Friday, August 26, 2016

Random thoughts: Recent retail experince

Recently, I need to set up a photo booth for my mid-autumn event. I needed a backdrop. It cost $250, it is a plain sky blue color cloth with stands, dimension is 3 by 2 m. It is rented, and have to be returned post event. (Lobang settled by my colleague)

I still need to worry about decorating it with mid-autumn theme. I am so busy that I asked my colleagues if I could just cut and past pictures from Internet and enlarged it to much bigger size, and put them up.

My colleagues told me it won't be cheap. I don't really mind forking out on my own (exceed budget), but the designing and cutting is also very lechek.

My colleague ask if I want to try my luck renting one of those backdrops from wedding photography studio. 

I decide to ask around more and did both people and online research. Wow, and I got a supplier from Aliexpress that have backdrop like this for only $80 (after shipping costs)

Of course, as with all online purchases, what u see might not be what u get, but at least I will have something to put up with minimum efforts. Best of all, I can recycled it and it's within budget. Now instead of 1 backdrop, I got 3. Talk about value for money!!

Aliexpress tracking system is also good enough for me. I know payment is verified, awaiting shipment and my most recent status just 5 working days after my purchase is being shipped out. 

I asked my colleague if he would have problem cancelling the previous backdrop order. He said not a problem, anytime, he had not pay and didn't commit to buy. I say once I received the goods and its in good conditions, he can proceed to cancel it. 

Last week, my family had a walk at the airport, I went to the bookshop and wanted to get a book "Chronicles of our troubled times" I flipped through it and saw various titles that really interest me, like "Greeks are not lazy"

It wasn't a thick book, and I think I can finished it within 2-3 hours. I looked at the price and it really pissed me off. Thirty over dollars? 

I did the shameless thing and search online, I saw different platforms selling online version of it and some offering monthly subscription for million of different book titles. I didn't bite.

I went to NLB, they didn't have the title. I guess it is very recently published.

Yesterday, I took my son to the library and tried my luck again. hey! They have it, I immediately placed a reservation for it, only $1.55. Kudos to NLB for being so efficient. 

If u ask me to buy "the intelligent investor" for 40 bucks, I would and I did, because there is a wealth of information and u can reread them several times to gain different insights or simply just refer to it from time to time. But that book, just doesn't make sense. 


In conclusion, it makes me feel that brick and mortar retail concept really need to rethink their service and value-addedness if they want to compete.

Random thoughts: Losing

No one like to lose. Especially investors, we swear never to lose money.

Can U imagine losing every quarter? Losing quarter after quarters for years?
We would most probably be bankrupt, right?

Now, if we are bankrupt, and someone ask u that the way to overturn the table, is to work harder and win at where u lost? In another word, stand up at where you fall, how would u feel? 

I think I might show the person the middle finger?

Sometimes, I think we are too harsh on our kids. I think they have been called "lazy", "attitude" accurately but unfairly.

It is a accurate description because they do not put in effort, and when led to the stream with water at their mouth, they still refuse to drink.

But it is unfair to just condemn them. Ask yourself how many failures u can take before it breaks you? Look, if you are not a good trader, u can try becoming a investor, and if u still fail, u can again walk off and be a saver. 

What if I tell you for the 10 years, no matter how you fail, u still try to hone craft as a trader? 

I felt my pupils have many problems, one of the most serious is lack of confidence and self-esteem. They doubt themselves. They wanted success but no longer think they can achieve it. 

If I fail my job for 3 years in a row, I think it might break me, in the sense I will start to set "more realistic expectations". But do we allow kids to set "realistic expectations"

I am very happy with the efforts put in and I see a change in their "hunger" for success. I finally see them smile after getting their results.

Numbers have not compassion and empathy. Do not break them further. 


There is another type of losing. Losing to your peers. 

You make money from the stock market, then u realize every tom and dick also make money, and u wonder if u are just lucky.

U decided to look at track record, then u realize u dun have one that is longer than the person beside you.

U think u are on the right track, but the person has 30% more profits than u. 

So u set the benchmark higher so that u stop losing.

Which is worse, losing money or losing to people? 

I know the worst, losing to yourself. Lost confidence, lost passion. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Random thoughts: Caught between a rock and a hard place?

Chill, this is not as serious as the heading suggested, ok?

If you are pragmatic, pursuing FI and generally frugal, but your wife wanted the finer things in life, something along the line of 5C, what would you do?

I guess depending on the threshold and how big is the gap, everyone's answer will be different. I guess not many would allow the family fiances go into ruin by living like there is no tomorrow. But how about taking a loan to live in a private condominium? How about a maid? A car? Annual overseas trip, best enrichment classes for children.

I felt very blessed that my wife did not ask for the sky, but I would definitely prefer to save more and live maybe another one of two notch below my means? So, is giving in to your wife necessary means you are throwing cautious into the winds?

I had my quarrels, so here is just my personal sharing of Dos and Don'ts.


1) Don't raise your voice when talking about money matters.

2) Don't tell her you know of a blogger AK that achieve FI below the age of 40, and how inspired you are by him. (You can be inspired but don't expect her to be)

3) Don't expect mountains to shift in one night

4) Don't expect her to give in all the time


1) Do show her how tight the fiances really are. (Provide breakdown)

2) Do give in whenever possible, hey, you married her to give her a good life, remembered? You said that in that vow, material satisfaction is still satisfaction.

3) Start changing your habits first. Stop taking your starbucks coffee, stop taking cab, buying comic, etc. Look at your favorite PC game flashing outside that shop, and talked about the storyline, the gameplay, how it has accompanied your childhood. If she said the magic word "buy", you strike lottery, and say, "Its Ok, I rather save the money for the family"

4) Give her more control over "assets", sense of security is precious. You will be surprised how often women will say, "Its Ok, thank you" when you offer to pay without her asking, and asking if she like to have something without her even looking.

Of course, we all like to be in those drama stories, where we all suffer together and then later, because of your frugality and hardwork, you achieved FI and can live like no tomorrow, you think she should also have delayed gratification so that both of you can have a bigger pie later on in life.

Good for you, I live by the day. Thank you

Recent action: Bought Singpost

Just a head up.

Singpost fell in higher volume today. Guess Alibaba might finally decide no deal for venture of Quatium Solutions? Perhaps the next CEO also ran away? LOL

I believe Singpost can grow earnings by 10-20% over the next 2 years, with or without Alibaba. Of course, a JV with more capital injection is welcome. With Alibaba, it might grow at an higher end of that range. 

As mentioned in previous post, logistic is the crown gem.

Quarter to quarter, they might not be doing well. But it is growing ok YOY ( seasonality is a factor). December is the peak period and a weak Q2 should not be over-extrapolated.

SP mall will be back in operation soon and the omni channel will be the next frontier to be fought in e-commerce and Singapore and Singpost has first mover advantage in SEA.

I might be wrong, I have no insider information.

Again, the tactic is simple. Buy small, start small and if it falls, buy again. 

The next 2-3 months will have plenty of market moving news.

Appointment of CEO, even the non-appointment of one after the acting CEO assure investors it should take place this year will be a mover.

The review to be taken by the new team, including dividend payment sustainability 

Alibaba's commitment or lack of, to grow its presence in SEA through Lazada and Singpost or with Lazada only. 

Have fun, get ready for the ride. 

I didn't even go into Fed ...  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Random thoughts: did what I want, without FI

Yesterday was kind of memorable for me. 

Before that, I was very busy at work, overseeing a lot of responsibilities for the first time. I was very kanchong as I was afraid of not doing it well. Maybe it will affect many people, and some people rather drastically if things dun turn out well, I did not sleep well for the past 1 week. Yesterday was the last day, it was a load off my shoulder. 

I took "leave" from my wife, spent a longer than usual time with my dad at dinner, and did night cycling with my friends. 

We call ourselves the uncles riders.

We were chit chatting how long have we not cycled, and I realized it has been more than 4 years. 

As we cycle along east coast, I enjoy every moment of it, and felt young.

The beautiful full moon out at the sea.

The amusement of seeing so many people, adults included playing Pokemon go.

Didn't know I could ride to Marina Barrage from east coast. It was a beautiful place, beautiful view. 

The weather was cool, not too humid with the breeze making me feel refreshed.

Didn't know cycling felt so exhausting. I am indeed turning weak. 

Although physically tiring, it was mentally liberating. 

Little pleasures in life. And the tough week prior to that is the icing of the cake. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Random thoughts: Order of importance

Words are important, it is a tool of communication.

But, while what is said is important, what the speaker felt is even more important. 

While what the speaker felt is important, how you feel is more important. 

While how you felt is important, what you do about it is more important.

While what u did is important, how convinced is your actions is right is more important. 

While being right is important, how it achieved its intended consequences is more important. 

While achieving is important, how it can be sustained achieving is goals in the long run is more important. 

When you understand what is most important, you no longer get bothered by the words. 

Who is bothering you? I, myself or me?

Not the above? 

That's a lot of people bothering you man!

Recent Action: Yangzijiang

"I am a poor Poker Player, I let people know my move. LOL"

"I am also inconsistent, since I was just blogging about restraining my buy"

Hey, Rolf and SMOL, see I preempt your poking first. See how I see you up up and even before I pen anything down, I thought about your reactions.

OK, enough bullshit.

While the STI is showing plenty of resilience, Yangzijiang is falling.

Plenty can go wrong with YZJ.

It can suffer a double whammy, HTM turn sour and the lower Margin of shipbuilding is already playing out. If you google HTM or more macro... there is plenty of articles on the bad debts of China and how YZJ will have to write down it HTM

First of all, let me say I just bought at half of what I would usually buy, so that I can reinforced it 60 cents. I look at YZJ by the business rather than numbers.

That it is a alpha shipbuilder is not in question, of course the reason why it is alpha has also got to do with its strong balance sheet which is helped by HTM. You can't take that away for better or worse. While they have been reducing their HTM, this latest quarter show an increase in HTM assets and more "government-linked" projects. This is my story:

Government is twisting YZJ's arm in the restructuring of shipping sector. The bad debts restructuring of yards, should be transfer to its new investing company in which it had an 11% stake. It is for the private sector to share the burden, but some sweeteners are also given, such as the first building orders from SOE.

The risk of this company going bad is not low.

So what is the meat to invest? YZJ is going up the technology value chain. I read shipping news at least weekly, way before LNG and gas carriers are the "in" thing, they are already claiming their ambitions in this sector, the same with large containership, etc. In short, they read the industry very well, also restricting that rig building to only 1. (Now laid up in Tai Chang yard, might not be delivered in the end.)

Second, they have been shareholder friendly. Dividends at 30% payout since IPO, I expect dividends to be 3-3.5 cents this year. But it is still a decent 4% as I wait for the upturn. There is also no fund raising yet.

Third, the shipbuilding cycle is at its bottom. No one knows how long more it will last. But it has been around for more than 5 years, and when the 3 Korean Giants who are all market leaders bleed big time, and that China has only 70 yards in the white list, and according to Yuan going to be only another 35 going forward, we know the sector is in doldrums. YZJ have at least 1.5 years without any orders to continue to keep its yard busy. Cancellations risk not accounted here.

Fourth, reward is reasonable high.

Fifth, Ren's leadership. His son is already COE, although he is still clearly in charge. Succession planning anyone? He is candid, not shy from admitting his mistakes. With government's arm-twisting to invest in RongSheng, he managed to say "Not yet", and "No" to more rig orders. Everyone can say HTM will blow, it might, just like DBS also got a big slap in the face. I will not underestimate his ability, there is already impairment done for HTM, my take is when his HTM blows up, China Banks will also blow... It is not going to be nice wherever you are...


YZJ is not your bao jia durian. Its valuation is attractive for a reason. It is risky.

It is a risk I will take.