Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Chewing The Fat About Cowboys & Indians
I have a few friends who work at senior positions at Bursa and Securities Commission, not trying to do name dropping, just the facts. We always end up up with heated debates on issues surrounding the markets. The latest was a friend's concerns over the cowboy-ness of our markets.
A cowboy market can be termed as a market that is full of syndicates and massive rampings and "lootings" by unscrupulous players. My friend was concerned about that and wanted to look for ways to rein them in with their own lassos. I basically told my friend that you need some "cowboy-ness" in every market. When I forced my friend to come out with cowboy names, names such as SAAG, Huaan, Mulpha, Mobif, Compugates... were mentioned. The theory goes that these counters would have less than 100,000 shares traded normally and can be considered to be dead ducks for most of the year. Suddenly out of the blue, these counters can register daily volumes in excess of 10 million a day! Surely they were rigged!!!
What are syndicates but the collusion among a few players. If the intention is to control the counter, ramp it up and dump, then its sinister and illegal, and should be prosecuted. When they do not really have control, i.e. a relatively large free float, like KNM, you cannot say these counters are controlled even though there may be syndicates behind these counters. Many syndicates do have the controlling shareholders behind them - if you think syndicates do not exist, please go fly a wau bulan.
I am not asking the Bursa or SC to ignore some of the more unscrupulous activity. I am basically voicing out that you need some element of cowboy-ness in every market. If the counter has sufficient liquidity and a good free float, and it appears to be high on volume list, its best to let things be. If the counter appears to be controlled - e.g. more than 50%-70% being tied up and the rampings seems rampant, then by all means query the company. The trouble is 99.9999% of all companies queried will answer that they are not aware of any news, developments or business activities that would have led to such irrational activity in their share's volume and price.
The SC and Bursa SHOULD look closely when certain groups of players buy and sell the same shares among themselves, and when that level is more than say 50% of total volume traded in a day. The SC and Bursa should have the ability to look at trades breakdowns to get at those information. But that alone is not a sufficient "bad factor".
Buying and selling can also be pure day trading, which cannot and should not be faulted. Heck, even EPF buys and sell the same shares in the same day.
The SC and Bursa are there to maintain some sort of integrity in the market and to make sure the public are not duped. It is better to have "share gains threshold" before launching a thorough investigation into the manipulation or syndicate activities. I would propose that:
a) put a company on your red alert list if a stock gains more than 50% in value over a 4 week period
b) an investigation should be launched if the said gains is also accompanied by: massive "private placements" activity; and/or certain individuals or groups recording same buys/sells activity that accounts for more than 50% of daily volume
Other than that, it is better to let cowboys be cowboys, you need that element to bring back the crowds. Its a necessary part of a healthy functioning market. Btw, I also told my friends that there are now way tooo... many lawyers working at Bursa and the SC, trying to monitor and run the local markets. Its not healthy, its too legalistic... and most importantly, most lacked market savvy-ness and an appreciation of market nuances, which are paramount in order to govern effectively and successfully. In the end, you will end up with just one of the two, effective but not successful, or successful but not effective.
p/s photos: Kanjiya Shihori
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