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Sell in May and go away strategy: Why not a contrarian view?

The old saying sell in May and go away strategy seemed to have taken its toll this year when STI was sharply sold down from 2960.78 on 21st April to 2730.8 on 6th May 2016, a drop of 230 points, representing about 5.8% decrease on the ST index. After that, there appeared to be an increase in volatility as the bull and the bear tussled to tip over each other. By the end of today, after approximately 3 weeks of trading or so, the ST index ended at 2791.06, a mere increase of 60 points from 6th May.

According to The Straits Times (ST, 30 May 2016), it happened four out of five times in the last five years. If that view still holds true, then would it not be interesting for us to take a contrarian view and buy into the market when we bade farewell to the last ship that left us. And, of course, if they do return going forward, we can slowly sell back to the market.

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Frankly, taking advantage of this apparently universal ‘market theory’, I was actually a net buyer in the month of May. After all, isn’t it important that to gain from stocks, we should either be ahead of the market or, if we are courageous enough, even to act against the market movement. Otherwise, we are just a market follower moving up and down with the market. When market tanks, we lose; and when the market roars, we win. That said, I bought back some of the stocks that I had sold in April such as Jardine C&C and IPC to pocket the difference and yet maintain my original exposure in these stocks. In other words, I ‘squared off’ my position.

Hopefully, I am well-positioned when there is a big buy to propel the market. There could, however, be a stumbling block this year as the spectre of higher interest rate can derail this strategy. Big investors and fund managers may not return any time soon as they go in search of better yield elsewhere especially when local economic outlook still looks uncertain. Should such an event happens, it would affect the market liquidity. Accordingly, we should expect the spread between lending and saving to widen, thereby benefiting the bank stocks. With the cash return from OSIM, following the privatization plan by its chairman and CEO, Mr Ron Sim, I had also increased my stake in the bank stocks. However, one has to be careful about over-exposures in bank stocks in an increasing interest rate environment as non-performance loans (NPL) will also increase as well. If the interest rate continues to perk up, it will come to a time when the deteriorating asset quality will overwhelm the benefits of higher interest margin.

Happy investing!

Disclaimer:

This article is not a recommendation or an advice to buy/sell the mentioned stocks. It is a sharing of his opinions with the readers.

Brennen has been investing in the stock market for 26 years. He trains occasionally and is a managing partner for BP Wealth Learning Centre. He is also the author of the book – “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks” which is available in both soft and hardcopy.

Making sense out of this market

The interest in the stock market returned with a vengeance over the last 6 trading days. By Friday yesterday, it had ended at 2837, an increase of 234 points from the closing at 2603.40 on 25 February. This represented an increase of 9% on the ST index. Imagine if one were to continue to wait in hope that index tanked further, then he would have missed this rally. It may be the best rally for this year.  Thanks to this changing global sentiment, I managed to pick up some battered blue-chip stocks after the Chinese new year to add to my portfolio. This is in anticipation of additional liquidity that will come April and May when companies distribute out their year-end dividend.

The fact that stock markets all over the world were retreating in the last two months was that people were generally fearful about the world economy – the retreat of commodity prices, the collapse of crude oil prices and that the Chinese economy growth rate slowed to 6.9% was the worst in the last 25 years. Similarly, the European as well as the Japanese economies were only trudging along even with huge stimulation packages. Naturally there is a lot of pessimism over the local economy that led to a huge retreat in the ST index over the last two months in January and February.

As pointed in my book “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks”, markets tend to undershoot the pessimistic outlook (and of course it also tends to overshoot during massive optimism at the other extreme). Consequently, windows of opportunity will present themselves time and again. Take DBS for example. Six months ago, it was trading at around $20 per share, but it fell to $13 per share just recently, a drop of about 35%. In between, there were only two quarterly of reporting. Were the results that bad for the share to tank so much? I am not saying that DBS share cannot drop to $13 if it really did badly. What I am saying is that the market tends to anticipate too much before it really happens. And when things were not as bad or when there were some signs of good news, it would start to leap forward. That was exactly what I mentioned in my earlier post (Market rout: A test of our mental fortitude.) that the market is likely to roar with ferocity because the market had already dropped too much.

 

Let us examine the stock market index. About 20 years ago, if the ST Index were to reach 2500, we can safely say that it had reached its high. But today, if ST index 2600 level, it would be have been considered it as a historical low. There were only two occasions since global finance crisis in 2008/2009 that had hit below 2600, namely the euro-zone crisis in 2011 as well as after the collapse of oil prices recently. Again, it is of course possible that the ST index can go lower than 2600 and even 2500 and below, but it is important to note that stock indices represent the value of a sample of selected companies. As stock indices retreat, values of companies will emerge because market is “under-pricing” the value of companies more and more. Stock prices are driven by sentiments, and very often, the market may become so pessimistic that it starts to price themselves grossly below companies’ intrinsic value thus causing big price differences between stock values and stock prices. Consequently, when the sentiment changes, the bounce back becomes forceful. Now that this force had already pushed up the stock index significantly, perhaps the strength to push up the index further may start to weaken or even collapse going forward.

Invest carefully now.

Brennen has been investing in the stock market for 26 years. He trains occasionally and is a managing partner for BP Wealth Learning Centre. He is also the author of the book – “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks” which is available in both soft and hardcopy.

Banks may be cheap now, but…

Cash is king. Yes, during financial turmoil like this when stock markets all over the world are sinking, having cash is the key. According to The Straits Times on 20 January 2016, just last year alone, about US$735 billion left emerging market. China accounted for $676 billion which formed the bulk of the outflow. Similarly, the fund inflow last year was about US$231 billion against US$1.2 billion per year from 2010 to 2014.

On the corporate front, banks are natural victims during times of liquidity crunch too. Most bank share prices have sunk more than 30% from their recent high when the ST index hit 3500. Right now, banks are trading near or below their book value (BV). Exactly, five months ago, I had written in my blog that there was always a possibility that banks might start to raise funds through rights issue if the turmoil persists. So far, none of the banks have raised alarm, but still it is possible if banks deem it fit to do so. After all, there were past precedence of fund raising activities during financial crises. For example, DBS raised S$4.2b in end 2008 through 1-2 rights issue. Similarly, OCBC and UOB raised $1 billion each through preference shares issue. In a similar way, during Asian financial crisis in 1998, DBS acquired the POSB. Looking ahead, it is still a possibility especially during such times when other banks or companies may fall into bad times. Such huge fund raising activities can come in handy for future acquisitions.

Brennen has been investing in the stock market for 26 years. He trains occasionally and is a managing partner for BP Wealth Learning Centre. He is also the author of the book – “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks” which is available in both soft and hardcopy.

If this stock market turmoil ends up in a liquidity crunch, do you know what the banks will do?

During the times when there is liquidity crunch, such as now when there is an impending interest rate hike in US or when there is a  stock market rout in the region, what is the most important thing for the banks? Yes, CASH at hand! When there is an extreme liquidity crunch, the banks will tend to play it safe. Whether or not they are going to use it, raising cash is the most important thing to do during such times.

Historically, there were many precedences. During 1998, when there was the Asian Financial Crisis, DBS bought POSB. It was the people’s bank with a huge amount of deposits. The main lending activities of POSB at that time was mainly in secured lending such as housing loans and the deposits at that time was huge.

In the recent global financial crisis in 2008, DBS raised S$4.2 billion through rights issue. Seven hundred and sixty (760) million rights were offered at $5.42c, a hefty discount of 45% from the last day trading price of $9.85. Each right was offered at 1:2 basis, meaning 1 right for every 2 shares owned.

In parallel OCBC went into offering preference shares at $100 per share in August 2008. To sweeten the deal, the dividend was offered at 5.1%, a rate way above bank’s interest rate even until today. OCBC raised $1 billion from that exercise. Following that move, UOB also followed suit with the same offering but at a slightly lower rate of 5.05%. UOB also raised about $1billion from the exercise.

In such times, when people are fearful and cashing out of the stock market, this appeared to be the best time for the banks to raise cash. After all, with bank interest rate at historical low couple with the stock market turmoil, many investors are looking to park their encashed money in safe instruments that offer sufficiently good returns. With the bank’s brand name and offering good dividend payout, it is possible for the banks to raise funds with relative ease.

What do the banks do with those money? Well, during market turmoils is one of the best opportunities for the banks. It is a question of survival of the fittest. Many so-called ‘fantastic companies’ will not be trading at historically fire-sale prices unless during such times. Remember that Astra, was one of the crown-jewel of the Indonesia companies before the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis. It was forced to sell its shares to Cycle and Carriage (C&C) before C&C was taken over by the Jardine group. If the shares of Astra had not been sold to C&C, Astra would not have been in existence or could have been disintegrated into smaller companies. Who knows Danamon Bank in Indonesia may be up for sale once again with better selling conditions. The last time, when the deal fell through was in 2013, when the Indonesian regulators allowed only to a maximum cap of 40%. DBS, on the other hand, was looking into acquiring 67.37% (for a price tag of $542.4m) which will ultimately trigger it to make a take-over offer of the bank.

Shareholders, in particular those who hold blue-chips, should maintain your liquidity now. You may be put in a situation to acquire rights or preference shares at a steep discount. Perhaps if you look at it in a long-term basis, it may not a bad deal. When the good times come back again, maybe you are rewarded with 500 DBS shares or 1000 OCBC shares as dividend in its yearly dividend distribution exercise.

(Brennen Pak has been a stock investor for more than 26 years. He is the Principal Trainer of BP Wealth Learning Centre LLP. He is the author of the book “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks.”) – The ebook version may be purchased via www.investingnote.com.

Market psychology – Are we at the market bottom?

Many people seemed to believe that the market is low now because we tend to anchor the stock price at where the stock price is at its maximum. Just a few months ago, it was 3500 on the STI and now we are at 3050. DBS, a good proxy for the local economy, was recently at its high around $21.50 a few months ago. Right now, it is trading at $18.70 and it appears sufficiently low  to buy. After all, the difference is a whopping $2.80 per share. But things have changed. The economic fallout in China and the falling currencies in ASEAN countries will shift the fundamentals leading to the steep fall the share price. Brace tight! The market has not bottom out yet. It should undershoot(1).

(1) See investing psychology on Building Wealth Together Through Stocks.

(Brennen Pak has been a stock investor for more than 26 years. He is the Principal Trainer of BP Wealth Learning Centre LLP. He is the author of the book “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks.”) – The ebook version may be purchased via www.investingnote.com.

 

 

DBS- script dividend is out of money

DBS announced the script dividend of $0.60 per share at a conversion of $20.99 per share. This was established during the book clourse around the end April 2015. In the month of May 2015, the share price had been higher than $21 per share for the first half of May 2015, but of late if has slide below $21.00. With the script dividend conversion rate of $20.99, it should be out of money if the shareholders chose to take script dividend and held till today. Given that DBS does not give discount to entice shareholders to take script dividend, I still prefer to take cash, and when the opportunity is right, to use the cash dividend to buy shares from open market at a much lower price. In this way, I would not have odd lots of shares and at the same time enjoys an opportunity to buy DBS shares at a lower price.

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Perhaps, it’s high time that DBS should consider a discount when distributing script dividend and, more importantly, to increase its dividend payout given that dividend has been flattish for a long, long time. With the increasing share price, the dividend yield is dwindling fast. The dividend of $0.60 over a share price of about $21 per share puts the dividend yield below 3%.

(Brennen Pak has been a stock investor for more than 25 years. He is the Principal Trainer of BP Wealth Learning Centre LLP. He is the author of the book “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks.”) – The ebook version may be purchased via www.investingnote.com.

OCBC – script dividend in the money

Recently, OCBC announced the distribution of scrip dividend in lieu of cash dividend. Its dividend was $0.18 per share and the bank had established a conversion rate of $9.50 per share, a discount to on-going share price. Given the discount to the prevailing share price, the scrip dividend has been ‘in-the-money’. Those shareholders who opted for script dividend would have gained much more than the original dividend if he had held the stocks till today.  With the current share price of about $10.36, the share holders would have gained $0.86 per share for the dividend that they held in scripts. In fact, script dividend can be a powerful compounding tool if the share price increase gradually over the years.

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 (Brennen Pak has been a stock investor for more than 25 years. He is the Principal Trainer of BP Wealth Learning Centre LLP. He is the author of the book “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks.”) – The ebook version may be purchased via www.investingnote.com.

OCBC – share price 1 April 2015 to 24 June 2015

In class, we had established that the share price of OCBC should intrinsically at about $12.18 per share in view of its consistent dividend growth over the years. But this does not mean that students should go and buy at any price so long as it is below $12 per share. In fact, ever since its share split into two shares for every one held more than 10 years ago, the share price of OCBC has never breached $12 mark. It managed to cross $11 only very briefly in the past one year or so. For the past three months, it has been relatively range-bound between $9.94 to $10.92. Even the word range-bound is still an over-statement because the price range works out to be about 10% difference between the high and low of the past three months.

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Frankly, if we believe that we want to keep OCBC for a long time, or any stock for that matter, it is important to monitor and study the entry point (perhaps the use of TA) or to establish that the environment has already priced down the near-term weakness. For example, the CEO had established that mentioned that higher inter-bank rate does not easily translate to higher net interest margin (NIM), causing the share price to cool to below $10 recently. If we had bought the shares at below $10, that we help us increase the dividend yield and with a higher chance of capital appreciation without any trade-off in risk. Even if a investor did not enjoy the bi-annual dividend distribution of $0.18/share, he gets to enjoy a capital appreciation of about $0.36 in appreciation to date.

 

(Brennen Pak has been a stock investor for more than 25 years. He is the Principal Trainer of BP Wealth Learning Centre LLP. He is the author of the book “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks.”) – The ebook version may be purchased via www.investingnote.com.

 

Singapore banks – Net interest margins (NIM)

Much fanfare has been thrown on banks’ net interest margin (NIM) as the impending interest rates hike seemed to gain traction. As it is, our interest rate lags behind the US interest rates, and it is only a matter of time that our interest rates go upwards as well. As banks are in the business of lending, it is natural that the banks are the likely beneficiaries of interest rate hikes. This leads to an active interest in the bank shares in Q4 2014. The share price of the local bank, namely, DBS, OCBC and UOB were up between 7.4% and 11.8%.

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Predictably, in the months that followed, the 3-month SIBOR were increasing. In March 2015, the 3-month SIBOR hit 0.9% and then 1.02% in April 2015. However, as of 29 May 2015, the last trading day of May 2015, the 3-month SIBOR was only at 0.83%. Even though the quarterly financial results of our banks showed significant increase both on y-o-y and q-o-q bases, the NIM were actually quite disappointing for DBS and OCBC. OCBC’s NIM reduced by 5bp on q-o-q and 8bp on y-o-y. DBS’s NIM increased by 3bp y-o-y, but dropped by 2bp q-o-q. This bagged a question whether the interest rate hike is really gaining traction, or it is too early to tell.

Here are the possible outcomes with the interest rate hikes:

a.   The existing borrowers of bank loans such as the business and individual borrowers are subject to higher loan rates, which effectively benefit the banks. It is possible that these borrowers look for alternative sources of funds, but sources are limited as general interest rate environment increases.

b.   New borrowers have less propensity to borrow, as the interest payments become more costly. There may also be some pockets of borrowers who decide cash out their assets or to sell out other assets to pay off their loans, thus causing a net decrease in borrowing. There may even be possible that some cash-rich borrowers decide to reduce their cash holdings to redeem their loans.

c.   The impending interest rate hike may put off borrowings of some ‘marginal borowers’, thus causing the banks’s net borrowing to decrease. This may have resulted in the decrease in the 3-month SIBOR. However, it may be too early to tell at this moment.

d.   The interest hike may result in more non-performance loans (NPL) which negate the benefits of the interest rate hike for the banks.

The valuation of DBS is included in the latest book – “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks”. The methodology can be read across to other banks. 

(Brennen Pak has been a stock investor for more than 25 years. He is the Principal Trainer of BP Wealth Learning Centre LLP. He is the author of the book “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks.”) – The ebook version may be purchased via www.investingnote.com.

DBS – the XD price drop suggests potential upside

DBS stock went XD on Monday, 27 April 2015. The stock price fell 20c when it went XD. It enjoyed 4 successful days of rises before 27 April 2015. The dividend distribution was 30c, whilst the dop was 20c. This indicates that more people are unwilling let go of DBS shares even after receiving the final dividned of 30c per share.

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In fact, as seen from the prices rise yesterday to $20.99 and today to $21.05, it shows that investors believe there is upside potential.

 

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(Brennen Pak has been a stock investor for more than 25 years. He is the Principal Trainer of BP Wealth Learning Centre LLP. He is the author of the book “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks.”)