Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bobo - For Magical Nights


I would strongly recommend Bobo @ Jalan Bangkung for a magical night out. Its situated along the now famous Jalan Bangkung @ Bangsar. Strangely but fittingly, Bobo occupies the 1st and 2nd floors only. The small entry door next to Lucky Bo reminds you of possibly of an old jazz club back in the swinging 30s in New York.

The first floor is the dining area with a beautiful couch area, and another partially more intimate dining area separated by sheer curtains. The ambience is inviting, modern yet clean lines in design. Love the many art pieces, cleverly chosen to exude a visually pleasing environment.  



Musical Artistes / Performers - The Best In KL Has To Offer ...


Familiar names will appear every Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday too. You can like their Facebook page to keep up with their monthly schedule. I would strongly recommend to come on Thursdays though as the resident pianist David Gomes will be tinkling the ivories and engage in lively banter with the audience ... its very American songbook stuff, imagine drinking your wine or gin and being transported to a rustic New York quiet jazz club.. its refreshing yet melancholic at the same time.

The Food

Inventive yet pleasing.



Pedas Special Red Rice Nasi Lemak ...

The red rice, or Beras Sia’ is a variety of Beras Adan, a local heirloom rice variety traditionally hand planted by the Lun Bawang people in the Highlands of Lawas, Sarawak.

The red rice—Beras Sia’ packs a slightly nutty, wholesome fluffy texture and is often used as substitute for brown rice.

Complement your meal with our selection of small dishes. Available by pre-order only. Call 03-2092 5002 to book. 






Another must try dish ... the Seafood Spaghetti ala Bobo ... buff said.



















The Poisons

I can safely say that Bobo has the best gin bar in Malaysia. Their concoctions are pleasing and inventive, with a brave inclusion of local ingredients to boot.

A sweet pick-me-up for hump day, you got this!

Monkey 47 Sloe Gin Fizz—Monkey 47 sloe gin, lemon, syrup, 
egg white, rosemary




Coconut Ohh Lala—Hendrick’s gin, fresh coconut water, egg white, pandan syrup 




Available at the  Gin Bar. Open daily, 5 pm till late.







The 2nd Floor - Performance Hall

OK, NO SMOKING!!! Even though I smoke cigars, I think its very important and more conducive in an intimate performance arena to be totally smoke free. The ladies love it, I like it.

To go to the second floor, you have open a very heavy sound-proofing door. You won't hear a bleep of the performances when you are dining.

It opens to a snazzy tiny bar where people can mingle prior to the show starting, and its basically to serve drinks to patrons inside the hall.









The Acoustics

Designed by an expert, the sound proofing and acoustics are fantastic. It creates warm notes and resonating tones. The open-thatched roof is a sight to behold.



















Conclusion

Good food, great music or comedy, in a classy setting ... what a magical night out!!!








Above pic is the balcony on first floor for smokers to take a break, its very very nice ... and when its raining outside, I can think of no better place to be than here smoking a cigar and getting a G&T, it really is quiet, just watching the world drifts by. 



Sunday, August 06, 2017

1997 - 2017 ... Asian Financial Crisis Revisited


 The Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 lasted more than a few years. Now its 20 years on and most media outlets have covered the topic to death. Are we going to repeat this mistake?





Pics: Indonesia's Pevita Pearce, enough said.

Asia’s currency reserves at well over $6 trillion make up more than half of the world’s holdings, led by China’s $3 trillion hoard. In 1996, Asia’s reserves were less than $1 trillion, leaving central banks short handed when their fixed and managed currencies came under speculative attack.


COUNTRY  /  Reserves 1996 / Reserves May 2017 / Percentage Gain

South Korea      $33b      $378b     1145%
Philippines        $11.8b   $82b       695%
Thailand            $38.7b  $184b      475%
Malaysia           $27b      $98b       362%
Indonesia          $18.3b   $125b     683%


Looking at the new level of reserves alone, it will take a lot more firepower to drag down this group collectively. Individually, most are still vulnerable, though South Korea might have elevated itself to a new level of safety.

Does this means Malaysian ringgit is vulnerable. Yes and no, $98b is good but we should aim for more. Judging from the population and trade, we need to get to $150b by 2020 at least. 

To be fair, Malaysia has had to combat a currency attack for the last 18 months. Without that, the figure should have been closer to $120b.

However, there is a silver lining, if you can call it that. Thanks to the "perception" issue and the 1MDB issue, the ringgit has been whacked lower already over the last 18 months. Technically we HAVE HAD our mini financial crisis as the ringgit is already 30-40% weaker against USD and around 10-20% weaker against the other countries above. A weaker ringgit may have a lot of negatives initially, but it also makes our largely export industries more competitive. This is an important "buffer" of sorts. 

TACIT AGREEMENTS


Realising that most of us in Asia is in the same boat, most central banks have signed tacit agreements especially with China to help combat any outrageous volatility or attacks on respective currencies. 

There is also the long term investment aspect as large MNCs contemplate where to invest in new plants and factories and offices.


ASEAN. Private consumption continues to drive steady growth among the ASEAN countries. Capital outflow pressures are muted and, more broadly, external vulnerabilities look to be in check for now. Lower commodity prices have not had major impact on Malaysia and Indonesia, both net commodity exporters. The group remains sensitive to developments in China. Other domestic uncertainties in these countries have not translated to lower economic activity and this is likely to be the case over the medium term. We forecast growth of 5.0% and 5.1% for ASEAN in 2017 and 2018 respectively - S&P


FOREIGN DEBT / GNI

This is where Malaysia has a problem. Our percentage has actually increased over the past 20 years from 41.3% to 66.3%. Meanwhile all the rest have seen that figure dropping to 22%-37%.

However Malaysia is in a unique position as our population is only around 30m. Whereas the rest have a credible and sustainable domestic economy buoyed by its sizeable population. Malaysia's position has always been structurally different because of population size (or lack of). We have to have our economy being more open compared to the rest.


WHAT ABOUT THE LOCAL STOCK MARKET?

I have written my views on that: http://malaysiafinance.blogspot.my/2017/06/how-long-will-bull-lasts-for-malaysia.html

If I may add some timeline catalysts: the October visit by Xi Jin Peng; the deadline by middle of 2018 for over RM2bn worth of insurers' shares to be transferred to local owners, either via direct placements/sale or IPO... we can look forward to at least 2 if not 3 massive IPOs; a probable CNY rally followed by elections.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Baby Driver - Great Fun

Don't let the silly movie name put you off. Its a lot of fun. Plus you get to see a lot of Spacey, Hamm and Foxx strutting their stuff. Borrowing from Guardian of the Galaxy, there is a splendid soundtrack of great songs in it. Taking pole position was my all time fav rock song Brighton Rock by Queen, that alone would make it worth watching. Great car chases, a bit of Kayser Soza, a little Pulp Fiction ... great fun 8.5/10.





Friday, July 14, 2017

The Most Heartbreaking Singer/Song

Some of you may have already discovered Eva Cassidy, and would certainly agree with my assessment that whatever she sang, it goes straight for your heartstrings. Many people love Over The Rainbow, its iconic even. There have been so many covers of the song that it would take something very special to be even noticed.

The late Eva Cassidy ... in a most poignant, powerful rendition ... makes grown men cry buckets just listening to her rendition. Just so you know, when she was singing that song she was already battling cancer. Quiet yourself down, turn on the volume and listen to the whole song. Why real talented people go so soon...





Thursday, July 06, 2017

Dividends - A Proper Perspective

FOCUS Malaysia did a credible write up on dividends in Malaysia. There are still a few major issues which were not highlighted in the article. We need to fully appreciate the paradigm of investing, of listed shares, the expectations of investors and the real nature for dividends.




1) All things being equal, dividends are positive. Let's first examine WHY there are listed stocks. If we cannot grasp that, no point debating further. A stock gets listed for TWO MAIN REASONS, the other reasons are secondary. One, is to raise capital to power growth plans for the company. Two, to allow for investors to participate in the prospects and potential growth of the company.


p/s: pics of Zoie Tam Hoi Kei, ...I like
2) There are investors who invest because of the stability of the business and the predictable profit streams. These are usually termed as blue chips, the ability to sustain profits growth and maintain stable dividends. A lot of long funds will want to invest in them. A lot of retiree funds will want to be in them as they are deemed to be of lower risk to the volatility of the markets and can provide stable returns.





3) The first two points already alienate a umber of stocks accordingly, hence it is pointless to just segregate based on frugality or generosity owing to free cash flow. These free cash flow also should not be a 1, 2, 3 year snap shot as that paints a diminished view of free cash flow, or rather, the quality of FCF. A proper view should at least include a 10 or 15 year average FCF, and average FCF growth rates. To based a "need" to declare good dividends based on short term FCF would be unpersuasive at best.




4) I personally do not believe in dividends. If you like dividends so much, you can just as well sell some shares in it every year and take that as dividends??!!  Or did you believe that the share price does NOT adjust down when it goes ex-dividend???!!! Why bother investing in the company if its not to participate in the growth and prospects??? If FCF is so great that it overwhelms their ability to reinvest that said capital, then the company may consider dividends. Even then, the management has to exhaust other plausible options - e.g. buying out competition; going upstream/downstream if it made economic sense; investing in growth in other untapped markets/regions; maintain edge by investing in research & development, investing in potentially synergistic companies for the future, etc...




5) The revealing reasons for companies paying solid dividends. I am not talking about those institutional stocks only. I am especially talking about those that have not yet become blue chips, and/or smaller growth companies. When these companies keep paying good/high dividends (relative to FCF and profits) - it is a good sign generally. It shows a high degree of reliance on owning and HOLDING their shares. It also shows that they are keen to maintain and reward themselves via dividends without NEEDING or WANTING to dispose their shares.


6) Look at the goreng shares, I can bet you they have no dividends to pay, and even if they did it will be minuscule as their main route to riches is via goreng ops. Plus they are unlikely to hold much shares since bulk of shares could be circulating around syndicate groups.



7) What I am more interested in are those companies that have a high FCF but declare little or no dividends - what gives? Look at the companies, their FCF were so high compared to the dividends. Management should AT LEAST indicate what they are planning to do with funds (as mentioned - e.g. buying out competition; going upstream/downstream if it made economic sense; investing in growth in other untapped markets/regions; maintain edge by investing in research & development; investing in potentially synergistic companies for the future; anticipating a downturn; needing a cushion for untoward incidents; stock buybacks; etc...). Investors should not be kept in the dark on corporate strategy going ahead. 

Thats because good management and bad management can/will use FCF differently. I need not tell what a good management team will do with the funds, its good and boring. But let me look at things "bad management" can do with huge surplus cash:
a) take the cash largely for themselves via a purchase of assets - e.g. inflating the assets value and getting a kickback
b) using the funds to buy "own assets" (probably at inflated prices)
... and I am sure you all can think of a few more.













Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Father's Day - Let The Man Be The Man He Is

 p/s: yes, Meisa Kuroki is back ..

I had a good chat with a friend about dads growing old. I assume we are all filial sons and daughters. When our dads grow older and older, maybe some will have retired from their careers by now. I wonder how many of us "love our dads" in the way that allows him to continue to be the man that he is.

Dads who are now retired are dads from a different era. Most of our dads are the strong silent types, not like many of the younger dads nowadays who will try to be good friends with their kids. 

A man of the house usually takes the lead in the household. He takes care of the paycheck. He calls the shots in many areas of the household matters. When they retire, they may not have access to as much "money as before" - gee, do you ever wonder why, thats because he has brought you guys up, send you guys to further your studies, even finance your first car or even your first home, down payment for this and that. Flying you back from overseas, etc... 

Now he may be pushing 60 or 70, he may be living primarily off what you kids give him. We somehow think if we give them a few hundred or a thousand or two ringgit a month, we have done our part. Your dad is still the man he was, faults and all. He used to call the shots, ask you guys where you like to have dinner, ask you guys what you want for your birthdays.

Now, he has to take money from you guys. Funds may not be so "loose". When you guys take him out to dinner, he doesn't have the "right" to pay for you guys anymore. Heck, he may even shy away from ordering whatever he likes from the menu or dictate where he wants to have dinner. He may not even be able to just take your mum wherever they wish to go for holidays. 

In these very many small ways, he is not "allowed to be the man he used to be". We as children should empathise with that. If we can afford it, we should give him more than what he needs to survive. We should allow our father to be the father he still is. 

A person's spirit is the hardest to please and easiest to break. Love comes in many disguises. Love is not just money but our attitude as well. Reconsider how we love our dads. Mine is no longer around. If your dad still is, be thankful, and be the better son and daughter. Love your dad better.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How Long Will The Bull Lasts For Malaysia

Are we in a bull run? Of course we are. Not to labour the point but I highlighted the start of the bull run back in January this year... and got a lot of naysayers but never mind:






























p/s: needless to say, this is Jing Tian ... beautiful face and a certain kind of freshness in her looks and acting career thus far



http://malaysiafinance.blogspot.my/2016/12/bank-negara-may-have-switched-on-bull.html


I would like to extend my prediction that the bull run for Bursa stocks should continue to run well till the end of the year. What we are seeing for the past 3 weeks was a general lull where volume suddenly shrunk but the general trend is still intact. My reasons for saying so:

a) the overall equity markets globally will be supported by a benign recovery complemented by a timid approach to raising rates by most central banks

b) thanks to a drastic bear run for most commodities, and to a lesser extent some oil & gas players, the undertone for "cost of materials" have been weak and has provided a cushion for improved margins for producers of goods and services

Hence we have what we need, a stable global equity playground so as to not destabilise other smaller equity markets. To continue the argument:





c) the bull run will continue for Bursa because the recovery of the ringgit is intact and will be slow; while nobody in the country liked the dramatic weakening of the ringgit over the past 2 years, there are benefits - we are still very much an export led economy, with less than 30 million, we can never be a domestic led economy; that said, the economy has been competitive and productive for the last 4-10 years at 3.20-3.40 to the USD ... interest dwindled and "funds departed" when the "issues" started to hit Malaysia over the last 2 years, causing the ringgit to slump to as weak as 4.40; that was the MAIN reason why I thought Bank Negara may have unwittingly started a big bull run when the implement the new strategies beginning of this year cause once investors can see a shift in the pendulum swing, a trend is your friend cause if you are productive and competitive at 3.2-3.4 ... what more at 4.2-4.4; that is still a 30%-37% "increase in competitiveness", it was certainly as good as a substantive devaluation





d) the no-par value regime: many are still in the dark with the no par value regime which began this year; the "snowball effects" for positive corporate exercises have not been appreciated or discounted at all by investors:

http://malaysiafinance.blogspot.my/2014/06/need-to-get-to-no-par-value-regime-very.html

There are two main reasons:

1) What is even more galling is the ACE market, which is supposed to be encouraging growth companies, but there is still the par value regime which locks out many applicants. Why do you think so many smaller growth companies have been going to AIMS and Taiwan to list their companies, while you can count the number of new ACE companies listed over the last 12 months on one hand. Let me tell you that the very poor performance of the last few listed ACE companies is probably due to the paid up capital issue - these are companies, by hook or crook boost up their paid up with bricks and mortars but no solid business, so you end with small manufacturing plants and unconvincing old school products. 

The very basis of encouraging growth companies is GROWTH PROSPECTS, THE SUSTAINABILITY & LEVERAGE/SCALABILITY of the business model, and NOT par value. It is very important because as current rules stands, even Facebook could not have listed 5 years back on ACE because their paid up was too low. Even when Facebook listed recently, their par value (which still exists, but there are no rules as to how low you can go) was something like 0.0006 cents per share, and IPO price was nearly $30.00.

When you hold to the current regime, any company considering to list on ACE must at least have a minimum of RM7m - RM10m, even that will considered as low to our regulators. We all should be aware that in the evolution of business model, invested capital is a poor judge and poor guide for evaluating any company. 

If you are making a few million ringgit, with a scalable business model, why do you need to have RM10m in paid up? The new economy would indicate emphatically that the internet, new business processes/delivery of services and new marketing platforms (MLMs, network marketing, franchising) are playing critical roles in new business models. Most of these require a LOT LESS INVESTED CAPITAL, but what they do provide is more VALUE ADD SERVICES and PRODUCTS delivered in a smarter and more creative way.

The longer Bursa/SC stays inactive with the par value regime, the more we are pushing away great smaller companies. As it stands in ACE, with a minimum of RM7m-RM10m "unwritten rule" as paid up, YOU ARE ENCOURAGING THE ENTIRE ECONOMY TO STAY WITH SUNSET INDUSTRIES, YOU ARE ENCOURAGING COMPANIES TO STAY OLD SCHOOL IN THINKING, YOU ARE STRONGLY DISCOURAGING INNOVATION - all that has a strong trickle down effect, how do you think private equity investors or angel investors will feel, they will further shy away from innovative companies and rather fund companies with bricks and mortar assets or in manufacturing. The cycle is devastating, when early seed funders do not get good exit options, smaller companies get little or no funding.

If a company is making RM2m-3m profit early in its life with a paid up of less than RM500,000 ... why stop them from listing on ACE? These are the very companies you need to encourage and foster. When they can do that with minimal capital, it show their business model is SCALABLE ... which is to say if you provide further capital by allowing them to tap the ACE market, say another RM5m-10m, they have a good chance to churn out 3x, 4x, maybe more profits.

And you know smaller companies will always find funding very difficult in their early days, banks... fergedaboudit, with minimal exit options, angel investors and private equity would be hesitant as well.

Let me give you a real example, a company that makes RM3m a year with a paid up of RM500,000 in its 3rd year of existence. No way can they list on ACE. They have to put in another RM7m-10m cash into the company as the minimum par value is 10 sen. So, if you have RM10m PUC, you can have 100m shares listed, and then issue another 25m shares to the public to raise funds.

In a no par value regime, the company can capitalise their profits and bring it up to say RM3m in PUC, and issue 100m shares with a par value of 0.3 sen a share. You price IPO shares no on par value, you price based on earnings potential,  ...historical and forward. Say for the same company making RM3m a year, you may even attribute a 15x PER as growth is paramount for sustainable growth companies = a market cap of RM45m, or an IPO price per share @ 45 sen. (If you force these companies to put in RM10m cash to get listed on ACE, what is the point ... if they have RM10m, they need not tap ACE for funds).

When you move to a no par value regime, you will be able to greenlight more exciting companies with scalable and creative business platforms - isn't that the very aim of ACE, isn't that the best way to encourage entrepreneurs, innovation, maintaining competitiveness and assimilation into the new economy?



2) Do you realise how many listed companies on Bursa are trading below their par value? We only have just over a thousand listed companies and I can safely say that there are between 250-400 companies, my estimates based on a brief perusal of a couple of sectors.

What happens when you trade below your par value? You get there usually because of accumulated losses over the years. Say your par value is RM1.00 and your share is RM0.70 sen now, there is no way you can issue new shares below par value to raise funds or to use new shares to buy some other businesses.

In a no par value regime, par value doe not count, the value of your shares is the last traded price. Hence even when you are at RM0.70, you can issue new shares around RM0.70 to existing shareholders (rights issue) to raise funds for new ventures, or you can issue new shares at around RM0.70 to take over some business which you thing will add value to your current platform or help to reinvent/recharge your business model.

In the current regime, these companies no longer have those options. Plus, for 99% of them, they would probably have MAXED out their available banking facilities as well ALREADY. So what is left for them to do?

With limited options, and a deteriorating business model, no access to funds, you can do zilch. Hence for many of them, they resort to speculative price "management" or what some of us refer to as rampings by syndicates, to bring forth some "profits" for themselves or stakeholders - I mean, they have to try to make money somehow.

They cannot even consider a RTO by a profitable and bigger company. In the cited example, no company will want to take new shares issued at RM1.00 for a company with a market price of RM0.70. Hence the only way left is to do a capital reduction. That is a fair path since the company has not been doing well, and shareholders are supposed to benefit and be punished alongside with company's fortunes. However, many are not taking up that option because they can very well make good pocket money by appointing syndicates to ramp up their shares once or twice a year. By limiting the options to these companies, Bursa/SC are indirectly condoning/encouraging these speculative share ramoings. (Especially when there IS ALREADY a viable, prove, global best practice that the authorities can adopt IMMEDIATELY ... ist not that their hands are tied or there are no options for Bursa/SC to take).

When the no par value regime is enacted, you will also energise the market enormously, which will have tremendous trickle down benefits. These companies below par value will be more active in scouring for good companies to buy to reinvent their business models (to help them get out of the slump). They could also do rights issues, and maybe even sweeten them with free warrants (which they could not do in a current regime).

The end result is they need not turn to syndicates to ramp their shares to make money, they can turn their attention to more genuine plans. It will reinvigorate investors as well as they can see some light at the end of the tunnel. Its 


like a patient with a terminal disease slowing rotting away, suddenly turning into a patient with new drug cures possibility.

Hence the strongest claim for a sustaining bull run has to be the no par value regime. Start researching companies taking advantage of the new regime.

So when will we need to be careful about this bull run? I think its not that hard to spot the turning points. I would start to be careful when the ringgit breaks 4.00 vs USD cause anything lower than that would probably signal to plenty of foreign funds to start taking profits to exit. So we still have a lot of legs for this market.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

How Social Media Producers Make Money







p/s:  Lee Min Jung, whom I consider to be the prettiest Korean actress/commercial queen around ... somehow she looks better on screen in motion than in still pics


The figures below are per annum:












Funnies











 p/s: the girls are back due to overwhelming demand ... my first pick after so many years... Han Hyoo Joo... great actress and an even more vibrant personality... watch her in reality-variety shows such as Running Man and you will fall in love














Thursday, March 09, 2017

SGX Finally Wises Up

How long have I been harping on this issue? SGX have seen their volume traded, market activity and its robustness being sharply curtailed for more than 7 years. The problem started when you have TOO MANY LAWYERS and TOO MANY MBAs at SGX. What is textbook rules and MBA playbook may not work as well in real life. SGX or any market exchanges need to have a substantive number of advisors who are "market savvy" because if there are no trades, the exchanges will not be able to fulfil its main KPI. Yes, there are other KPIs such market fairness, biased trading, other prejudicial front running or trading based on insider information ... but they all run a poor second to market robustness. Without that, why have an exchange, because the main aim of an exchange is twofold: a) allow public and investing institutions  to participate in the growth of a company, b) to raise capital for a company's growth prospects. Any other aims are secondary at best.

The lunch trading trade-through rule was such a bothersome thing. To allow for seamless 8 hour trading seems the "right thing to do" according to MBA playbook - less fuss, no wastage of resources by not having a stop-start mentality, allowing the local market to "react" to market moving news from other exchanges during the day. Now, all that is fine and dandy but its a pretty silly thing really. No markets need to be live 24-7, if that was the case no markets can close then. Even COMEX and US exchanges close on weekends - things happen over the weekend as well you know.

When you institute a no break, the dealers and remisiers are put at risk as they are the ones getting the "no breaks". They have to have someone watching, key in stupid orders that are out of scope just in case they get done, etc... In reality the bulk of trading is done in specific periods of most markets: 40-50% of the days trades are done in the first hour, and another 20-30% probably done in the last hour.  Hence its quite pointless to have a no-break rule. Even if there were market moving news during the lunch break, the market will digest and adjust according when it resumes. No exchanges can do 24-7.

The wider bids are a must ... the usual MBA rule book will have you believe that the narrower the bid-ask prices, the higher will be the resultant volume. I believe that adage only works for very short term oriented markets such as commodities and their futures contracts. For stock trading, it is pertinent to be able to get in and out at a profit. If the bid-ask gaps were so narrow that I might have to wait for 3 bids up before breaking even, that is a deflating concept for most traders/investors. 

SGX now that you have done it for stocks over S$1.00 ... the more pressing thing is to revise the penny stocks' bid-ask. It is so silly to trade at 0.001 of a cent spread. Follow Malaysia's lead and trade at 0.005 sen spreads. Why do you think the penny stocks scene in Bursa is so much more active than SGX?



SGX proposes lunch break revival, wider bids
BY ANDREA TAN
SINGAPORE: Singapore Ex- change Ltd (SGX), which runs the city’s stock market, is pro- posing to bring back a lunch break and boost minimum bid sizes as it seeks to boost trading.
The exchange operator is consulting the public on the plans, which it said will ad- dress market conditions and balance the diverse objectives of participants, according to a statement released yesterday.
It is proposing to introduce a midday trading break from noon to 1pm. SGX plans to raise the tick size for stocks and relevant securities trad- ing in the S$1 (RM3.15) to S$1.99 range, to one Singa- pore cent from half a cent. It also plans to widen a forced order range, which helps to prevent error trades.
SGX also said it will man- date that companies aiming to list on its main exchange must allocate at least 5% of their stock offering, or S$50 million, whichever is lower, to small investors. The ruling will kick in on May 2 and is aimed at having greater retail participation. The exchange in 2016 proposed a minimum of 10% or as much as S$100 million be distributed to re- tail investors.
SGX in March 2011 scrapped the break, which lasted from 12.30pm to 2pm every day, say- ing it could help add as much as 10% to volumes. The pro- posed midday halt is now seen to have minimal impact with only 5.1% of trading done dur- ing the hour, SGX said.
The daily value of shares traded this year have climbed 10% to US$839 million (RM3.73 billion) from 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of Tuesday. An average of US$1.18 billion shares changed hands each day in 2010, before the intermission was abolished, the data show. Singapore’s stock market has the longest trading day among major ven- ues in Asia. — Bloomberg


Below was my posting back in March 2014:


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


What is ailing the Singapore broking industry? My comments alongside the Bloomberg article in blue.

Singapore’s shrinking brokerage industry is set to get even smaller as trading restrictions planned by regulators dent profits, according to a body that represents individual brokers.
The average daily value of shares tradedin the city, which slumped 40 percent in the first two months of 2014 from a year earlier, will decline further should rules be implemented that include requiring collateral for some trades and shortening the settlement period, said the Society of Remisiers, which represents dealers who work entirely on commission. Singapore Exchange Ltd. and the Monetary Authority of Singapore proposed the changes after a penny-stock rout in October erased $6.9 billion in market value of three companies over three days.
“More people will leave the industry as they’ll get less business,” Jimmy Ho, president of the Society of Remisiers, said by phone. “Once they cut the settlement period, there will be less speculative trading and it will drag overall volumes.”
The number of stockbrokers in Singapore fell 8.4 percent percent to 3,973 at the end of last year from 4,336 in 2011, according to data from the bourse, as the industry was buffeted by declining trading volumes and commissions as well as competition from online trading platforms. The city’s benchmark Straits Times Index trailed all its major developed-market peers in the past 12 months and slid 1.2 percent this year through yesterday.
Even after Singapore Exchange teamed with Singapore Management University and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. (CIMB) in April 2012 to provide training programs for the industry, traders’ ranks continued to thin. This year, the bourse partnered with the National Trade Union Congress’s Employment & Employability Institute to bolster interest in the profession.

Comment: SGX made the first boo-boo which killed market velocity, that is making the trading in penny stocks into decimal places. In Malaysia it is still minimum 0.005 sen per bid. Obviously when you staff SGX with more MBAs and legal heads, you are not going to get rules that promote trading. They went by the textbook rule in that the smaller the bids, the bigger the volume. Here is where textbook fails to understand market participants' psychology. In Singapore, there are too many penny stocks, and I mean really pennies ... those under 20 cents. When the bid and offer looks like this 0.033-0.034 it does not make for more attractive trading compared to Malaysia's 0.030-0.035 ... the psychology is that in a single bid traders and punters are already making money and able to cover comm, that makes it "attractive" to big punters or syndicates to move a stock a few bids. In Singapore, you would see huge volumes at every bid and offer thus making it arduous to move stocks. Penny stocks are by nature speculative and you have to make it more conducive for them not make it harder for them to make (and lose) money. Though your propensity to lose money would also shrink in Singapore penny stocks, that is not the aim of punters (minimise losses), its to make the big gains.

Industry Adjustment
“Brokerages are able to cope with fewer dealers because trading volumes are lower,” Society of Remisiers’ Ho said. “That’s a natural adjustment for the industry.”
It will be hard to draw young people, given the high risk and low commissions, said Yeo Aiqi, 28, who left Phillip Securities Pte, the city’s biggest brokerage by clients, in 2011 after working three years there.
“Stockbroking appears to be a sunset industry,” Yeo, who now sells women’s apparel at her online store www.clothingcandy.com, said by e-mail. “Trading volumes are low and commission rates are falling.”
The average value of shares traded on the Singapore bourse tumbled 40 percent to about S$1.06 billion ($836 million) in the first two months of 2014 from S$1.77 billion a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Transactions in Hong Kong fell 11 percent in the same period, while those on Japan’s Topix index increased 17 percent.

Shrinking Commissions
To make the profession more appealing, SGX needs to address dwindling volumes to counter the decline in brokerage commission rates, which have fallen to 0.1 percent of the value of shares traded from 1 percent 10 years ago, according to Yap.
“Brokers have nothing exciting to recommend to their clients these days,” Yap said. “Trading was buoyant before I left the industry due to the influx of Chinese listings and now investors are avoiding such companies after a number of them got embroiled in accounting or stock manipulation scandals. SGX promoted the listing of real estate investment trusts in the past decade but interest in them is starting to wane.”
At least 28 Chinese firms on the exchange have been suspended or delisted since 2008. There were 144 China-based firms listed in Singapore at the end of February, according to the exchange. The FTSE Straits Times China Index of 31 mainland stocks sank 7.3 percent in the past 12 months.

Comment: Lack of cowboy-ness in SGX. When you sanitise the markets too much, it becomes boring. Every exchange needs a certain element of cowboy-ness (including markets like S&P500 and Nasdaq) to maintain relevance and interest. They way SGX is headed, you might as well list all boring ETFs and kill off the broking industry. When you shrivel the market into mainly blue chips that move, you institutionalise the entire industry. When the speculative counters do not present trading opportunities, investors and punters will just ignore and shy away. Casinos are there on the pretext that you can make supernormal gains, if that is not present, even casinos will close shop. What SGX has been doing for the past 7 years is like a casino which limits your gains, e.g. if you make S$10,000 then your bets are halved, etc... In protecting the investors, you can somehow err on the side of caution. There is little to justify the big salaries at SGX and the trading fees collected by SGX. They way they clamped down on "cowboy-ness" and the proliferation of REITs are just examples of going the "wrong way" unless what they want is to shrink the industry.