Tag Archives: stock investments.

Stock investing – The need for mindset change (1)

In the discussion during a webinar that spanned over 2 hours yesterday evening, it was a natural progression that participants touched on the subject related to Straits Times Index (STI) movement. Almost all the participants lamented that the STI has been at its high now and that some stocks are also trading at their historical high. Many were concerned they might be holding the last baton if they buy stocks at this time.

It is a fact. At this level above 3500, the STI is within 10% of its all-time high of 3,822.62 made on 30 September 2007. Yesterday, it closed at 3,512.14 even though it had retreated for the past three days in succession. The general view was that the STI was high, and it was better to wait for it to retreat to a comfortable level before one should invest again. This is the general sentiment of the small sample of participants and I believe many investors out there think like-wise too. This is particularly true in a relatively well-protected Singapore, whereby entrepreneur spirit ranks low and the willingness to take risk is almost non-existent. Many investors get into the stock market with a mindset of maximum return together with low risk, or better still, zero risk. Perhaps, they would only lay their hands to buy stocks when it retreats to below 3,000 level. So, the whole situation becomes a waiting game. In fact, some time ago, there was someone in a social media mentioning that he would only buy when the STI falls to 1,800, when at that time, the STI was probably at around 2,700 level. I am not sure if he is still waiting till today. If he does, then he has missed out one of the best run-ups in STI in the recent years. From a level of 2,700, many good stocks like DBS, Venture and OCBC have advanced at least 35% by now. (In fact, 35% could be an under-statement if we include the dividends that were paid out in all these years.) My point here is that this. Sometimes, our mind gets too microscopic zooming too much on the highs of the index that we have forgotten the fact that behind the rise in the index are component stocks whose earnings have been breaking new highs for several years. The growth in their earnings are not just 1-2%, but at phenomenal growth in double-digits. Even some non-index components stocks also did well over the past few years.

To illustrate my point further, let us look at the Dow Jones Industrial Index (DJII). During Mr Bill Clinton’s presidency term between 1993 and 2001, US enjoyed one the best stock market run. The DJII advanced from less than 3,500 to more than 10,000 by 2001. In percentage terms, the index advanced 200%, so worrying a trend that the FED chair at that time, Mr Alan Greenspan, coined the term “irrational exuberance “, to reflect the extreme market optimism at that time. He was extremely concerned that the market optimism could have run well ahead of the real economy. But then, how is it today? The Dow Jones at this level has been another 15,000 (150%) higher than the 10,000 made in 2001, despite several disruptions like US, DOT-COM burst in 2000, recession in 2001, terrorists attack on the New York World Trade Centre and the global financial crisis in 2008/2009. By the same argument the high of STI at 2,500 some 20 years ago would have been considered extremely low based on today’s STI level. So, in essence, stock market high today does not mean that it cannot set a new high somewhere in future. In fact, if the stock market does not break new high from time to time, then we have a bigger cause to worry. It may mean that the economy has stalled and all our assets, apart from the stocks that we hold, are at risk. Even if we were to divest all our assets and hold them in cash would not help either. The Singapore dollar by then would have depreciated significantly in the foreign exchange market.

So, in essence, we should not let the high of STI intimidate us to think that it should fall in the near future. It is possible, but it is not necessary. Certainly, when the index approaches its all-time high, there will be some resistance as some investors would definitely held back their purchases. But over time, so long as the economy is chugging along and companies are reporting profits, it is possible that new highs be attained. After all, since the global financial crisis, wall street has made new highs at least 40 times, shared between Obama and Trump presidency terms.

Disclaimer – The above arguments are the personal opinions of the writer. It is not a recommendation to buy or sell the mentioned securities, the indices or any ETFs or unit trusts related to the mentioned indices. 

Brennen has been investing in the stock market for 28 years. He trains occasionally and is a managing partner for BP Wealth Learning Centre. He is the instructor for two online courses on InvestingNote – Value Investing: The Essential Guide and Value Investing: The Ultimate Guide. He is also the author of the book – “Building Wealth Together Through Stocks” which is available in both soft and hardcopy.

If we missed the best stock upsides

Today marks a little more than one month after Donald Trump won the US election. When he first won the election, the market at first reacted negatively, followed by a strong rally and then tapered off in the last two days. The banking stocks, in particular, were the biggest beneficiaries of this rally. DBS has advanced from about $15.20 to a high of $18.32 and then settled at $17.83, an increase of $2.63 or about 17.3%. Similarly Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) had also advanced $0.73 or 8.6% from $8.53 to $9.26. United Overseas Bank (UOB) also showed a significant increase of $2.31 or about 12.4% from $18.59 to $20.90. Of course, if one holds the bank stocks, the return for this month alone is extremely significant.

Despite the rally, many people still asked the same question just a few days ago– DBS bank, can still buy now? Does it mean that these people missed boarding a stationary wagon and is now chasing a moving one? Actually, if we look at the bank stocks, in particular DBS, it has been parking below $16 for many months, right from the beginning of the year or even before. Why do we need to wait for it to move up to chase it? Why can’t we buy it at our own pace and wait for the rising tide to raise our boat?  It appeared logical right now in hindsight, but seemed to be an irrational decision when the share price was oscillating between $15 and $16 per share for a long time. Very often, when a stock or the market rallies, the onset is often the sharpest and this is when the smaller players start to take note. By the time when one start to confirm, double confirm, triple confirm, a significant part of the upside has already been priced in the stock. So by the time retail investors start to buy into the market, perhaps there is only the last 20-30% upside. We always come across a statement to the effect that if we missed the best 10 trading days, our stock performance would just appear ordinary. Worse still, it could even be negative performance despite that the STI moved up significantly. To me, stock market has a place for both big and small players. Big players cannot play like a small player and a small player cannot afford to play like a big player. Big players buy into the market to cause the market rally, but the advantage of small players is to be able to buy into stocks without causing big ripples in the stock market. That’s where we should play to our advantage. Remember that our wealth is not just measured by the amount of money we have in the bank. Our wealth is measure by the sum of our cash, stocks, properties and whatever assets that we possess.  So, there is no need to be in cash all the time. It is important to engage the stock market all the time than to wake up only when the rally has already been well underway.

Happy investing!

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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.



于同样说法,一家公司可能每年都取得正数净利,但是现金一直没有流入,那家公司如果还没倒闭就可能已经摔入一段非常艰难的日子。 以下是我教育中心给一家在新加坡交易所上市公司所整合的数字。通常我们在年度报表只能取得两年贯的数据,所能看到的信息非常浅薄,所以本中心特意为上课的学生设置合计版才能够更深厚了解公司的动向。图案的一览表数据正是我从合计版所取出的讯息。


为了避免读者能够寻出讯息背后的公司,本人特地把真实的股价乘上了一个定数。这样,读者才能够于非常中立的目光探讨所呈上的讯息。如果我们只是单靠每年所发出的两年贯报表买入股票,我们所采取的买卖策略有大可能非常不理想: 一卖就跌,再买又跌,逢买逢跌。因为近几年来公司股价一落千丈,从2011 年每股$3.00 的高峰掉到2014年的$0.60,跌幅百分之八十。公司最近的股价更显著低迷,已经跌破了每股 $0.35 的大关。





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 we want to be in the stock market, we have to accept the volatility


I saw this interesting short passage in a forum asking for stock recommendations. Let us call him Mr A. Needless to say, Mr A is hoping to get some easy resturns. He claimed to be a retiree, and was ‘concern of the volatility except for blue-chips’.  Frankly, if we want to be in the stock market, be prepared for volatility. It does not matter whether they are blue chips, mid-caps or penny stocks. As claim that blue-chips are not volatile, I don’t think so. They are just as volatile. Even extremely high-price stocks like Jardine C&C can move 80c to $1 on certain days. The banks can move between 40c to 60c in a single day. Aren’t they very volatile as well?  Mr Market has no eyes. He does not know whether you are a young rookie or a veteran player. What Mr Market knows is that he has to move every single day. Stocks move up and down depending on company performance, sector plays, economic outlook and general sentiments. In fact, at the point of writing, the super-penny stocks are starting to move. These super-penny stocks, generally, plagued by high debts and low profitability, seemed to be moving up! I am quite sure if the super-penny stocks are moving for a while, Mr A would forget what he says in the forum and start to follow the market, right?

Generally, a player who asks for a recommendation do not have a proper investing strategy nor discipline to trade properly. In other words, he does not do his due diligence. He simply moves from stocks to stocks. By the time he catched on the news, monitored for a while and finally moved in what was considered a ‘perfect timing’, he might be in to hold the last baton. Just by reading that short passage, I can tell that Mr A has some limiting beliefs sub-consciously, eg. penny stocks are volatile, blue chips are expensive and perhaps time-frames are too long. If Mr A gets into a stock, he expects the stock to move up wthin a week. Otherwise, the one who recommended him is considered to be ‘buay zhun (不准)’  In fact, there are never short of stocks recommendations out there. Whether in investingnote, in Facebook or any social media, we can see many stocks being mentioned. He could have easily follow one of these recommendations to do his trade. But, do be careful, these trades do not come with responsibility. After all, you do not pay ‘the expert’ when you gain, so why do you blame him when he makes a wrong call. Remember this, even if the recommendations were accurate, they may be suitable for the expert in terms of cost, time-frame and trade frequencies, but it does not mean that it is also suitable for Mr A.  In fact, the very good ones may be the ones who were quietly doing their trades and laughing on the way to the bank, who knows?

Instead of looking around for recommendations to gain quick money, it may be important for Mr A to know himself better. (知彼知己、百战仍不殆) In fact nobody knows better than he himself in terms of how deep is his own pocket, his investing holding period, expected return, the extent of the volatility he can stomach etc. Mr A probably can do better by focusing on a watchlist of say 10-15 stocks, and be ‘expert’ in those stocks. Day-in and day-out work on those stocks. Perhaps, he can gain signifintly from there.

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