar Hero and Call of Duty (CoD).

So, it must be pretty natural for any guy to buy stocks of their favourite game maker, right? - ATVI (Activision Blizzard)

But sentiment alone is not enough! Let us have the numbers.

2.8 billion is cash! No debt! The business has generate 1.1 billion in free cashflow in 2009! That shows a fundamentally strong stock.

It has recently bought back a billion of its shares in 2009 and paid out a dividends of 1.4%. With that much money around, it has a few options: Pay a dividend, buy up its own shares, acquire a new company or plough it back into other products/R&D.

The upside? It has Diablo 3 coming out (fingers crossed!). Recently the latest COD Black Ops broke record sales - And they are planning to release COD 4 this year. They have 2 more campaigns of Starcraft 2 to milk (Zerg and Protoss Campaign). Millions are still hooked to World of Warcraft (WoW) and many more possibly after the latest expansion - Cataclysm.

Also, ATVI is able to produce digital goods to sell like hot cakes - ie: Creating limited edition in game steeds for their WoW characters and subscribers are willing to pay more for them!

There is plenty to look forward to!

The downside? 1) Mobile gaming has turned the idea of gaming upside down. Can people actually afford the time to play 'serious games'.

2)Games like WoW can't go on forever! It's so time consuming and most MMORPG eventually die off. Guitar Hero has grown kinda stale?

3)The market does not seem to love ATVI at the moment or at the Gaming market at the moment. In fact, ATVI has been trading in the USD 10-13 range the past year!

4) It has a rep of coming out with its game late! (10 years+ for SC2!)

My take?But as the economy takes off and with more titles coming out, there must be more growth ahead for this fundamentally sound company! It will take sometime for the market to realise this but one can hope it will be one ride up.

This is one stock many of us young Malaysians can relate to (ie: within our circle of competency)
and try to make money from!

Full Disclosure : Yes, Joe does owns shares in Activision Blizzard.

Money Managing Tip No. 1 - Taxes: Start Saving Reciepts

With the New Year, so comes the New Tax Year! While the end of April is a distance away..

Remember to start saving your receipts/bills to prove the following tax reliefs in case you need to prove them:

1) RM1000 for books, journals, magazines
2) Rm 300 for sports equipment -no, sorry gym membership not included
3) RM 3000 for purchase of a personal computer (once every 5 years) - Some people have asked whether I-pads are valid claim and the answer seems from the Inland Revenue Board is that yes, there is an arguable case to claim it.. so put it in!)

Start filing away those receipts!

Image Credit : TAX TIME3
Jcpjr |

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Introduction & Mission Statement

Welcome to my pet project, a Malaysian Finance Blog!

Um, so what makes it different from others? Well, it's for everyone! Yes, even you, the Auntie frying your favourite Char Kuay Teow!

I would like to make share this financial journey of mine of everyone and anyone to jump on board with me to share whatever gems they have on managing your money.

My journey thus has been far:

After returning from studying abroad, I am currently employed in a Law Firm. In the meantime, I got together with a bunch of ex-uni mates to start an investment club to share investment ideas seeing how we were young and keen to increase the returns of our savings.

Fast forward one year later, and well.. to be honest, nothing much came out from it. But then I thought: Hey, why not reach out to more people and also put into action all these things I have read? Don't we all learn better when we try to share it out? I have always been a firm believer than the more willing we are to give, the more we will get in return.

So, I set out to come out with a Blog for Joes. Joes as in Everyone. Joe the Plumber, Joe Six Pack, and of course not to be gender discriminating (art 8 of our constitution) Jane Doe!

In fact, here's my Mission Statement:


1) To Increase Financial Literacy - Funny isn't it how we spend 15+ years studying about everything except how to manage our money? Shouldn't Financial Literacy be as talked as much as say Math, English, History! With the numbers of people going bankrupt rising quickly with the ease of availability of credit, we should be educating our young on how to manage their finances/debt and spending.

2) Make Investment/Financial Literacy Interesting and Fun! -

3) A Forum to Exchange Ideas on Investments in Malaysia and Abroad.

4) Exchange ideas on everything to do with Managing your Money.Got a simple tip on saving money like say using pandan leaves for your car's air freshener share it! E-mail me! I will give all credit will be given where it's due!
Or where the best promotions/offers/deals, share it!Go for it- Email me again. Please, no Scams.

5) Full and Complete Disclosure. If I own shares or have something direct to gain from the advice/"tip" given, I will disclose completely and not trade in the aforementioned share the next 3 trading days. I do not endorse hyping up a share for one's gain.

So here, I go! Hope you continue to keep an eye on this blog!

I soon hope to be on Twitter/FB and get a RSS feed up ASAP!

Stay tuned!


DISCLAIMER: This Blog is at best merely the opinion of one long term investor (who at times may be overdosed with caffeine!) who is intent on sharing what advice he has read/received but is not to be construed as financial advice/recommendation to buy/sell. Any action taken following the analysis, commentary, information from the posts is ultimately your responsibility. Please consult professional financial advice and do your own due diligence before making any investment decisions.