Saturday 23 June 2018

Singapore Press Holdings and SPH REIT- Growth Engine in Property Development and Retail Shopping Malls

Singapore Press Holdings ("SPH") has been actively pursuing business development in its property segment as part of its diversification strategy.  Recently,  SPH has again partnered with Japanese developer Kajima to bid for a mixed residential and commercial plot at Seng Kang Central as at 21 June 2018. Just last year, SPH and Kajima had bidded and successfully won the Bidadari mixed residential and commercial plot  just next to Woodleigh MRT Station which will be the heart of the new housing estate. These developments will serve as future catalyst of growth as the revenue of the former Media super star has been declining and in doldrums over the past few years due to market disruption from other online media.
Seven tender submission by major developers for this site. If the SPH-Kajima Consortium wins by beating other major players such as City Development, Far East Organization and Keppel Land, it will be another major win by SPH coming off the recent 2017 newly won Bidadari development project.

From a former giant print media Group, SPH has been slowly transforming itself. As part of SPH's strategic sustainability business plan, it has been building up its property development business and on top of that, it has also been enhancing on recurring income from the commercial shopping mall businesses at Paragon, Clementi Mall, Seletar Mall and the upcoming Woodleigh Mall. Shareholders of SPH will soon have reprieve from the ever falling share prices once the property development projects are executed successfully and the additional recurring income from its latest investment into commercial retail activities starts rolling in. SPH's crown jewel Paragon remains firmly in SPH's possession for future redevelopment as it had crafted out a 99 years leasehold tenure out of its freehold status to SPH REIT.  
Paragon- The jewel of SPH's Property Portfolio

As for SPH REIT, it stands to benefit from the more aggressive venture into the building of shopping malls by its sponsor. Seletar Mall and the upcoming Woodleigh Mall will be the future pipeline for growth as SPH REIT has the right of first refusal over these income producing real estates. SPH REIT had withstood well over the past 2 months of blood letting at the local stock market due to the market interest rates increase and also fear of global trade war. Its debt gearing ratio is one of the lowest among the existing REITS.  

The Clementi Mall serving our local heartland with huge crowds at weekend and weekday

The exciting aspect for SPH REIT in 2018 is the expected completion of the Rail Mall acquisition by end of June 2018 which will begin contributing to its result for 2nd half of the year. I am looking forward to what the management of SPH REIT can do to further improve on the yield of this real estate piece which will be added into the SPH REIT family. By re-positioning via tenant mix as well as other initiatives, there is certainly potential to boost the traffic and enhance the rental for collection. 

As the REIT model is a relatively simpler business with more transparent earnings visibility, I am more confident in terms of its potential for further income growth over the next few years. For SPH, its perceived value depends very much on a wide ranging variables in terms of investor's outlook on the "right" entry price. What is your view of SPH current market valuation? Has the recent market turmoil excessively discount it and thus present the best opportunity to take up a position in SPH now?

(P.S: Please also see my previous post on  "SPH REIT acquiring The Rail Mail at Upper Bukit Timah Road for S$63.24M- First acquisition after IPO for almost 5 years")

Thursday 14 June 2018

How to Preserve the Value of your 99 years leasehold HDB or Private Property?

The 99 years leasehold expiry issue that was recently hotly debated due to the comments from the National Development Minister is actually not just restricted to HDB. Yes, it also affects private property owners who purchased their properties under a 99 years tenure. Simply put, all leasehold properties, whether public or private, will eventually go back to the state upon expiry.

The Singapore Land Authority official stance is that its general policy will be to recover the land upon lease expiry. For HDB, do not expect all aged flats to be eligible for Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme ("SERS"). This thus creates a huge national problem as approximately 80% of the Singapore population stay in public housing.

For private property owners, this issue is less acute. Unlike HDB flats, private property owners can opt for collective enbloc sales to developers such as Far East Organization, City Development, Capitaland, Keppel Land, Oxley etc. However, this is on the assumption that there is a good residential association or management committee leading the estate. This means that there must be good leaders among the residents who are financially savvy and able to organize as well as rally support to complete the requirements to push for enbloc once an estate reaches between 30yrs old to 40yrs old. 

One shocking real life example of the dreadful impact of the leasehold expiry issue can be gleaned from the private estate in Geylang Lorong 3. The Geylang private estate has a 60 year leasehold from 1960 which means that it is expiring by 2020, that is, around 2 more years. It consists of 190 private landed homes. There are around 20-30 households still remaining and living in the estate. Some of the remaining owners regretted not selling off earlier when prices were still relatively high. The owners were surprised that once 2020 comes, their properties will be worth nothing. There are no buyers right now given the circumstances as it is.

The moral of the story here is that private property owners will not be impervious to the detrimental impact of a lease approaching the end of its tenure. Given the hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions spent to purchase a private property, one should not clung on to sentiment and should go for enbloc once the properties become old. I would think between 30 yrs and 40 yrs is the best time for the estate to group together to call for enbloc to private developers in order to preserve their property value.

For freehold private property owners who are glad that they will have no such issue, that is, unfortunately not true. The Singapore government had a track record of invoking the Land Acquisition Act which means that freehold may not be so perpetual after all. I do not believe there is such a thing as “freehold” property in land scare Singapore. In addition, once a property reaches 30 yrs old, chances are there will be many property maintenance issues regardless of being HDB, private leasehold or private freehold. Common problems will be worn out electrical fittings, water pipes leaking, pneumatic disposal system problems etc.

The key point I guess to overcome the 99 years leasehold issue is not to stay at one place for more than 30 years to 40 years to avoid the sad fate of Geylang Lorong 3 private estate. The intrinsic value of our properties is further compounded by the CPF restriction imposed on subsequent purchaser buying old estates which certainly exacerbates the problem. The old adage that property is a retention of wealth no longer holds true in Singapore with the MND announcement. This can be seen in the current resales prices of old HDB estates as Singaporeans assess the recent statements being made by the government. Of course, letting go of sentiment of staying in one’s place is easier said than done. We are human beings after all. A home holds many sweet memories of the past and present for many of us.     

Saturday 9 June 2018

Netlink NBN Trust- From Boring Stable Counter to Jaw Dropping 8% price drop since IPO

Netlink Trust-the Fibre of a Smart Nation- dropped to a 52 week low of S$0.745 per unit on 8 June 2018 (Friday) during its mid-day trading, before recovering to close off at S$0.780 per unit. During 2018, most analysts were all setting price target of over S$0.915 per unit, but instead it dropped from the S$0.810 to S$0.745. Taking into account Netlink's IPO price of S$0.810, the Business Trust would have dropped 8% at its lowest point since the announcement of its year end results. What happened to this counter which investors used to praise for its relative stable business outlook and thus stable unit prices that was expected?  

The other mind blogging aspect is that Netlink Trust's net profit that was announced was higher than expected and so was the dividends distribution. (Please see my previous post on "Netlink NBN Trust- Boring but Stable".)

Are there changes in business fundamentals since the last announcement by Netlink?
A quick search on SGX announcement and Netlink Trust official website did not reveal any profit warning or negative business developments. However, overall market interest rates is expected to go up in the upcoming months due to better than expected US job data. Market is expecting another 2 rounds of interest rate hikes this year by the US Federal Reserve due to the better economic outlook.   

The interest rate hikes is a factor for consideration but the price decline seems to be overly done with the dividend yield expected for FY2019 to be over 6% based on the last closing price. In view of no news of worsening business fundamentals, absence of any known significant earnings deterioration and also the cost of equity should not deviate too much, the current sell down by existing shareholders seems to be overly done. With the increasing use of fibre broadband services for day to day activities, Netlink Trust is one of the few businesses that has a resilient business model with recurring earnings. For those holding on to Netlink NBN Trust, what are your thoughts on the recent dip? 

Monday 4 June 2018

Property Market going Crazy? Will you pay S$1,750 psf for a private property at Serangoon North?

I am flabbergasted and exasperated. Record new high created again in our Singapore Property Market even at mass market private properties. It was reported in the news that Oxley launched Affinity at Serangoon (formerly enbloc Serangoon Ville) at an average of S$1,550 psf. 110-140 units estimated to have been sold. 5 mins away, Keppel Land and Wing Tai launched their Garden Residences (Serangoon North Ave 1) at an average of $1,750 psf and they managed to move 60-90 units. Also with EC going at S$900 psf and even upcoming projected EC projected at S$1,000 psf at Punggol in 2019 (site won by City Development), the property market these days seems to be in exuberance.

What is happening? This seems like a huge bubble to me. Will our Government come out to launch additional property cooling measures soon? 

Saturday 2 June 2018

Fu Yu Corporation- SUPER Hero cash generating abilities

Superhero strength and superhero cash generating abilities best describe Fu Yu Corporation ("Fu Yu"). Fu Yu is a business listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange focusing on fabrication of precision moulds as well as sub-assembly of precision plastic parts and components. The Fu Yu Group of companies have non-existent bank borrowings on the face of their statement of financial position. Yes.....this is not a typo borrowings from the bankers. It is even sitting on a cash hoard of over S$98.4Mil as at Q1 2018 which was built up over the years. This represented an impressive translation of S$0.131 cash value per share. Its share price is around S$0.18 per share. Hence 66% of its market value is directly supported by the fair value on its mammoth cash position. It was also giving out over 8% in dividend yield in the previous years. 

I mean that this is no simple feat considering that Fu Yu is in the business of manufacturing and having to deal with complexities such as marketing & business development to maintain the top-line, maintaining the technical edge in manufacturing competencies, sorting out raw materials purchases, review of manufacturing process cost control, managing overseas plants and human resources in Malaysia & China and dealing with very competitive rivals. Also having to deal with macro economic climate and cyclical demand for their products requires lots of versatility.    

Based on my past few years of observation, I have to conclude that Fu Yu has a very good senior management team in place and well helmed by their current Board of Directors. The core senior management team is very important for such a business as they determine how the business should response to current economic environmental challenges and also to determine the future strategic business development. The operational teams at the ground level will then implement and execute in accordance with the business unit leaders requirement. Hence the current talent pool throughout the entire Fu Yu organisation are definitely one of the very best in their respective fields.

The question will be whether Fu Yu can continue to grow its revenue and maintain its dividend pay out to its investors.   

Review of Financial and Operational Performance of Fu Yu Corporation
2017 was not a good financial year for Fu Yu. Its revenue dropped drastically in the face of competition and general lower demand in the market.

I have included a revenue, gross profit and net income trending chart from 2012 to projected 2018 (based on simple annualisation of Q1 2018 results).
The blue line represents Total Revenue and has been on a declining trend since 2012. The interesting thing to note is that the Gross Profit line have not declined drastically in line with the drop in Total Revenue. Gross Profit Margin % have in fact improved over-time. 

Saying that, the downward revenue trending for Fu Yu is worrying as it may indicate that the Group is no longer competitive or there are major disruption in certain market segments. To address this concern, we need to further delve into quarterly revenue being generated. A snap shot and deep dive into the revenue, gross profit and net income trending by quarters (using past 3 years data) as per below:

The Q1 2018 announcement has stated that revenue is higher than the previous Q1 in 2017. There are some retail investors who heralded this as evidence that Fu Yu has successfully overcome the downtrend and is on an expansion path again. However, I would urge caution against such train of thoughts as the revenue is still showing a drop against the most recent Q4 2017. 

Next, we will need to examine what the Management of Fu Yu is doing to steer the organisation forward amidst the current economic climate. In the Q1 2018 announcement, Management has listed down various key strategic initiatives. 

Basically, to drive sustainable growth, Fu Yu management  has channeled business development resources and efforts on the following strategic initiatives:

(i) strengthening its business development team to expand market share with existing customs and make inroads with new customers (this includes embarking on digital marketing platform);

(ii) diversifying its customer base across different targeted market segments to ensure greater business stability;

(iii) focusing on products that have greater stability, longer life cycles and higher growth potential such as medical, automotive, green & security-related products and 3D printers; and

(iv) continuously improving its operations to achieve optimal capacity utilisation, high production efficiency and leaner cost structure.

The better results against prior year seems positive and encouraging. Once we have the upcoming Q2 2018 results (for half year ending 30 June 2018) released, investors will have a more concrete financial information to make a better assessment on whether the business strategies are bearing fruits to re-vitalise revenue generation.

Sustainability of its generous dividends pay out
The super impressive S$98.4 Mil in cash and bank balances is testament to the strong cash generation capabilities of the core businesses. Even though the revenue has declined over the last 2 years, the business remain profitable.

Due to the aforesaid mentioned above, there is no problem for Fu Yu to meet the cash dividends if management choose to maintain an 8%++ yield. In the absence of any surprised economic downturn or Merger and Acquisition target, the huge cash balances on hold is non-productive for Fu Yu and it makes more sense to try to return as much of it back to shareholders.
The funding required will only be in the region of S$9.9Mil extra out of previous Retain Earnings per year even if the results remain flat as at Q1 2018. This will be peanuts relative to the S$98.4Mil in cash on hand and bank. 

If the management became unreasonable and are only willing to return 100% of current year profit (and refused to utilise past Retain Earnings), then based on annualization of Q1 2018 earnings per share, the dividend yield will drop to 1.56% for FY2018, assuming a price of S$0.18 per share. However, we can see that for May 2018, management of Fu Yu had already declared a dividend of S$0.01 which is already a 5.5% dividend yield. 

In addition, another possible scenario is assuming a worst case of sudden economic downturn (Italy and EU melt-down spread to Global Economy), the dividend payout may be reduced drastically or even nil. But the size of the current cash on hand and in bank will be able to tide Fu Yu over and ride out the storm. The low CAPEX and a seasoned senior management team will be able to effectively slash the cash burn rate to conserve cash for survival mode in the circumstances as it is.
Valuation of Fu Yu against current market price of S$0.18 per unit (as at end May 2018)
On the subject of valuation, this becomes an extremely subjective and judgmental issue which depends on investor outlook based on the best information available at this juncture. 

On one hand, one can assume that the good old days for Fu Yu are over and the revenue will decline until the business went into the red for many years and eventually bled out. In this extreme case, the valuation will of course be near zero.

However, my personal thoughts are that based on the proven management team as well as the excellent financial track records of Fu Yu, the probability of upside are extremely high for those who choose to invest into this business. Fu Yu should be able to maintain a decent level of profitability barring major economic catastrophe on a global scale. There is also the distinct possibility of other bigger MNCs targeting Fu Yu for takeover to achieve further competitive advantage via the theory of economies of scale which surely will boost the current market value, Personally I thought its current market price is on the lower end of its intrinsic value (Net Tangible Assets per share are S$0.22 + pure cash making up S$0.131 or 66% of its current market valuation and high probability that the business will be able to make a decent profit or at least breakeven from proven track records of its cash generation ability for the next few years).