King Wan Corporation

TTI’s Portfolio Updates – November 2017

October 2017 was a busy month for me, in terms of portfolio changes. I made 2 complete divestitures, and feel really good about them.

This is just a quick update, and some of my accompanying thoughts as we go into the earnings season next week.

1. LTC Corporation

I currently own 240,000 shares.

LTC did pretty well YTD, rising a very respectable 26.42%. (In any other year, 26.42% would’ve been a monster year, but this year, the bar has been raised considerably by STI ETF)

635) LTC Corporation share price.jpg

I wrote about my thoughts at the end of 2016 after analyzing the FY16.

That post was summarized by Leong CT and republished on NextInsight:

And here’s the full, boring, long version:

Info That I Have Gleaned From LTC Corporation’s AR 2016

Well, nothing much has changed actually. The year panned out the way I expect it to be, business wise. I guess it’s been acceptable, nothing too amazing, but there’s a certain safety margin incorporated in the wide difference between the share price and the NAV.

A long time frequent reader, mslee888, attended the recently concluded AGM and has some comments on what transpired. You can read his comments in the “Recent Comments” section.

Nothing overly optimistic, perhaps even slightly bearish.

Personally, I’d continue to monitor their FCF generation and cash utilization. All that cash generated HAS to go somewhere. The most obvious place now is their development of GEM residences, which is situated just off the island of Penang. I didn’t write much about it, but that development at least, looks favorable to me when I did my DD.

Linked to what is the largest mall within the vicinity, the site has a lot of potential going for it. Any potential rewards though, won’t be in sight, so some patience is in order.

I have a lot of that.

2. BBR Holdings

The chart says it all:

636) BBR Holdings share price.jpg

Being the largest proportion of my portfolio at the start of 2017, a massive 44.44% gain is great. It single handedly helped me keep up with STI ETF, despite the drag by Dutech’s drop this year.

The share price was well supported by a series of share buybacks by the company, as well as by the sudden large increase by Dr Chiu, who is now a substantial shareholder.

I’m not sure what plans he has, but there’s no scenario whereby this is a bad thing.

Would I know at the start of 2017, that BBR would initiate a share buyback program? Nope. No idea.

But I do know the shares were, and still are, terribly cheap.

They don’t even have to do anything right. They just have to NOT do anything wrong, and stop bleeding money each quarter, and the share price should correct substantially.

As the loss making projects are gradually run down each quarter, their financial performance should improve.

I’m optimistic about their newer projects.

And for gods’ sake. Please stop doing all those fancy new technology for the sake of tech. Keep looking at your margins please. I rather you guys do nothing than do a lot of stuff and constantly lose money.

I’ve written about my long history with the management, the old posts can be found in the links, I shan’t repeat.

I do have to say that I’m a lot more pleased with how they chose to return capital to shareholders. A share buy back is much more preferred when the shares are undervalued, vs merely increasing dividends.

It inspires confidence, and the effects are more prolonged.

I did capitalize on the massive rise by taking some profits off the table. (Plus I consolidated my shares from the various nominee accounts in prior years, so if I don’t reduce my stake, I’d most likely end up in the Top 20 shareholder list in the AR17, and I’d like to not be so visible)

I currently still own 1,100,000 shares, having divested about 900,000 shares this year.

3. King Wan



Never felt more relieved.

Just divested the remaining 100,000 shares today at $0.16. I started the year with 1,000,000 shares, and now I own no shares.

I don’t know who bought them from me. Whoever it is, he either knows something I don’t (perhaps increased dividends), or he’s screwed.

I’ve previously written about my disdain for the performance of management… and nothing’s changed.

Oh actually, something did change. CFO Francis Chew left the company “to pursue other interests” (what else? Does anyone seriously give any other reason aside from this generic one?). With the departure of CFO Chew (the one guy who tried his best to answer my queries), the last good thing going for KW is gone.

King Wan is without doubt, my biggest investing mistake thus far. Ever.

I’ve only learnt 1 lesson from this:

Keep your eyes on the game. Nobody’s going to do it for you.

I trusted in the capital allocation prowess of the management and literally just forgot about this company. “Buy and Hold” as Buffett says. Difference here is that the management is not what Buffett would’ve approved.

In my defense, it was a really busy period of my life when I had to devote 100% of my time to build up businesses in my work. Thus I thought I’d just chuck it aside and let these guys grow my capital. Imagine my surprise when I checked up on it 1 big fine day.

They got proud when things were going good, and had to eat humble pie. In recent years, when everything has just gone a single way up, KW has gone exactly the opposite direction.

I mean, just for laughs, check out these earlier articles and “analysts’ predictions”:

LOL @ “special dividend”!

Perhaps the biggest early red flag that I should’ve picked up, was the IPO of KTIS.

That was the peak of KW’s fortunes. I remember clearly that KTIS IPO was done at a PE of 30+ (I’m not checking now, this is written off the top of my head)

I remember clearly thinking that “hey that’s kinda pricey for a sugar producer right? What competitive advantage would a commodity producer have to warrant that kinda PE multiple?”

Yet KW held on to the bulk of its stake post IPO.

I would’ve dumped it all to the hungry and dumb public.

I’ve previously said I’d give my coverage to my mistakes. So there, let me open up old wounds. Go ahead and re-read these. It is a damn good read.

King Wan Corporation – Part I

King Wan Corporation – Part II

King Wan Corporation – Part III

Good riddance.

4. Boustead Singapore

637) Boustead Singapore.jpg

A 9.76% ROI (and it’d be higher if we include dividends), is not bad normally, but in light of this year’s monster performance by the passive indices, this doesn’t feel much like a win.

Oh oh and before I forget, all the stated ROIs above do not include dividends, so it’s probably a bit higher. I’m just lazy to do the math right now.

I currently own 40,000 shares of Boustead.

This is a small position.

FF Wong still has my vote of confidence. A genius is a genius.

The only thing that’s bugging me constantly is whether I should buy Boustead Projects directly, or own it indirectly via Boustead Singapore.

I know this opinion is contrary to the thoughts of most other retail shareholders, but I really preferred if FF Wong didn’t hive out BP. Just keep it all together as a mega conglomerate.

I suspect a major part of the reason is just succession planning. He has to elevate and promote so many lieutenants, so better to split it up so that each can become their own bosses.

This just makes it more complicated for me to assess.

Obviously Boustead is in a tough position now, with the situation with O&G.

That’s why I’m keeping it as a small position.

At the 1st sign of a sustained recovery, I’m putting my money on FF Wong again. In a big way.

5. Comfort Delgro

well, shan’t waste too much time here.

Bought at $1.98, Sold at $2.02 barely a month later.

Was hoping to build a large position, but it never really dropped much after I bought. There were only 2 trading days where it went below my entry price, and that’s about it.

Also, further DD made me more cautious about their entrenched position, and the stake was really too small to warrant wasting time monitoring.

On top of that, as I alluded to in the previous post, I’m selling some positions to reallocate capital into a new idea. And I intend for that position to be a big one.

Wealth Destruction Behaviors – TTI’s Personal Anecdotes

6. Geo Energy Resources

Not bad at all.

638) Geo Energy.jpg

30.43% YTD, add in a few more % points for the dividend, and it’s turning out to be a fine investment indeed.

Well, anything that beats the index this year, is a fine investment.

I currently hold 500,000 shares, at an average price of $0.168.

I think I’d likely double my money from $0.168 before the year end. In fact, my purchases in July is already starting to look like a stroke of genius. (But the purchases of Dutech…. not so):

TTI Bought >$100K Worth Of Equities In July… Howard Marks’ Memo Better Don’t Come True Right Now!

Q3 results look promising, but unfortunately my DD tells me that their coal production would likely disappoint again this quarter.

I’m expecting them to report total coal volumes mined to be between 1.8 – 2.2mil tonnes.

Which would be a substantial improvement from Q2, yet below that of Q1.

Full year, I find it hard to see how they’d meet their stated 10mil target.

Probably not, even if TBR mine comes online soon.

Results would still be stellar though, as coal prices continue shooting through new highs. In Q3, China’s imports have held up much much better than most analysts were expecting. (Read Philips report on how they expect coal prices to drop in Q3. To their credit, they stuck to their buy recommendation as they believed it’d be transient)

I’m watching this space tightly, it’s going to be an exciting Q3 and Q4 for Geo.

7. Dutech Holdings

Tough year for Dutech:

639) Dutech Holdings.jpg

A -17.78% in a year where STI is up almost 20% (or more, not sure of the latest figures), is disastrous.

I currently own 701,000 shares at an average price of $0.287

I’m keeping faith with Dutech and Johnny Liu though.

Unfortunately, I don’t expect the business to turn around in Q3 or Q4 of 2017.

My analysis of their downstream peers (Diebold Nixdorf and NCR Corporation) tells me that globally, their High Security business is still going to be impacted heavily.

Diebold just reported earnings, and it’s not pretty. Major ATM clients are still delaying confirming orders. On the plus side, they are still expecting orders to be confirmed in the coming months.

I will be watching how Johnny Liu continues to steer the business towards the software intensive “Business Solutions” division, and how they integrate their newly acquired Metric.

It’d be a while yet, but I’m actually comfortable holding Dutech as a core, long term holding. I won’t make the same mistake as with KW though, I’m keeping my eyes on the game this time.


As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve started accumulating a major position in a new idea. I’m pretty optimistic after doing my usual comprehensive DD, and hence, my position will reflect my optimism.

When I’m done, I hope to accumulate at least a 6 digit position.

Already, I’m slightly up, but I intend to continue to average up.

Not ready to reveal it yet, will write about it soon.

This year hasn’t been too bad ROI-wise, yet I’m still finding it tough to beat STI ETF.


Banks and Developers.

Those are the ones going ballistic this year.

Also, my US listed equities have not done as well as SG ones. I’ve made some major mistakes in the midst of tinkering and trying out ideas, particularly with options. 1 major mistake was entirely due to greed, something that I never thought I’d do. Damnit. I should’ve wrote about myself when talking about “Wealth Destruction Behaviors” in my previous post. Dumb, greedy mistake.

In fact, SG portfolio ex-US, would likely have beaten STI ETF, but that’s not how portfolio tracking works right.

We have to take in the bad with the good. Cash drags, transaction fees, even holding or margin costs etc, all has to be accounted for to give an accurate picture.

Thus far though, with the insight and the adjustments I’ve made, and the new rules that I’ve implemented, results have been good. I’m still trying it out, but it bodes well for 2018 and beyond.

I believe longer term, my options strategy would be a force to be reckoned with, ESPECIALLY so in down years.

Let’s see.

In terms of portfolio size, 2017 is likely to see a substantial gain, even though there’s been minimal capital infusion. It has been difficult to NOT make money in 2017, looking at how the markets have behaved.

I’ve instead preferred to channel whatever cashflow I have left (after the wealth destructive trail of the 2 kiddos) into my property fund.

Anyhow, I’ve always preferred to watch the ROI figures rather than the actual portfolio size. The quantum can be easily increased by channeling more funds into equities and options rather than into my property fund. The ROI is the fun and challenging part.

That’s all I have here.

Oh, and SGX has sent out emails for race pack collection for those who have received complimentary tickets for the Bull Charge 2017, so go collect them.

As always, Godspeed.


Minority Shareholders Vs Management Of SG Companies

I know there are many related professionals (hedge fund managers, media editors and content providers, senior management, analysts, brokers as well as, a few HNW private investors) who are subscribers/readers of SG TTI, hence, this post may be controversial to some. I’d like to think it’s certainly honest.

200) MI vs Management 29082016.jpg

Over the years, I’ve increasingly put more and more emphasis on the quality and competence of the management in the companies I’m doing DD on. In my experience, the level of transparency and accountability of SGX listed companies is still very far lacking behind those of US listed ones. I’ve previously mentioned this in an earlier post (Differences between investing in SGX listed vs US listed companies)

Many companies with absolutely incompetent and/or dishonest management remain listed on SGX, the only penalty for the management being a chronically low share price. Yet, this is hardly a disincentive as they continue to reward themselves with remuneration that is not reflective of their abilities or achievements. Who pays for this? The other shareholders, mostly minority ones, by virtue of a depressed share price, higher staff costs and lower profits.

If at this stage, you’re thinking that “hey, isn’t there a board whereby the remuneration is decided by a separate committee?” Well, I think the whole concept of a BOD monitoring the performance of the CEO, is a pipe dream in my instances.

In reality, the BODs are buddies with the CEO. They’re in it together. Independent or not.

Having said that, this is not true of all SGX companies, and perhaps, not even true of most. A good case in point is Lian Beng Group, where 2 independent directors quit in protest of the remuneration of the key executives just last year. Now, I have not examined in detail to determine if their points are valid, just pointing out that these 2 independent directors had the guts and the integrity to quit when they felt it’s unfair, and they couldn’t correct it behind the scenes.

How many other independent directors would do that? Or would it be much easier to just shut up, sit tight and let the executives do whatever they want, and happily collect your director fees all the same?

201) Lian Beng logo.jpg

Interestingly, what has happened in the 1 year after the 2 independent directors quit? Absolutely nothing as far as I know. Life goes on. No changes, not even much hoo ha in fact. Curious, isn’t it?

There are definitely some black sheep companies that I am aware of, and I am amazed that these guys can continue to sit pretty in their positions year after year, collecting fat pay cheques for doing absolutely nothing of significance.

These companies are logically, usually the small-mid cap companies, with little fan fare and little spotlight. Obviously if it’s a well followed company, the spotlight and scrutiny that follows would incorporate some sort of governance, whether it’s by choice or not.

Perhaps the minority shareholders only have themselves to blame for not bothering to let their voice be heard. But that’s another debate by itself.

Last year, it was reported that a supposed activist hedge fund, Dektos Investment Corp took up a 2% stake in Hock Lian Seng. I took interest as I owned 1,000,000 shares in Hock Lian Seng then.

In fact, I’d probably have to thank Mr Roland Thng as the Dektos’ buying & the subsequent publicity probably contributed to driving up the share price incessantly since then. Dektos became the catalyst that my deep value investment needed, in order for the price and intrinsic value to converge.

I’d respectfully argue though, that Hock Lian Seng is hardly a target for the activist shareholder. It’s a great buy for a value investor.

After all, activism suggests that you’d need to make certain changes, usually by pushing management to do the right thing, and that’d form the catalyst to correct the gap between the share price and the supposed intrinsic value of the company.

In that regard, what changes would you have Hock Lian Seng do? As expected, there hasn’t been any news/changes since that particular report. Looking at the AR, I am guessing that Dektos Investment has since cashed out of Hock Lian Seng. They’d likely have made a very nice profit doing so too, so kudos to these guys for a good investment.

I’m rooting for these guys, as I think we need more activist guys like them scouring the local SGX market. They also have a relatively small AUM of $5mil, hence, I’m guessing they’ll be looking at the same undervalued companies in the small to mid cap as I typically do.

Let me quote from that particular news article:

“It’s a new approach and the market will need some time to get used to it,” Mr Thng, who is chief executive officer of Singapore-based fund-management firm Dektos Investment Corp, which runs EVA Capital, said in an interview. “Activist investing is a bit offensive in the Singapore and Asian context.”

Many Singapore companies have a controlling shareholder, which makes it easier to resist demands from activist investors, said Mr Hugh Young, the Asia managing director at Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore.

“It also isn’t the cultural norm,” Mr Young said. “It’s all more consensual in Asia, less confrontational. Things have been done a lot more quietly, behind closed doors.”

Oh boy. I couldn’t agree more with these 2 guys.

Recently, I queried, very politely initially, the management of a company. The questions I asked were reasonable, and typical of what a concerned shareholder would ask. The company was losing money on certain projects, which by itself is nothing unusual, but the problem is they have had a long track record of occasionally losing money in such projects.

My question was simply that why hasn’t management learnt from past experience, why do they keep repeating the same mistakes again? I even helpfully suggested that perhaps they’d like to incorporate a wider safety margin in their tendering process.

Instead, I’m met with a generic reply from an external IR vendor:

“Dear xxxxx

Thank you for your email dated 3 August 2016 to the management of xxxxxxxx

We are from xxxxxxxx, the Investor Relations consultants serving xxxxxxxx

Amidst the local property sector reeling under the lingering effects of the cooling measures, it has been very challenging for the building and construction industry in Singapore.

Our management and staff are constantly monitoring project costs and managing project risks. We are continuously implementing measures to mitigate project losses but we may still encounter unforeseen circumstances. Our current focus is to successfully complete the projects on hand, and embark on new projects selectively.

The xxxxxxxx projects are accounted for via the percentage of completion method in accordance with the xxxxxxxx accounting policies for construction projects as stated in the Group’s Annual Report.

 We appreciate your support and concerns as our shareholder. We apologise that the management is unable to share specific details such as project names due to selective disclosure rules by the Exchange.    

Best Regards


I could come up with this reply myself. It’s basically an absolutely useless reply with a lot of words, but no answers, except the part about the POC method, which they’ve kindly confirmed for me. They’re basically hiding behind an external IR vendor.

Well, I wasn’t pleased. This time, I sent a strongly worded letter requesting management to provide greater detail. I also informed them that they should treat all correspondence as public information (we can’t have selective disclosures now, can we?), including my questions.

In any case, isn’t this good practice for all management of public listed companies?!

One of my questions in this strongly worded letter was:

If xxxxxxxx cannot manage their project margins adequately, incurring losses on projects repeatedly, will xxxxxxxx (CEO) consider stepping down and letting someone else who can better manage the company take over his executive role?”

This time, management sent a much longer, much more detailed reply, basically answering all my questions. The reply was specially crafted in a separate letter, signed by the top management, complete with an offer to send me a hard copy.

The details did help me understand certain aspects of the project management, that I previously had doubts about.

They sure weren’t very happy with me though. In response to the above logical question, they said that if the questions I asked were to be made available to the media, it would be considered “defamatory as it is suggestive that the CEO is incompetent”, and that legal action would be taken blah blah blah.

Well, I’ve sought legal advice and am basically assured that it’s a whole load of crap. The question included 2 facts, facts that are verified by hard data and has been admitted by the management themselves.

The 2nd part of the question is exactly that. A question. I asked if the CEO would consider letting more qualified personnel take over the company if he is unable to keep margins in check. None of it is defamatory and ironically, the “CEO is incompetent” part is interpreted by the management themselves. (LOL!) There wasn’t even the word “incompetent” in my letters. 

I’ve since replied them accordingly. I’ve even said that I’m comfortable repeating the exact same question at the next AGM. How’s that for being transparent?

If say, a celebrity is bald, and somehow he’s embarrassed by that fact, and if I make a public comment saying “hey he’s bald!”, sure, that comment may be embarrassing, definitely rude, maybe tactless, but certainly not defamatory. Because it’s factual.

Having said all that, it’s counter productive and in fact, self destructive for me to be adding more trouble for a management of a company in which I have a substantial vested interest in. I’m a deep value investor, and have never set out to be activist in nature.

In any case, my stake, although significant, is inadequate to call for a EGM. In future though, that might be an option when my AUM increases. Not ruling anything out. Anything that can focus the market’s attention on certain management practices would be on the table.

I’m still holding on to my significant stake though, as I think the dynamics are changing. I still think my initial investing thesis holds true. I wasn’t counting on an excellent management in this instance, and my experience thus far just confirmed that. I will say that I’m somewhat pleased with some of the info that I’ve since learnt from the reply.

Anything that adds to my knowledge bank of the industry, can potentially become a competitive edge in future investments in the particular industry.

On a related note, I’ve previously been critical of how King Wan’s management has performed. (King Wan Corporation – Part IKing Wan Corporation – Part IIKing Wan Corporation – Part III)

Still, as stated in my earlier posts, I’ve always given credit to their IR, particularly the CFO Francis Chew. I’ve had trouble understanding their financials, particularly the BS as many of their loans to associates are packaged under different items. I am not sure if many analysts/experts bother to ask for a breakdown.

Yet they’ve bothered to provide me with useful information thus far, sometimes, embarrassingly for me, clarifying information that I should’ve picked up myself easily from the AR.

Recently, there’s also been board additions to KW. It seems the more experienced members of the Chua family are taking up board roles in light of the failed investments in prior years. I can only view that as a good thing, seeing that the Chua family themselves have a huge vested interest in seeing the company do better.

The share price has also risen slightly as I expected it to, with improved cashflow from collections from an associate. I don’t think the ride will be smooth sailing from here, but I think the lows are over, simply because most of the write offs are out in the open.

The time to buy, is when there are skeletons in the closet, they’re not out in the open yet, but everyone knows the skeletons are right there. Well, IMO, the skeletons for KW are mostly out in the open now. The ones remaining in the closet, well, everyone knows they’re there.

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Now, value investors are great at looking at figures. All value oriented investors understand and monitor various financial metrics; P/B, PER, Yields, CAGR, FCF etc. Many will utilize some sort of stock screening tool based on these metrics.

Different investors would place different emphasis on different metrics, but that’s going too much into details. The fact is, increasingly, I’m thinking that the qualitative aspects of a company is the key. Afterall, as mentioned many times before, these metrics are widely known and available. The qualitative aspect is much more difficult to assess.

Incidentally, I’ve just finished updating my thoughts on LTC Corp, which just released FY16Q4 results. I think there’s a superb learning example in there, of how a value investor can glean a competitive advantage by going into detail and having an understanding of the industry characteristics. Will write about that next.

When I say qualitative aspects, the management team forms just a part of it. There are naturally some businesses that are just great businesses to be in. The tide is basically in your favor.

WB spoke about such businesses before several times. Conversely, he spoke about Berkshire’s textile business. That’s a business with poor dynamics. Typically, companies in this type of what I call “poor dynamics” type of industry, will find it very difficult to raise prices or gain much of a competitive edge over peers.

Increasingly, I think I’ll have to put more focus on this factor. Assessing qualitatively is IMO, much harder than quantitatively.

Which is why I’m doing it.

On a completely separate note, I’ve had some questions about forex. Again, I’ll repeat that forex is something that’s a bit too complicated for me. It requires a global macro perspective. Just reading the news is not going to cut it. Unless you MAKE the news.

The only forex I do on a regular basis is the USD-SGD pair as I own USD denominated investments anyway.

For those who’d like to learn about forex, well, I have no idea where to start. But if you’d like to trade forex, there’s a link to Instaforex at the right column. Instaforex provides an absolutely free USD 100 to new sign ups, which you can use to try real forex tradng.

Any profits are yours to keep. So they are basically paying for the 1st $100 of your school fees. I’ve used an account to try receiving the $100 and thus far, it works. (surprisingly. I am not sure how they’d sustain their profits by giving out $100 to anyone who’s verified and signed up)

Ah at this stage, I’m sure there’ll be many crafty guys who’d think about signing up, getting the $100 and closing the account. It doesn’t work that way. They’ve some algorithm of some sort to sieve out people who do that.

Anyway, I don’t think 100 USD is worth the trouble, it’s just an incentive for those who are reluctant to put their own money on the line, to take the 1st step. The only reason why I tried getting this 100 USD is so that I can verify it before putting up a link on SG TTI.

IMO, forex is really really tough to get right all the time anyway, and my view is that it should be used only once in a blue moon when you are highly confident of certain scenarios. (For eg. if you knew Brexit would happen….)

If there are any guys out there who can consistently profit from Forex on a daily/weekly basis, please drop me a mail. Seriously. I’m just curious.

I almost forgot to mention this piece of relevant and important news on CNA that I just read. It basically provides me with a lot of comfort knowing that my analysis has thus far been rather accurate. Here is the link:

I’ll quote:

“To estimate construction costs, we used S$400 per square foot (psf) for projects within central regions, S$350 psf for projects in the rest of central regions and S$300 psf for projects outside central regions. These figures were estimated based on an analysis of average contracts awarded.”

In an earlier post on my investing thesis for BBR (BBR Holdings Investing Thesis), I wrote that I estimated their Lakelife project to have a breakeven price of $727 psf.

I’ve been asked in the comments section, how I’d derived this figure, and it’s been debated somewhat too. I’ve explained my methodology in the comments section too.

Well, taking the above given estimates in the article by Mr Bernard Tong, it corroborates with my estimate.

Lakelife land parcel bid was won at $418 psf, adding $300 psf of construction costs for projects in OCR, we’ll have a break even price of $718 psf, which is pretty much similar to my $727 psf estimate.

Obviously all these are estimates. But having the MD of The Edge Property confirm my earlier estimates is definitely comforting. I trust he’d know better than most guys, seeing that this is obviously well within his turf.

I’ve also just updated the “About” page to include some common questions that I get. Do check it out.

As always, happy hunting for value.