Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guess Who Will Be Moving Up The Richest List Fastest This Year

The snippet below was taken from Forbes magazine:


Malaysia's Richest

#9 Vincent Tan


Net Worth$1.25 billionSource of Wealthdiversified
Age58Marital StatusMarried, 11 children
Self-made entrepreneur runs conglomerate Berjaya Group, but fortune sank by almost a quarter over the past year as shares stumbled. Owns social networking website Friendster.com and bought shares of Facebook through his Internet company, MOL.com. Failed to get a sports betting license from the government. Hates golf but loves scuba diving and working out at the gym.

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Its very hard to move up the top ten richest list in Malaysia as the gap from one to the other is in the billions. Supposedly, Vincent Tan is #9 with $1.25bn (RM3.75bn). There is a very strong likelihood that Vincent Tan will move up at least two rungs this year. At #8 is Syed Mokhtar with $2.5bn while at #7 is Yeoh Tiong Lay with $2.7bn. Dislodging #6 will be difficult as Teh Hiong Piow has $4.7bn.


Chances are high that Vincent will get to #7 at least this year because his stake in Friendster was swapped totally into Facebook shares. Rough estimates has figured his stake in Facebook at 1%. Facebook is about to list soon at a valuation of at least $90bn, and should get to $120bn-$130bn when it finally trades (if market does not collapse). His stake alone will add at least $1bn to his total.


The other major play is his stake in Cosway, which is rumoured to be sold soon for around RM2bn. Then there is the realisation of his stake in U Mobile, which may be listed as well this year. All said, Vincent may add $1.5bn-$1.8bn (RM4.5-RM5.4bn) to his net worth this year.


How has 2012 been for you so far?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Then Why Have The SC Task Force In The First Place?

Well, we probably won't see this kind of business reporting in local media, so have to rely on The Straits Times Singapore.


SC task force found Sime Darby triggered E&O general offer

By Yow Hong Chieh
January 30, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — A Securities Commission (SC) task force found that Sime Darby Bhd was obliged to make a general offer for Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Bhd shares after acquiring a 30 per cent stake in the property developer but was superseded by the regulator’s top ruling authority.
Singapore’s The Straits Times reported that the task force was of the view that a general offer obligation had been triggered as a new “concert party” was created between Sime Darby and E&O managing director Datuk Terry Tham, who jointly controlled more than 33 per cent in the property concern after the deal.
Malaysia’s takeover rules stipulate that any party that acquires more than a 33 per cent interest in a publicly-listed entity must carry out a general offer for the remaining shares.
A general offer can also be triggered if a new party buys less than 33 per cent but secures management control of the target company.
But the SC’s final ruling three-member committee ruled “in a majority decision” there was no general offer obligation as Sime Darby and Tham were not acting in concert, according to an affidavit by the agency’s second-most senior commissioner Datuk Francis Tan, which was sighted by the Singapore daily.
The committee also accepted the task force’s recommendation that the three groups which sold the blocks of E&O shares to Sime Darby did not collectively control the company and that the disposal did not trigger a general offer.
Sime Darby purchased its controlling 30 per cent interest from three major shareholders — Tham, Singapore’s GK Goh Holdings and a group of investors led by businessman Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah — at the end of August last year in a deal that valued E&O shares at RM2.30 a piece.
The purchase price represented a 60 per cent premium over the value of the shares in the company on the open market when the deal was announced.
The RM776 million deal triggered unease over the widely perceived coddling by the agency of large state-controlled companies at the expense of minority shareholders when exercising its authority on corporate takeovers.
The SC ruled six weeks after Sime Darby’s purchase of the three blocks that the plantation-based conglomerate did not have to make a general offer, prompting E&O minority shareholder Michael Chow to sue the SC for failing to compel Sime Darby to make a general offer for the rest of the shares.
The legal suit could renew debate over the SC’s handling of alleged irregular trading activities and will put pressure on SC chairman Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar, whose husband, the E&O chairman, raised his personal stock holdings in the company just weeks before Sime Darby announced the acquisition.
The SC has also filed an application to recuse the judge hearing the suit as he used to be with the regulator.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Smarter People Own More Stocks

 
Business Times - 26 Jan 2012


Smarter people own more stocks, says study

It finds a direct link between IQ and market participation


( NEW YORK ) The smarter you are, the more stock you probably own, according to researchers who say they found a direct link between IQ and equity market participation.

Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

Intelligence, as measured by tests given to 158,044 Finnish soldiers over 19 years, outweighed income in determining whether someone owns shares and how many companies he invests in. Among draftees scoring highest on the exams, the rate of ownership later in life was 21 percentage points above those who tested lowest, researchers found. The study, published in last month's Journal of Finance, ignored bonds and other investments.


Economists have debated for decades what they call the participation puzzle, trying to explain why more people don't take advantage of the higher returns stocks have historically paid on savings. As few as 51 per cent of American households own them, a 2009 study by the Federal Reserve found. Individual investors have pulled record cash out of US equity mutual funds in the last five years as shares suffered the worst bear market since the 1930s.


'It's what we see anecdotally: higher-IQ investors tend to be more willing to commit financial resources, to put skin in the game,' said Jason Hsu, chief investment officer at Research Affiliates. 'You can generalise a whole literature on this. It seems to suggest that whatever attributes are driving people to not participate in the stock market are related to the cost of processing financial information.'

Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

Mark Grinblatt of the University of California , Los Angeles , Matti Keloharju of Aalto University in Espoo and Helsinki , Finland , and Juhani Linnainmaa at the University of Chicago compared results from intelligence tests given by the Finnish military between 1982 and 2001 to government records showing investments the draftees later held. They found the rate of stock ownership for people with the lowest scores trailed those with the highest even after adjusting for wealth, income, age and profession.


While intelligence influenced things that might naturally increase equity ownership such as wealth and income, the authors said IQ determined who owned the most stocks within those categories as well. Among the 10 per cent of individuals with the highest salary, 'IQ significantly predicts participation' in the stock market, they wrote.


For example, people in the highest-income ranking who scored lowest on the test had a rate of equity market participation that was 15.7 percentage points lower than those with the highest IQ.


'If you look at the significance of IQ related to other factors like income or wealth, certainly it plays a very large role,' Mr Keloharju, a finance professor at Aalto, said. 'It's very difficult to get around that problem, but the results are so strong here. We are playing with lots of different controls and lots of different specifications, and all the time things work really well.'

Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

American economist Harry Markowitz won a Nobel Prize in 1990 for his theory that owning a larger variety of assets tended to maximise returns for a certain amount of risk. The 2009 study by the Fed found that 51.1 per cent of American families own stocks directly or indirectly, and of those who do, 36 per cent have shares in one company.


'It's difficult to justify why someone wouldn't invest in the stock market, knowing what a good deal it has been,' said Mr Linnainmaa, a co-author of the study from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. 'The classical explanations for non-participation have been participation costs. It's not just that it may be expensive to buy stocks and mutual funds, but people may not have enough knowledge about them.'


Finnish soldiers were an ideal sample because differences in race, schooling and market access are minimised, the authors said. Draftees were about 20 years old when they were given 120 questions in math, language and logic. The authors divided the results into rankings and compared them with stock ownership records. People who don't serve in the country's military such as women weren't in the sample.


'There is an older literature on whether SAT scores of an investment manager's college helps predict his or her success,' Robert Shiller, an economics professor at Yale University and co-creator of the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, said in an e-mail. 'This paper has a much better measure of intelligence,' and the 'results are therefore a significant advance', he wrote.


Finnish draftees aren't representative of typical investors, said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Advantage Funds. IQ is a function of culture and shouldn't be generalised across borders, he said. The authors also failed to discuss whether the test given to the soldiers was a valid way to grade thinking.

Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

Finland's lack of ethnic diversity 'invalidates it for extrapolating it to other cultures', he said. 'That makes it that much more inappropriate to draw inferences from it about other cultures.'


The study's authors said the findings have implications for social policy. Avoiding stock investments cuts returns and may widen income gaps, they said. Individuals scoring lowest on the tests who still owned equities earned as much as 33 basis points, or 0.33 percentage point, a year less than the highest scorers. One way governments could promote better savings might be with plans that let people opt out of stocks, like 401(k) plans, as opposed to opting in, said Mr Keloharju.


'If you look at these people over time, people with higher IQ scores and stocks become wealthier and wealthier at a much faster rate than people with lower IQ scores,' said Mr Linnainmaa. 'It makes them worse off in the long run, even more so than the difference in income.'


Mr Hsu of Research Affiliates said an explanation for why draftees with lower test scores owned less stock is that they found it harder and more expensive to receive financial education. Getting people information on investing at a younger age may help limit the disparity, he said. -- Bloomberg

 Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

SC and The Upcoming Private Retirement Scheme

Managers can now apply for licences to provide products under Malaysia’s proposed private retirement scheme. The Securities Commission answers AsianInvestor's questions about how the system will work.

By Joe Marsh | 26 January 2012

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In December, Malaysia’s Securities Commission published eligibility requirements for asset managers to gain a product provider licence under the country’s long-awaited private retirement scheme (PRS).

Ranjit Ajit Singh, managing director at the Securities Commission (SC), here confirms and clarifies some key points for AsianInvestor.

A feature looking at the PRS in detail will appear in the upcoming February issue of AsianInvestor magazine.

AsianInvestor: What does the SC see as the main reasons to set up a voluntary private retirement scheme? Why would (and should) people use the scheme in addition to the existing Employees Pension Fund?
Ranjit Ajit Singh: A well supervised and regulated private retirement scheme (PRS) that facilitates greater accumulation of post-retirement savings can play an important role within the overall pension landscape.

Malaysia’s PRS aims to promote the welfare of the population at retirement through a robust multi-pillar pension framework. The SC is reviewing the existing retirement landscape to make recommendations within the context of developing the private pension industry, which will complement the mandatory contribution to our existing Employees Provident Fund. 

Can you summarise the main points of the PRS? For example, rules on contributions, tax allowances, plus the main guidelines/requirements for asset managers providing products.

Private retirement schemes (PRSs) are long-term retirement schemes that contain a range of funds and are offered by approved PRS providers. The PRS framework is intended to provide flexible and convenient fund options for use, by both employers and individuals with different risk-return profiles.

Contributors will be able to control their private pension accounts in terms of investment diversification, portability between providers and flexible payout options. In this respect, the right to choose and to change investment options, as well as providers, is an integral element of the PRS framework.

The tax incentives provide personal tax relief of up to RM3,000 ($967) per annum on individual contributions to approved PRS schemes, as well as tax deductions for employers for contributions above the statutory rate, up to 19% of employees’ salaries. Tax exemption will also be provided on income received by funds within the PRS schemes.
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It has been said that the SC will particularly want to see large, experienced asset managers applying to be part of the PRS. Do you have any comment on that?

Only quality private-sector entities with the required expertise in pension fund management or retail fund management entities that meet the relevant standards and requirements imposed will be approved. Eligibility requirements include capital requirements, track record, conduct history and risk management controls. 

Applicants will need to outline their business model, such as the proposed range of funds, indicative fees and the charges structure, as well as their resourcing capabilities, systems and process capabilities and member servicing.

Qualitative factors will also be taken into consideration, such as governance structure, reputation and professional standing, as well as track record and commitment to grow the PRS industry.

I understand that applications to obtain a licence to be a provider under the PRS must be in by February 15. What is the likely timeframe after that? 
The closing date for licence applications is February 15. The evaluation and selection process will include an examination of the proposed range of funds to be offered by each applicant. On approval as a PRS provider, the SC would then undertake a separate process to approve the PRS itself and to authorise all the funds under the scheme.

PRS providers would be required to offer dedicated retirement funds under the scheme. Other key steps towards full operation of the framework include approving the scheme trustees and the distribution framework to ensure professional conduct and suitability of recommendations made in respect of the PRS to members.  

How many provider licences will be approved under the scheme?
That will depend on the applicants and those who meet the criteria. Our primary objective is to have qualified and experienced providers, and these can be institutional or retail as long as they meet the criteria and demonstrate the capabilities to offer PRSs.  

The provider-eligibility guidelines are now largely final, but the investment guidelines are still to be finalised – what is still to be ironed out?
As part of the implementation process, sub-working groups have been formed and continuous engagement and consultations are being held with experts – local and foreign, government authorities and industry players. We will finalise the guidelines after this process is complete.

Does the PRS have to be set up as a trust structure?
The PRS will operate as a trust structure, with the scheme trustee having fiduciary duties towards the members, including ensuring that the assets of the funds are segregated from the PRS provider. The schemes will therefore be segregated from the fund provider to ensure that contributors’ assets are protected and under the control of the trustee. 
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What are the rules on withdrawals from the PRS? 
These are being finalised in consultation with relevant parties, including the tax authorities.

Commentary On Selected Stocks

Hibiscus - There have been people warning me not to recommend this counter when I did so at 70 sen, 80 sen ... I like their projects, but seriously, they have yet to strike oil. They went limit up yesterday briefly, I wash my hands clean from this counter. Some monies are not for us to make. The stock looks very cornered.


CanOne/Kian Joo - Transaction finally went through. Upside would be around RM2.50 at least. I got so many nasty emails asking me to shut up on CanOne, I refused to print them because it was personal and not looking at the facts of the matter. Kian Joo would also go up in tandem as the uncertainty to extracting synergies from both companies are now in play. Possibly Box Pak will be sold. Although I did not think it was prudent, apparently the grapevine is very certain that there will be a G.O. for Kian Joo, which should be at least RM2.40-2.60. You get things right, nobody says a thing, you get something wrong, they whack you as if you were managing their funds. Lighten up people, you follow at your peril. You don't like, don't read la, what is so difficult about that.


MAS - If you must trade, I think MAS is OK. Now that AirAsia has reached its limit on foreign funds shareholdings level, it can only go down not up. That being the case, MAS may have a bit of upside even though I don't really like MAS.


MBSB - It was a good run but the business model remains flawed. I would stay away from the stock above RM2.00.


NOTE: The above opinion is not an invitation to buy or sell. It serves as a blogging activity of my investing thoughts and ideas, this does not represent an investment advisory service as I charge no subscription or management fees (donations are welcomed though). The content on this site is provided as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content, shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial instrument. The ideas expressed are solely the opinions of the author. I may already have shares in the above mentioned stock/s. Any action that you take as a result of information, analysis, or commentary on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Lowdown On China-Stocks On Bursa - Just A View

You open a conversation topic on Chinese stocks listed on Bursa, you see most people shaking their heads. Most have been burned, and burned royally despite following Benjamin Graham's rules of investing. Well, you have low PER relative to profit growth, most are still registering decent earnings growth. But none are willing to pay out a decent dividend despite having a substantive amount of cash. In fact, what has been more galling was they even had the audacity to push through rights issue.
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They drop and drop, even though syndicates have been roped in, they still drop. For the past 3 years or so, the news surrounding China companies listed overseas have been appalling. There have been numerous scams and accounting fraud with China companies using RTO to get listed in the US. The seemingly "clean" SGX has not been spared, last count there were 6 China firms listed there that have gone "bust literally" or have tons of  shenanigans like in an Irish fairy tale. 


Are those listed on Bursa a ticking time bomb?
Well, I don't know really, but so far so good despite the weak share prices for these companies. If you go by percentage of troubled overseas China listed firms, at least 1 out 5 would have collapsed by now. Why SGX had so much problems with China firms and not Bursa? Well, SGX, being a play by the rules entity, relied totally on the sponsors/IBs to bring forth these issues. If the companies can be faulted later on for accounting fraud or related misdemeanours, then SGX will throw the book on the sponsors/IBs and directors. I think Bursa/SC have traveled the extra mile in ensuring these China firms are genuine, most if not all have been "site-visited" by them. The reliance on sponsors/IBs have not been as great for Malaysia as in the US or Singapore. Notch one for Bursa/SC. (I hope no China stock will get busted right after I wrote this, but knowing Murphy's Law, that is probably what will happen).
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Excuses and Reasons, and Orcam's Razor
You can dig and dig at the management for reasons for their underperforming shares. There have been excuses after excuses. One, you can say that the sponsors or parties (VC/PE firms) bringing the stock to Bursa have used the route to sell their shares to realise their gains. Two, they needed to keep cash as the bulk of their transactions are with small vendors and suppliers that want to deal in cash. Three, they do not wish to pay out good dividends as they want to reinvest for future growth. Four, they seem to have no desire to buyback their own shares at 2-3x PER??!!


When share price keeps falling and the reasons and postulations given are numerous, according to Orcam's Razor, in such situations, the simplest explanation is probably the truth. The simple explanation is that maybe the figures are a sham. Now, I used to hold that view till my recent new findings, so hold your horses.
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The Real Owners?
This is probably just an opinion but I have heard enough to surmise that the registered owners are, more than likely, not the real beneficial owners of these China shares. The Bursa and SC can go and try to find out more. Don't shoot me, I am just the messenger. 


For a China company to list overseas, they need this "paper license" called the "wufi", usually from their municipality or state. I am sure you can see where this is headed. Sponsors are usually some smart people piecing a few companies together to get the "wufi". In most cases the ones with the designation of CEO or even Chairman owns very little of the company. The bulk are supposedly held by the "state chiefs and their underlings". We in Malaysia can easily understand why this works, don't we. To the "chieftains", this is an easy way to regulate for paper profits and also transfer some wealth overseas. 


That is why you do not see these companies getting huge bank loans, and they want to keep cash at all levels. Maybe its easier to loot the company of money by expanding and taking on new projects as we all know we can always skim the 20%-30% from any projects undertaken. Maybe.


However, I am not saying all these companies are sinister. At the end of the day, more than likely, the management's hands are tied. There is probably very little they can do (without the "approval from real owners"). This is also something we Malaysians are very familiar with, yes "Proxy"!!!
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XDL
Now finally a company goes ahead and does something. Their bonus and warrants issue is a move in the right direction. Some have frowned on the private placement, but why should you frown, they are not placing to you. In fact, having a private placement could be the very trigger that some parties have managed to engage the "real owners" and go through a proper "value creation" exercise, hence they themselves would have secured the parties for the private placement.


Significance
I cannot say this with greater effect. If the hypotheses are true, which means at least most or all of the companies on Bursa are not fraudulent, and to get XDL going through this phase of value creation, which I think will be wildly successful. This could be the catalyst that is needed for the rest of the China companies listed on Bursa to do likewise. As things stand, none of the China firms on Bursa are "fraudulent yet", maybe none are. If enough of them go through the value creation steps led by XDL, it could very well lift Bursa as the "best exchange to list China firms". If this is all true and good, then Bursa and SC must continue to make doubly sure that future China listing go through even more stringent listing checks and balances. So far so good, even with depressed share prices, at least we do not have a total bust up (yet). 


If all parties play their cards right, the right playing field will attract the right crowd. This is a chance to take the next step forward for all parties involved.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Longest Wait For A Food Stall In Ipoh

I probably never did write much about this food stall because its already soooo damn hard to get food here. Normally I have to wait 30 minutes at least. Well, thanks to the CNY holidays, its more like 1 hour for my bowl of curry mee (Ipoh style).


Is this the most sought after hawker food stall in Ipoh, probably. Why, its got this silly combination of chicken, mee, meehoon, its distinctive curry soup base, barbecue pork, a bit of pork parts, the crunchy siew yoke ... all topped with its stupefyingly good curry oil mix. Its all in the curry oil mix.


A HK entrepreneur  bought the sole rights to sell the same stuff in HK for an undisclosed sum, its still doing roaring business in HK. I think they still ship the curry oil mix over.


If you are there, you gotta take a look at their menu ... its damn original.




Still, one hour is still worth the wait. Don't know what it is, its intoxicating, spicy and pretty hot, plus addictive ... but damn slow service man!!!





Friday, January 20, 2012

Kung Hei Fatt Choi

Below is the actual 24K gold carving signifying the year 2012. Too much money, can go to HK to buy this. Sun Leen Jhun Phou!!! Sum Seong See Sing!!!


CSLA Feng Shui Chart 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adopt A Dog, People

Dog owners and dog lovers will shed tears for sure because they know its true and the scene will be the same if the same thing befall us.

Beating The Market

How to beat the market and become a super investor
By Koon Yew Yin
Risks in doing business:

It is important to stress that all businesses involve risk; hence the selection of shares is also a risky business.  This is not the same order of risk as may be involved in going to the casino or betting on the four digits which in 90-99 % or even more of the cases, results in the patron losing his money, if not his pants.

Picking winning stocks means that we pick the companies that can meet the constant challenges of competition, supply and demand, change of fashion and style design, obsolete stocks write off, etc. There are also unforeseen factors such as variation in interest rates, import and export restriction, foreign exchange variation, change in Government regulations, etc. Inclement weather such as flooding affects production as we have seen in Bangkok so that even the most well run of companies such as Toyata and Honda cannot escape it.

Best form of investment

In my view, stocks are the best form of investment.  They are tax free, have no management problem, and you can reduce or liquidate all your holdings at any time. There is a classical saying in the market - “You can buy the winning horse after the race”. This means that you can still buy a good share after the company has announced its profit.    This does not mean that stocks are entirely risk-free

Fundamentals of Stock Selection

The basic fundamentals for share selection are P/E ratio, NTA, Revenue, cash flow etc. How important are these factors?

The most important criterion is profit growth prospect. Never buy any share if the company cannot make increasing profits. You must buy shares that Fund managers are interested. They are the movers and shakers. Do not buy too much of illiquid shares because it is cheap. It is cheap for some reasons which may keep it at basement prices.

The main reasons why share prices go up include the following:
a. Exceptionally good profit growth prospect
b. Fund managers must be interested, liquidity, publicity etc.
c. Dividends are an important catalyst for moving share prices up
d. Unexpected good news of profit, bonus issues etc. will push up share prices.

When to Sell

When to sell? Do not worry about the daily share price fluctuation if you have a target price. Quite often the share you hold can move up rapidly and continues to go up. You must remember that no share can go up indefinitely for whatever reason. Sell when you are not willing to buy at the price or the reason to buy is no longer valid. Remember you must sell so that you can have funds to buy back during correction. If the fundamentals have not changed, the share price will go up again.  

What to Buy

After having seen so many unexpected surprises in the stock market, I consider the safest shares to invest are undervalued oil palm shares. The reasons are:-
a. The production cost for CPO is about Rm 1,300 per ton and the average selling price has been more than double the production cost in the last 10 years or more. The average CPO price for 2011 is more than Rm 3,000 per ton. Which business can offer such big profit margins?
b. The demand and profit are sustainable due to population increase. Moreover, both China and India who are our buyers have been improving their economy. The financial problem in Eurozone and US has little or no effect on our palm oil market.
c. A palm tree will start fruiting after 3 years. It will continue to bear more fruits until it is about 16 years old after that age it will begin to bear less fruits. Only after about 22 years a palm tree needs replanting.
d. The land always appreciates in value.
e. There is good profit growth prospect and sustainable profit
I am obliged to tell you that plantation shares form the major part of my investment portfolio. If you decide to buy, I am not responsible for your profit or your loss. 

How to become a super investor?

I started serious investing in public listed shares when I retired from executive work at 50 years old. I was not an accountant nor have I a MBA degree. I was just a civil engineer and I hardly knew how to read a balance sheet at that time.

I started by reading to understand the basic fundamental principles of share selection as practiced by Warren Buffet, Peter Lynch and other great investment gurus. These are the key traits to being a super investor that I picked up.

Trait 1: Be a contrarian investor, that is, the ability to buy stocks while others are panicking and sell stocks while others are euphoric. In 1983 when China declared that they wanted to take back Hong Kong, the people were selling as if there was no tomorrow because the Communists were coming. The Hang Seng Index plunged to about 700. Currently it is around 18,500.
In such a situation at that time, would you buy Hong Kong shares? I did.

Trait 2:  Obsession in playing the game and wanting to win. Winning investors don’t just enjoy investing; they live it. They wake up in the morning and the first thing they think about, while they are still half asleep, is a stock they have been researching. They are thinking about selling, or what the greatest risk to their portfolio is and how they are going to neutralize that risk.
They are obsessed in enhancing the value of their holdings. I am that way.

Trait 3: The willingness to learn from past mistakes. Most people would much rather just move on and ignore the dumb things they’ve done in the past. I believe the term for this is repression. But if you ignore mistakes without fully analyzing them, you will undoubtedly make a similar mistake later in your career.

Trait 4: An inherent sense of risk based on common sense. Most people believe analysts’ reports which are often ‘a buy’ recommendation. It is very seldom they recommend ‘a sell’ because they would lose the business from the company he has recommended ‘a sell’. You must always take any analyst report with a pinch of salt.

I believe the greatest risk control is common sense which is not so common sometimes.

Trait 5: Confidence: Great investors must have confidence in their own convictions and stick with them, even when facing criticism. Buffett never got into the dot-com mania though he was being criticized publicly for ignoring technology stocks. He stuck to his guns when everyone else was abandoning the value investing ship. He was proven right when the dot com bubble bust.

Trait 6: Clear thinking. When considering a share, you must try to understand the nature of the company’s business and its inherent difficulties so that you can evaluate your risk exposure. There are a lot of people who have genius IQs who cannot think clearly, though they can figure out bond or option pricing in their heads.

Trait 7: And finally the most important, and rarest, trait of all is the ability to live through volatility without changing your investment thought process. This is almost impossible for most people to do. When the market makes a severe correction, most people dare not buy more shares to average down or to put any money into stocks at all when the market is plunging. They would begin to doubt their own judgement.

Wishing you a season of happy and profitable investing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Around The World In 12 Dishes

These are the 12 dishes/meals to have, according to the food editors of Sydney Morning Herald, in a culinary gastronomic trip around the world. They have intentionally left out Australian restaurants as it was a SMH publication for Australian readers.


Noma, Copenhagen

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

“Your first course is already here” announces the waiter, indicating the vase of bright nasturtiums and twigs on the table. Inside each flower is a plump snail and a touch of remoulade. So already you’re foraging, picking flowers and crunching through twigs. Then you’re nibbling dried-then-fried reindeer moss, and lichen it. Then you’re raiding a little nest of its pickled and smoked quail eggs. Then peeling shellfish from a hot rock, as if by the seaside. And crunching through blue mussels, their shells recreated in edible form. It’s an extraordinary sleight-of-hand, and it shows that Rene Redzepi wouldn’t know what the term ‘resting on your laurels’ was if it hit him in the face.
Okay, so the vase of flowers appetiser may be bordering on the kitsch - Redzepi doesn’t need to try that hard. But all else is elegance; like the perfect little aebleskiver, a traditional spherical Danish savoury pancake impaled with a smoked muikko (a tiny freshwater fish from Finland). Local, local, local food, reimagined by the best restaurant in the world. TD

Strandgade 93, Copenhagen Tel 45 3296 3297 www.noma.dk

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

 Didn’t know what to expect from Heston Blumenthal’s first London venture, ensconced in the very Swish Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and yet a far cry from the speak-in-whispers and cross-yourself-as-you enter ambience of the Fat Duck. Didn’t know I’d love it so much, either. Somehow he has created a very flexible, upstairs/downstairs brasserie with a very English accent, so that at one table will be a couple in jeans eating steak and chips, and at the next, a group dressed up and having the dining experience of their lives.
Blumenthal and the on-the-job head chef Ashley Palmer Watts serve up historically inspired British food such as roast marrowbone or a broth of lamb with slow-cooked hen’s egg. There are two truly great dishes on the menu that should bookend your meal. The first is the Meat Fruit (circa 1500), a single mandarin complete with leaves that transforms into rich, light chicken liver parfait encased in tangy, fragrant mandarin gel, accompanied by toasted brioche. The last is the light-as-a-cloud-of-drunken-angels Tipsy Cake (circa 1810), served with spit-roast pineapple. So. Damn. Good. TD.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
Tel  44 20 7201 3833 www.dinnerbyheston.com

Brawn at Brawn, London

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 My favourite London restaurant critic, Fay Maschler, gave Brawn a resounding and very rare five out of five stars. “If I could, I would eat there every day” she wrote in 2010, thereby getting this relly of the popular Terroirs wine bar in Charing Cross off to a very good start.
Set in Columbia Road, Bethnal Green, home to London’s famous flower market (and equally famous riots), it’s a simple, minimalist corner building with a white-walled, semi-industrial canteen feel. Like a pub, it’s a charming and welcoming place, with a great list of natural wines, and a menu divided into Pig, Hot, Cold, Pudding and Cheese. You could order solely from the pig section and grunt with pleasure all the way home. Naturally, it does a great brawn (jellied pig’s head terrine), or it would have to change its name. TD

49 Columbia Road, Bethnal Green E2  Tel 44 207729 5692  www.brawn.co

Osteria Mozza, Singapore

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 The Marina Bay Sands complex opened with a bang last year, so I was curious to see what all the hype was about. The huge Asian food court in the basement looks fun, but it's packed out, with people waiting behind your chair for your table. Upstairs in the ‘flying chefs’ restaurants (Restaurant Guy Savoy, David Boulud’s db Bistro Moderne, Wolfgang Puck’s Cut and Tetsuya Wakuda’s Waku Ghin), it’s a different story, with very few tables taken the nights I visited.
The best bet seems to be the middle-ground, and the best of the middle-ground is this branch of Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali’s LA-based Osteria Mozza. Sitting up at the cool marble bar exploring the list of dishes based on buffalo mozzarella, burrata and ricotta flown in from Italy is hugely enjoyable; as is this triple-comforting agnolotti with butter and sage, the tiny pasta parcels filled with chicken, veal and mortadella. TD.

Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore Tel +65 6688 8868 www.osteriamozza.com

Spuntino, London

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 I’m nominating Russell Norman as The Man Who Saved London. After learning his trade managing Scott’s, J. Sheekey and Zuma, he decided London needed a few more fun places to eat that weren’t at the pointy end of dining, and took off on his ownsome. Well, hallelujah.
If you’re just wandering around Soho looking for something to take the pain off the jetlag, then head for either Polpo or Polpetto, his New York takes on Venetian stuzzichini (small plates). The latest from the Norman invasion is Mishkin’s, in homage to the Jewish delis of New York. Then there’s the sassy little Spuntino, with its New York take on trailer trash food, with things like mac & cheese, spicy sausage & cheddar grits, pulled pork sliders and chopped salad, along with Bloody Marys and Bourbons, and these super-thin twirly-wirly fries. TD

61 Rupert Street, Soho, London. No telephone. www.spuntino.co.uk

Thip Samai Phad Thai, Bangkok

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Pad Thai noodles are such a staple these days, there doesn’t seem much point in going way out of your way to find a funny little place in Bangkok that is tied up with the dish’s (surprisingly recent) history. But it’s worth it, to see this seminal dish cooked on the street in a huge cast iron wok over hot coals, by a slim young girl in a red T-shirt who must surely be skipping school.
First she puts in three ladlefuls of oil and scoops in a pile of prawns from a plastic bucket. Toss, toss, fry, fry, three minutes. Then she scoops out most of the oil, and adds cubed tofu, green garlic chives, vegetables, stiff white beanthread noodles and a lot of red chilli sauce, sugar and salt from a line-up of buckets, which all comes to the boil super-fast. Then – new wok – she deftly makes an omelette that covers the interior of the pan like a second skin. In goes the contents of the other wok, and – the finished pad Thai is turned out, perfectly wrapped in omelette, onto a melamine plate. That will be 70 baht, thank you ($2). And that’s for the Super Special. JD.

313 Mahachai Road, Samranraj, Bangkok Tel 66 2 221 6280

Au Passage, Paris

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 Down a dodgy back alley off the Boulevard Beaumarchais is what looks like an old, untouched bar, complete with beer sign outside and old wooden bar and mis-matched tables and chairs inside. Welcome to a little piece of Australia in the middle of Paris, where Aussie-born chef James Henry is cooking in a kitchen only slightly larger than a box of veggies.
Lunch is three courses for 16.50 Euros ($20); dinner is a small blackboard of a la carte specials that costs little more; and it’s just plain lovely, light, fresh, minimalist cookery. My lunch started with bulots (whelks) and mussels in a light cream vinaigrette with warm samphire. Then choppy, chunky tartare de boeuf (au couteau/hand-cut) with finely minced cornichon and shaved baby radishes, and a fresh little cheese with figs and toasty hazelnuts to finish. Perfect. JD.
 
1 bis Passage de Saint Sebastien, Paris 75011. Tel 33143550752.

Le Dauphin, Paris

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How smart. The posse headed up by chef Inaki Aizpitarte, one of The Chosen (that means a fave of Rene Redzepi of NOMA) has solved the problem of being inundated at Le Chateaubriand by opening a smaller, more casual bistronome down the road. A cool, white marble cube designed by Rem Koolhaus, with detail picked out in mirrors and Danish stools, it’s a nice place to be.
Lunch is a reinvented ‘menu formule’. On this hot summer’s day, that means a cool melon gazpacho with fresh raw almonds, a choice of cod or braised lamb cleverly served with the same garniture of tomatoey chickpeas and amaranth, and as at Au Passage, a simple fresh white cheese and fruit for dessert. It’s great value and very satisfying; a clear signpost for the future of dining in Paris. Struggling with my notes, trying to find the right description for this independent gastronomic attitude (cuisine d’auteur?), I asked Aizpitarte ‘comment dites-vous l’expression ‘no bullshit’?’ He looked at me. ‘We say no bullshit’, he said. JD.
131 Avenue Parmentier 750111 Tel 33 1 55 28 78 88

Le Verre Volé, Paris

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 Another day, another wine bar, another platter of charcuterie, another chunk of sour Jean-Luc Poujouran’s pain levain. God I love Paris. And Le Verre Volé . The walls of this tiny place are lined with wine – it’s essentially a cave, a wine shop – and the worn wooden tables are lined with eccentric locals. It’s a good place to have andouillette, with its smell of the pissoir arriving from the tiny kitchen only moments before the plate; the fat, pale sausage spilling its guts – literally -  onto mashed potato and a few green leaves. I order a glass of Pouilly Fume. "It’s very fat, with great complexity," says the waiter. What a coincidence. That’s just how I feel, too.  TD.

67 Rue de Lancry, 75010 Paris. Tel 33 148031734   www.leverrevole.fr

Soho Hotel, London

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Let loose from the tyranny of porridge or fruit and yoghurt, breakfast on holidays ends up being different every day – the cravings being very dependent on the local circumstances and what went on the night before. This morning, an egg and bacon roll was required. And the best egg and bacon roll is definitely at the deliciously located Soho Hotel in the heart of Soho, because the bread has just the right amount of give, the butter, eggs, and bacon are all real (and thery ask you exactly what you want and how you want it), and the whole thing comes together in the hand as one. JD.
Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, London W1 Tel 44 2 75593000 www.firmdale.com

Relae, Copenhagen

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"That’s where the Redzepis always sit," says Kim Rossen of Relae. Well, if the Redzepis turn up, we’ll move. But until then, we’ll sit up at the bar watching Christian Puglisi and his team plate up some beautiful, simple, blindingly contemporary food in what is tantamount to a party atmosphere. Relae has two short menus of four dishes, mostly plants, with each ingredient at its height. Chicken hearts with babycorn. Leeks with mustard crumbs. Baby celeriac with seaweed veils. And this lovely dish of sheeps milk yoghurt, radishes and nasturtiums. Says Kim: "We cook what we like. We play the music we like. We serve the wine we like." At last! That’s what we want all restaurants to do! JD.

Jaegersborggade 41, Copenhagen Tel +45 3696 6609 www.restaurant-relae.dk

Nahm, Bangkok

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 So much is smoked, cured, salted, and above all, fermented, in David Thompson’s flagship Thai restaurant in The Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok; the leaves, the chillies, the prawns, the fish, the garlic. It gives a wild, almost carnal quality to the food here, like eating a rich, smelly blue cheese as opposed to sanitised cheese slices. "It’s definitely where we’re going with our food here," says Thompson. Serpenthead fish, for instance, is salted and sun-dried for two days, then deep-fried until it’s pull-apartable into crunchy splinters. Get some help to put together an order of hot, cold, wet and dry dishes but don’t miss the feral, dark cassia leaf curry if it’s on, or the white turmeric salad with prawns, pork and chicken. Dining is a leisurely affair in the dark, tropical space, and the cooking is uncompromising, sophisticated and bloody hot. JD.

The Metropolitan, 27 South Sathorn Road, Tungmahamek, Sathorn, Bangkok Tel 662 625 3333 www.metropolitan.como.bz


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/restaurants-and-bars/blogs/table-talk/around-the-world-in-12-dishes-20120116-1q2qb.html#ixzz1jlvRD8xP