Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018 Trading Good Start

Below shows the trades I entered this year which are only a subset of my portfolio.

 Entry Price  Units  Market Price   Capital invested excl fees    P/L   ROI 
Sembcorp Ind  $       3.170 1700  $         3.060  $        5,389.000  $       (187.00) -3.47%
Singtel  $       3.370 2300  $         3.350  $        7,751.000  $         (46.00) -0.59%
Venture [sold]  $     23.050 600  $       28.020  $      13,830.000  $      2,982.00 21.56%
A Reit  $       2.590 2800  $         2.610  $        7,252.000  $           56.00 0.77%
UOL  $       8.400 1100  $         8.700  $        9,240.000  $         330.00 3.57%
ST Eng  $       3.300 3300  $         3.390  $      10,890.000  $         297.00 2.73%
HMI  $       0.635 8800  $         0.635  $        5,588.000  $                -   0.00%
Thai Bev  $       0.910 11000  $         0.815  $      10,010.000  $    (1,045.00) -10.44%
Capitaland  $       3.590 1900  $         3.600  $        6,821.000  $           19.00 0.28%
Total capital invested  $        76,771.00
Total profit  $      2,406.00

During the correction in Feb I bought some counters at a discount to their prices before the correction. These are the counters I bought using CPF, SRS and cash.

In this uncertain climate, I am switching to an active short-term trading style and will take profits as soon as possible. I also invested more $ this year as I became more comfortable with deploying more $ after 2 years of intermittent dabbling in stocks. I am still holding on to a large amount of cash though, looking for bargains to buy. Seems like a lot of good stocks have rallied quite a bit, am waiting for them to cool down first.

Last year I traded Venture and netted a profit of $471 (200 units) which translates to ~11% ROI in several weeks.

Similar to last time, I was not greedy and wanted to take profits as soon as possible at $26 due to the volatile nature. However, it exceeded my expectation and shot up to $28 due to institutions' $$ buy-in which perhaps helped to boost the rally.

I was quite lucky able to exit at $28 before it dropped back to $27 and hovering there til now.
I actually bought at $23.05 right before the correction and it dropped to $21.xx at one point before rallying up to $28.20 after the correction. As a counter that has shot up so quickly since last year (literally woken from hibernation), I was afraid it may fall a lot during the correction and never recover.

I think it will drop back to $26 or even $25 and I'm waiting for a good reentrance.

Thai Bev
This is a disappointment, it dropped sharply by $0.05 right after I bought it due to an institution dumping the stocks because of the dismal earning result. The sharp drop triggered others to follow suit. I think everyone was waiting for consumption to resume and for the company to post higher or normal earnings. With the high acquisition costs and the dismal consumption, the sharp drop in earnings just make it look very bad.

However, I think there is still hope as the acquisitions should bring long-term market share and hence greater earnings in the future. Some analysts including OCBC even maintained a BUY rating, albeit with a lowered target price than before.

This had quite a strong uptrend, I managed to enter when it dipped down to $8.4 from $8.6. I was waiting patiently for the fish to bite the bait. Hopefully it can rise by 10-15% after which I will take profit and rotate to another stock.

If you look at the chart patterns for price and volume for the past few years, you will see periodic spikes in volume corresponding to spikes in stock price. Am waiting for the next spike to happen so I can sell off at a decent profit.

I bought these last year and they rallied up ... I think my ROI is around 50% since I entered.. I missed the chance to sell at $29.5 for DBS before it dropped to $28.xx. I think it will fall further to perhaps $27 before rallying up again. Perhaps I can average down.

More updates coming later .. Stay tuned

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Best brokers to buy/sell stocks

DBS Vicker Cash Upfront
Stocks you buy will be credited to the CDP by T+3. Currently there is a promo as shown. 


They have revamped their offering and they allow selling of shares from CDP for 0.12% only.

Buying of shares is currently only with cash and will place shares under their custody. CPF IS is not supported. 

I clarified the above with FSM's customer support.

Buying of stocks using CPF IS is still expensive at 0.28% (DBS) or 0.275% (OCBC).

Buy using Vicker and sell using FSM haha! Beat Stan Chart's 0.20% hands down with CDP protection!

Let me know if there is any fine print or caveat I missed!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Are SG stocks worth holding on to for long-term?

The chart below says it all ..

What a fantastic gain from 2008 til 2018. From 3.35 to 3.52, an amazing gain of 5% in 10 years!
This chart generalises the behaviour of many SG blue-chips -- they went sideways or had little upside.

I have been thinking about what will happen when the bear comes to kill this bull run this year, the next or even after that. The recent correction may be a sign of the bubble crackling. There is ample evidence to show the US market is overvalued. Local market, probably not so. However, the local market is not entirely shielded from the US market crashing.

Opportunity Cost of Your Money

I have quite a substantial portfolio of local stocks. One of my criteria for buying a stock is looking at whether it can survive a crash and how fast it can recover to pre-crash peak. Imagine a crash happens and the stock takes 10 years, even 20 years to recover or not at all, how much opportunity costs are you giving up for your hard-earned money? Yes you have an unrealised loss of probably 50% during a crash, but should you cut loss now or wait for it to recover? You shouldn't cut loss like all gurus say. You should wait. However, you do not know whether it will recover or not and how long it will take. Your money could have been invested elsewhere for better gains.

Yes STI recovered pretty quickly within a few years after the 08 crash. But it is almost back to square one after 10 freaking years!

Many local stocks such as Ho bee land, DBS also took 10 years to recover and are starting to surpass their previous peaks. Many other stocks have yet to recover.

So the question is how deep a draw-down can you tolerate and for how long? How long before you want to give up? 20 years, 30 years to recover to the peak? It basically means if you're invested now, and if the bear comes soon, you may see no gains for your money for the next few decades.

One-hit wonders

Some stocks that were once popular are now one-hit wonders like Korean Psy -- can they ever recover? Would you want to hold on for 5 years hoping for a break out?

Good luck if you bought at the peak or didn't manage to sell off near the peak
Should take profits at near the peaks based on profit targets

Stocks that keep rising

Such stocks may be a safer bet for long-term investment. They recovered quickly after the crash and kept on rising. And of course, you should also look at the fundamental as well. However, it is not guaranteed they will keep on rising forever or the fundamentals remain good -- at least there is a higher chance based on historical trend.

rebounded quickly after the crash and grown continuously

the rise after the crash makes the crash look like a peanut

Take profits and rotate 

I think personally the better approach is to recognise the kind of stock you're buying by looking at its history and take profits based on a preset target. Historical performance may not be a good guide but what else can you look at for better assurance? Financial reports? Even companies with good financial results may take a long time to rise up or break out (e.g. Comfort). This is probably because general market sentiment often overwhelms rational thinking and value-investing principles. If it never recovered to pre-crash peak or take a long time to rise up, it's better to just take profits as soon as you can and rotate to another stock.

Set a profit target based on the stock dynamics, i.e. momentum. The target could be 10-25% higher than the entry price.

Do not be greedy and stick to your original target. Do not shift, even when the stock price keeps rising. This is especially true for stocks that rise rapidly (e.g. Venture and DBS), the next moment you may find a hoard of sellers wanting to take profits and causing the share price to drop rapidly after the rise.

Companies are always being disrupted by global competitors. This is especially true for low-value manufacturing and labour-intensive industries where our neighbours may have better competitive advantages. Some industries have business cycles and derive income from sporadic large contracts. All these factors increase the risk of holding on to certain local stocks for long.

Long-term and passive investment

Does it work locally? Perhaps for certain stocks. If you have passively invested into the STI ETF for the past 10 years, good luck!

In short, be very careful on what you invest in. If not, you may end up losing a lot of opportunity cost for your money. Fundamentals or general sentiment of a company may change drastically when the bear comes, so you may want to invest in a stock that has shown the ability to recover quickly. Such stocks could be bread and butter stocks like F&B.


A concentrated portfolio is quite risky, even if it consists of entirely blue-chip or undervalued stocks. Nobody can know for sure your portfolio will end up with one-hit wonders or "crippled" stocks. The best is to diversify and take profits often. And thus, this requires some form of active management.


Personally I don't chase dividends and don't hold on to stocks for dividends as I am focusing on capital growth which should be more important than dividends. As mentioned above, there is a risk holding on to certain stocks for long even if they pay good dividends. Good dividends don't matter if the capital degradation erodes your principal and even dividends. Example: Starhub and Comfort pay good dividends but their share prices have kept dropping, making it riskier to hold on to their shares.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Jan Expenses

I'm always too lazy to tabulate my expenses, but this time round I had some time to do it.

Food 180
Meals at home (est.) 200
Entertainment 14.5
Transport 50.25
Gadgets 1.15
Housing 69.5
Property tax (est.) 10
Total 525.4

I didn;t include insurance costs this time. Anyway for non-saving insurance, my cash expenses are only < $80 for AVIVA term and PruShield + Extra -- more than enough to cover any terminal illness. 

Food & Groceries
This is the amount spent on meals outside on working and non-working days, including restaurants. I hardly eat at restaurants nowadays, so I just go have a drink and chill. I sometimes go coffeeshops to chill as well -- get a cheap beer or tea like a true "uncle". I hate noisy places so I don't go to crowded bars, clubs, etc. You can hardly talk over there. I enjoy quality conversations as a form of bonding rather than superficial enjoyment.

I regularly buy groceries such as milk and snacks. I always buy soya milk (with the 2 cartons for $3.xx promo).

Meals at home
This is just pure estimation. My mother does all the cooking and she often cooks salmon and other good stuff, so I put it at a higher estimate. Sometimes she gets salmon fish head for free or at a very low price and it's yummy when pan-fried!

I don't pay her directly for this expense but it is paid as the monthly allowance.

This is for one movie on Tues at GV for 2 pax. $6.50/pax + $1.50 for booking fee.

One ez-link topup with a convenience fee of $0.25. This happens once every few months as I sometimes take bus from my workplace to other places for lunch.

One 2m iPhone charging cable bought from Qoo10. Yes only $1.xx including delivery by mail. Better than Challenger which sells for $5. The factory price is probably only $0.10 haha .. imagine the margin!

Housing & Property tax
Help my mum pay for the town council fee and property tax as part of the allowance.

Car-related expenses

Car 432.44
Parking 86.88
Cash Card 20
Parking (work) 110
total 649.32

These include petrol, car washes, regular polishing package (instalment) and insurance. The insurance is on the high side as my license is quite new.
The parking is for outdoor season parking at home and at work as well as adhoc parking paid using the Parking@SG app.
Cash card cost is for adhoc parking outside (estimated).

Looking at my expenses, it is quite hard to reduce further. Food is easily the largest category (non-car) but it is hard to reduce without resorting to eating economical rice or sandwich every day (although I do eat them quite often).

When I move out and have my own housing, the expenses will go up due to utilities. I intend to use fans to save $.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Why I do not buy festive goodies

I have become more and more frugal over the years since the days of splurging on excesses that I did not really need. In fact on hindsight I regretted my financial choices and wondered what's the point of spending money on moments that do not last. For example, I had once splurged $80 on a crab buffet -- it was only enjoyable at that moment. I'm pretty sure I couldn't and didn't consume $80 worth of crabs and hence I would be better off achieving the same economic utility or satisfaction somewhere else with a much smaller budget. Satisfaction only increases marginally on increasing expenditure beyond a certain point, so why not save most of the money and spend somewhere else?

Sometimes I do spend slightly more depending on the situation, for e.g., outing with strangers and "important people", as I do not want to convey an impression of stinginess. But when I'm with familiar friends and family, I always go for the cheapest. I find that most often, I can go with the cheapest options without compromising much on quality, if at all.

It's the same with over-priced festive goodies. It's Chinese New Year again and I did not buy a single goodie although my family did. I wouldn't buy even if they didn't. Festive goodies used to be my favorites but not anymore as I realised I could derive the same satisfaction with a smaller budget. As I have reached a third of my expected lifespan, I need to start taking care of my health by avoiding such foods.

I also did not celebrate Valentines' Day as I think it is really just another ordinary day. If you wish, any day could be Valentines' Day. It seems to me it is a trap designed to rip off consumers with over-priced flowers and goodies.

How to save on income taxes

My philosophy of managing wealth is to maximise the income and investment returns while aggressively cutting costs. Always go for the cheapest while not compromising on quality if possible. In this case, taxes contribute to nation building which has little direct visible impact on myself.

Parent Relief

The most common I can think of is the Parent Relief since many of us still stay with parents here in Singapore. Yes as long as your parents are no longer working (< $4,000 annual income) and staying with you, you can claim relief for it. See the page for the exact criteria. You'd have to manually submit this claim in your annual income assessment as the government won't know automatically you fulfill the criteria or not (although technically they have the means to do it).

I realised it only after a few years of working which fortunately wasn't too late as I was able to retro-claim the relief up to a few years back (i.e. IRAS giving you back your $$, rare isn't it?)

SRS Relief

You can contribute to SRS and do investment for the long-term while saving taxes. SRS contribution cannot be backdated, i.e., contribute beyond the limit now and claim back the relief retroactively. The max contribution for Singaporean Citizens and PR is $15,300.

CPF Cash Top up Relief

Instead of giving allowance to your parents as cash, you can consider topping up the SA (below 55 yrs old) or RA (above 55 yrs old). You can get tax relief for up to $7,000 contributed.  There is a way to do this sustainably I can think of but I shan't share it here.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Why I am forced to buy Unit Trusts

As a Singaporean, a large part of our cash (about 37%) from income will be locked away in the CPF.
Most of the money in the Ordinary Account (OA) will be earning a guaranteed and meagre 2.5% interest rate which barely beats inflation. The first $60,000 in aggregate across your CPF sub accounts also earns an extra 1%.

The first $20,000 in your OA and $40,000 in your Special Account (SA) are NOT investible. (Source: )

According to , CPF-OA money can be used to invest in :
  1. Insurance (e.g. ILPs, Annuities, Endowments)
  2. Government bonds and T-bills
  3. Fixed deposits 
    • I can't be bothered to find out which banks offer this
  4. "Safe" ETFs with limited choices
    • Straits Times Index (SPDR and Nikko)
    • SPDR Gold ETF (GLD) 
    • ABF Singapore Bond Fund (A35)
  5. Stocks and other ETFs 
    • listed in SGX mainboard and traded in SGD only
  6. Unit Trusts with limited choices
  7. HDB flat 
  8. ...and others
and CPF-SA:

  1. Insurance (e.g. ILPs, Annuities, Endowments)
  2. Government bonds and T-bills
  3. Unit trusts with even more limited choices
At one glance, the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) seems to be designed to lock our money away in the local markets.

100% of the investible amount can be used for Unit Trusts and the 4 "safe" ETFs.  However, only 35% of the investible amount can be used for stocks and other ETFs.

I think it is very weird that high-risk Unit Trusts are considered "safe" (as 100% can be invested in them), when other local stocks are not. Perhaps they think unit trusts are actively managed by professionals hence "safe" and yet often they cannot beat the benchmark despite being paid hefty fees. 

Of course, to beat the 2.5%, I would like to invest in instruments with the highest potential gains. Only equities can yield the highest returns (which come along with the highest risk as well).

We all know about the high management fees of Unit Trusts. In fact, on average, the total expense ratio for many high-performing Unit Trusts is about 1.7% (based on my observation from Fundsupermart's fund selector) which eats into your returns.

Even though there are Unit Trusts with high returns of at least 10% per annum,  I want to avoid them due to the high expense ratio.

Unfortunately, the 4 ETFs are not exactly good alternatives since they will probably yield less returns than Unit Trusts even after taking into account the high expenses, based on the ETFs' historical performance.

In summary, constrained by CPF policies and the lack of better alternatives, I have to reluctantly put 65% of the investible amount in Unit Trusts.

I also invest in Unit Trusts using cash ($300 / month) via Maybank as I want to get the 3% p.a. interest rate under its SaveUp programme. Again, I am compelled to do so as I do not have any better way to fulfill the SaveUp programme criteria. Much of the criteria involve taking up loans (i.e. spending more money rather than saving)

How I choose the Unit Trusts to invest in?

Due to their high-cost nature, I'd want to buy those with the highest potential returns (often comes with the highest risk). I use Fundsupermart's fund selector (for free even though I am not its customer), to find funds with the following in mind: 
  1. Consistency: check the 3-yr, 5-yr and 10-yr returns for consistency. I generally ignore funds with very high 1 or 3-yr returns but low 10-yr return. 
  2. Underlying portfolio: look at the equity holdings to ensure the fund is investing in trustworthy and high-growth companies preferably ones which control a large market share of their respective industries.
    • avoid those so-called "high-yield bonds" as those are usually non-investment-grade bonds. I think only our CPF-SA is an exception.
  3. Fees: check that there is no redemption charge so you can sell without any sale charge. 
    • There is a risk that the redemption charge may change anytime at the fund manager's discretion.
Many people lost money because they entered at the wrong time, chose the wrong funds or their so-called advisors recommended the wrong funds (usually to line their pockets).

I wonder why there are people buying crappy funds that have been going sideways for years. Such funds still exist today probably because many people are gullible, not financial savvy, and/or they lack the courage to sell to realise their losses. 

Regular Savings Plan?

Many platforms offer some form of regular investment plan that I have since terminated and will avoid for now as I prefer to have more control over the price to buy and sell at (not 100% control though).


The biggest disadvantages of unit trusts are they don't offer limit orders and the settlement is extremely slow compared to instantaneous buying and selling over exchanges.

Avoiding more fees

I use POEMS as there is no sale charge, no platform fee and no switching cost. It is also a CPFIS administrator meaning you won't incur the $2 / counter / quarter fee from the CPFIS agent bank. FSMOne is also a good alternative with a better user interface and same offering as POEMS.


I do not invest the SA money as I consider it a 30-year almost-risk-free high-yield "bond". The only risk comes from any CPF policy changes and economy instability.

Anyway there's nothing good to invest in. The only way to beat a guaranteed 4% is to buy unit trusts as CPF-SA cannot be used for stocks and ETFs. There is a limited set of unit trusts for CPF-SA that is different from that for CPF-OA. In this set, there are very few unit trusts with consistent performance over 4%. The best performing, First State Bridge, only had a 5.4% p.a. ROI for the past 10 years. I think the risk-reward ratio is not worth it.

2018 Trading Good Start

Below shows the trades I entered this year which are only a subset of my portfolio. Counter   Entry Price   ...