Tag Archives: OCBC

Yield hungry? We need to change of our investing paradigm

The much anticipated interest rate hike in December had caused a sharp recent drop in the price of REITs recently. Many REITs are now trading at the 2016 low, retreating generally about 7-10% from its peak level at 2016 high and around 15-20% from their all-time high. During the low interest rate environment like in the past few years, many have seen buying into REITs as a no-brainer investment, with yield of between 5% and 8% of passive income, depending on the type of REITs. With the recent falls, many people see them as opportunities. Whether, these REITs are going to be good investments…well, seriously, I do not know. It is too early to tell. There are actually several other factors apart from the REITs price itself to determine if one is buying into a gem. The income of a REIT can fall drastically because state of economy or a change in the customer mindset, resulting in a drastic fall in the DPU going forward. The REIT manager could also take advantage of the generally depressed property price to add more properties into the REIT portfolio or it could be the REIT has some issue with re-financing such that it has to issue rights at depressed price to get existing unit-holders to support the corporate action. All these could happen with swipe of a pen, to get existing unit-holders to fork out more funds instead of the note-holders getting passive incomes out of the REIT.

In fact, by now many bond-holders or note-holders have experienced rude shocks of bond prices falling off the cliff. Several offshore and marine notes are now trading 35-40 cents on a dollar, erasing two-third of the value. Yes, the note holders had enjoyed 6%-7% in the last one or two good years of coupon distribution, but these returns simply are not able to offset the huge fall in the bond price. Many note-holders are now having legal tussles with the note-issuers. These tussles will take months and even years to resolve with no guarantee that note-holders can get their money back.  After all, it is a situation of a willing buyer and a willing seller when the transaction was made. The promise of high return is bundled together with the risk that the issuer could get into a default.

With the local low interest cycle apparently coming to an end, there came a herd of companies trying to tap into pockets retail investors by issuing notes and perpetual bonds with seemingly high coupon rate ranging between 4.5% and 6% in the first half of the year. These companies are highly indebted. The reality came when Swiber Holdings default its coupon payment in July 2016 and all these bond prices are now trading below the IPO issued prices. Even before the first coupon was issued for all these bonds, the yield has already shot up showing that retail investors are probably paying too much in exchange for the risk assumed. In fact, those that missed the over-subscribed IPOs enjoyed a better yield by buying from the open market. However, the crux of the matter is whether any of these companies will default. It is still too early to know. But we do know that these companies are highly indebted and may get into serious financial trouble when the interest rate perks up.   

 

With the spectre of interest hikes coming up soon, investors are now off-loading interest rate–sensitive financial assets in exchange for safer assets such as bank stocks, which are said to benefit when interest rate rises. After all, the bank stocks just one week ago, were trading either below book value or close to book value. But again, this is just a flight to safety. While the banks delivered fairly good results in this quarter, it is not expected that they would perform extremely well going forward given the state of the economy and their exposure to the offshore and marine sector. But still, over a short span of a few days, the banks shot up between 3.5% and 8%. While I am generally happy with this situation due to the components of my portfolio, the interest rate increase may be a double-edged sword for the banks. It’s not the time to be too aggressive.

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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.

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.

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.