Reconstituting the Portfolio in the midst of Covid-19 Crisis

The stock market crash of 2020 began on Monday, March 9.  Now two weeks on, how is this investor doing?

Pretty much alright, I guess.  The portfolio has plunged some 20% but with a long horizon in mind, there is nothing very much to fret about for now.  The recovery might come in 6 months, or a year or even 2 years, but the portfolio will be here to take advantage of the recovery.

I took this opportunity to review my portfolio.  I think this stock market crisis period is a good time to do so, to kind of reconstitute, reconfigure everything:

1. Do I have poor-performing counters in my portfolio?

2. Are there some dead weights that I need to cut?  

3. Has the current stock market crash revealed the mistakes that I’ve made in stock selection?  

4. Are there good counters that I missed that I should add now to my portfolio given their depressed prices?

5. Is there anything that I can do to fix my current portfolio so that I can benefit tremendously when the market recovers?

Honestly, I should have done this exercise before the market started to crash.  It was a mistake that I acknowledge now to myself … take profit, remove non-performing and risky counters, rebalance, whatever, I really should have reviewed my portfolio earlier.

There again, nobody really knew then on March 9 what was going to happen and what the present is like today.  So time to suck it up, do a review, and plod on.

Anyway, here’s my humble revamped portfolio:

There are 5 parts to my portfolio:

1. The Forever Portfolio, which consists only of SG stocks

2. The USA Portfolio

3. The China/HK Portfolio

4. Corona Portfolio

5. The Demoted Portfolio

[those highlighted in yellow are counters that I do not possess now, but look forward to buying during this period; those highlighted in blue are counters that I now possess but wish to dispose of as soon as their prices recover].

Forever, USA & CHINA/HK portfolios

Why did I choose these counters for my Forever portfolio?  In general, they are:

1. Dividend plays.

2. Big/mid Cap, good moat/defensive (DBS, Vicom, Netlink NBN etc)

3. Cash rich (Fuyu, Valuetronics, etc)

4. Excellent management (Mapletree, Capitaland, etc)

To diversify, I chose one to a few from each different categories: financial services, consumer services, IT/data/telecom, engineering/industrials, healthcare, retail reits, industrial/logistics reits, and commercial reits.

Inclusive of the counters from my US and China/HK portfolio, it does look like I have a lot of reits.  Why, I like reits … for these reasons:

1. Easy to understand business model … rental income, rental period, quality and mix of tenants, gearing, interest rate, oversupply problems, etc

2. Usually possesses good return potential (5-7% dividend yield), as well as growth.

3. Offers pretty stable quarterly income as quarter-to-quarter profits of well-managed reits do not fluctuate much.

4. The hallmark of a true-blue Singaporean is a love for properties and rentals (ok, I’m being a little farcical here, LOL), and I’m as Singaporean as it comes.

I intend to have reits occupy no more than 60% of the total portfolio value. 

So, non-reit counters will be 5% each; reit counters will be 4% each (total counters 23).  As I get more confident with investing and more familiar with each of these counters, I will trim the portfolio down to 20, and then eventually 15.

Corona Portfolio

These counters were bought mainly to capture capital gain upon the Covid-19 crisis abating.  There is a good chance of me averaging down on these counters since many of their prices have fallen even more following the current market crash.   Nevertheless, I give priority to those existing and selected counters in my Forever portfolio.

Demoted Portfolio

There are altogether 9 counters that I wish to eliminate from my current portfolio.  All of them are pretty decent stocks and offer dividend yields above 5% (except China Life).  However, they are not as solid as those in my current Forever portfolio selection (for example, ParkwayLife vs First).   In addition, it will take a lot of time to monitor more than 30 stocks in a portfolio, so a reduction is necessary.  They have to go to make way for those newly selected ones.  I guess I have less love for them than those highlighted in my Forever portfolio.

The really bad one in this demoted portfolio is definitely Eagle Hospitality Trust.  That it is still in my portfolio is one big mistake of mine.  Bummer.  I did not set a stop-loss order on it.  Eagle HTrust right now has very questionable fundamentals (reducing revenue, weak balance sheet, low interest coverage, etc), and a very bad reputation.  Nobody in the right frame of mind, I think, will touch this stock, not even with a 10-foot pole.  Oh well, I still have it and the only consolation is it only occupies 0.98% of my current portfolio size.

I will continue to hold on to these demoted stocks and wait for price recovery.  In the meantime, I just collect dividends on them.

It does look like a global recession is on its way, if it is not already here.* In view of that, there will be more depressed prices of my favourite stocks to look forward to.

Stay the course! Press on!

“Stay the course. No matter what happens, stick to your program.”

John Bogle


In March, using remaining salary from last month, I bought more DBS shares at $18.17. Not quite as bottom as $17++, but no one can catch the bottom. So I’m happy with what I paid. The next target price for DBS: $15/16.


A Rookie Investor, the Market Meltdown and the Plan Forward

I am a rookie investor.

My investing experience has not been more than 1.5 years, and hence I consider myself still somewhat a rookie.

As a rookie, seeing the recent market upheaval has been pretty eye-opening. Wow, this is what a market meltdown looks like! Stock markets around the world have had a turbulent week last week, with some of the worst losses recorded in over 30 years. It was absolutely horrid!

However, was I fazed when the meltdown happened? Was I tempted to sell out my positions, some of them at least if not all of them? Had I wanted to get into a 100% cash position?


Well, even though I was staring at a 6.5% paper loss, I was feeling pretty nonchalant about the market crash. I was quite surprised by my own stoic disposition. Shouldn’t I have been gripped by fear and panic? Truth be told, it hasn’t really been an emotional roller coaster ride to me.

I guess what undergirded my state of mind was this Persian adage, “this too shall pass.”

Much has been written on the various incidents of market crashes and how the market eventually recovered. The turmoil in the market might last a while, might even lead to a recession, but at the end of it, there is a recovery. Market crashes do not last forever. The Asian Financial Crisis that was triggered in July 1997 lasted 2 years. The Global Financial Crisis also lasted 2 years, from 2007 to 2008. Even the worst worldwide economic depression, the Great Depression, eventually ended after having lasted 10 long years. So yes, this too shall pass.

What matters now is holding power. How long can I hold on to my investments without selling them? Long enough to survive this market crisis, I believe.

I have my emergency funds. I’m still drawing a healthy salary. I’m still able to support myself and my family every month. I still plan on taking my family on a holiday trip once the coronavirus situation dies down, and have been setting aside money for that goal. I don’t need to liquidate my investments to make ends meet. It is still business as usual for me. I am still on the merry-go-round. I have holding power.

I am good.

I plan on sitting tight and trust that my portfolio will ride out the storm. I am going to take this time to reassess my portfolio, and see if I can further deploy cash to take advantage of depressed stock prices in the market.

With the STI having dropped about 21%, many stocks are on sale. Many of them like the bank stocks are just so mouth-watering now. And I’m thankful that just last month, one of my endowment plans matured and I have this extra amount of money to add to my war chest. More money facilitates more shopping … yippee!

This is my very first encounter of a huge earthquake-sized wobble in the market, and I have made plans to take advantage of this current market turmoil to add new positions or average down my existing ones.

Market dips are when fortunes can be made, I know that. Since the start of this meltdown last week, I have made one purchase … I averaged down on my existing DBS holdings.

Then I stopped. And started thinking.

… Stock prices are depressed now, but could the prices get depressed even more?

… I have my war chest ready, but should I spend it all at once or in batches? If in batches, how many and over what length of time?

… Bank stocks (DBS, OCBE, UOB) are so far down from the peak, should I load them up now?

After much reading and deliberating, I decided to refine my plan.

I have a feeling Singapore is going into a recession and there will be better bargains further down the road:

1. During the 3rd quarter last year, Singapore’s economy avoided a technical recession after growing by only 0.6%, compared to the previous three months. This was before the coronavirus hit Singapore. Now that businesses (trade and tourism) are suffering because of Covid-19, the already weakened Singapore economy will only go down further. Will the government’s 2nd package of measures help companies with their costs and cash-flow, and keep them afloat through the storm?

2. In his remarks to the media on February 15 at Changi Airport , Mr Lee said that Singapore was bracing for a “significant” hit in the next couple of quarters because the outbreak was intense. Interesting use of the word “significant’ there. Mr Lee added further, “I can’t say whether we will have a recession or not. It’s possible, but definitely our economy will take a hit,” Mr Lee neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of a recession hitting Singapore, but in his own words, “it’s possible”.

3. In his address to the nation last Friday, Mr Lee elucidated, “[t]he situation is especially serious for some sectors – hotels, aviation, hospitality, and freelancers in the gig economy. But nobody has been spared. Everyone feels the impact, to different degrees … We will remain in this high risk state for some time to come.” Mr Lee has painted a somewhat grave picture of Singapore’s economy and has pledged help to those “who are retrenched and unemployed, as well as their families, an extra helping hand to see through this difficult period.”

4. Judging from the slide of the STI, there is definitely a lot of fear in the market, and institutions and investors are reacting to it. Hence, the drop of the STI from its peak of 3,407.02 on April 29, 2019 to 2,510.88 on March 13, 2020. A headline in the Straits times on March 12 screamed, “Asian stock markets fall into bear territory; STI in bear grip for first time since 2016.” And then there were other news on Australia, Japan, and Thailand heading towards a possible recession. A free-falling market might not always be a good predictor of a recession, but might it be different this time? A global pandemic plus the Saudi-Russian oil war can be a very lethal combination.

5. Election appears to be coming considering the announcement of new electoral boundaries last week. The PAP has a good record of performing well during times of recession. It may be early days yet but the fact that new changes are made to electoral boundaries does signal that an election might be coming. A recession provides an opportune time for the PAP to score big in an election, in my opinion. Might a recession be the big elephant in the room that nobody is pointing out?

So having given thought to the above, I hit the pause button. I may be wrong. But I remain persuaded … for now.

So this is what I intend to do, going forward:

1. Time in the market: Regardless of how the market moves, I will continue to RSP my investments in MoneyOwl and Syfe. Amidst the uncertainty, I still want to stay vested.

2. Timing the market (1): I will continue to buy the dips with my monthly income. Say OCBC shares go down to $8, or even $7, I will snap up some. Just nibble, not bite. If I am unsure, I shall just refrain from putting money into the market. If more good deals appear within the month, I will tap into 20% of my war chest to facilitate the purchases.

“If you believe markets are a screaming buy today — more than they were last week, or even more than they were last October — you are inherently market timing. Which is fine, but should at least be recognized. A call to ‘buy the dip’ is inherently a market timing call and should be recognized as such. If investors are going to make such a call, we believe it is important for them to consider where they believe the market is mis-pricing future expectations: yield, growth, or risk appetite.”

Corey Hoffstein, Newfound Research LLC

3. Timing the market (2): If the market recovers from the cessation of the virus situation, then I will use the remaining 80% of the war chest to buy on the rebound. If the turbulent market leads to a recession and the government admits to this on a national level, I will then use the remaining 80% of the war chest to buy as described below:

“For situations where share prices are low due to a weaker economic cycle it is best to invest over a six to 12 month period. The initial investment should be 50% of capital, with 10% each subsequently over the intended period for the last 50%. The timing of the initial investment of 50% is crucial. Based on my experience it is best to buy on the day following the national government’s admission that the economy is in a recession and gives a negative GDP forecast for the rest of the year. When this announcement is one that makes the front page of the national daily, then almost all the bad news has been discounted by the market.”

Chua Soon Hock, Lessons From A Super Investor – A Personal Friend Of TTI*

Suffice it to say that this plan is not set in stone. I intend to maintain the plan with some level of flexibility for changes depending on what goes on in the real world.**

We are in some really interesting times, methinks. I intend to embrace this bear, be it little or big, and turn this crisis into an opportunity.

* (

** (

My Forever Portfolio. Averaging down DBS


Price: S$21.75
P/B: 1.2

The talk of the town these days, as I gather from interactions on the social platform InvestingNote, seems to be very much about DBS Bank (or just DBS in everyday references).

  • What do you think is a good entry price for buying DBS?
  • I think [DBS] is getting [more] attractive and sweeter [with] each [passing] day…
  • Dbs, wait[ing] to “jiak” (eat) more …

I can understand the interest in buying DBS bank shares these recent days when bank stocks in general are snared by Covid-19, Fed’s interest rate cut, and a possible crude oil price war. I too am very interested in buying DBS bank shares because it is an excellent
company to own, the current downward pressure on its share price notwithstanding.

Taking advantage of this current sell-down of bank stocks, I decided to average down on DBS shares (current average is about S$24).


DBS is a multinational banking and financial services corporation that has operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, the rest of Greater China, South and Southeast Asia, and internationally. It operates through consumer banking/wealth management, institutional banking, treasury markets, and other segments that offer trading and Islamic banking services.


DBS, headquartered in Singapore, operates approximately 280 branches across 18 markets and has a market share of 59 billion.

It is the largest bank in South East Asia by assets and among the larger banks in Asia, with total assets of S$579 billion as at 31 Dec 2019.

It is at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking, and has been named “World’s Best Digital Bank” by Euromoney.

It has also been recognised for its leadership in the region, having been conferred “Asia’s Best Bank” by The Banker and Euromoney, and “Asian Bank of the Year” by IFR Asia.

DBS has also been named “Safest Bank in Asia” by Global Finance for eight consecutive years from 2009 to 2016.

Results and Ratios

In the fourth quarter report (31 December 2019), DBS reported the following:

1. Income increased 10% year on year to S$14.5bn.

2. Net profit increased 14% year on year to S$6.39bn.

3. Group Net Interest Margin (NIM) improved from 1.85% (2018) to 1.89 (2019).

4. NPL rate remained unchanged at 1.5%.

5. Cost-income ratio improved one percentage point to 43%.

6. The liquidity coverage ratio was at 139% and the net stable funding ratio was at 110%. The Common Equity Tier 1 ratio was at 14.1% while the leverage ratio was at 7.0%, all comfortably above regulatory requirements.

7. ROE was at a new high of 13.2%, reflecting improved profitability and quality of franchise.

8. Dividend increased 10% to $1.32 annualised.

Why did I average down on DBS?

Simply because I believe the 3 local banks (DBS, OCBC, and UOB) are the bedrock of Singapore’s economic success. I just can’t see it any other way.

The 3 local banks make up almost 36% of the Straits Times Index, with DBS being the largest constituent of the STI (15.2%, with OCBC at number 2 at 11%). SPDR Straits Times Index ETF has a combined 40% exposure to DBS, OCBC and UOB.

You know what, should any thing unfortunate happen to DBS, I’m very sure the Government will step in to help it out. Buying DBS shares to me is a fail-safe investment. I can go to sleep every night with the assurance that when I wake up the next day, DBS is going to be there still.

DBS has a very capable CEO in Piyush Gupta. Under his leadership since 2009, DBS has been on a growth path, and registered a record net profit of $6.39 billion for the fiscal year 2019, up 14 percent year-on-year. Should this downturn eventually morph into a nightmare like the Asian financial crisis of 2017/18, I cannot think of a better CEO than Piyush Gupta to lead DBS forward.


The share price of DBS took a slow beating when Covid-19 spread within
Singapore and in the region. DBS has been bracing for Covid-19 impact and is doing its best to cushion the blow. Hopefully the coronavirus situation eventually goes away come summer, and should that happen, DBS expects a full year revenue impact of around 1-2%.

Right now, this negative impact on revenue basically comes from 2 main loan areas, namely, manufacturing supply chain and customer services.

Manufacturing supply chain, while facing liquidity inadequacy and reduced capacity operation in these short term of 3-4 months, is expected to make a turn for the better because demand for their goods is still intact. DBS is therefore not too concerned about these loan accounts.

Of greater concern to DBS are loan accounts from the service industry, such as tourism, hotels, retail, and aviation. Many service companies have seen demand displaced and revenue lost if not substantially reduced. DBS’s exposure here amounts to some S$20 billion. DBS reckons 90% of these loan accounts made to such large corporations
such as Genting and SIA to be relatively secure. The remaining 10% (about S$2 billion) of these accounts are under pressure and therefore at risk.

So NLPs are expected to rise as many of these virus-impacted businesses have their cashflow disrupted.

To mitigate the impact brought on by the outbreak of Covid-19, DBS has implemented “split teams” and “work from home” to ensure minimal service disruption. This was made possible because of the bank’s digital capabilities.

DBS has also started liquidity relief for its customers. It is providing a 6-month moratorium on principal repayment for customers with good credit records (SME property loans in Singapore and Hong Kong; and mortgage loans for retail customers in Singapore).

As new cases of coronavirus infection slow in China, the country is gradually getting back to work. So the million dollar question is, is the impact of Covid-19 on global supply chain over? Depending on who you ask, the answer varies.

While workers are slowly returning to work, it will still take a while, probably a very long while, for China to return to its pre-coronavirus production capacity.

China’s purchasing managers’ index, a measure of China’s manufacturing and service sector activity, plunged to 35.7 in February from January’s 50 (numbers below 50 indicate activity contracting). All eyes will be watching China’s PMI index very closely, and so will I be watching.

In the meantime, the market remains jittery, and stock prices remain volatile. Such is the new normal for now, and it’s time to look out for good stock bargains, and DBS to me is one.

The emergency Fed rate cut

Fearing the US economy would fall into a recession due to the coronavirus, the Fed pushed through an emergency rate cut of half a percentage point on 3/3/2020. This bold attempt to give the US economy a jolt is however a blow to financial stocks.

Rate cuts only mean one thing for banks: lower spreads and lower margins. When the Fed cuts rates, banks’ revenues from the interest rates they charge on loans will in turn get squeezed, thus leading to an overall hit on their NIM. With the expectation that the Fed will cut interest further to zero (even more pressure on bank margins), bank stocks began to trend down even further.

At close on 9/3/2020, DBS ended at S$21.15, slumping 8.04 per cent given its greater sensitivity to lower rates relative to its peers.

For now, DBS has a decent dividend yield 5.8%, its financial position is solid, and its management is stellar. Besides, the plunging share price now is indicative of a capital gain on a future rebound. All 3 local banks recovered spectacularly after each crisis.

How do I average down on DBS?

There are some whom I’ve interacted with on InvestingNote who are waiting for the bottom or close to the bottom before buying DBS. Apparently S$18 is the magic figure.

I see the logic in this. After all, who doesn’t want to buy something precious at the cheapest price possible? But the thing is, nobody really knows when the bottom will occur.

In my opinion, only 2 persons can “buy” at the bottom and “sell” at the top. One is God Almighty, and He possesses all power and knowledge to actually do just that, hypothetically speaking. The other is a liar who can only talk about buying at the bottom and selling at the top, but never actually doing so. Luck may have helped once in a while but never all the time.

Since I’m not divine or a spinner of yarns, I can’t possible buy at the bottom or even think or say that I can buy at the bottom.

Therefore, I decided to embark on averaging down on DBS. Presently, I don’t think it is wise to devour the entire position on DBS with just one huge bite seeing that there is the possibility of DBS’s share price trending lower.

Instead of averaging down with the same amount each time, I plan on buying a little first, and gradually increasing the lot size as the share price decreases … first a bullet, next a bazooka, then a missile, if you get my drift.

I’ve bought DBS at $21. The next price is $19, then $17, and so on and so forth.

When do I stop? I seriously don’t know … probably when the money runs out, or when DBS has rebounded from whatever bottom it is going to be.

[I have my eyes fastened on OCBC and UOB as well, and looking for a good price to enter new positions on these 2 bank stocks.]

Buy, sell or hold? I think it’s okay to do some buying, because things are cheaper. But there’s no logical argument for spending all your cash, given that we have no idea how negative future events will be. What I would do is figure out how much you’ll want to have invested by the time the bottom is reached – whenever that is – and spend part of it today. Stocks may turn around and head north, and you’ll be glad you bought some. Or they may continue down, in which case you’ll have money left (and hopefully the nerve) to buy more. That’s life for people who accept that they don’t know what the future holds.

But no one can tell you this is the time to buy. Nobody knows.

Howard Marks. Latest memo from Howard Marks: Nobody Knows II; March, 9, 2020.

Disclaimer: I am only an amateur investor and nothing you read here on my blog constitutes financial advice.  I write here to detail my investments, strategies, and analyses.  Feel free to read at your own risk.  Should you need financial advice, consult a licensed financial advisor.

Reaching the $100,000 Milestone

15 months into investing, my total capital has officially crossed the $100,000 mark.

There are 3 parts to my investment portfolio:

1. Hand-picked stocks (Singapore, USA, and China/HongKong)

2. Moneyowl (Dimensional Funds)

3. Syfe (goal-specific saving)

I’m glad I started this journey. It has been exhilarating, with some heart-in-the-mouth moments when the portfolio went from green to red, especially lately during this virus crisis.

I have a long-term investment horizon, so I’m not too perturbed by the general fall in stock prices these couple of weeks. In fact, I expect things to get worse. I am locked in a brace position, that’s for sure.

It has not been easy doing this as a sole breadwinner in the family. At times, I wish my wife is also working so we have more money to put into the market. But no. The kids need her at home.

We don’t want our children to grow up with a foreign maid, or spend their after-school hours in a facility. It’s a decision that my wife and I made together. Money is important, but our children’s needs and well-being are even more important.

Like I said, going this alone hasn’t been exactly easy. These are some steps that I/we take:

1. Have a budget ( and stick to it.

2. Invest monthly. I have “rsp-ed” my Moneyowl portfolio, just to make sure I’m always in the market. I pick stocks to buy (or average down) every month. I look out for high-quality dividend growth stocks. Sometimes I might go for growth-only stocks. If there is nothing that catches my fancy, I just don’t buy any.

3. Aim for no interest payment. My wife and I make sure to clear our credit card bills every month, sometimes before we even get charged, just so we are not paying interest.

4. Live frugally. Spend money on experiences, not things … especially when there are children involved. We spend time with our kids. We play and do things together. We go on trips together. Some of these activities cost money (rock-climbing, for instance), but we feel like the money is well-spent because we are building memories as a family.

I’m looking forward to being financial independent but not retire early. I don’t find myself in what some people consider “a miserable rat-race”. I value work, and I enjoy what I’m doing at work.

With this first milestone achieved, I’m looking forward to my next milestone … the $150k or $200k mark.

Well, come what may, virus or no, I’ll plod on in this investing journey.

Munger has said that accumulating the first $100,000 from a standing start, with no seed money, is the most difficult part of building wealth. Making the first million was the next big hurdle. To do that a person must consistently underspend his income. Getting wealthy, he explains, is like rolling a snowball. It helps to start on top of a long hill—start early and try to roll that snowball for a very long time. It helps to live a long life.

Janet C. Lowe, Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger

My Corona Portfolio (3): SATS

Singapore’s economy wasn’t spared devastation brought on by the virus crisis, especially the travel and tourism, and hospitality sectors.  At one point in time, Singapore had the largest number of victims outside of China.  Both businesses and people have been riled by this health crisis.  I began to look at some battered stocks to see if I could fit them into my corona portfolio.

I looked at the following:

1. Hospitality REITS such as Ascott, Far East, Frasers

2. SIA


4. Straco

5. Transport Counters: Comfort Delgro & SBS Transit

Hospitality REITS looked very attractive.  But I’ve never really liked hospitality REITS because they are just too cyclical.  Besides, none of these SG-listed REITs has shown any consistent DPU growth over the years.  Well, I’m not ruling out buying these counters given their current valuations, but they rank low in my buy-priority.  

SIA has also not been one of my stock favourites.  SIA has no economic moat, in my opinion.  There is just too much competition within the airline industry. 

What about Straco?  As much as I’m not a big fan of hospitality REITs, I’m also not enthusiastic about tourism operators.  Aquariums and giant observation wheels sound boring to me, a 4.5% dividend yield not withstanding.

I already own Comfort Delgro and I might average down on it.

That left me with SATS and SBS Transit, both of which I like.  

SBS share has been on a decline since the beginning of the year.  I will be comfortable buying it below $3.  It still has a bit more way to go before reaching my target price.

I settled finally on SATS as the 3rd stock purchase of Feb 2020.


SATS provides gateway services (ground and cargo handling, security etc) and food solutions (inflight and institutional catering to non-aviation sectors). SATS has operations in 60 locations in 13 countries, and employs 17,700 employees worldwide.


SATS has inked a new 5-year commitment with SIA to strengthen Changi’s competitiveness with the renewal of a suite of aviation services contracts.  Tapping into the resources of data analytics, SATS  seeks to improve service and personalisation in F&B offerings.

SATS’s subsidiary in Japan is building a new in-flight kitchen with double the capacity in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

SATS has entered into 2 new joint ventures (valued at RMB136 million) at Beijing’s brand new Daxing International Airport which opened late 2019, aimed at providing ground and cargo handling, and inflight catering.

SATS’s subsidiary in India, AISATS coolport (which occupies a 11,000 sqm facility) is the country’s first integrated on-airport perishable cargo handling centre located at Kempegowda International Airport.  This humongous facility was built to meet the extensive handling requirements of high-value perishable cargo products (such as pharmaceuticals) and end-to-end cold chain solutions.

Results and Ratios

In the latest annual report, SATS reported the following:

1. Revenue gained from Food Solutions increased from S$946.6 million (2018) to S$988.2 million (2019), registering an increase of 4.4%.  This ended a continual fall in revenue from food solutions since 2013.

2. Revenue gained from Gateway Services grew by 7.9% year-on-year from S$776.5 million (2018) to S$837.7 million (2019).  This segment has been growing year after year since 2010!

3. Revenue gained from Rental and other services grew from S$1.4 million (2018) to S$2 million (2019).  This source is a very small revenue stream for SATS.

4. Group revenue was S$1828 million (2019), up S$103.4 million or 6% from S$1724.6 million (2018) in spite of a challenging operating climate.  

5. Net profit (PATMI: Profit after tax and minority interests) fell 5% from S$261.5 million (2018) to S$248.4 million (2019).  SATS’s net profit margin has remained stagnant and even compressed for several years in spite of growth in group revenue. Expenditure (labour cost, raw materials costs, licence fees, etc) has been rising even as gross revenue grows.*

6. Productivity (value added per employee cost) suffers a 2.5% reduction year-on-year.**

7. ROE for year 2019 was 15.1 (ROE at/above 15 is good).  However SATS’s ROE is on a downward trend since 2017 (ROE:16.7).

8. Debt/equity ratio remained healthy at 0.06 times. That SATS could maintain its ROE while having little debt is really no mean feat. This means SATS has been running a superior business, and that speaks to the competency of SATS’s management team.

9. Free cash flow generated was S$208.1 million (up S$61.8 million from S$146.3 million in 2018).

10. DPU was on the 6th year of increase, up 1 cent to 19 cents (2019).  Current dividend yield is 4.7%.

11. PB ratio was 3.12 when I made my purchase.  Based on the recent share price of S$4.02, the PB ratio is 2.78.  

12. PE ratio is now 18.14 which is above its market average of 12.9 (and also above its average PE of around 16).

Why did I buy SATS?

First, SATS is set to grow its business.

If one were to take a casual look at the growth rate in SAT’s group revenue (S$1.75 billion in 2015 to S$1.83 billion in 2019), it is not difficult to notice that growth has been slow and thereby conclude that SATS may be a mature business.  

Maybe so, but is there still room to grow the business?  Apparently, there is, according to the management.

There will be growth in SATS operation in Singapore, in at least 2 areas.

In anticipation of higher visitor arrival in the future, a new passenger Terminal 5 is being developed at Changi International Airport.  T5 is said to be larger than T1, 2 and 3 put together, and is expected to open around 2030.  SATS stands to benefit big time from this development.

In addition, Singapore is also on a growth path to expand the Marina Bay cruise terminal, again in anticipation of higher visitor arrival by sea.  Singapore is the biggest cruise hub in South-east Asia, and SATS owns 60% of Marina Bay Cruise Centre that operates the cruise business.  The cruise terminal is going high-tech, leveraging technology – data science, video analytics and predictive artificial intelligence – to enhance its operations.  Again, SATS stands to benefit from this development.

There will also be growth in SATS operation in the region.

SATS has set a target of investing S$1 billion in either mergers & acquisitions or greenfield/brownfield capital expenditures to increase its Asia Pacific aviation presence in catering and air cargo market in the next three years.  SATS has already invested almost S$300 million in M&A and close to S$200 million in capital expenditures in the past five years. This S$1 billion invested is expected to generate incremental profits amounting to a quarter of its 2019 net profit of S$248 million.

SATS has the ambition to become the world’s leading central kitchen supplier for its aviation counterparts … and I like this company that is gunning for growth very much.

Second, SATS is in a defensive business.

As mentioned earlier, SATS has a dominant market presence, operating in 60 locations across 13 countries in Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East.  This massive network (comprising also of subsidiaries, joint ventures and strategic alliances) in many key airports has kept SATS’s competitors at bay.  SATS enjoys an entrenched market position.

Third, SATS is set on addressing its productivity issue (see* and ** above) in order to lower operating cost and boost net profit.

SATS intends to invest in a digital integrated supply chain across the region to reduce costs in production and limit food waste, and improve food security and sustainability.  SATS is working with Tum Create, a research platform for the improvement of Singapore’s public transportation systems, to develop what could possibly be the world’s first AI powered robotic air cargo system.  This system is named SpeedCargo will enable SATS to connect data for end-to-end optimisation of cargo operations.

This endeavour to digitise air cargo handling and transform otherwise laborious processes in the airfreight industry will see SATS benefit from improved productivity, time savings, and higher throughput and load factors.

SATS growth plans, for now, have been sidelined by the coronavirus crisis.

The reduction in regional travel as a result of the coronavirus will no doubt impact SATS’s earnings in the short term.  Wuhan is still in lockdown.  No one really dares to travel to China or Japan or South Korea.  The suspension of casino operations for 15 days in Macau has seen the usual flood of tourists reduced to a mere trickle.  For as long as the virus outbreak persists, SATS remains in a dark place operationally and financially.

Well, with regard to the virus situation, SATS has this to say,

“The COVID-19 epidemic has caused a significant reduction in air traffic in China, with a sharp decline in passenger and cargo volumes across Asia. Depending on the duration of this epidemic, there will be a consequential impact on the short-term financial performance of SATS. We are taking proactive steps to mitigate the risks and impact of the situation. Safety is our first priority at SATS, hence we have implemented plans to protect members of the public and our staff from the virus. We are working closely with the relevant authorities, suppliers and customers in each country we operate in, to support a coordinated and effective response. The company is in a strong position to weather the disruption to our business with resilience. 

Ongoing investments in supply chain processes and systems will provide greater traceability that will further strengthen our ability to respond to contingencies across our network. Recent investments in overseas kitchens in Japan and China, along with ground handling investments in India, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have enhanced our capabilities, strengthened our market position and diversified our revenue base.” 

Until the virus situation is eradicated and regional travel outlook improves, SATS’s stock will remain impaired regardless of its fundamentals.

Based on PB, SATS is not exactly cheap. I’m looking for capital gain upon price recovery. And while I wait for that, there are dividends to collect.

I bought some SATS at S$4.49 on Feb 12 but within a matter of just 2 weeks, the share price dropped to S$4.03 (28 Feb).  A 10% drop! Well, shocking as it may be, I’m not exactly fretting over it.  Given the current situation, it was to be expected.

All that is needed now is for me to have the patience to ride this crisis out. And if I have more cash, I might average down (below S$4.00).

Incidentally, SATS’s stock code is S58.  The number 58 sounds like 唔發 in Cantonese, which means “won’t prosper/won’t huat”.  LOL.  It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious in any way.

Disclaimer: I am only an amateur investor and nothing you read here on my blog constitutes financial advice.  I write here to detail my investments, strategies, and analyses.  Feel free to read at your own risk.  Should you need financial advice, consult a licensed financial advisor.

My Corona Portfolio (2): Link REIT

Hong Kong has been ravaged by protests and riots for months since mid-2019.  The resentments from those tumultuous days continue to linger, right into 2020.  The economy plunged into recession as a result of the social unrest.  As if things could not get any worse, the coronavirus found its way to the Pearl of the Orient, and created further havoc in the weakened Hong Kong economy.  Talk about a double whammy! 

Hong Kong, one of the shopping paradises of the world, depends a lot on tourists. During boom times, Hong Kong’s tourist arrival numbers about 100,000 on a daily average. Today, the daily average has dropped to below 3000. That is a 97% decline in tourist arrival numbers! 

Hong Kong’s tourism and hospitality industries are being decimated. Many hotels are half-filled, with some hotels registering single digit occupancy rate. The coronavirus situation is also dealing a knock-out blow to many restaurants and travel agencies. Popular shopping areas have become quieter, and many high-end stores are reporting muted sales. Tenants are asking for rental discounts or rebates in the wake of poor business. Many landlords, such as Sun Hung Kai Properties and Wharf REIT, have begun slashing rents for their tenants as these retailers struggle in their businesses.

In doing so, these property companies and REITs are hurting their own bottomline. And as a result, share prices of these property companies and REITs began to slide south.

To build up my Corona Portfolio, I began to look into some of these property companies and REITS that pay dividends, and shortlisted some of them.

Here’s my shortlist:

1. Link REIT

2. Champion REIT

3. Sun Hung Kai Properties

4. Henderson Land Development

5. Wharf REIT

6. Swire Properties

7. Wynn Macau

Since it will take a while for me to study each of these companies, I decided to go with the one I’m most familiar with first … Link REIT.  Link REIT has been on my radar for quite a while now, and when the share price dropped to my desired range, I bought some at HKD78.00 and added Link REIT to my Corona Portfolio.


Link REIT is the largest listed REIT in Hong Kong.  Link possesses a portfolio that comprises retail facilities, car parks and offices across Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, and Australia.  Its retail properties are located close to public housing estates (heartland malls). 

Highlights (HK properties)

The bulk of Link’s rental income in Hong Kong is derived from tenants selling consumer staples.  It is interesting to note that food-related sales make up 60% of trade at Link’s retail properties.

Therefore, regardless of economic cycles or status, Link’s earnings derived from businesses such as supermarkets, restaurants, and fast food, should remain resilient across economic cycles.  

Results and Ratios

In the latest interim report (2019/2020), Link REIT reported the following:

1. Revenue reached HKD5332 million, an increase of 8.8% year-on-year.  Since most of Link’s properties in Hong Kong are mostly connected to public housing estates, it benefits from having sizeable catchments and good connectivity.

2. Net asset value per unit grew 1.2% to HK$90.58 (vs HK$89.48, Mar 2020).

3. Net property income increased by 8.3% year-on-year to HK$4,071 million. 

4. Distribution per unit was HK141.47 cents, an increase of 8.3% year-on- year.

5. Link boasts an extremely low gearing ratio of 11.9% (relatively low when compared to most REITs listed in the SGX). The low gearing will provide Link with ample flexibility to continue investing in its business. 

6, Link has an interest coverage ratio of 10.65x, meaning to say that it is producing more than enough funds to cover its upcoming payments.

6.  As at 30 September 2019, occupancy rate for Link’s HK portfolio remained stable at 96.9%.

7. Link’s overall portfolio reversion rate stood at a whopping 18.1%. Average monthly unit rent improved to HK$69.6 psf as at 30 September 2019 from HK$68.0 psf as at 31 March 2019. 

8. Because of its excellent management and low gearing, Link will be able to leverage on its strong asset and capital management and asset enhancement capabilities over its diversified portfolio in Hong Kong (and Mainland China).  When it comes to capital management, Link is par excellence, as its history of active portfolio management through acquisition, divestment and development proves.  Link has been able to deliver long-term sustainable return to its unit holders, and have returned capital to unit holders in the form of unit buyback and discretionary distribution. 

9. Link’s PB Ratio was 0.85 when I made my purchase.  That was a bargain. In addition, Link has been growing its NAV at a rapid pace, increasing from HK$56.79 in FY15/16 to now HK$91.92. This makes Link even more attractive as the future PB ratio for shares purchased at the current price will be even lower.

10. Link has a distribution yield of 3.7% which is far better than its yield of around 2.7% at its peak price.  Should Link continue to grow its distribution per unit as it has done in the past, the distribution yield will continue to rise in tandem over time if shares are purchased at its current price.

Why did I buy Link REIT?

All the above provide me ample reasons to buy Link REIT.  To put it succinctly, Link REIT is an excellent stock because of its superior growth potential and first-rate track record.

Going forward, Link has plans to extend its expansion into other areas beyond the shores of Hong Kong and China.  Link intends to opportunistically add investments in Australia, Singapore, Japan and the UK. 

Link has shown its ability to unlock value through asset enhancements. In the past year, 11 AEI projects had been completed. These completed AEI projects had a return on investment of between 13.8% and 35.6%. Link will reap the benefits of these 11 completed projects in future years. In addition, Link has another 4 projects underway that could provide a further boost by this year.  

Following the recent acquisition of 100 Market Street in Sydney Australia, Link fine-tuned its Vision 2025 Goal, with Hong Kong representing 70-75% of its portfolio value, China about 20%, and the rest of the world around 10%.  Link is a company with a well-thought out growth plan, and I want to buy a company that grows its business over time.

Link’s market cap is HKD204 billion, thus making it a large-cap company. Typically, large companies are well-established and highly resourced. That means, while market volatility may impact some short-term strategic decisions, it is unlikely to matter much to such big companies in the long run. Therefore, even during a time when the general market is selling off (like these recent weeks), Link REIT, being a large-cap stock, is a safe bet to buy.

In reality, in the wake of this health crisis, both the Hong Kong and China markets have lost their momentum, and retail consumption and retail rents have been affected. As the saying goes, “this too, shall pass.” I just need the patience and mental fortitude to ride through short to mid-term volatility (and until the coronavirus crisis comes to an end) to await Link’s share price recovery. 

Now one question begs to be asked: has online shopping affected Link in any way?

Not very much.  Link (as well as other commercial REITS in Hong Kong) appears to have dodged this bullet.  Why? Hong Kong people live in tiny apartments with small fridges (I’ve lived in one such small apartment before, and the fridge was really pathetically small … I only used it to keep drinks and fruits cold).  So people tend to shop more regularly and eat outside more often.  Hence, going to the shopping malls is an everyday experience for most Hong Kong people.

Like any other business in Hong Kong, Link does face challenges. The covid-19 crisis, as well as the social unrest, will continue to put pressure on Link’s business.  In addition, any unexpected interest rate hike will also adversely affect Link’s distribution and valuation.

Link REIT is really a gem of a company, and I’m glad to have it in my pocket. 

Disclaimer: I am only an amateur investor and nothing you read here on my blog constitutes financial advice.  I write here to detail my investments, strategies, and analyses.  Feel free to read at your own risk.  Should you need financial advice, consult a licensed financial advisor.

My Corona Portfolio (1): China Life Insurance

The coronavirus outbreak is making the headlines each and every day.  For the most part, the market, especially that of HK/China, has responded negatively to news of the Corona virus that originated from Wuhan.

Since the beginning of this viral outbreak, I’ve been thinking of accumulating a few “injured” HK/China stocks.  Some HK/China stocks have been hammered quite severely during this crisis. 

So I thought to myself, “why not start a special portfolio related to stocks affected by this health crisis?  Why not invest in some fundamentally strong stocks whose prices have been negatively impacted by the viral outbreak?  Why not buy on the dip and wait for capital gain?”  

Well, why not indeed!

The first two stocks that I was interested in for my “Corona Portfolio” were PingAn Insurance and China Life Insurance.  Of the two, I bought China Life Insurance first.  I am currently waiting for a right price to enter a position for PingAn Insurance.


China Life Insurance is the largest insurance company headquartered in Beijing.  It hasn’t always been known as China Life Insurance.  China Life Insurance traces its beginning to People’s Insurance Company of China (PICC) when it was founded in 1949.  In 1996, life insurance division was separated from PICC and renamed as China Life Insurance Company in 1999. In 2003, approved by the State Council and China Insurance Regulatory Commission, the former China Life Insurance Company was restructured into China Life Insurance (Group) Company.  China Life Insurance is listed in New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai. 


China Life’s market capitalization at 887.161 billion (HKD) is among one of the highest among listed life insurance companies globally. 

China Life commits itself to becoming a top international financial services and insurance group.  It has business in many fields, covering life insurance, property insurance, pension plans (enterprise annuity), banking, funds, asset management, wealth management, industrial investment, overseas business, etc.  Furthermore, it holds large shares in securities, trusts, futures, real estate, and other fields through strategic investments.

China Life dominates the China market with almost 20.5% of the total market share (compared to 17% market share of Ping An insurance).

The Chinese government holds a 68% stake in the China Life.  

This state-run insurance company enjoys a high degree of credit-worthiness and broad name recognition. 

The company touts its vast nationwide sales network comprising 1,439,000 people selling individual insurance products.  

The Chinese insurance market has been expanding rapidly on the back of the growth of a middle class and an increase in personal income, and the size of the market is expected to become even larger, reflecting the country’s graying society.

Results and Ratios

As at the end of June 2019, China Life reported the following:

1. Total assets reached RMB3,479,860 million, an increase of 6.9% from the end of 2018.

2. Total revenues was RMB448,221 million, an increase of 11.6% year-on-year.

3. Gross written premiums were RMB377,976 million, an increase of 4.9% year-on-year

4. Investment assets reached RMB3,304,129 million, an increase of 6.4% from the end of 2018.

5. Gross investment yield was 5.78%; net investment yield was 4.66%.

6. Net profit attributable to equity holders of the Company was RMB37,599 million, an increase of 128.9% year-on-year.

7. China Life has approximately 297 million long-term individual and group life insurance policies, annuity contracts, and long-term health insurance policies in force.

8. China Life’s ROE is 13% (well above 10%, which suggests China Life is covering its cost of capital and generating an ample return for shareholders).

9. China Life’s core solvency stands at 258.62% (vs 250.55% in 2018) and its comprehensive solvency stands at 269.09% (vs 250.56% in 2018).  Solvency margin refers to the surplus capital that an insurance company is required to hold at any point of time to pay any claims, dividends or other liabilities.  Under C-ROSS (China Risk Oriented Solvency System), the regulation requires that life insurers’ core solvency and comprehensive solvency ratios must be no less than 100% and 150%, respectively. As can be seen, China Life’s current solvency is strong. 

10. China Life has well-controlled credit risks, with over 95% of the its credit bonds having AAA ratings. The total amount of its non-standard fixed-income assets exceeded RMB 430 billion, with over 98% having AAA external ratings.

Why did I buy China Life?

Based on China Life’s business model, strong balance-sheet, and its ability to grow its earnings as well as its revenues, I consider the shares of China Life a worthy purchase.

China Life trades for a price-to-book (PB) ratio of 1.39.  Looking at the PB ratio, China Life is not very expensive, so I scooped up some China Life at HKD19.64. 

Given that China Life’s share is fairly volatile, this could mean the price can sink lower, giving me another chance to buy in the future. This is based on its beta (1.18 vs sector median of 0.46), which is a good indicator for share price volatility.

I’m not an exclusively dividend investor.  I like to possess some growth stocks as well.  China Life’s dividend yield is not even 1% (current yield = 0.92), so it is definitely a growth stock to me.  In other words, I hope to find capital gain when the stock price rises.  

I see many reasons why the stock price will rise because of the increase in the need for insurance:

1. It is common knowledge that the population of China is ageing.  And as the population begins to grow more advanced in age, the need for insurance increases in tandem.  About 20% of China’s population (close to 170 million people) is above the age of 65, and this proportion of elderly will only increase in the next few decades to come.

2. Given China’s one child policy, the only child in most families cannot adequately provide for his ageing parents, and meet their medical expenses and long-term care in the future.  Any doting Chinese parents will explore their insurance options now before they hit retirement so as not to burden their only child (or children, if they are lucky to have more than one) to meet their medical needs when they are eventually in retirement.  This is becoming increasingly necessary considering the increase of average life expectancy from 67 (1986) to 76 years (2016, latest data available from the World Bank).

3. China’s middle class has expanded rapidly, surging from around 29 million in 1999 (2% of the population) to approximately 541 million in 2015 (39% of the population; data taken from the World bank).  China’s middle class is amongst the fastest such growth rates in the world.  China’s middle class, with higher disposable income, will spur demand for more insurance products that secure their medical needs and meet their property expenses and wealth needs.

4. China leads the under-insured in the world.  The insurance penetration rate of China is just 4.6%, compared to the global average rate estimated at 6.1%.  Suffice it to say that China’s insurance market, though the world’s second largest (after the USA), is still in its nascent stage.  As at 2018, China’s insurance gap reached USD76.4 billion.  China’s low insurance penetration rate, coupled with a rising awareness of longevity risks, will continue to support China’s insurance market for many, many years to come.

5. The current Covid-19 situation has awakened in many Chinese citizens a need for medical insurance.  Mr Xia Changsheng, a Tianfeng Securities analyst, opined thus, “… the outbreak spurs people’s awareness for the need for insurance, such as life or health cover.”  I couldn’t agree more.  This awareness of human frailty and mortality bodes well for future insurance business.

For now, the insurance industry in China is in the doldrums in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.  Agents cannot go out to meet potential clients to sell policies.  In fact, with the great number of people being hospitalised and an increasing number of deaths, Chinese insurance companies will have to deal with more claims (  However, with China Life’s strong balance sheets, it is definitely able to meet any massive spike in claim payouts (don’t forget China Life’s core solvency is 258.62%, which is significantly higher than the minimum requirement of 100%). 

China Life might face disruptions from e-commerce players (think Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings).  China Life is speeding up technology application and incubation for the purpose of enhancing the digitalisation of the company.  It has no other choice but to go in that direction, and I’m glad to know, from going through its latest presentation, that it is taking the technological bull by the horns and meeting the challenge head-on.

Since my purchase (HKD19.64), China Life’s share price has gapped down to HKD18.80 (Feb 24).  It is okay for me, because the share price will take time to stablise given the Covid-19 crisis that is probably here to stay for a while (until maybe summer). 

For now, I’m happy with my position and will keep a close eye on China Life and the behaviour of Mr. Market. 

Disclaimer: I am only an amateur investor and nothing you read here on my blog constitutes financial advice.  I write here to detail my investments, strategies, and analyses.  Feel free to read at your own risk.  Should you need financial advice, consult a licensed financial advisor.

2020 Jan. Investing and Spending


The whole investing world was arrested by great exuberance as the world ushered in the new year. This vivacity, however, was cut short by the WuHan virus outbreak. All market rallying came to a halt when the news of the outbreak broke. It has been a very unsettling time since the first case here in Singapore, to speak the least.

Much has been written on how investors should react during this time of health crisis:


As the virus wreaked havoc throughout the world, I took the opportunity to adjust my portfolio. I sold 2 counters: UMS and Micro-Mechanics.

  1. UMS: I decided to let go of UMS mainly to take profit. Profit plus dividends made up 44% gain on initial investment. UMS is a solid company in my opinion. It has a strong balance sheet, excellent free cash flow of some S$33m (78% of EBIT), and pays out decent dividends. When this epidemic blows over, I might pick up UMS again. I will be looking at a price range between $0.55 (estimated intrinsic value) and $0.60.
  2. Micro-Mechanics: Buying Micro-Mechanics was a mistake right from the start some 13 months ago. I was new to investing then and had not learned much about value investing, and I guessed I bought it when it was relatively expensive (PB=4). When the share price went back up to the $1.80 range, I decided to sell, making a small profit of 7%. Micro-Mechanics is also a solid company with a great balance sheet, adequate cash flow, and pays out great dividends (currently 5%). When the price is right ($1.35), I might consider buying it again. Latest news has it that Micro-Mechanics’s Suzhou factory will be temporarily closed amid the virus outbreak until Feb 10. This is not very good news from Micro-Mechanics.

While I did not buy any new stocks in January, I continued to maintain the investment that my wife and I have with MoneyOwl (since July 2019). Total returns at the end of January stood at 5.49%.

The best way to measure your investing success is not by whether you’re beating the market but by whether you’ve put in place a financial plan and a behavioral discipline that are likely to get you where you want to go.

The Intelligent Investor, p. 220, Benjamin Graham


With January being the CNY month, my budget basically went out of the window.

When the new year rolled around, I decided to keep tap on my expenses using Seedly’s Expense Tracker & Budget App. My budget for monthly expenses:

  1. Food/Groceries/Medical: $700-$900
  2. Home/Utilities/Communication: $350-$500
  3. Transport: $300
  4. Education: $700
  5. Insurance: $750
  6. Parents: $500
  7. Vacation: $500


Well, how did I do? Not too badly, if I ignore the extra spending for CNY and new school needs.

Actual expenses for January came up to $7409.69. Breakdown as follows:

  1. Food/Groceries/Medical: $1048.24 (exceeded budget)
  2. Home/Utilities/Communication: $330.28 (within budget)
  3. Transport: $135.00 (within budget)
  4. Education: $2211.00 (exceeded budget, inclusive of new macbook for school use bought on staff discount … it pays to have friends who have lobang)
  5. Insurance: $750 (auto-transfer to another account)
  6. Parents: $500
  7. Vacation: $500 (auto-transfer to another account)
  8. CNY Spending 1: Ang Bao: $1400 (my part only; not inclusive of wife’s contribution)
  9. CNY Spending 2: Shopping: $535.17

The Seedly app works quite well as an expense tracker. It is free and pretty user-friendly. The only con is it runs only when the phone is connected to the internet.

A new budget for 2020

Tomorrow is Jan 1, 2020, and it’s about time to work out a new budget.

2019 budget looks like this

1. Food/Groceries/Medical: $600-$800

2. Home/Utilities/Communication: $350-$500

3. Transport: $300

4. Education: $200

5. Insurance: $750

6. Parents: $500

7. Vacation: $500

TOTAL: $3200-3550 (excluding wife’s spending money, church giving, savings and investments)

Everything should stay relatively the same except:

#1 Food/Groceries: $700-$900 ($100 increase)

With the kids fast growing up, their demand for food increases as well. I fear the day they eat us out of our house! Wife is constantly on the look out for the best deals, and I trust she can stretch the grocery dollar. If she has to go to 10 shops to buy 10 items instead of buying all 10 items at one place just to save money, she gladly does it. She spares no effort in sniffing out the best deal, and all that running from one store to another she considers exercise. Of course, there is on-line grocery shopping that she taps into as well.

#4: Education $700 ($500 increase)

Kid will soon attend an independent school and the school fees is very high compared to regular schools … $300 per month at least. And then there are extra fees for different activities. Wife said I should have considered the school fees before encouraging the kid to apply to this school since every school is a good school. I’m not sure if I believe government propaganda entirely, but I believe it is a good opportunity for the kid to be stretched academically and to rub shoulders with some of the brightest kids in the country. Anyway, whatever’s best for the kid I’ll glad fund it.

So 2020 budget looks like this

1. Food/Groceries/Medical: $700-$900

2. Home/Utilities/Communication: $350-$500

3. Transport: $300

4. Education: $700

5. Insurance: $750

6. Parents: $500

7. Vacation: $500

TOTAL: $3800-4150 (excluding wife’s spending money, church giving, savings and investments)

Beginning Jan 1 2020, I shall endeavour to track our family expenses (items 1 to 4) on the app Seedly. It will take a lot of discipline to include everything from kopiC to fishball noodles to SIA tickets, and to do this every single day for 365 days. Will see how it goes from Jan 1.

2019 in Review

So very quickly 2019 is going to be gone. The year 2019 has been predicted to be a year of doom and gloom. And yet as it turns out, the truth is, the year 2019 is the best year ever in investment history where almost every investment works and every portfolio finishes in the green.

2019 is my first full year of investing. I began as a rookie late 2018, and have learnt a great deal in how to best place my money in the stock market throughout 2019. Mr market has been very kind to me:

Time-weighted return: 28.38% vs STI: 8.85%

XIRR: 26.44%

Total dividend received in 2019: $2957.66. It’s a modest sum but encouraging enough for me to keep doing what I’ve done this year.

My best 3 performers are: Mapletree Industrial Trust (+38.28%), UMS (+35.71%) & Fuyu (+18.60%).

My worst 3 performers are: Fortune Reit (-15.40%), Eagle HTrust (-4.39%) & First Reit (-3.65%). All 3 worst performers are Reits!

As the year comes to a close soon tomorrow, my total stock portfolio stands at $87,331.51. In addition to that I have a RSP plan on Moneyowl, and the money portfolio has grown 7.64% to $5304.68.

In summary:

Stock portfolio: $87,331.51

MoneyOwl: $5304.68

The plan or goal for 2020 is to grow the stock portfolio to $110,000, and double the value of the MoneyOwl portfolio to $10,000. The larger game plan is to eventually retire with $1M in both portfolios combined (WITHOUT including CPF, cash savings, bonds, and endowment-type policies). This will take me at least 17 years to hit the jackpot. It seems likes a long journey ahead, but I draw inspiration from those who have gone down the road and are now enjoying their retirement land that overflows with milk and honey. Many have achieved their financial goals, so why shouldn’t I? That’s my mindset.

Beware the investment activity that produces applause; the great moves are usually greeted by yawns.

Warren Buffett


Money is not the only important thing in this world. Ranking above wealth is definitely health, both physical and mental.

I make it a point to always squeeze out some time every day to engage in some physical activities or just lounge about reading. Being a husband and a father of a few kids, time is often in short supply every day. It is only after going through the kids’ school work do I find the time to have some ‘me’ moment, and that is usually a quick trip to the gym, immerse myself with a book, or learn a few phrases of new music.

2020 has been an MC-free year. Yeah! Apart from some minor colds/flu which I basically just self-medicate, I’m as healthy as a horse. Fitness-wise, I’m still maintaining a gold standard in IPPT tests. My weakest performance was in the 2.4km run. Based on calculation, I’m stronger than 94% of male lifters in my age and weight groups. So in 2020, I shall work on my lower limbs, and improve on my stamina.

I shall also continue to maintain a low budget on food. It’s a hard thing to do when there is always good food everywhere. But the thing is we are what we eat. Consume too much sugar, salt, oil etc, and we run in danger of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. My approach is to eat but never to being fully full; more meals as opposed to the standard 3 meals a day; more protein and fibre, and less carbohydrates. Truth be told, I’m not always disciplined when it comes to eating.

Apart from taking care of the body, one must also take care of the mind. I read both for knowledge as well as for pleasure. I average 1 book every fortnight, and am now reading Mr. Goh’s memoir “Tall order: The Goh Chok Tong Story”, and “Last Man Standing”, a thriller novel written by David Baldacci. I definitely need to read more books on investing.

To me, playing music is akin to meditation. I like to sit down and play during the week ends. But alas, I did very poorly this year, not learning a single piece of serious music this year. Special Christmas music does not count. Definitely need to work on this aspect of my life.

Brain Pickings

An inventory of the meaningful life.

The Good Investors

Investing done right


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