Sunday, 31 October 2010

4 GREEN Ideas for Malaysia

Last weekend, I went up to Genting for relaxing and escape from the warm weather in KL. Wondering how could Malaysians live in such condition in the next decades, if the temperature going up consistently?
Amazingly, when I turn-on the television, a GREEN programme was on-screen. Instead of sleeping, I watched the whole documentary about some great ideas or innovations being researched by scientists in US. The programme highlighting 4 green ideas:

1. Green Insulator
The insulator is made up with a special liquid gel, which could prevent heat transfer up to 350 degree Celsius. It can be applied in the glass (transparent) of any building, to bring the sun light in, without heating the interior. We can expect 20% energy saving from air-conditioner and lightnings.

2. Green Roof
We heard of the this idea long time ago, where people planting on the roof.
- it could absorb heat from entering the building.
- it could release fresher air back to environment just like jungle did.
- it is definitely better aura than concrete jungle.

In view of the decreasing food supply nowadays, planting vegetables or fruits above the roofs can be a good business.

3. Fiber Optic
I like this kind of technology which could bring the free flowing sun light from outside to inside of the building.

Fiber optic is flexible enough to bend and extend as long as you like. It is natural, no sound, and research show that student study under such light could let them concentrate more on studies.

Fantastic !!!

4. Nanotechnology Solar Panel
As we know, solar panel could turn sun light to generate electricity. But, it is heavy, thick and space consuming. With nanotechnology, scientists converted it into much much smaller solar panel which can be handle easily , and it can cat onto any surface of a building, making the whole building like a power plant. The only shortfall is this kind of green technology is the most expensive.

Malaysia could invite experts from other countries to design and construct using such green technology.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

China's banking stocks... Your next destination?

While Malaysian market is hovering around 1,500 points, a ground survey shows that local investors are skeptical about the sustainability of our market. Bursa Malaysia's website shows that local retail participation is merely at 25% daily.

Maybe, we could look aboard to find some other investing options. And, China's banking stocks could suit investors appetite for the following reasons:-
  1. China was an under-performer this year
  2. China's banks should report better profits
  3. Robust loan demand

Due to the higher interest rate being announced recently, banks of China should experienced expansion of net interest margin for the next few quarters. Although loan growth is moderating now, it was still high, and will continue as long as China's economy is growing. We can't deny that China is the world's engine of growth currently, in which we persist for the next few years, at least.

Will China raise rate again?

Depending how fast and big the housing bubble was, China would continue it's monetary tightening policy going forward. In contrast, Malaysia had raised interest rate 3 times this year, albeit small percentage, China is lagging us although with a more serious property bubble.

However, there are risks involved.
  1. Banks could be facing liquidity problem
  2. Potential of loan defaults
  3. Huge loans allocated to local government's infrastructure projects
In order to minimized risks, investors should favor BIG lenders (pic) and avoid smaller banks, given their greater capital sufficiency.

Friday, 29 October 2010

The Preview of YTL Comms vs Astro

A lot of fighting happening on the business scene nowadays, with Proton-Fernandes and AirAsia-Tiger this year. In 2011, there will be a heat battle between YTL Comms and Astro, taking on the local broadcasting field by storm.

Business Times reported that YTL Communications Sdn Bhd planning to launch a hybrid TV by end of 2011, with many industry observers wondered how it is going to break the exclusive screening rights that satellite TV giant Astro holds with various TV content providers.

"If you think you can do a monopolistic thing and control everything, I'm sorry, that era is gone. The game is over" said Tan Sri Dr Francis Yeoh, managing director of YTL Corp Bhd and executive chairman of its telecommunications arm, YTL Comms.

YTL Comms is going to collaborate with US-based Sezmi Corporation to deploy hybrid TV services in Malaysia and Asia Pacific, which will combine digital TV broadcast technology with YTL's fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband services that would be rolled out soon.

What is hybrid TV?
With hybrid TV, consumers can view live or recorded local and cable TV stations, on-demand movies and TV shows and web videos on their mobile devices, their personal computers or their TV sets at home. It was like combining the services offered by Maxis, Astro, and Streamyx into 1 single platform.

Watch out for 18th November 2010 !!!
This is the date when YTL will launch its 4G mobile Internet with voice, which will cover 65% of the country's populated areas, right from day one. Let's wait and see. YTL said it will be monumental !!!

The battle with Astro...
As for my understanding, YTL Comms' new TV service will be based on pay-as-you-use basis.
  • NO minimum fee
  • NO strings attached
  • World's 1st wireless quad play service, bringing broadband, voice, TV and video-on-demand together
Wow... Sounds interesting enough for all Malaysians, especially current Astro's subscibers. Let's seat back and watch the most interesting Battle of 2011 - YTL Comms vs Astro.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

New Listing: Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering (MMHE)

MMHE is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MISC, which is 65% owned by Petronas. It has two main divisions namely engineering and construction (E&C), and marine conversion and marine repair. Its two fabrication yards were in Pasir Gudang (Johor) and Kiyanly (Turkmenistan).

Being one of the 7 licensed offshore fabricators in Malaysia, MMHE tops both in terms of annual tonnage capacity and market share, mainly because backed by Petronas. Other fabricators were Sime Darby, Kencana, Boustead Heavy Industries, Brooke Dockyard, Ramunia and Oilfab.

Meanwhile, its marine conversion business could expect more demand on its floating production system, driven by increased developments in deepwater oil and gas fields. In comparison, installation of fixed structures is not economical in water depths over 300m, thus, giving floating production an advantage.

Key investment points:
  1. Almost guaranteed jobs from Petronas.
  2. International opportunities and technical know-how enhanced by strategic tie-up.
  3. Exposure to Caspian Sea's oil and gas projects with Turkmenistan yard.
Is MMHE a good investment?
Target price set by RHB and OSK is RM4.00 and RM4.54 respectively...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sick of TM's monopoly status...

In frustration and disappointment, I wrote this post about the connectivity problem of our beloved Malaysia. I am writing this at a cafe, where I have to bare all the petrol and beverages costs in order to arrived. Without further ado, I opened my laptop while waiting for my hot white coffee, to express what's the feeling inside me.

Deep down in me, I want to channel a very clear message to TM and Government that Rakyat like us are very very very frustrated with the Internet service provided by TM. I am bringing up the feeling of Malaysians as a whole that Streamyx is nowhere to transform our nation to high-income nation.

Please do not blame me first. Let me explain my point of view as below:

Dear TM:
- The Internet connection at my area (at least) was always down, even though I had highlighted to them a few times. Please note that I am just "highlighting" to TM. But, these seems not working without "complaining".

Dear Government:
- First we have to ask ourselves why such things happened?
- In fact, this is happening for so many years, although TM did make some improvements.
- It's very clear that the monopoly status conquer by TM on fixed dial-up Internet services (Streamyx) is suck.
- Why not open up the business? Just like the competitive broadband business?

Please do something fast, this is a very urgent issue hampering the efforts being made to attract foreigners to work here, transforming Greater KL, transforming Malaysia as a high-income nation...

Special Credit Cards for Hospital? Worth it?

Before checking into a hospital, make sure that you bring your favorite hospital linked credit card next time. Due to stiff competition in credit card industry, special cards which linked to hospital services became a "think out of the box" thing here. Below highlights some of the features for such credit card:
  • 2% cash rebate on all expenses at the hospitals
  • 20% savings on all hospitals' suites
  • 10% savings on all hospitals' charges during admission (excluding doctors' fees)
Fortunately, I had never stay in a hospital before. And due to this, I never experienced the service provided by a particular hospital.

Do we really need such a card?

For me, I will use credit cards to shop, if credit cards can gave me discount /  rebate. Going for shopping can be anytime anywhere as long as I like it. However, going to hospital was not a leisure event, which I do not like to do, and I believe you feel the same. Instead, we should buy a Medical Card for hospitalization.

I think this kind of credit card is meant for those who always visiting hospital, or those old forks. Besides getting discount, cardholders are entitle to fast-admission and earn points for various usage. Good?

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Deficit Commission Offers Little

The President's "Deficit Commission" is composed of members of both political parties, who are expected to make recommendations to deal with the burgeoning national debt. Fat chance! The entitlements are off the table.

Instead, the commission is exploring various ways to raise tax revenues through the mantra of "tax reform." No effort is being made to curb spending, other than military spending. This is a complete waste of time and taxpayer money.

Without a plan to phase out the entitlements, medicare, medicaid and social security, there is no hope of dealing with America's long term public indebtedness.

The Commission reports its findings on December first. At that point there will be an effort, no doubt, to ram through the commission's so-called bi-partisan suggestions that all amount to higher taxes and a weakened military. Even that won't help.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

What Malaysians really want from Telcos?

Recently, a little bit of whirlwind is happening in the local telecommunication industry, when Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) awarding the 2.6GHz spectrum to mobile telcos.

Why battling for the spectrum?
Without spectrum, mobile telcos will not be able to expand their digital business. That's why many quarters are lobbying hard for the precious spectrum allocations. The latest one is the 2.6GHz spectrum.

Who is the winner?
Surprisingly, all the 8 existing wireless players and 1 newcomer (see picture below) get 20Mhz block each. The only newcomer is a company linked to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary.

Controversial part...
Unlike practices did by other global governments, there is NO tendering process being called. No tender, No contest, No transparent, No competition. In the end, No benefit to rakyat.

All these years, Rakyat has been suffering from high telephone bills comparing to other nations. Furthermore, the service and coverage is not up to international standard. To name it specifically, our broadband and Internet connections is suck given the price we are paying for. Achieving high-income nation status with current speed and price? Sure will failed...

What Malaysians want is better coverage, lower price, higher speed of Internet services to connect with the world out there. How are we going to do business online with the world? Dear telcos and MCMC, please think about it, for the benefit of Rakyat (YOU and Me).

Saturday, 23 October 2010

5 rules of thumb on M-REIT investing

Unlike other countries, Malaysia REIT (M-REIT) has its own characteristic. Therefore, one has to master the following 5 basic rules before investing in M-REIT.

1. Management
Good asset management team will stand out from the rest, in case, there is a property bubble. There is cycle in real-estate industry, where required REIT managers to examine and act accordingly. For those experienced managers, any slowdown in real estate industry provided them the opportunities to enhance the trust portfolio.

2. Comparing dividend yield
The main purpose to invest in REIT is for its stable dividend yield. M-REIT is popular for its high dividend yield, which ranges from 7-9% currently. Of course, each REIT has its own figure due to different type of assets.

3. Choosing underlying assets
There is commercial, industrial, hotel, hospital, shopping mall and plantation REIT in Malaysia. Example, if pandemic flu occurs, hotel and shopping mall based REIT tend to under-perform, while hospital REIT will remain resilient.

4. Market capitalization
Size is the matter for Malaysia REIT, with most of them still commencing less than RM1bil market capitalization. Liquidity could pose a danger for investors to trade. Hopefully, with the emergence of SunReit and CMMT, M-REIT could become more attractive and liquid.

5. Compare with regional REITs
M-REIT tends to lag behind regional REITs, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. By tracking regional REITs, investors could predict the trend of M-REITs. This is because M-REITs are relatively young now.

Friday, 22 October 2010

AirAsia vs Tiger Airways

"If Tigers were meant to fly, they would be born with wings"

What do you think?
Congratulations, AirAsia won another award - "The Best Airline Advertisement" (if there is such an award)!!!

Interestingly, both airline has many similarities.
Both are budget airline
Both are headed by Tony (AirAsia's Tony Fernandes and Tiger Airways' Tony Davis)

Below is the full-story of the battle:
Fernandes : "We're Asians, not a bunch of white guys running the airline"
Davis        : "It was a racist remark"
Fernandes : "It was a tiny carrier"
Davis        : "Tiger aims to be among the top three global airlines"
< Then, the famous advertisement popped up in Singapore newspaper >
Davis        : "It's no wonder some of our competitors are getting so rattled"

Because of the interesting advertisements from AirAsia, DiGi, Maxis, Celcom... I like reading advertisements more than before. Hopefully, after the advertisement-war, price-war will erupted soon. By then, "Everyone can Benefit"...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Where is the money for "Warisan Merdeka"?

One of the most controversial project announced in Budget 2011, Warisan Merdeka claim the top spot. Dubbed as Malaysia's tallest building with 100-storey tall, the 10 years project will kick-start next year. However, many quarters lamented the project as lavish, unnecessary, and would worsen the famous KL city traffic.

In respond to this, PNB's group chief executive Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah hold a press conference to address the issue. Among the key phrases taken are:

"We are not taking government's money (for this project)"
"PNB had the capability to finance the project through internally generated funds"
"PNB existing head quarter will be 30 years old when the project is completed"

Show me the $$$...

Yes, I believe PNB would not use government's money for this project. Anyway, what does it meant by internally generated funds? As we know, PNB managed a range of Amanah Funds in the country. 

Yes, I believe PNB would not use our Amanah Saham Funds' money for this project. The internally generated funds is mainly coming from the returns generated through investments in a portfolio of listed companies, such as Sime Darby. Actually, who gave money to PNB to invests? Is this called "internal generated funds"?

Meanwhile, there is fact that KL office space is over-supply currently, and projected it will precede for another 6 years. Current take-up rate at KL city center is only 80%. Although it will take 10 years to complete, the huge building means great office space will be made available by then. Could PNB find the tenants by then?

Yes, PNB will make the new tower as its new head quarter, and for its investee companies too. But, can it be enough for 100% occupancy? Definitely NOT enough. So, PNB have to attract other tenants, which is a problem to another problem - traffic congestion.

Just imagine, 10,000 people with 2,500 cars coming out from the car park!!! How are you going to attract tenants? If no tenants, PNB would face losses (I hope not our Amanah Saham) then.

Undoubtedly, I would like to see a successful big project taking shape. But, due considerations must be made to such multi-billion project. Can we build it at Putrajaya instead?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Daunting Task Ahead

Krugman and other Democratic loyalists are forever pointing out that the national debt was a much higher percentage of GDP at the end of World War II and therefore we should not be concerned about the high debt levels of the present day. These arguments are completely disingenuous.

During World War II, America mobilized a huge effort to produce guns, tanks, aircraft and other war-related goods. When the war ended, there was no longer a need for all of this spending and spending levels were dramatically reduced almost overnight. There were no "hard decisions" about reducing spending. The war was over.

Today, spending is driven by entitlement programs that large parts of the American public depend upon and expect to see continued. Spending, long run, can only be reduced by essentially eliminating these entitlement programs -- restraining them won't work for the same reasons that they have never been restrained.

Both federal and state spending is mostly driven by entitlements. It isn't fraud and "wasteful" spending. It is the entitlements. It is not the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. It is the entitlements.

So, unless Krugman and his loyalist band of the Democratic faithful are proposing massive cuts in entitlement spending, which last I checked they weren't, America faces a massive debt crisis that will, in the end, require the same solution that Europe is now moving toward -- eliminate the entitlements.

Why China raise interest rate? And, what's the effect?

Yesterday, China surprisingly raised its interest rate by 0.25% as follows:
- 1 year lending rate from 5.31% to 5.56%
- 1 year deposit rate from 2.25% to 2.50%

Why China raise interest rate?
1. To cool down the over-heating property sector.
2. Combat inflation
3. Low liquidity in the banking system

While inflation was hovering around 3.5% currently, even though the deposit rate has been raised, the net real interest rate is still in negative territory (3.5% - 2.5% = -1.0%). This is one of the main reason why Chinese were going all out to invests, especially in real-estate, due to its low yield if sitting in the bank (even lower than Malaysia).

However, China would be facing another problem...

Raising interest rate would attract capital inflows, which could dampen the purpose of containing inflation. Foreign investors view Chinese renmimbi as undervalue, mainly due to interventions by Chinese government. The latest news could ignite a fresh round of thoughts, worsening the current situation, pushing renmimbi higher and faster.

In fact, China should target it's main problem specifically - real estate. Inflation there is mainly caused by high flying properties prices. Hence, measure such as property gain tax should be introduced first, before raising interest rate, to avoid further attracting inflow of hot-money.

Affecting Malaysia?

Given that China is one of the largest trade partner with us, Malaysia could see a surge in capital inflow also. In fact, the whole region will experience the same fate of stronger currency, making our export to western countries more expensive. Anyway, I believe that we can offset the negative effect with China being the largest commodities / resources consumer, which supplied by Asian countries.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Budget 2011: Goodies for first-time house buyers

First Home Scheme was being introduced by the Government in Budget 2011 as below to encourage home ownership among Malaysians:
  • Specially cater for first-time house buyers with monthly household income below RM3,000.
  • 100% loan for houses priced below RM220,000.
  • 50% stamp duty exemptions on instruments of transfer on houses below RM350,000.
  • 50% stamp duty exemptions on loan agreement instruments on houses below RM350,000.
To facilitate the 100% loan, Cagamas Bhd (national mortgage corporation) will provide guarantee on the 10% down-payment to eligible house buyers.

Signals sent-out by Government:
1. Enabling first-time buyers to afford their first home.
2. Developers should build more houses which is affordable for such categories.

Advise to first-time house buyers:
1. The securing of such a loan is still subject to how much the banker willing to lend you.
2. 100% loan means higher monthly repayment for borrower.
3. Always buy within your means, not because of such scheme.

How about the buzzing higher down-payment ratio?
Although Government does not raising the down-payment to 20% or 30%, I believe it will announce later. The interesting part is always follows later.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Budget 2011: Price of Mobile Phone to DROP?

Yahoooo!!! Budget 2011 announced that ordinary phones would be exempted from the 10% sales tax. Yes, we can expect that the prices of mobile phones to drop a little bit, although not much, especially for first time buyers.

Would iPhone and other smart-phone's prices drops?
To be exact, the removal of sales tax is only meant for "ordinary phones", not smart-phones, as the latter already DO NOT have any sales tax. So sorry for those iPhone seekers out there.

For me, this will only benefiting those low income earners. Yet, I strongly agree with it. Instead, the 10% sales tax removal should first be on ordinary phones in the first place (anyway, now is not too late).

In today's era of connectivity and popular usage of social media (etc. Facebook, Twitter...), smart-phones and those with Internet applications, was the preferred choice for many of us. Thus, I do not view this announcement as a gift to many of us. What a disappointed happiness for me.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Post-Budget 2011 Interview with Finance Malaysia

* Please take note that this blog is for reading pleasure only, and NOT intended to offend any party.

Below are some questions posted to Finance Malaysia (FM), with some interesting reply:

Q    : Let's start off with the famous KL MRT project. Any comment?
FM : Well, this is definitely a good public transport reformations for KL citizen. However, please bare in mind that the extensions of two existing LRT lines still not yet started. Implementation is problem, not project.

Q    : How about the development of the Malaysian Rubber Board land in Sg. Buloh by EPF?
FM : The project costs RM10bil for 15 years. I don't know when EPF (Malaysians' retirement fund) role has changed to being a developer?

Q    : Malaysia's tallest building - 100-storey Warisan Merdeka. Is it necessary?
FM : So that Osama can either choose this or Twin-towers. Haha. Since EPF can be a developer, why not PNB? Malaysia Boleh spirit for all...

Q    : Existing income tax relief of up to RM6,000 extended to Private Pension Fund contributions. Good?
FM : Sounds good, but not viable. Because, first, those who afford private pension fund most likely already exceed the limit. Second, if we bought a simple life insurance, the premium plus with EPF contributions, already exceed the limit. Instead, government should separate life insurance premium with those contributions.

Q    : Wow... RM 3bil Karambunai eco-nature resort in Sabah.
FM : Yes. We have another "first" of the world, but, with RM 3bil we can buy the whole Sabah already.

Q    : Service tax increased from 5% to 6%. How would it affect us?
FM : Watch online TV, instead of Astro. 20% (5% to 6%) increase yet considered minimal as stated?

Q    : To develop football, a Football Academy will be build in Pahang. Why Pahang?
FM : First, can we revive our football team? Second, maybe Pahang is the home of prime minister (not football).

Q    : NO toll rate hike from PLUS expressway for next 5 years?
FM : I believe this is the only thing which directly benefiting me. Would it be better if this is permanent?

New Fund: OSK-UOB US Focus Equity Fund

Following the US government pump priming efforts during the global financial crisis, OSK-UOB believe that we are now witnessing the US economy being stabilized and poised for economic recovery albeit at its early stage. Henceforth, they offer investors a US-focused equity fund to capitalize on the US economic recovery.

Tag-line: "It is PRIME time to up your STAKES"

This is a feeder fund that will invest principally in Schroder International Selection Fund US Small & Mid-Cap Equity (launched on 10/12/2004), which invests primarily in equity securities of smaller and medium-sized US companies. Those are the US companies which, at the time of purchase, form the bottom 40% by market capitalization of the US market.

Key Summary
Fund category           : Feeder Fund
Fund type                 : Growth
Initial offering period : 15th Oct - 4 Nov 2010
Initial investment       : Min RM 1,000
Top-up                    : Min RM 100
Sales charge            : 5.50%
Exit fee                    : 1.00% (within 6 months, thereafter none)

Source: OSK-UOB

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Malaysia to curb capital inflows?

Due to weakening USD and record low-interest rate in the US, Europe and Japan, emerging markets have been a popular spot for excessive liquidity to park their money. Main reasons being:
  1. Emerging markets are the fastest growing economies currently
  2. Emerging countries are having higher interest rate
  3. Banking system of emerging countries are stronger (safer)
While develop countries are facing a currency downfalls, emerging countries are experiencing continuous inflow of hot money. This in turn causing a chaotic in currency exchange market, where emerging countries' currencies are hitting years high against developed nations. The imbalance forex market prompt central banks around the world to act or to curb any excessive flows of money which could jeopardised a particular countries, like 1997 Asian financial crisis.

In the latest developments on this hot topic, Thailand announced a 15% withholding tax on interests and capital gains on Thai bonds. In the meantime, South Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia has been using "quasi-capital" control, in which encouraging outflows of hot money.

The billion dollar question... Will Malaysia follow?

Ringgit is the 2nd BEST performing currency in Asia, behind Thai Bath. I think when Bank Negara started its "triple" hike in overnight policy rate (OPR) this year, they already foresee the side effect of capital inflows. Due to large chunk of it went to Malaysia Government Securities (MGS), coupled with strong and effective domestic financial systems, Malaysia can safely mitigate the effect currently. However, we must act soon because I expect more hot money would pour in from countries which had imposed capital controls moving forward. We can expect a much stronger Ringgit soon.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Why MMC want to take over UEM Group?

When the RM15.6 billions take-over news broke out, MMC share price has been rallying to multi-months high. It was reported that MMC is pairing with EPF and PNB with MMC holding a 40% stake of the consortium. On the other hand, Khazanah Nasional Bhd is the ultimate holding company of UEM Group Bhd.
The Pull factors…
  1. PLUS Expressways, is one of the key assets that spark MMC interests? The national’s largest cash-generating toll-operator undeniably is Khazanah’s golden asset with 55.2% direct and indirect interest.
  2. UEM Land, which has a huge land bank in southern corridor – Iskandar Development Region. This is favorable to Johor based MMC’s investments.
  3. To boost its construction arm with stronger muscle? UEM Group is having several projects in Malaysia, such as the Penang Second Bridge. MMC can leverage on the latter expertise and also to gain market share, given the lack of domestic awards.

What makes me interesting is the alternative MRT proposed by IJM-UEM recently. By acquiring UEM, MMC could break-up the joint venture and effectively eliminate the said rival proposal which reportedly costing much lower than the Gamuda-MMC RM35bil proposal. There are two possibilities:
  1. Take-over succeeds.
  2. Failed. But, MMC guaranteed succeeds in MRT project, because government is running out of time to consider an alternative proposed by IJM-UEM joint venture, which is remain uncertain.
Either way, MMC will gain more than harm. Or, is this the strategy employed by MMC?

QE2, The Yuan, and The Beat Goes On

Stock markets around the world have rallied by double digit percentages since early September. The financial news, of course, must explain this. (Explain the unexplainable -- that is their mission).

Enter "QE2:" QE2 means the Federal Reserve buys huge (think Trillions of dollars) amounts of treasury securities. This is the equivalent of printing money. QE2 is thought to be the great solution to our current malaise. The fear is that we may be collapsing into a deflationary spiral and only QE2 can save us. This is ridiculous of course. Printing money is never an intelligent monetary policy and there is certainly no evidence of deflation in the US economy.

Another non-issue is the Yuan. Tim Geithner simply cannot let a day go by without blasting Chinese authorities for not raising the value of the Yuan (and thereby further crushing the value of the dollar). This is no solution to our woes either. It is time to send Geithner back to to school to sit through a few economics classes. Geithner has no clue.

No one knows why markets go up except that when folks are especially negative on the future that typically leads to good markets. That's probably why we are where we are. The average shareholder has no particular interest in QE2, the Yuan, or any other irrelevancies.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

New Fund: PB Indonesia Balanced Fund

Today, Public Bank is launching its latest fund, PB Indonesia Balanced Fund, which primarily invests in the Indonesian market including Indonesian businesses or companies listed in other permitted markets. The fund adopts a balanced asset allocation (60% equity: 40% fixed income) approach to participate in the long-term growth prospects of the Indonesian market. The fund is managed by Public Mutual.

Key investment points:
  1. Indonesia is the largest economy and one of the fastest growing countries in Southeast Asia.
  2. An emerging economy which charted a healthy growth rate averaging 5.1% per annum (2008-2009)
  3. Large domestic demand base with robust consumer spending, and rich of commodities.
Key features
Offering period   : 12th Oct - 1st Nov 2010
Initial price         : RM 0.2500 per unit
Initial investment : Min RM 1,000
Top-up              : Min RM 100
Service charge   : Up to 5.50%

Source: Public Mutual

Monday, 11 October 2010

Krugman is a Broken Record; Hooray for Mortenson

In his column this morning, Paul Krugman continues to beat the dead horse of "too little stimulus." Not satisfied with a $ 13 Trillion national debt, is apparently in favoring of moving the US totals toward Greece numbers. It would just take another $ 3 Trillion to get there. Perhaps, Krugman wishes to squeeze Greece out of the headlines. This is Krugman's plan to make American number one (in debt).

It should be noted that Krugman did not receive a Nobel Prize for his work on macroeconomics. This doesn't stop him from holding forth as if he is the high priest of macroecnomics Fortunately, few outside the Obama White House, share Krugman's views and the public has long since jumped off the Krugman train.

Three economists shared the Nobel Prize, announced this morning. One of them, Dale Mortenson, is my old professor and a member of my Ph.d dissertation committee. Mortenson is a great economist and a marvelous human being. Three cheers for Dale Mortenson!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Obama Adopts the "Big Lie" Strategy

Desperate for something to say on the campaign trail, President Obama is now simply telling baldfaced lies. Worse, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on television and on radio to bring those lies to the public.

What lies? That foreign money is being washed through the Chamber of Commerce and is financing campaign adds across the country.

If the lies are truth, not lies, the Chamber is subject to criminal prosecution, since such money be a violation federal law. Obama does not object to George Soros, not an American citizen by the way, spending literally billions to help elect Obama president, but he now libels the Chamber of Commerce.

This man, Obama, has no shame and no sense of decency. If the Chamber is using foreign money, then give Eric Holder, your Attorney General a ring and begin the prosecutions. Otherwise, quit lying.

Incidentally, Mr. Obama, you might let Eric Holder look into MoveOn.Org and countless other Democratic organizations who have never publicly revealed their donors. Why has this only become of recent interest to the White House? November 2nd cannot come too soon. Congress should hold hearings on Mr. Obama's lies regarding campaign finance. This man, Obama, has no shame.

Rank: Guoco vs Genting

Recently, a mid-size brokerage firm in London states the possible corporate tussle in UK gaming company - Rank. What's interesting in UK in fact is the two Malaysian tycoons, Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan and Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. Rumour is brewing on the possible corporate tussle between the two to gain bigger control of the company.

As at June 30, 2010, Quek's Guoco Group Ltd and Lim's Genting Bhd owned 29.95% and 11.59% respectively. Speculation that Guoco may raise its stake in Rank to a more significant level has been around for some time. This seems more likely now because Rank has improved its operating performance, and it fits into Quek's style of owning at least a 60% stake in each of his core listed companies.

Genting is said to be monitoring the situation very closely, as Genting has just perform its multi-billion related party transaction (Genting Singapore sold its UK gaming operations to Genting Malaysia).

In my view, any actions taken would be coming from Guoco, not Genting side. Reasons being Quek has been actively on the look out for acquisitions. Guoco's cash holding has been decreasing, after launching a few acquisitions since 2008 crisis. Yet, Guoco is cash rich now.

Meanwhile, Genting Malaysia has utilized most of its cash after taking UK's gaming operations and US racino project. Although Genting Malaysia could raise cash easily, this could potentially falling out-of-favor from investors as a cash rich dividend stock.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

9.6 % and Counting

No good news for the President. Unemployment remains historically high and nothing in the foreseeable future will change things. The hardest hit are the "legally protected groups" -- minorities, high school graduates and older workers. This is not unusual.

Congress has mandated all sorts of special rights for these "protected" groups and as a result they will be the last to be hired and will only be hired when the economy is truly frothy. All of the "unprotected" groups, mainly white males between 18 and 40 years of age, will do much better. They are cheaper to hire, easier to fire, and less likely to sue for a workplace grievance. It's as if we designed our labor laws to favor white males and to penalize minorities and others. Whether by design or not, that is certainly the end result.

Obama's dream was to expand government and have the government hire those who support him politically. To some extent, Obama's dream was fulfilled by the Stimulus Act of 2009. But, alas, the public woke up and have called for the expansion of government to end. Bereft of ideas, Obama is now complaining that ordinary Americans simply are not smart enough to understand his policies!

The Obama Administration is now granting waivers to companies who plan to drop health care insurance for their employees. More than 120 large companies, including McDonald's, have now received government-granted waivers from the onerous requirement of Obamacare. What this means is that Obama decides who must obey the new law and who gets away with ignoring it. So much for the rule of law.

The bankruptcy (literal and figurative) of the Obama Administration is on display daily as key Administration figures desert the sinking ship. The tsunami is coming. 24 more days until November 2nd.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Where is my MEATBALLS?

Once in awhile, I'll dine-in at this famous fast food restaurant. However, this time it surprised me!!!

As normal, I order a plate of meatball spaghetti with tomato sauce, which is nice in taste. Without thinking, I straight away started my meal once it was on my table. Regrettably, I should have taken a photo (for the sake of proof). I remembered that it should be 4-5 meatballs previously, instead of 2 meatballs currently.
4 vs 2 (50% missing!!!)

Where is my MEATBALLS ???

Without arguing for the missing meatballs, I wondering why the said fast-food company did it that way? After 2 minutes, I come out with my own conclusion.
  1. The pretty waitress ate it while on the way of serving me. (2 meatballs in a mouth?)
  2. This is a company way to improve profit margin.
Reason number 2 seems to be more logic. Recently, the said company reporting better quarterly results with higher net profit was recorded. How to increase net profit per customer basis?
  1. Value-up or cross-sell other products to a customer
  2. Cutting the costs
Due to the fact that they failed to convince me to value-up, cutting cost (meatballs) is the best way. Although profit is the most important things in any business, please earn it in proper ways, not by undermining the benefits of customers.

Please give me back my MEATBALLS !!!

Leave China Alone

The level of the Yuan (the Chinese currency) is not even remotely a cause of the economic problems that the US faces. Appreciating the Yuan (and devaluing the dollar), a program advocated by Tim Geithner, is silly policy. The US has a miniscule savings rate and as long that is the case, we will have a huge trade imbalance (almost by definition, since whatever investment activity occurs in the US must have the savings provided from some external source).

It is becoming a bedrock of American economic polical life to blame someone else for our own foolish policies. By blaming others, you never face up to reality.

The cold, hard truth is that Obama's policies have damaged the prospects for a US economic recovery. It is not clear that Obama cares one way or another. He seems focused on other matters. But, Americans care. We will eventually have an economic recovery with permanently higher levels of unemployment. This will be the Obama economic legacy -- economic stagnation and slow economic growth.

Hopefully, after November 2nd, we can begin to remove some of the roadblocks to economic growth that the Obama team has put in the way of the economy. Most of the country would like to return to the bad old days of prosperity, even if Obama prefers not to.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

New Fund: OSK-UOB Capital Protected Asia Gaming & Hospitality Fund

With the Asian economies leading in the run up to the global economic recovery, it is expected that the gaming and hospitality sector in Asia would be positioned for growth. Supported by a stead fast growing population and rising income, the gaming and hospitality sector in Asia is thus expected to flourish.

On such expectation OSK-UOB offer investor a new fund that will seek to capitalize on the expected growth of this sector in the Asian region, particularly in Macau and Singapore whilst protecting* investors' capital.

This is a 4-year close-ended capital protected* fund which aim to provide regular income over the medium term whilst protecting investors' capital* on the maturity date.

This fund is suitable for investors who:
  1. have a low risk tolerance;
  2. seek capital protection*;
  3. share our view on the growth potential of the Asian gaming and hospitality sector during the run up to the world economic recovery;
  4. have a medium term horizon (4-year);
  5. seek regular income
Offer Period     : 5 Oct - 18 Nov 2010
Min Investment : Rm 1,000
Sales Charge    : 2.50%

* This capital protected fund is provided through investments in ZNIDs and not by a guarantee.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Why Malaysian market keeps going up?

Recently, I personally have a chance to met up with some businessman from different industries.

When we chat about business, they said "very competitive la".
When we chat about economy, they said "still very uncertain eh".
When we chat about KL market, they said "why keeps going up ahhhh?".

While newspaper and media are reporting a slew of  news regarding Euro debts problems, US high unemployment, Japanese deflation, and China's scary property bubbles, our market charging ahead unobstructed. In contrast, Ringgit is heading to a fresh 13-year high against USD, KLCI is trying to out-beat its highest ever level, surpassing the pre-crisis level now. Although our economy was not as good as pre-crisis, our KLCI did. Why?

Malaysia to gain from world's liquidity...

Taking a macro-economic view, this is all due to the liquidity that the world governments created to rejuvenate their economies out from the 2008 recession. Actually, we are one of the by-products of too much liquidity that was created. Just take yourself as an example.
Would you invest your money to get a better return compare to fixed deposit now?
What would be your investment then?

The answer is quiet clear-cut, YES, I will invest into share market, mutual funds, or property. Definitely not fixed deposit. Right?

Remember, US and other developed countries with great liquidity are having a near record low interest rate (almost zero). Ultimately, it encourages or forced people to invest and spend, instead of "eating" interest in banks.

Then, they channel their money into those high growth countries/region, the one which came out earliest from recession. 2009 we have Australia, New Zealand, and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China). 2010 we have south-east Asian countries, where Malaysia is one of them together with Indonesia.

It's not purely based on our economy, but, liquidity from other countries.
* Hint: What are the most popular mutual funds in the market now? Then, you will know the answer...

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The End of the Obama Agenda

Whatever the outcome on November 2nd, the Obama agenda is finished and cannot be resuscitated. Most of the economic agenda was aimed at pumping up the income of union and public sector employees. The health care system has been trashed and the financial sector lies under the most burdensome regulatory environment in history. Meanwhile ordinary Americans are still losing their jobs, their homes, their credit cards and their health care insurance. No wonder life is tough for Democrats.

The Obama answer to the enormous backlash to his first twenty one months in office is that the public doesn't understand his program. Unfortunately, for Obama the public does understand his program and has been opposed to it from the beginning.

Having nothing to run on but an incredibly unpopular legislative record, the Democrats, actively encouraged by President Obama, are resorting to mud slinging and personal attacks. That's about all they have left. This is the new politics that will be Obama's legacy to the American system.

Obama says that Americans don't understand. Yes, they do. The two biggest lies in the past two years are: 1) No one will lose their health insurance; and 2) We are bending the (health care) cost curve down. It's hard to imagine anyone in America, including folks in the White House, believe those lies anymore.

It is an Administration in shambles. The rats are leaving the sinking ship. The dream is over. Interviewed on public radio, students who lead the charge for Obama in 2008, were unanimous in their view that "Congressional elections aren't cool...I don't even know who my Congressman is...." So the students will sit this one out, but the adults will not sit this one out.

The Republicans will gain 65-70 seats in the House and 8-10 seats in the Senate. The era of Obama is over.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Lotus: Proton vs Fernandes & co‏

After racing F1 for barely less than a season, our supposedly 1Malaysia F1 racing team (now known as Lotus Racing Team) are taking their own stance on the Lotus brand. The high-profile brand tussle case has been taken to British court now, in which definitely does not represent the 1Malaysia spirit at all.

Although I'm not a F1 fan, I did watch F1 occasionally. Now, I had switched my channel to the court case, which I think is more interesting than on-the-track sensations. In F1, other than performance, everything is about branding and reputation and $$$. If not, why they dumped in so much money? For the sake of getting a court case?

Behind the scene...

For Proton, they want to rebuild their fragile brand by using Lotus to showcase their expertise internationally.
For Fernandes & co, they want to establish their own brand to oversea especially for AirAsia which flew directly to Europe. And, maybe just participate for fun.

Both side will win?

Since I do not know much about law and due to limited information, I would not comment on the court case. But, for sure, there is only one winner who can use the trade mark "Lotus" in the end. And, for sure, the loser will lose all - brand and money and time, but not publicity. Oops, publicity is essential for branding too...