Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stock transactions and portfolio summary Nov 08










Singpost: $625(FY 08, quarterly dividends of 0.125 cents/share)




In Nov 08, I did not trade and only received $625 dividends from Singpost.

US rallied 7.7% and STI 6% for the past week making some to think that it may be the beginning of a bull rally. I personally think that fundamentals have gotten worse and it is still a tad too early to look for bargains.

I have been looking at REITs lately and found that at the peak of office rental this year, grade A office commands about $17 psf, compared to about $4 psf during the Sars period. The office rent has gone up more than 400% over the past 5 years. If we were to be pessimistic and factor in the over supply of office spaces, REITs have to fall another 40% from current levels to justify the expectations of rental fall.

I will be expected to exceed my monthly target of $1000 investment income upon receiving $9,310 SPH and $200 DBS dividends in Dec. I will give a brief summary of my realized gains in end Dec.

I have about $12,000 of free cash waiting for more opportunities to enter the market. As mentioned last month, my next entry point will be when STI is below 1400 points, while I conserve more cash.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Today two Christians paid a random house visit to me, attempting to preach and convince me to accept God. We had a rather interesting discussion, as they provide me with evidence of God’s existence. I am no atheist and I keep an open mind to everything.

I remember asking several interesting questions like:

If on the basis that everything we see, hear and touch can justify the existence of God, then who created God?

Can a circular logic of “because there is A, thus there is God; because there is God, thus there is A” be logically consistent and acceptable?

There are many things that cannot be explained in science, but let me give you an analogy. If I have a time machine and I travel back to caveman era, living behind my torchlight, the caveman who finds my torchlight will think that God appeared and gave him portable light, as he cannot explain otherwise. The point is, the history of Science is less than 100 years. Things that cannot be explained now cannot be attributed conveniently to the existence of a supreme being.

Why is there suffering if there is God?

I was told that all the signs point to the fact that God will soon be coming to save his followers. However, we have seen countless signs (e.g., food shortage, wars, famine, natural disasters) during the history of mankind. I would prefer to extrapolate and perceive that such phases will pass and come again, without a saviour.

The Christians gave long and well structured answers to my queries. Though at times I cannot agree with them, I am not rejecting the existence of God altogether. There are things that really, cannot be explained using words, though at the moment I am happy to be without a religion.

I really admire these Christians who remained steadfast in their beliefs and knock very door to spread their faith. I may not agree with them totally, but they often touched me with their unwavering determination. Life is also about accepting and respecting differences too right?

As Albert Einstein had said, education is to fill an empty mind to an open one. I remain open to be convinced of all possibilities.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


What happens when you innovate and move out from your comfort zone?

Ikea: Competition with mail-order firms led to its first showroom. Boycotts by suppliers led to designing and building of house brand furniture. Problems with transportation? They came out with the flat pack concept. Lack of sales staff? The self-service concept was brought in.

Intel: Constantly innovating to encourage consumers to change computers. How? Intel makes its products twice as good by having the corporate target of doubling the speed of computer chips every two years.

Samsung: 40% of its employees are employed by R&D, looking for the next breakthrough. Deadlines are never changed, design teams volunteer to live and work 24/7 in their Innovation Centre. Perfection is pursued until results delivered. No wonder Samsung has over 1,600 patents each year, the industry’s lowest costs, highest profits and weekly announcements of the “world’s first” or “world’s best”.

What happens when you do not innovate and stay in your comfort zone?

GM, Ford, Chrysler: Renowned for building fuel-thirsty SUVs in a high fuel cost climate. Little efforts were made in developing fuel economy engines. They did not come together to stop unions from setting the minimum US$70 hourly wage. They waited for crisis to appear and sought help very much later, in their private jets. Their fate and 10% of US employees are extremely bleak due to lack of foresight and innovation by the management team.

Creative: Did not come out with innovative products after its legendary soundcard. Unable to compete with Apple in the MP 3 market due to its outdated and clumsy product design.

OSIM: Similar fate as Creative, except that it has to contest a lot of cheaper imitations which produce equally good health products. Moreover, massage chairs have lost its appeal as the initial allure of it fades.

Companies attempting to innovate:

SPH: Spent large amount of money to integrate its print media with the virtual media platform. Initiatives include: Classifieds portal ST 701, search engine rednano, Razor TV, STOMP, OMY and has hardware zone as its subsidiary. Bought over to enhance its reach to investors and compliment its business times online. It diversified into property development instead of simply selling its freehold land to developers.

Singpost: Started to leverage on its extensive network to provide pawn, remittance, financial, loans and insurance services. It has recently started offering child care, restaurants and retail services in its larger branches. Mail services are innovated to cater to different consumers’ needs.


It is definitely costly and risky to innovate. SPH went through an extremely rough patch when it tried to take on Mediacorp in the TV market. However, the failure did not stop them from innovating and keep in tandem with the changing market. Instead, they went on and diversified continually from their core operations and have never looked back. Failure to innovate will likely to result in eventual closure of a company. GM, Ford have more than 100 years of operating history; Creative and Chartered shares cost the sky, years ago, yet these companies are brought down to their knees because of their stale products.

So you see, innovate!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fortune Telling Part 2 (Final)

Part 2 is rather short as the FT basically summarises my fortune within each 5 year intervals in my life, from one year old onwards.

To my surprise, he had accurately (80%) predicted the ups and downs of my life from one till twenty nine. He can even recite the problems I have with my boss and aware that I am under tremendous stress this year. Words of comfort were given and he assured that life will be much better next year. (Probably those who seek fortune tellers are entering rough patches!)

My worst year in my life will be in 2012, year of Dragon. I need to see him for consultation to “pu3 gua4” on how to advert the crisis. In fact, for the next 10 years from 2012, I will be entering an extended rough patch. I must not be involved in dangerous occupations and be extremely careful. Good fortune will only resume in 2023.

How much do I believe in the $50 fortune telling? I must say I am sitting on the fence. My teacher definitely does not know anything about my life and work problems hence prior “information leakage” is unlikely.

If the fortune teller is just guessing, the odds are high against him to be precise in his predictions.

Anyhow, I believe that my life and fate is in my hands. As long as I exercise regularly, stay healthy, be optimistic and happy, I am sure I can triumph over whatever challenges that confront me.

I choose how to live life and not submit to destiny!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fortune Telling Part 1

I went for fortune telling yesterday, after some persuasion from my aunt. My ex-teacher happened to be the son-in-law of a fortune teller and after listening several times of his FIL’s outstanding predictions, I decided to seek advice after years of procrastination.

It sounds unbelievable but I still went ahead as I am curious to know what my future holds.

The fortune teller (FT) started by asking my date and time of birth. Then he went on to give advice:

He admitted frankly that my life is rather weak. Based on my 8 characters, I belonged to the fire element. However, I have an overwhelming water and gold element which is detrimental to my well-being. Gold grows water and water destroys fire. He went on to give specific advice to different aspects of my life:

Career: As I belong to the fire element, I should be doing work they revolves around wood (W) and fire (F) elemental. This includes: furniture business (W), music instruments (W), book keeping(W); restaurateur (F), computer based work (F), police and army officers (F), electrical engineering (F). I should avoid being a fireman, coffeeshop owner or be involved in water and steel related industries such as sailor or rigs building.

He has advised me to change my current job even though it belongs to the wood element, as it requires expending tremendous “chi” in the process which is detrimental to my health.

Family: As for my family, he is not exactly accurate on this aspect but the takeaway advice is to listen to my mother.

Money: This is the least accurate aspect. He said that I am destined to have a lot of money but I will also spend it rather quickly perhaps on unnecessary items. This is probably because money comes easily for me. I did not rebuke him directly, but I did spend a lot of money trying to make more money with little results though! He did ask me to be thriftier.

Considering my spending habits, I do think I am either a saver or miser! Who is still using a 2001 Acer computer these days? My monitor was borrowed and subsequent given for free by my friend after the old one broke down after 5 years.

Here is a glimpse of my monthly expenses:

Hence, perhaps he meant that I should spend less on investment!

Marriage: As I have a lot of gold element in my life, I should have a lot of wives if I were born in the olden times. However, this doesn’t bode well for a modern person. I do not know how to cherish woman and will usually end up liking someone else in the end.

His prediction is rather accurate here as I shared my love history with him. He advised me to get married the year after as my Ms Right will appear next year. I must control my behaviour or I will be involved in extra marital affairs.

Health: According to my 8 characters, I should be careful of strenuous exercises as it affects the heart (fire element). The most attention I should pay to is my blood, kidney and bladder which all belong to my nemesis element—Water.

Colours: My lucky colours are green (W) and red (F). I should avoid white (gold), black (water) and blue (water).

There is a lot of advice that I can’t crystallize and put them into words at the moment.

Will try to pen down part 2 when I have time.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Carrying $70,000 spare cash daily

I always have friends commenting on carrying around a thick wallet which looks rather sloppy and uncool. Today as I was sorting out my wallet, I was appalled by the excess items I was carrying. The majority was credit cards.

As you can see, I have too many credit cards! Assuming an average of $8,000 credit limit from each bank, I effectively bring more than $70,000 out everyday! If I were to lose my wallet, I may have to write down this loss if all cards were max out to the credit limit.


Why do I need so many credit cards? Most were applied out of fun and freebies. They do not serve much use nor do I use them to obtain credit. I generally only use the Citibank dividend card for most of my purchases and would only use other banks’ credit cards when there is a special tie up with other retail shops.

The other cards in my wallet include:


Popular card

ATM card

EZ Link

Passion Card (to earn link points)

I have decided to just keep 2 credit cards in my wallet for security purposes.

PS: As I do not have a digital camera, the above picture was taken by my trusty 2 mega pixels nokia camera phone. Apologies for the “poor” shot! (double entendre intended)