Friday, October 26, 2012

Do you classify 4d and toto an investment or expense?

Everyone would love to get rich, especially with a small investment that is worth the potential payoff - that is if you win. 4D, Toto and Big Sweep - the three most popular lottery tickets sold at Singaporepools. Most of us has spend on them one way or another, but is it really worth the payoff? Do you know the odds of winning any of them when it is stacked against you?
Most households that I know of do spend on lottery at a range from $50 to $800 per month, depending on the "obsession" state they are in. And most of them defended their decision on buying these lottery as an entertainment expenses - just like any other movie tickets or karaoke gathering that you spend off with your friends or family every week.
Mark Lee (a Singaporean actor) once said in his movie: "Buying 4d/toto is a 50 - 50 chance, either you win or you lose. If you buy, then only you have a chance. If you don't buy, then you have no chance". I wonder if anyone thinks it's true.
For me, I feel that it is ok if you buy them once in a while as many people said, it is an entertainment expenses more than anything. But if you start to buy them weeks after weeks, months after months and years after years, you do know that these amounts can add up substantially to what could have realistically make you richer. After all, should you get rich by buying lottery tickets one day, I am pretty sure that the money would not last and that you would get back to being poor again. That is because you do not have a system in place that will give you the advantage of being rich. Instead, you will go back to the old habits of depending on lottery tickets with odds heavily stacked against you. So for friends and aunties/uncles who are out there spending substantially on these lottery tickets, please rethink again. The odds are not just stacked slightly against you. It is stacked a whole lot more than what you think it is.

Singapore Sweep
1st Prize
(Or Group 1 for Toto)
1 in 8,145,060
1 in 10,000
1 in 3,200,000
2nd Prize
(Or Group 2 for Toto)
1 in 1,357,510
1 in 10,000
1 in 3,200,000
3rd Prize
(Or Group 3 for Toto)
1 in 35,724
1 in 10,000
1 in 3,200,000

(Just for the sake of reference, the odds of getting a Royal Flush in Poker, on the first 5 cards, is around 650,000 to 1. So with the exception of 4D, you might be better off just playing Poker. Or betting on the PGA tour. The odds of a pro-golfer getting a hole-in-one are 5000 to 1, around seven times more likely than winning Group 3 Toto.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Should you purchase a property in Iskandar JB, Malaysia?

In case you have not heard of, there have been recently plenty of hype (see one of them in the link below) regarding the Malaysian government intention to build a great Iskandar JB, Malaysia. The news is so hot that I can almost compare it with the hype of REITS now (wherever you'll go to, you'll see people asking "when is a good time to enter REITS").

Ascendas and UEM Land set up JV to develop Iskandar Tech Park

I've recently went out with my ex-colleagues on property hunting in the Iskandar JB, Malaysia area. I must say that with such aggressive promotions backed from the government, developer took this opportunity to launch apartments after apartments, condos after condos and houses after houses to the public in large - which is why it makes an extremely difficult decision for investors. For some of the newly launched condos/houses, please see picture below.

Paragon Residence

Encorp Marina

Horizon Hills
Aren't they impressive? Yes of course they do. Can you afford it? Yes, I think you can.

These condos and houses are launching currently at about RM900-RM1100 psf and if you convert them into SGD, then you'll be looking at around SGD 300K for a 2 bedroom and SGD400K for a three bedroom. Sounds attractive? Wait, there's more... For Singaporeans and non-Malaysian, the downpayment will usually be at 20% and with plenty of rebates that comes with the package, it looks like you only need 10% to make the downpayment and the house is yours. As for Malaysians, the perks are even better. They can literally get the house for "free" without any downpayment made since they would qualify for a 90% loan and along with the 10% rebate, they do not need to essentially come up with any money upfront to purchase a house. Sounds to me like a recipe for housing bubble in the making.

My Thoughts on this:

I do believe that Iskandar will be a great project for years to come with plenty of upcoming potential winners with branded schools (Marlborough College - this is where our Duchess Kate Middleton attended her college), great amenities (Gleneagles Hospital) and plenty of playgrounds and activities (Legoland, Hellokitty land) to play with. However, I suspect that the recent hike in prices in the properties in JB is not so much fuelled by real demand of homebuyers (of course it is a part of it but not a major one). Instead, I feel that the developer is promoting aggresively to increase the housing prices purposely so that the foreigners can buy in (note that foreigners including Singaporeans can only buy properties in Malaysia that is above RM500K) and then subsequently given the rebates of up to 10%. My point is given that the cost to the developer is nearly the same regardless of who they build a house for, it makes sense to just price everything higher so that they can capture more of the market; afterall, they can’t sell anything that costs less than RM500k to a foreigner anyway!

With the increasing stringent in rules regarding buying Singapore properties, it is easy to see why Singaporeans love Malaysian properties so much. It is much more affordable, bigger, nicer and anything and everything that you cannot find in Singapore. However, if you are thinking to purchase with the intention to invest, it is important that you should be comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges. If you must compare, you should compare it to similar houses in the same promixity area.

Having said that, I feel that if you are investing for your own stay or looking to purchase a 2nd home outside of Singapore, then there are no better buy than the close proximity of our close neighbour - Boleh Iskandar, Boleh Malaysia :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Snow White Princess Diamond Watch - Takashimaya's Jewellery showcase

I went to the jewellery showcase at Takashimaya today and saw this particular diamond watch on showcase.

Here’s a look at the exclusive & exquisite Snow White Princess Diamond Watch by Mouawad.

106 carat diamond...


...And it's price: A Whooping SGD8.8 Million.

Don't even start to debate whether I will spend that kind of money if I have one. Honestly speaking, I don't have that kind of money >.<


Friday, October 19, 2012

Challenging a different perspective of Dividend Investing & Delayed Gratification

Vera Nazarian once said "Not knowing your future is life's greatest motivator". But what if you already knew the story of your life. Would you still go ahead to elect to live them? Let's face one fact first and foremost - i.e All of us love money, at least most of us. And dividend investing and delaying gratification will do the trick, if you already know what I am talking about. But what good if you are a millionaire only at the age of say, 40 or 50 years old. Are the delayed gratification demands of dividend growth investing worth it?

fyi. This is not a picture of my real mum :)

For now, we will divide the discussion into two different camps: One who truly enjoy the process and journey of dividend investing while the other who do not. Let's take myself and my mum for instance. As with almost any endeavor, the process of accumulating and finding solid dividend stocks have been interesting to me. It is almost like an addictive online gaming which I had when I was younger. The steady accumulation of portfolio filled with undervalued telcos, utilities and Reits have been most partly addictive because of the savings habit which I have developed across these years - in other words, I view these purchase as part of my "clothes" or "shoes" or "handphones" shopping anyway. Fellow investors who are in this camp would agree that whenever they bought telco or Reits shares, they would feel the thrill of seeing people queueing up for days to purchase an iphone in a shopping mall. They would be thrilled even if they had to squeeze past people in a shopping mall, knowing that every profit that goes into the company will eventually go back to them in the form of dividends. In other words, they are the shareholders of the company. The boss of all bosses.
Now if you fall under the other side of the camps, perhaps like my mum, then you would feel that dividend investing is boring and slow and whatever negative there is. Nevertheless, you still do it, perhaps out of necessity. Perhaps you are the type of people who recognize the importance of retirement investing and that you have to put aside money for investment because that is the responsible thing to do. It's like you hate brocollis but you still have to force yourself to eat it because it's healthy. For these people, the question becomes how long do you want to delay your gratification. My mum, for instance, is not young (she is 47 this year btw) anymore. She wants to invest in undervalued dividend shares like I do (which I helped to research on her behalf along the way) but then refuses to delay her gratification for long on fear that by the time she can enjoy it, she'll be too old to buy or do anything. So, with plenty of choices along the way, the question becomes "Delayed Gratification? Sure, why not... but how long??"

Top MBA School - Using "Car" Analogy

Here's an interesting article using the car analogy to compare the various MBA Programmes out there.

Top Three: HBS, Stanford, Wharton (some say Wharton is just a rung below HBS and Stanford but above Kellogg, MIT, Chicago, Columbia or Tuck, which I won’t dispute – opinions vary).
Elite Eight: Top 3 plus Kellogg, MIT, Chicago, Columbia and Tuck. Some say Tuck is just a rung below; again opinions vary.
Sweet Sixteen: Elite 8, plus Michigan, Duke, Darden, NYU, Berkeley, UCLA, Cornell, Yale (some will say that Cornell and Yale are just a rung below, but again opinions vary).
Rest of the Best: These are the top regional schools including (in no particular order) UT-Austin, Georgetown, USC, UNC, Emory, Babson, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Maryland, Carnegie Mellon.
Big Two International: It’s basically INSEAD and London Business School (LBS), and then everyone else. The caliber of the student body and reputation of both these schools are comparable to the US Elite Eight.

HBS is like a British exotic car of varying quality – Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Aston Martin. They are Establishment, top hats and all. Like British exotics, HBS is really known for its heritage and prestige (with sport performance and classic styling to back it up). Some drivers are able to break the "unapproachable" mold and will take their cars for a bit of a joyride, but some are trapped in the pomp and circumstance of their cars. Only drawback is that they are incredibly high maintenance (more reliable than Italian exotics, but the repair costs are astronomically high) and insist on being noticed. And watching an HBS alum “fail” a la Jeffery Skilling is like seeing a Bentley stranded on the side of the road – everyone else can’t help but gloat.

Stanford is like an Italian exotic – from iconic marques like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Alfa Romeo, to super exotics like the Pagani Zonda, as well as the “all style and no substance” that are the Maseratis. In terms of styling and performance, they are bold, distinctive, and anti-authoritarian much like Stanford – built as if to be a complete counterpoint to the British exotics. They aren't the most reliable cars, but they sure look good, and they are the ultimate joyride car, risks be damned (few cars can replicate the exhaust note of a Ferrari). If HBS is about prestige, Stanford is about rebellious sex appeal. Just like not every Stanford GSB alum is of the same caliber, knowledgeable “car guys” know that there’s a huge difference between Ferarri and Maserati – the former is a real sports car, while the latter is a piece of sh*t. But to the uninitiated, they draw attention in equal measure.

Wharton is like a German exotic – Porsche, AMG, Maybach, Alpina, and Ruf, which represents a long history of performance that is analytical, clinical and precise, with styling that has always maintained a sporty middle ground, in between the conservative or even stodgy styling of the Brits and the more extreme elements of the Italians. They combine the quality/reliability of German engineering that the British and Italian sports cars don't have, with the cachet that rivals only the British and Italian luxury cars. The styling for the most part hides some of the best engineering under the hood, so the cars tend to draw less attention on the road. For example, most people may not even know the difference between an AMG or a regular Benz, much like most people may not have heard of Wharton, but when you say “Penn”, they respond, “oh, Penn State.” Moreover, they don't quite have the same cachet of the British and Italian luxury cars, even though many drivers would still kill to say “I drive a Porsche” even if it’s just a Cayenne (i.e. a Toyota SUV with a Porsche stamp).

Booth is like Mercedes-Benz – one of the preeminent luxury car brands, but without as much of the sex appeal and prestige of an exotic car. Underneath the hood, the performance is as good and sometimes even better than its more “prestigious” counterparts in the UK, Italy, or its neighbor in Zuffenhausen. In fact, while a Ferrari, Aston Martin or Porsche owner will talk about the driving experience as “fun”, “raw” or “holy f*ck yeah!!!”, Benz owners will whip out spreadsheets of performance statistics to quantify how their cars are just as good as the others. Styling wise, it’s even more conservative than its German counterparts, perhaps a bit stodgy, boxy and awkward at times (and some models are just downright ugly). But hey, it's built like a tank - impenetrable to any kind of criticism.

Kellogg is like a Volkswagen - they aren't the most reliable cars, but they are sure fun cars to drive. They also have a very young, hip and aspirational image - but one that is within reach of many people. When you think of the Beetle, Golf GTI, Jetta, Cabrio, Rabbit, Vanagon/Westfalia (hippie van!!), Passat or Touraeg, you think of a hip young couple who shop at farmer’s markets on their way back from CB2 to pick up funky kitchenware to decorate their so-hip-it-hurts exposed brick loft space – in the suburbs. They are very good at promoting and managing its reputation as a “cool and hip” car to drive. Oh, and they are always smiling, showcasing their Crest Whitestrips ™ bleached teeth. But damn, they are a good looking bunch of people who manage to out party every other school and still look good doing it.

Sloan is like an Audi - more people have them than you'd expect, and for a German car, they are a bit younger and hipper – and more accessible. They are mentioned alongside the other great auto manufacturers, but still fly under the radar in most discussions. They are reliable workhorses that hide its performance and luxury behind a very understated and unassuming exterior – much like Sloanies and their abilities. Even their sportier versions (S-series, R8) are understated compared to its direct competitors. If its peers are a combination of style and substance, they are almost focused entirely on substance, if at the expense of style (if you have ever been to the MIT campus, you’ll know what I’m talking about).

Columbia is like a BMW - an amazing machine that combines performance, quality and cachet, but it also attracts a disproportionate number of overly aggressive drivers who believe they own the road, and act accordingly (blasting horrendous techno music, cutting people off in traffic, honking their horns, etc.). Like the BMW, the “New York advantage” of Columbia has a Jersey Shore element to it. Cheesy club music, overpowering cologne, and drivers who love challenging every single luxury/sports car at a stop light. Or if you happen to drive a Honda (Stern), the BMW driver will rev up his engine and give that look of disdain. I’m sure there are some laid back and friendly BMW drivers, but they seem to be drowned out by the sheer number of a**holes – much like the loud minority at Columbia that give the school a bad name. But hey, across the board, they are still amazing machines and an astute person will know it’s not the car, but the driver behind the wheel. Just don’t get the X5, which is known to explode for absolutely no reason, much like a few loose cannon Columbia alums out there.

Tuck is like a Swedish car, from the pedestrian (Saab and Volvo) to the exotic (Koenigsegg). It's quirky, relatively small in number, but has a fiercely loyal following of aficionados. Not many people know about these cars, but those that do rave about it. Some Tuckies, like the Koenigsegg, are truly exceptional and can stand toe to toe with any other exotic in terms of performance, styling and cachet. Beyond that, if there is any reputation it has, it’s the family-oriented cars for hippies. Volvos and Saabs like Tuck seem to scream “I am a liberal outdoorsy vegan who collects bumper sticker slogans!” Strap some skis and bikes on its luggage rack, and you’re off camping! Don’t forget to bring your weed and Phish paraphernalia.


LBS is like Jaguar and Land Rover. A luxury British car that is high performance, but with some reliability issues that vary from one car to the next. Styling is decidedly refined and sophisticated, much like how LBS grads see themselves. They have that muscular feel of American cars with more European styling and refinement, much like how LBS has that American-style 2-year MBA structure but with a decidedly European student body. Also, when you think of Jaguar and Land Rover owners, you think of upper middle class blokes of all ages (including the geriatric) who love to drink, and drink lots of anything alcoholic – much like LBS which might as well own a chain of pubs for its students.

INSEAD is like Peugeot-Citroen. Not because they are both French, but because they are both very well known everywhere in the world but the US. Similar to how Peugeot-Citroen is one of the world’s largest car makers, INSEAD is one of the largest business schools – but if you lived in the US you’d never know it. While they have a reputation amongst the public as “the everyday car for Europeans,” to those in the know they have the reputation for building supercars that have dominated the Le Mans (which again means nothing to the NASCAR/Indy centric US). Similarly, INSEAD grads are found in all sectors of industry from middle management upwards, but that has a reputation as Europe’s preeminent business school, and one of the most respected names within those who know business schools.

Ross is like General Motors. A bit of everything for everyone, but not really anything in particular that makes them really stand out, other than the fact that it has the feel of a quintessential college town. When you think GM, you think America. When you think Michigan, you think Americana. And like GM cars, quality will vary, but for the most part the cars are down the middle when it comes to styling, performance, and reliability. It’s a solid, good choice for a buyer with a modest budget and who isn’t interested in flash or being super urban and hip – much like how Ross is a solid middle-of-the-road top school for those who want some of the prestige of the other top 8 schools, but who aren’t too fussy and caught up in keeping up with the Joneses. It’s a utilitarian choice that gets you from point A to point B – a degree that helps you get a decent job so you can enjoy your family life. And if you want a bit of flash, you get their Cadillac.

Fuqua is like Chrysler, because it’s hard to tell the difference between GM and Chrysler cars, just like it’s hard to separate out Ross and Fuqua, and they seem to be interchangeable amongst applicants anyhow. Sebring or a Buick? Which one is Chrysler and which one is GM? I thought the PT Cruiser was GM? I’m confused. Just like Ross, Fuqua is a solid middle-of-the-road choice when you see the MBA for what it is (get a better job) while you get on with your life. It’s for people who don’t have hang ups about what school they go to, but want a good school – and unlike NYU and Haas (see below), for people who want a more quintessential American college town experience. Basketball. Football. Cheerleaders. Suburban Americana.


Darden is like Ford because it prides itself on being “built tough”. From the Mustang to the F-150 to the Crown Victorias, their bread and butter are cars that can withstand all kinds of grit, grime and abuse – much like how Darden students pride themselves on their ability to survive their infamous workload. Just like the Big-3 US automakers, applicants tend to apply to Michigan, Darden and Duke (below) collectively because they are similar to one another. The difference is, Darden is the macho brother of the three. Not known for their refinement, but the cars most likely to withstand nuclear war. Don’t mess with Darden, because they will grind you up, spit you out, and crush you with their boots of steel. Boo-yah!

Stern is like Honda – similar to Duke/Darden/Michigan, it’s a solid choice for people who want a good program that gets them from point A to point B in relative comfort, but whose style is a bit more fun and peppy than its Detroit counterparts. From the Civic to the Accord to the Pilot, it’s about practicality first and foremost. However, there are obnoxious owners of all marques, and Honda is no different – there is the minority of folks who constantly proclaim in that smug way that they could’ve gotten a BMW or Benz, but chose a Honda because of blah blah blah, just like a few Sternies here and there will claim they could’ve gotten into Columbia or Booth, but chose Stern instead. I don’t doubt that it’s true, but methinks the lady doth protest too much. Going to Stern is just like buying a Honda – no one is ever going to fault you for it, and for many who go there, they are happy with it being an enjoyable means to an end.


Haas is like Toyota, much like Stern is like Honda. It’s for the practical minded who simply want to get a good degree so they can get a better job. Nothing more or less than that. And Haas fits that bill, much like a Corolla, Prius or a Tacoma. While some may be curious about why you would buy an American car, no one will question why you bought a Japanese car – just like many internationals may have more explaining to do when it comes to “why did you go to Ross/Fuqua/Darden?” but fewer if any outside the US will question why you chose Haas. Or Stern. In other words, Haas and Stern are like Toyota and Honda because they are all very well known worldwide, whereas American cars have more limited traction, especially outside of North America.
And don’t even start on the supposed luxury brands such as Lexus or Acura – as good as they may be, they’re just “nicer Toyotas” and “nicer Hondas” – and there’s nothing wrong with that.


Johnson is like Subaru – a high quality and practical car, for those who know about it. The marque is typically not on the top of people’s minds at first, although if you were to ask them to track how many Subarus they see in a day, chances are there are more out there than they ever realized. You see, Subarus don’t like to draw attention to themselves, they simply get on with their business, and they attract buyers who want a reliable import/Japanese car, but want something different for the sake of being different (and something a bit more rugged). In a way, they are quirkier than the other Japanese marques, using boxer engines instead of an inline or V. Similarly, Johnson is sort of out there in rugged upstate New York – there’s more of them working amongst you, but you wouldn’t realize it unless you actually asked people where they went to school.


Yale is the Mazda of business schools. What causes a person to go to Yale over NYU? It’s a toss up, really just like a Honda versus Mazda. Oftentimes, it comes down to who gives you the better deal and better financing. Similar to Honda, Mazdas are known for being fun and sporty economy cars that don’t take themselves too seriously. For example, who chooses Miatas? While I’m sure some could afford the more expensive European cars, most want a comparable quality experience that is within their reach. Again, if given the choice with no constraints, I’m sure most Miata owners would rather drive a German or Italian sports car, but few if any are complaining about driving that zippy little Miata around town. Similarly, while few would choose Yale over other top 8 schools, it’s a place where people seem pretty happy about being there – they could certainly do a lot worse.

Anderson is the Nissan of business schools. Like Nissan would be compared to other Japanese marques, Anderson tends to fall under the radar, even though it’s known worldwide and they’re everywhere. Similar to Toyota and Honda, for the most part they are solid cars that appeal to the practical minded buyer who just wants to “get on with it.” Likewise, Anderson attracts students who simply see the MBA as a means to an end, and want a high quality school that will help them get a good job – it’s the practical choice for many who want or need to stay in California for their careers. While it doesn’t get the same level of exposure as Toyota or Honda, no one is going to fault you for ever getting a Nissan. At worst, it elicits no opinion, and at best, a positive one.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Building World's biggest Ship - Maersk

Some internal news from my company regarding the outlook for shipping:

"Tough outlook with all round slowdown in Europe, US as well as China... but when the economy rebounded back one day, we'll be the first ready to step in to take advantage of the opportunity"

Maersk is building the world's biggest container ships, the Triple-Es. The first of two propellers has now left Hamburg as very special cargo bound for an Asian shipyard, where the vessels are being built. And when we say big, we mean really big …

With a diameter of 10m and weighing about 70 tonnes, the giant, four-bladed propeller for the first Triple-E was loaded onto Maersk Salalah. Two of these propellers will provide the thrust for the 400-metre-long Triple-Es.

The propellers take 10 minutes to cast but 10 days to cool. The first Triple-E vessel will be delivered in July, 2013.


 With a capacity of 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, the Triple-Es will be the biggest container vessels sailing the seas when the first vessel of a 20-ship order takes to the water from July.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Oct 12" - Transactions & Portfolio Update

No. of Lots
Average Price (SGD)
Total Value (SGD) based on average price
Market Price (SGD)
Total Value (SGD) based on market price
Total Dividends collected (SGD) since purchase
ST Engineering
SIA Engineering
FraserCenter Point Trust
First Reit
PLife Reit
Ascendas Hosp. Trust
Unit Trusts

The game plan for this month was not to add too much as the earning season shapes up again in the last quarter of 2012. As with many fellow investors, I am mostly sitting on the sidelines awaiting for the earnings report to take over the major role in the month of Oct.

For the month of Oct, I've only added a single lot of First Reit and it does not look like I will enter again for the rest of the month. My reasoning for entering First Reit is on the back that First Reits drop a massive 2.7% on one morning which then rebounded even on closing. I've not known the reason why it drops in the morning but for First Reit to drop such massively without any sort of news is an opportunity which is still fairly reasonable imo.

I think as we get closer to year end, the fiscal cliff situation will become much more tense than it is right now and I do foresee a panic in the market which will probably bring the STI back down to the next support line at 2980 and 2930. Till then, I will be monitoring very closely on Singtel and Comfort - both price of which has fallen to a nice level for investor to enter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

QAF - Man can live on "roti" alone

I like the heading from the analyst's report from CIMB on QAF. It says that man can only live on bread alone. Well, true. It is a consumer staples which most people do eat it for breakfast typically.

Here's my summarized version and keytakeaway of the report from CIMB on QAF:

  • Defensive consumer staples with a nice dividend yield of $0.05/share (~6.6%).
  • Margin pressure from Massimo, a new competitor in the bread industry with inception in 2011.
  • Nevertheless, dividends looks to be sustainable.
  • Potential catalyst - chances of divestment of the pork production in Australia, which barely break-even.
  • Outlook - JV to set up a bakery in China, Fujian. No material impact on the growth trajectory in the near terms.


Friday, October 5, 2012

TGIF with B - "Life as an Accountant"

What do you think of life as an accountant was in the office??

Hmm...deskbound, numbers, challenging or boring?? Well, you pretty much guessed it correctly most of the time.

My office desk as an accountant is just hmm...messy with sticky notes.