Monday 27 January 2020

Hyflux Utico Rescue Deal May End In Failure- Unsecured Creditors and Perpetual Securities Holders Still Unhappy

To pass the restructuring of Hyflux and accept the Utico rescue plan, the schemes of arrangement need to be approved by at least 75 per cent in value and 50 per cent in number of each creditor class. This seems to be in jeopardy based on the disgruntled retail creditors who attended the townhall on 20 January 2020. One  PnP investor who invested S$70K in Hyflux preference shares but only getting S$1,500 back under the proposed plan mentioned that he would rather vote against the Utico offer and let Hyflux go into liquidation so that he can join a class action suit against the Hyflux Board of Directors for running the business to the ground.

Does it makes sense for disgruntled creditors and PnP holders to choose liquidation and pursue a lawsuit against the Board of Directors?
My own personal thoughts are that it is not a wise move as the disgruntled creditors and PnP holders get the logic and timing all wrong. 

(1) Firstly, creditors and PnP holders need to accept the fact that investments and debt extension to companies are not risk free and that the businesses can go bankrupt. Under the scheme of the Utico rescue package, unsecured creditors stand to recover S$42Mil and PnP owners gets S$50Mil- a total of S$92Mil. If Hyflux went into liqudation, the creditors will only get between S$7.5Mil to S$16Mil with the PnP holders possibly getting nothing due to them being ranked almost to the last of the queue in such instance. This is a miserable recovery as compared to S$92Mil being put on the table by Utico.

(2) Secondly, choosing liquidation and pursuing a class action suit against the Board of Directors is a fallacy. My own view is that retail creditors and investors who chose this path are not thinking coherently. Utico is dishing out a S$92Mil package to help soften the alternate scenario of zero dollars return. There is no better deal out there. The pertinent question here is that even if the class action suit were to succeed, will the directors be able to cough up more than S$92Mil? Disgruntled creditors are probably looking towards at least S$200Mil from the Directors if they want to beat what Utico had to offer? How is this possible? 

(3) The only winner out of all this mayhem will be the lawyers who charge legal fees for their professional services while bringing the class action lawsuit to trial since the creditors and PnP holders wanted lots of money that is way above what Utico can offer. In addition, I am not sure why some of these creditors and PnP holders are so confident that the court will find their arguments valid and find Olivia Lum and her fellow directors guilty of mismanagement of the company and award damages in the first place. For the case as aforesaid mentioned, there will not be any lawyer that can guarantee a 100% success rate in bringing a class action suit against Oliva Lum and her fellow directors.

Parting Thoughts:
The order of things and thought process are wrong. Utico is not the one that caused Hyflux to collapse and so, why are stakeholders still blaming Utico and upset about the one and only rescue package that is being offered for their benefit relative to the scenario of liquidation? The only best solution here is for the creditors and PnP holders to accept the Utico offer. Grab the package on the table and put them into their pocket as soon as possible. I think that the retail creditors and PnP holders can then still choose to continue pursuit a class action suit against the previous directors and fund it using Utico's rescue package offer (if they really still wanted to pursue this option). Let the Singapore Court decides whether there is any merit in the civil suit. 

Sunday 26 January 2020

三生三世枕上书- Review of Eternal Love of Dream (The Pillow Book)

Eternal Love of Dream is the sequel to the immensely popular "Eternal Love- Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms" in 2017. I am extremely happy and excited to be watching the new series during the Lunar New Year period. It has began airing on Viu OTT streaming platform at the same time as new episodes are being released in mainland China. It is a welcome distraction to the numerous unfortunate news coming out from Wuhan China. Life is filled with unpredictability similar to the poignant story-lines being depicted in Eternal Love. 

Just to add on, even though this is a sequel to the 2017 Eternal Love, it does not exist in the same universe albeit the characters are more or less the same. Even the beautiful Yang Mi will make a guest appearance as the famous and popular Bai Qian (Empress of Qing Qiu) along other stars. The main storyline in Pillow Book revolves around the love story of Dong Hua (The Earth Emperor) and Bai Feng Jiu (The nine-tailed red fox and Princess of Qing Qiu)- a love that will never bear fruit as Dong Hua's destiny does not have any love lines in it.

The starting scene of the story opened with a big bang over the eternal fight between Good and Evil. 30 thousand years ago, Dong Hua lead the army of the Heavenly forces in a final show down with the demonic forces of Miao Luo (Demon Supreme or rather Demon Queen). It was a hard fought battle with lots of casualties on both sides. As both Dong Hua and Miao Luo are beings with high level of spiritual cultivation and extremely powerful, they were unable to destroy one another and the fight ended in stalemate. However, at the final moment, Dong Hua's sword managed to pierce through the chest of the Miao Luo and he used the sacred "Ling Bi Stone" to seal away her soul in order to preserve the peace across the 4 Seas and 6 Realms but at the expense of much of his spiritual power. 
30 thousand years later, the beautiful Bai Feng Jiu of Qing Qiu accidentally ventured into the Demonic land ruled by 3 demond lords.  Bai Feng Jiu was nearly captured by the demon lords but Dong Hua appeared in the nick of time and saved her. Since young, Bai Feng Jiu has heard a lot about the hero Dong Hua and wanted to be with him. After owing her life to Dong Hua, Bai Feng Jiu was even more determined to be with Dong Hua. The story then goes on to talk about the different love lives during Dong Hua's reincarnation in the earthly realm while trying to recover his cultivation and serious injury sustained in the sealing off of Miao Luo who is getting stronger and attempting to breakout of the Ling Bi Stone prison. 

A love that is impossible and never meant to be is a tragic story-line spanning across three different lives in three different worlds. If perseverance will be in vain for an unobtainable love, why would anyone use up his or her entire life only to wait for the fateless inevitable outcome? Eternal Love of Dream has a wonderful cast and awesome special effects. Highly recommend this great serial to all.      

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Will The Spread of The Wuhan Coronavirus Led to East Asia Recession Similar to SARS in 2003?

In 2003, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus caused a substantial economic demand shock in East Asia particularly in Hong Kong, Singapore and China. The economic disruption caused much turmoil to the local economies of the affected countries where the outbreak occurred. Tourism industry then was hard hit by the nose-dive in tourists arrival and the hospitality industry was badly impacted. Other industries such as retail also suffered when people stayed indoors in order to avoid catching the virus. According to official estimates from the Economic Survey of Singapore, Third Quarter 2003, the local service industries such as hotels, restaurants and air transport shrank by 10% to 30% in the 2nd quarter of 2003. 

The SGX was in the red today with heavy selling by worried investors. Will the current Wuhan coronavirus also lead to the same severe economic disruption that we have seen in 2003? Will stock prices begin to plummet further to factor in the new threat of an impending economic recession due to disruption in economic activities from the rapid spread of the virus?

1. China has confirmed human to human transmission of the new Wuhan coronavirus
As of 21st January 2020, China has confirmed that 15 medical workers (with 1 in critical condition) are stricken down by the Wuhan pneumonia and that the virus can spread from human to human. Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand also confirmed cases of the Wuhan pneumonia. The outbreak timing could not have been much worst as it occurred at the eve of the Lunar New Year period where hundreds of millions of Chinese move around the entire country during this festive season. I expect the pneumonia cases to continue to spike daily as the virus spread to different parts of China and also to other countries. The Philippines is currently investigating a suspected case of Wuhan coronavirus. 
2. New Wuhan coronavirus is not as deadly as SARS or MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)
The new Wuhan coronavirus appeared to be less virulent than SARS or MERS. While there have been 4 reported deaths, most of the 200 people who caught it are being treated and in stable conditions. Death rate are thus only 2% relative to the 15% fatality rate for SARS and 35% for MERS.

3. New Wuhan coronavirus seems to have limited transmission capability
Apparently, the new virus does not transmit as easily as SARS albeit China confirming that human to human spread has happened. However, researchers are currently still in the midst of studying the new coronavirus to determine how does it spread exactly and whether the transmission is sustained.

4. New vaccine are being developed- A record timing compared to SARS time in completion of sequencing of genome of the virus
Different teams of scientists in China and USA are already at work on developing a vaccine for this new strain of coronavirus. This is made possible as Chinese scientists completed the mapping and sequencing of the genomes of the new virus within a month. With SARS, it took almost 1 whole year before scientists completed the genome mapping. 

Parting Thoughts: Will Wuhan coronavirus lead to economic recession and stock market crash?
Based on the above developments as well as the better transparency offered by China this time round, I think that the current spread of this new threat can be contained effectively globally. There may be some short term market panic but overall, I believe that there should not be any adverse long term effect. However, the marco-economic situation may worsen immediately if the Wuhan coronavirus begin to mutate and evolve into something deadlier than SARS or MERS. I have been through the SARS crisis and have difficulties securing a job in the aftermath of the economic slowdown hence I know how virulent the sense of panic and doom can spread if the virus caused many fatalities or start to transmit rapidly between humans to humans.

For now, keeping my fingers crossed and will monitor the development of this new threat but will not be making any significant adjustment to my investment portfolio.

Elite Commercial REIT Singapore IPO- Did It Suay Suay Choose A Wrong Time? Or Is Elite Commercial REIT Immune To The Wuhan Pneumonia?

Elite Commercial Trust seems to have filed for IPO during a time of poor market sentiment over the increasing number of Wuhan pneumonia cases that seems to be spreading across China as well as other Asian countries. But I think it will perform well for the IPO as the public offer tranche is only a mere £3.3 Million or 3% of the total IPO offering as reported by the The Business Times. The bulk of the offering will go on to international investor outside the US of £63.2 Million to £74.3 Million. A third tranche of £52.9Mil (44.3%) of the offering is already committed to cornerstone investors- Bank of Singapore, CIMB Bank Berhad Singapore Branch and UBS AG Singapore Branch on behalf of their private banking clients.

The sponsors are Elite Partners Holdings Pte Ltd (Fund Management Group), Ho Lee Group Pte Ltd  (Developer of industrial and residential properties and one of major sponsors of Viva Industrial Trust during its IPO) and Sunway RE Capital Pte Ltd (a subsidiary of Malaysia's largest conglomerates Sunway Berhad).

The concentration of major tenant in a government agency is actually quite interesting. I think that it actually reduces the rental default risk despite going against the traditional convention of wide spread diversification. It is backed by the British government which can raise funds easily to meet its obligations. On non-renewal risk upon expiry by the government, I believe that other tenants can be found easily as most of the properties are close to public amenities and public transportation. Elite management team will need to work hard before expiry of leases to market and secure new tenants in the worst case scenario.  

Overall, I thought it is weird that Elite Commercial REIT has no confidence at all by allocating only £3.3 Million to Singapore investors as the public offer tranche. I will probably give this IPO a miss in view of conserving my cash on hand during this period of economic uncertainty as well as having some reservations over the strange mixture of sponsors. 

Sunday 19 January 2020

Is Singapore Medical Group Still An Undervalued Gem? Or Trapped in Downward Spiral Bottomless Pit?

Singapore Medical Group (“SMG”) share price has been stuck in a whirlpool of S$0.300 range for many months ever since August 2019. It all started with an offer by the Korean Medical Group, CHA, to buy out substantial number of shares from Dr Beng and his management team at S$0.605 per share. To add insult to injury, while the share price was at a high of S$0.485 per share, SMG decided to place out to CHA a S$10Mil convertible loan with conversion rights at S$0.435. Many shareholders were outraged at the unfairness of no general offer being made to them as well as the value destruction of the convertible loan pegged to a low exercise price. As a result, the massive sell off of SMG stocks from S$0.485 to S$0.300 per share commenced. What a bloodbath it had been since then for the many investors who came in at the all-time high of S$0.485 and booking in unrealised/realised losses of 38.1%.

Is SMG still an undervalued gem?
The excellent quarterly financial results announcement speaks volume of the potential of SMG. I believe that the current dramatic plunge in share price is only a temporary situation given the good financial results. However, the main problem is how long will the prevailing low market share price situation persist? The next issue is while deploying capital into SMG and playing the waiting game, there has been a drought of dividends being paid out of SMG to loyal shareholders for their sacrifice. 

There is an opportunity cost in waiting for the sun to shine once again.  If share buybacks do not work, then SMG should try paying out dividends to try to revitalise the sluggish share price performance. On 2 July 2018, there has been an announcement by SMG with regard to the implementation of a formal dividend policy but since then, there has been no updates at all.

Emailed to senior management of SMG with regard to share price in doldrums as well as dividend policy.
Since August 2019, I have been dropping emails via the general “Contact Us” email but there was no reply at all from SMG with regard to my recommendations. Earlier this year, I decided to follow up again with a last ditch effort to get past the red tapes by informing the staff behind the “Contact Us” email that I may inform the Corporate Secretary of SMG to table an additional resolution into the upcoming AGM agenda for all shareholders to discuss about dividends declaration which may make the situation awkward for the directors (albeit not my intention) if the customer service staff continue to play the ignoring tactic and not escalate my email to their senior management team. 

I was pleasantly surprised when 2 days later, Ms Wong Sian Jing (CFO of SMG) actually replied to my email. Ms Wong re-affirmed that implementing a formal dividend policy is always part of the management plan. However, SMG is cautious on the right timing to formalise such policy given that the Group is still at net current liabilities position as at 30 September 2019. The main reason for the net current liabilities are primarily due to deferred considerations arising from the business acquisitions and the CHA convertible loan that is due in less than 12months. Her management team will continue to execute its growth strategies and will update shareholders on any material development including decision on dividend payout (if any) via SGX announcement. 

Target Price of S$0.605 and parting thoughts:
Over the past few months, I have decided to sell off part of my SMG shares and realised losses as I re-deployed my capital into income generating stocks in order to increase my recurring cash-flow. However, I am still holding on to 40,000 units of SMG shares as I am still bullish on the eventual realisation of its intrinsic value into its market pricing. The fair value target should be S$0.605 based on CHA Medical Group recently paid consideration for SMG shares as well as the low PE ratio relative to SMG industry peers. This represented a 100% potential upside based on the undervalued price of S$0.300 per share. As aforesaid mentioned, main challenge is no one is exactly sure how many months (or years) one have to wait for the share price to breakout of its current whirlpool. 

Please also see my previous articles relating to Singapore Medical Group:

Friday 17 January 2020

Fu Yu Corporation- Super Hero Cash Cow New Growth Path- To Expand Operations Capability in Singapore

Share price of Fu Yu Corp has surged by 52% relative to one year ago. The main reason for the sudden spike in January 2020 was due to the announcement of the redevelopment of its 7 Tuas Drive premises. Fu Yu Corp is embarking on a drive to expand and improve its operations in Singapore through the construction of a larger building to house a factory, warehouse and office space. 

1. Fu Yu Corp retained too much cash on its balance sheet which are none productive- Good and Bad
As at 30 September 2019, total cash on the balance sheet was a staggering sum of S$84.6Mil which is S$0.112 per share. The good point is that based on market price of S$0.285 as at 17 January 2020, this means that 38.8% of Fu Yu Corp fair value are being backed up by physical hard cash. The bad point however is that most of these cash are underutilized and none productive. 

The redevelopment and expansion plan actually come across as a pleasant surprise for me. The excess cash are now being reinvested to boost production capability and also to improve productivity. 

These are definitely worthwhile and value adding to the business and shareholders. Fu Yu Corp intended to fund S$15Mil of the entire projected capital expenditure from internal funds.

2. Debt Free Balance sheet
Fu Yu Corp does not have any bank borrowings at all on its balance sheet except for some lease obligation being capitalized upfront as part of the change in new accounting standard on application of the “Right of Use” model for operating leases. The current cash pool will provide a relatively high margin of safety for Fu Yu Corp and its seasoned senior management team to weather any sudden economic downturn. 

3. Is there any further potential upside in Fu Yu Corp’s share price?
Yes. Ever since the announcement of the redevelopment of the Tuas premises, analysts have been busy re-rating the target price. The most optimistic target price was set by DBS Research of S$0.350 per share which is another potential 20% capital appreciation. I believe this is likely in the long run given that Fu Yu Corp has been booking in its owned properties at cost. This represented a further estimated S$50Mil revaluation gain in fair value for its properties that remains hidden. 

Summary and other thoughts
Even though my average entry price for Fu Yu Corp is approximately S$0.192 per share (48% capital gain), I think that now is still not the time to sell Fu Yu Corp. Hidden intrinsic value such as those from its properties can be further unlocked if there is a buyout by potential suitors. 

In addition, I strongly believe that Fu Yu Corp is an attractive target for M&A given its new medical industry and automotive customers’ exposure. At the current market price of S$0.285 per share, Fu Yu Corp is still giving out an annual dividend yield of 5.5% with upsides from the business expansion as well as productivity cost savings from high tech machinery being purchased. Therefore, one can continue to wait for future M&A offer and at the same time, get part of the earnings realized from dividend declaration by Fu Yu Corp. 

Friday 10 January 2020

SGX Drops Quarterly Reporting And The Irony Behind It.

With effect from 7 Feb 2020 (Friday), SGX will drop the quarterly reporting (“QR”) requirement for listed companies. QR was implemented in 2003 and applicable to companies with market capitalization over S$75Mil. The current need to do QR for listed company will be dependent on risk assessment basis. In place will be a risk focused governance regime based on continuous disclosure.

Main reasons cited for change
I was very disappointed by the announcement as quarterly release of financial results give retail investors like myself more timely visibility to the overall health of the business. Apparently, what triggered the downgrade in reporting requirement was to (i) allow management team of listed companies to implement longer term strategies rather than devoting time with meeting quarterly reporting deadlines and (ii) the issue of high compliance cost for companies.

Ironic arguments by the regulator
I find the arguments for the change ironic as SGX will still require “problematic” listed companies to continue to do QR. If the apparent reason is to allow longer term strategies implementation, then isn’t it even more crucial for loss making high risk companies doing restructuring to do away with QR so that they can focus on restructuring planning? Why do such higher risk companies then need to keep doing QR rather than focusing on long term back to profitability plan? The cost argument is even more mind perplexing. If a company which wants to list on SGX to get public funding cannot even afford a good accounting & compliance team, then how can we trust it to keep true and fair views of its daily financials? The arguments are thus laden with inconsistencies from my perspective.

Personal thoughts
Personally, I think that SGX is moving in the wrong direction by copying other countries which are doing away with QR. The lack of QR will mean less timely reaction time in particularly for investors monitoring the financial performance of those smaller sized listed companies. I will not be surprised that in another 5-10years time, SGX may announce that it will be reverting to QR again.

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Netlink Trust Finally Proved Itself- Free Cashflow Now Able to Sustain Dividends.

During my last review of Netlink Trust after its Q1 FY2020 results announcement (Netlink Trust- Stable Cash Cow Or Just Another Time Bomb Waiting To Explode?), I was disappointed that its free cashflow was insufficient to sustain dividends and seems to be using bank borrowings to fill the gap. But with the announcement of its Q2 FY2020 results, Netlink Trust has shown an amazing 17% increase in quarterly net profit relative to FY2019 on the back of the switch by many customers of Starhub from cable to fibre services. This is an awesome delivery of results considering the previous quarters of mediocre financial performance which lead to the prolong lackluster unit price since IPO. 

I have re-run the free cash flow testing using 3 scenarios:
1. The first one is using Q1 FY2020 net operating cashflow and CAPEX and then annualized the results to assess yearly impact on dividend sustainability.   There is a gap of <S$33.4Mil>.

2. The 2nd one is simply just using the latest Q2 FY2020 results for assessment. Due to the excellent performance in Q2 FY2020, there is now a surplus of +S$11.5 Mil in free cash-flow after extrapolation. If the good performance sustain, then the dividend yield can go as high as 5.5% based on the latest closing price of S$0.94 per unit. 

3. The 3rd scenario is  adding up Q1 and Q2 cash-flow projection and then extrapolating it for full year impact- something like a mix and match average. Such scenario does still show an annual deficit of <S$12.4Mil> which is significantly lesser than the <S$33.4Mil> in scenario 1. 

Which is the most likely scenario?
I believe that scenario 2 is the most likely scenario going forward based on actual results released. Q3 FY2020 results will be out soon and it should mirror the same excellent performance. Also, with the government award of 5G licenses, the telecos will be busy setting up new 5G base stations for connecting to Netlink's fibre network. There is thus potential new upsides over the next 2 years which will lead to increase in dividend distribution as well as capital growth. I have started to accumulate more units of Netlink Trust at the range of S$0.93 to S$0.94 in view of the good financial performance. 

Parting thoughts:
95% of what the eyes can see is real and 95% of what the ears can hear is illusion. Given the actual display of excellent financial performance, I decided to change my pessimistic view of Netlink Trust future prospects. If the upcoming Q3 FY2020 results continue to outshine the previous year, I think it is worthwhile then to take up additional stakes in Netlink Trust. 

Chinese Zodiac Fengshui Forecast Accurate A Not?

Lunar New Year is coming! Do you folks feel the CNY celebratory mood already? It is interesting that every year, many shopping malls start displaying giant Chinese Zodiac Fengshui Forecast stand. This year is no exception. I can see many shoppers gathered around them and reading them in full concentration. Sometimes, I wonder how accurate are these fortune telling forecasts which categorise the global population into 12 different types of destiny for the upcoming year. Only 12 scenarios to guide everyone.....whaha. 

May everyone prosper in your investments and HUAT ar!

Thursday 2 January 2020

Perils of Leveraging Investment Portfolio Using Margin Financing- Understand The Key Facts Before Jumping Into The Quicksand

The dark side about investing and blogging (just like Star Wars Skywalker vs Palpatine- there will always be light and dark in the Force) is that there are some sinister folks lurking in some dark corner condemning your every investment action and then gloating if one’s investments started making losses albeit the fact that there are very few investors who strike gold with every investment decisions that they made without a single failure. 

The topic that I am going to touch on today is on under-highlighted points to take note of using leverage through margin financing facility provided by the stockbroking firms. It has been a good start for FY2020 with the brokerage firm that I am using for credit facility- Maybank Kim Eng- offering a cut of 0.2% interest expense to bring down the effective annual financing charge to 3.3% from 3.5% previously for its grade based financing option, based on the financial resilience of the underlying securities. The other option is a fixed interest rate for all types of securities financing under an approved listing and it is currently at 5.8% for equities and 2.8% for bonds.

Naturally, when I embarked on taking out a margin facility, my relatives, colleagues and friends all rushed in (most with well-meaning intentions but a few making condescending remarks) to share with me horror stories they heard and “personal account” of what went wrong. Basically, the “asserted common truth” is that those who dabbled in margin financing eventually gets into financial ruin and bankruptcy. Margin account is an evil sin akin to habitual gambling and that the general consensus from these folks is that I am silly to have opened a margin facility for my investments and that I should get out while I can, before the stock market collapse that they claimed is inevitably imminent.   

Peril 1: A sword is always a double-edged weapon
I will not want to go too detailed into the point on the magnification of losses and gains from margin account as it has already been covered many times on investment forums and blogs. To me, my main investment objective is not dominated by a capital growth strategy. I am more of an income driven investor. The main point here is that one will need to prepare for a 50% to 60% plunge in value of one’s portfolio and to survive the margin call during period of severe economic crisis. If one got into forced liquidation by the broker, then all is lost as selling at the trough of a crisis will cause irreparable harm to one’s asset portfolio.

You folks would have noticed from my investment portfolio that I have 2 emergency buffers here, namely, (i) fully paid equities that can be transferred immediately into the margin account to top up the collateral as well as (ii) maintaining a higher hard cash on hand for deployment. The essence here is not to max out your margin account but to be very conservative on its use which will thus enhance the effect of leverage on production of recurring income. Also, minimising the volatility of your income producing portfolio during construction is another vital point.

Saying that, a few nightmare scenarios can still happen-Murphy’s Law. For example:

(i)                 You are on an overseas work or holiday trip and did not immediately realise that the stock market has dropped and your margin account fall below 140% ratio and by the time you realised, forced liquidation already commenced.

(ii)                While overseas, you tried using the security token to transfer the cash from your bank to top up your margin account but the token has broken down. By the time you got a replacement security token, your cash top up is already late and you are forced to liquidate.  

Peril 2:  Brokerage firm can increase the interest rate by serving short notice
Margin account is subject to interest rate fluctuation risk here. No stock brokerage firm will dare offer anyone a fixed interest rate perpetually based on the date of taking up the account opening offer. In the event that global interest rates start climbing again, you will be looking at servicing a higher interest cost which can substantially reduce your dividends or interest income.

Also, if say a fire happens to burn down Paragon shopping centre (the jewel of SPH REIT) in Orchard, the broker can just downgrade SPH REIT to a higher risk counter with a lower score and grading which will almost double the financing cost overnight.

Peril 3: Brokerage firm can just decide to stop future financing of a counter
Brokerage firms provide credit based on an approved listing by their internal risk management team. A counter that appears today may no longer be approved tomorrow.

Let’s take the extreme fictitious scenario using Eagle Hospitality Trust. Assume that in future, it really turns out that the sponsor has going concern issue and Queen Mary lease was deemed a default, the brokerage firm can just simply call it quit to minimise credit default risk. Brokerage firms generally have the rights to serve their clients notice that financing will cease immediately and request for top up after a designated notice period. One will be forced to liquidate one’s position and given no chance to await recovery of the price of the counter.  

Peril 4: Transactions such as dividend processing, corporate actions maybe chargeable
A typical dividend transactional fees is min S$5 or 1% of the dividends being processed whichever is higher. So say if you are holding on to SPH REIT, you will have to pay at least S$20 since it declares dividends quarterly. If you hold 10 REITs with quarterly dividend, that will be S$200 annually in dividend processing fees.

Other recurring fees include CDP sub-account fees and custodian fees.

Non-recurring fees will be those relating to corporate accounts such as rights issue.

However, the good news here is that generally, if you are taking out a significant margin facility with your brokerage firm, most of the charges can be negotiated to be absorbed by their company. But if you only want to borrow S$2K or S$3k to buy stocks using margin account, then it may not be worth it after accounting for transactional cost.

Parting Thoughts
If you intend to use margin account, do take note of its potential perils. I think that an even more important point is to ensure that the trading representative handling your account knows the basic technical specialties regarding trading via margin account so as to advise you correctly. I have come across trade representative who do not know how interest expense is calculated if one buys stocks on margin account.

One good example as follow:
If you deposit cash of S$20K to start the margin account (@3.3% per annum rate) and bought S$10K worth of stocks at the beginning of the month, what will be the interest expense chargeable at month end? You will be surprised that there are trading representatives who can’t answer this straight away and need to check internally. Another one told me proudly that since the interest is S$330 per annum, the interest chargeable per month will be S$27.50 (S$330 divide by 12mths) and my eyes nearly popped out of my head.

So far so good with Maybank Kim Eng. They have a well-trained and dedicated team of CSO and trading representatives who make good use of technology such as mobile phone wat’s App to communicate with clients. Their new trading platform is simply fabulous. It is customisable with many viewing panes depending on your own unique preferences. The other brokerage such as Phillip Securities and UOB Kay Hian are offering cheaper margin financing rates than Maybank Kim Eng but unfortunately, only for a limited period as part of their promotion and with no guarantee rates will hold upon expiry.

Please see my previous posting on margin account opening: