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May 2019’s a tough month, and no, there’s no new “Best. May. Ever” series… (Continuation of these:)

Best. January. Ever.

Best. February. Ever.

Best. Mar……….. You Know The Drill!

TT Portfolio Performance & Review

Like most of everyone else, TTI’s portfolio ROI declined in May, alongside the volatility and market uncertainties from the trade wars.

SG Markets

Total portfolio value in SG markets is SGD 357,660.

Again, not much activity here, took profit on a tiny itsy bit of Geo Energy to redeploy into US markets, otherwise, holdings remain the same. I’m also not really spending much time looking in these waters.

Bonds

Again, nothing much to talk about here, the bond portfolio is approximately SGD 550,000. The intention is to leave all coupons to compound, with next to zero activity here.

US / Global Markets

ROI has declined from April 2019’s 40.61%, to the current 37.19% YTD.

Net Quantum investment gains YTD (excluding any capital injections/withdrawals) is thus USD 164,707.26

Current top/large winners include Wirecard, Avenue Therapeutics, Tesla shorts, JD.com shorts and a small position in the volatility derivative VXX.

The 2 biggest/most irritating losers are Centurylink (CTL) and Chesapeake Energy (CHK). I remain fairly optimistic about CTL, I just think the management needs to show a single quarter of revenue gain or even, just stabilization, and the share price would pop through the roof. In the meantime, I’m collecting like a 8% yield after the witholding taxes.

CHK on the other hand, is dead in the water. While Lawler has done a fantastic job deleveraging over the past couple of years, this may be too mammoth a task for him. Or he may need several years more. There’s hardly any difference in both scenarios.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how things are turning out for my US portfolio. Despite a drop of around 5% due to the trade wars in May, the gap between my ROI and the passive benchmarks is increasing, and the 3 indices I compare against are all at the 9-10% mark, and that puts my ROI this year at 3x that of mere mortals.

Alongside the huge volatility in May, the USD-SGD pairing also showed massive movements.

I’ve always said I’m no forex expert.

I don’t even think there’s such a thing.

But since my options activities generate a ton of USD, I’m naturally exposed to forex movements. With the recent drop in USD-SGD due to a perceived probability of the Fed lowering interest rates, I’ve taken the chance to swap out more SGD into USD, thus firing up my USD proton cannon again. It was really a great chance for me as the SGD was building up, and I simply refused to change it into USD at any rates above 1.37, thus had to end up borrowing USD for some of my US positions.

Total Portfolio

Total portfolio value sits at SGD 1,805,341.75

This value is likely to increase soon though, cos over the next few weeks, I’m likely to inject some serious cash into my US portfolio in anticipation of building up a new, possibly core, position. Still doing the groundwork on that idea.

Real Estate

Property is something that I only sparingly mention about in this blog. Cos I ain’t no expert here, I think there are already enough ppl who say they are property experts around.

Having recently completed the sale of a property, I now hold quite a bit of liquidity:

SGD 593k worth of bullets for deploying.

I haven’t quite decided what to do with it, so the money is just languishing around collecting meager interest. And a lot of annoying calls from folks who want to tell me how they can make me (and themselves) richer.

Currently, I’ve narrowed down to 3 options:

  1. Throw this entire SGD 593k into my property fund, and pray pray pray for a crash soon. This would bump up my SG property fund into a SGD 900k kitty, which would give me a ton of mileage if we get a crash.
  2. Deploy half into US Options investment portfolio, and stuff the other half into SG property fund.
  3. Find the next high conviction idea for a core position, something like Wirecard (Best. February. Ever.) or Avenue Therapeutics (Avenue Therapeutics – No Pain, Lots Of Gain?), and go crazy and throw everything at it. Go big or go home kinda stuff.

I really haven’t any idea what I’d do right now. SG property is still going ballistic. I’ve been looking and searching and viewing and saving and waiting for like… 3 years now, and after a slow and small little trough that’s hardly felt by anyone, the prices have gone through the roof again over the past few quarters.

It’s relentless! And now, Fed is posturing to lower rates again. Just great huh.

It’s really exasperating.

Just crash already! Damnit!

AVENUE THERAPEUTICS

Following up on my most recent post:

Avenue Therapeutics – No Pain, Lots Of Gain?

ATXI’s share price has popped since that post.

The share price as written in that post, was $4.57 then, and right now, as I type this, it sits pretty at $6.35, giving a 38.9% gain within the past month or so.

ATXI’s 2nd Phase III trials met all it’s primary AND the secondary end goals.

IV Tramadol has proven to be just as efficacious as IV Morphine (secondary end goal), and the markets are cheering what seems to be a straight runway all the way to a new drug application (NDA)

NDA is guided to be done by Q4 of 2019, which is consistent with their previous guidances.

TBH, although I wrote that I expected a catalyst upon the release of this 2nd Phase III results, even the rapid gain in the share price surprised me.

Why so? Well, cos…. I’d long expected the results to be positive! What else were you guys expecting?

Like I mentioned in the post, IV Tramadol is widely used practically everywhere else in the world, particularly in Asia and Europe. We’re not exactly talking about some novel drug with high risk of uncertainty here.

FDA still requires an independent Phase III trial (2 actually, not just 1) to be done, because that’s just the rules. Cos… well, some drugs have different effects on different populations, so ATXI and any other sponsors actually, can’t just tell FDA: “hey look, this works great on the Europeans!”

Still, this is an analgesic. Pain medication. I dunno how much difference it can have physiologically.

Anyhow, my ATXI position is currently looking really good, and I continue to hold. (Sold a tiny little bit but that’s to get rid of odd lots that irritate me, not really to take profit)

Current unrealized profit is around 18.3k USD, with a grand or so USD of realized profits.

From Lucy Lu’s investor call, we know that the company is now in the final phase of preparing for a NDA. I don’t see any hiccups on the horizon, so it’s probably going to be uneventful.

You can read about the call here:

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4268082-avenue-therapeutics-inc-atxi-ceo-dr-lucy-lu-hosts-investor-update-call-transcript

There’s still a huge discount in the current share price to the take over price. When asked about this, Lucy Lu’s answer (if I can just summarise it. She went on and on but actually really meant 1 thing), was that the company hasn’t gone out to raise it’s profile, so she thinks it’s simply cos of ignorance that the markets are “undervaluing” their shares.

In TTI’s opinion, whilst I certainly don’t think the markets are efficient, I also don’t think “ignorance” can explain the large discount in the share price currently.

IMO, I think the share price will continue to trend upwards closer to the takeover price of $13.92, but probably hover around the $8 – $9 range (just a random guess!), which is like a 40% discount or so, to reflect the uncertainty of the FDA application process.

Of course, if FDA approves, the share price will most certainly jump to the $13.92 mark, and in all likelihood, exceed that, to reflect the additional CVRs attached to the takeover offer.

Having looked through the 2nd Phase III results and the conference call, I intend to continue holding onto my ATXI positions, and/or possibly add to it on the dips.

Oh trust me, I’m trying everyday. But it’s low liquidity with wide spreads and the share price is just running so fast ahead. And I just don’t like chasing it.

Oh yes, before I forget… not sure if I mentioned this in my earlier post, but the initial idea of Avenue Therapeutics was brought to my attention by a reader.

Said reader has declined to be named or credited, and has requested that I don’t post any of our correspondence, so that’s all I can reveal.

His email set off a chain of events, leading me to spend countless hours researching on IV Tramadol, and an eventual position.

So thanks man.

On a different note, I’m also thinking that updating the portfolio performance every month is really too much of a hassle and, it’s probably also not useful. I mean, it’s where we end up at the end of the year that matters right, who cares what happens in between.

That’s all I have here.

Would rather spend more time looking into new ideas, than write about past ones. So Bye.

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In an earlier post, I posted a teaser for a new investing thesis:

Best. Mar……….. You Know The Drill!

Yup, the numbers look absolutely horrendous:

The company has no revenue, and losses are chalking up y-o-y.

Balance sheet looks terrible too. Negative equity! Ouch.

So why is TTI even bothering to look into this, much less take up a position?

Here’s the story. And it’s going to be a long one.

AVENUE THERAPEUTICS

Background

Now, this investing thesis is likely going to be packed with medical jargon, and as far as possible, I’d try to dumb it down a few notches for the layman. Where that’s not possible, I’d at least try to explain the lingo a bit.

First up, some background on the company.

“We are a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of an intravenous, or IV, formulation of tramadol HCl, or IV Tramadol, for the management of moderate to moderately severe postoperative pain.”

The company listed recently in 2017, and its sole purpose is to develop and get FDA approval for intravenous tramadol (IV Tramadol).

Tramadol is a type of analgesic (a collective term for painkillers). Intravenous means it’s given to the patient via a jab directly into the blood stream. (vs taking it orally, or by inhalation, or intra-muscularly aka injected into the muscles etc)

What is interesting here, is that Avenue Therapeutics has an acquisition agreement with InvaGen, which is a subsidiary of Cipla, the India based pharmaceutical giant. The acquisition agreement has already been approved by the majority of Avenue Therapeutics’ shareholders.

Basically, if Avenue Therapeutics is able to get FDA approval for IV Tramadol in the US, Cipla promises to buy out Avenue Therapeutics.

Here are the terms of the agreement:

Cipla (via its subsidiary InvaGen), has already completed the 1st stage closing of the acquisition agreement, paying for 1/3 of Avenue Therapeutics at 6 USD per share.

For the 2nd stage:

“At the second stage closing, InvaGen or its affiliates will acquire the remaining shares of Avenue’s common stock, pursuant to a reverse triangular merger with Avenue remaining as the surviving entity, for up to $180 million in the aggregate, which is currently expected to represent approximately $13.92 per share, subject to certain terms to be outlined in the Form 8-K and proxy statement to be filed by Avenue with the SEC in connection with the proposed transactions. The second stage closing is subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions, including conditions pertaining to U.S. FDA approval, labeling, scheduling and the absence of any REMS or similar restrictions in effect with respect to IV Tramadol.”

In other words, if Avenue can meet certain conditions, the key of which is to successfully develop and attain US FDA approval for IV Tramadol, Cipla has agreed to buy over the remainder of the company for $13.92 per share, and on top of that, reward shareholders further with contingent value rights (CVRs) that’s determined by the sales targets and annual profits of commercialization of IV Tramadol.

Let’s put aside the CVRs first, cos that’s variable and hard to determine at this stage. But the $13.92 buyout offer, is massive, considering that as I type this, the share price is $4.57!

That represents a 204% ROI if the deal goes through successfully!

There are other conditions aside from just merely getting FDA approval, but I’d say getting approval is like the big elephant in the room.

“REMS” refers to Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, and is basically something additional that FDA requires of drug manufacturers, in cases where the drug is assessed to have “high risk” of adverse side effects. It’s basically to assess whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

IV Tramadol is very unlikely to require REMS as Tramadol is already an approved drug by itself, it’s the intravenous form that requires approval; I’d illustrate this further later.

FDA Submission Process

So here’s the lowdown: if the deal goes through, shareholders would be in for a big payday.

If the deal DOESN’T go through, well…. seeing that the company’s SOLE objective is to get FDA approval for IV Tramadol, that’d be very bad news.

The company would be basically worthless.

The big premium, 204% of potential returns, would already hint that this is a dangerous endeavor. FDA approval is notoriously hard to predict and uncertain. But if we are able to assess this with a certain level of accuracy, you can see the potential rewards here.

To understand how FDA approval is obtained, we gotta first understand the submission process and how this works.

Below is a chart indicating the probability of success of various FDA submissions:

IV Tramadol falls under Non-NME. (NME = New Molecular Entity)

Tramadol is already a widely used painkiller. It’s already approved in the US and widely prescribed in its oral form (tablet), it’s the intravenous form that requires approval.

Hence, it’s “Non-NME” (It’s the mode of the drug that requires FDA approval, the drug, Tramadol itself, is already approved and widely used worldwide)

The company has to conduct a series of clinical studies or Phases, each with targeted results to achieve. (study goals to obtain)

FDA requires that the company successfully conducts 2 Phase III trials that meet its end goals, with the 2nd being a confirmatory study to the results of the 1st Phase III.

Currently, Avenue has already successfully completed the 1st Phase III study, with the 2nd Phase III study ongoing. Results of this 2nd Phase III are slated to be in by mid 2019.

Based on the chart above, this means that there’s a 74% chance of getting from Phase III to submitting a New Drug Application (NDA) to FDA.

If the 2nd Phase III results meet the end goals, the company has guided that they’d submit a NDA to FDA by the end of 2019, with an expected approval arriving not later than 12 months after the submission is accepted by FDA.

Again, based on the chart above, apparently there’s a 90% chance of success after a NDA is submitted and accepted by FDA.

Bear in mind that these are merely statistics, and IMO, do not accurately reflect the likelihood of a successful application by Avenue, which is better assessed by the merits of the case.

Also, as stated in the chart above, Avenue will be using 505 (b) (2) pathway for submission, and this is expected to expedite the whole process.

505(b)(2) pathway for submission basically uses data or study results from other studies NOT conducted by the company. This can be done if the drug is already approved (doesn’t make sense to require the company to conduct more studies if the drug’s safety profile for eg, has already been previously established and it’s already commonly prescribed)

Alright, if you think all this is very confusing, errrrr, we haven’t even started yet.

Basically this chart suggests to us that the project has been somewhat de risked as the earlier, more volatile phases, have already been cleared and the company just needs to get data from the 2nd Phase III, and submit to FDA.

Role Of IV Tramadol In Pain Therapy

There are already several intravenous painkillers that clinicians can give. Why would FDA need to approve yet another IV painkiller? This is an important question to answer, as 1 of the determining factors for FDA approval is a comparison against other existing similar drugs in the market.

There are a ton of factors to compare against: safety profile, level of analgesia obtained, side effects – both the number as well as the intensity, whether it is suitable as a monotherapy (single drug used in the treatment), time taken for the drug to reach the level of analgesia etc

So if IV Tramadol has a real role to play in the market, with a favorable risk-reward ratio, it’d be approved. That’d be 1 of the key considerations that FDA undertakes in its fact finding process to determine whether approval is given.

To proceed further, we next have to understand the options of analgesics available for pain management in post-operative care.

In certain cases, taking painkillers via the usual oral route (gulping down some pills), is not an option. For example, in cases whereby surgery was done in the gastrointestinal tract, or in the throat area. Thus, the analgesic is given directly into the bloodstream (IV).

So what are the current options that the clinician has in the management of pain via the IV route?

  1. IV Acetaminophen – Also commonly known as paracetamol (or locally, as panadol, which is the brand name). I think we all know what’s panadol. Paracetamol can also be given in an IV form. It is basically 1 of the weakest form of analgesic, and is used in cases of relatively minor surgeries. Although the level of analgesia obtained is relatively low, it is also a pretty safe IV drug to use, with little side effects. However, since paracetamol is metabolized (broken down) in the liver, it’s use is contraindicated in cases of severe hepatic impairment (basically, liver cannot function well)
  2. IV NSAIDs – NSAIDs stand for Non-Steriodal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. They are a huge class of analgesics, very commonly given by drs as well. The IV form would give a higher level of analgesia compared to IV Paracetamol. It has more side effects compared to IV Paracetamol, but is still a very effective class of analgesic to use. (There are many types of NSAIDs, each with slight differences. NSAIDs collective refer to all these drugs)
  3. IV Opiods – Now, this is pretty much the strongest form of analgesics. Opioids, as the name suggests, derives its name from the word “Opium”. This class of drug provides a high level of analgesia, but is unfortunately addictive if used for long periods of time. Heroin for example, falls under this class. It also has other stronger and potentially more fatal side effects. Currently, there’s an ongoing “opioid crisis” within the US, whereby many Americans got addicted to this class of analgesics. It’s a big problem in the US, and this is a key focus of this current investing thesis. More on this later.

So where would IV Tramadol lie?

This chart illustrates it perfectly:

IV Tramadol would form a new class in IV analgesics in the US, sitting right in between IV NSAIDs and IV Opioids.

This is an important selling point by Avenue Therapeutics. If IV Tramadol gets approved, in future, if the patient requires a higher level of analgesia compared to IV NSAIDs, the clinician has the option of giving Tramadol instead of jumping to the Opioids class.

To illustrate the effectiveness of IV Tramadol, I went on PubMed and trawled for a few clinical studies:

This study directly compares the use of IV Tramadol, vs IV Ketorolac in pain management after OMF surgery:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10006-018-0700-3

(Ketorolac is an NSAID)

“Although both drugs resulted in significant decrease in pain intensity from the 2nd to 24th postoperative hour, intravenous tramadol always resulted in better pain control than intravenous ketorolac at every postoperative hour (p value < 0.05) except at 2nd hour where changes are non-significant (p value > 0.05).”

This is another study directly comparing the effectiveness of IV Tramadol against IV NSAIDs when used via continuous infusion:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0011393X05806393?via%3Dihub

Comparative study of tramadol versus NSAIDS as intravenous continuous infusion for managing postoperative pain

In this study, the effectiveness of IV Tramadol was compared against several types of IV NSAIDs.

The results:

“The analgesic efficacy of tramadol was found to be greater than that of the three NSAIDs. Tramadol also was statistically significantly better than the other three agents……. “

“The results of this study confirm that tramadol, a central analgesic, is better for controlling postoperative pain than the NSAIDs with which it was compared.”

Yet another study comparing the use of Tramadol in Acute Pain:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165%2F00003495-199700532-00007

“Comparative studies have generally shown that tramadol is more effective than NSAIDs for controlling post operative pain. Use of a combination of tramadol and NSAIDs allows the tramadol dose to be reduced and results in a lower incidence of adverse effects.”

In short, there’s a wealth of clinical studies detailing the effectiveness of IV Tramadol. It’s safe to say that at least strictly from the clinical point of view, IV Tramadol has a role to play in providing a high level of analgesic effect, whilst significantly moderating the side effects of comparative analgesics, particularly the addiction of opioids.

There are all these studies available as IV Tramadol is not a novel drug. It’s just novel in the US, but is already available in many parts of the world. More on this later.

Opioid Crisis

Currently, there is a massive movement in the US against the widespread practice of prescribing opioids, due to the addiction problems.

And it is a HUGE problem right now, with the government going full on crazy in a bid to control what is looking like an epidemic already.

The National Institute On Drug Abuse describes this the best:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

“Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the..

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The 1 major headline in the past few days has certainly been all about the US-China trade negotiations and Trump’s threat to hike tariffs 2 days from now.

In the midst of all the uncertainty, the global markets have been roiled and US markets have taken a tumble this week.

Whilst I have not predicted this, and neither do I try to, my US portfolio has benefited and continued it’s relentless upward march, even while the world burns and the indices FINALLY start turning down:

Finally.

Everything starts turning red for once. Everything except TTI’s portfolio.

Hitting a new high of 41.62% ROI YTD, and especially since it’s coming at a time where there aren’t many stuff that’s not red… is very satisfying.

US portfolio NAV hit a new high too, but I’d just judge it again at the end of May. It’s also a double boost, since in the midst of the market volatility, USD has strengthened considerably against SGD. I’ve taken the chance to swap out some USD into SGD.

Even my SG portfolio is pretty green: I attribute it to the fact that it was pretty red previously, and the impossibly low valuations mean that there’s next to zero downside…

Well, how did my US portfolio buck the trend?

I always think it’s actually easier to outperform the market when everything’s green…. than to try to remain green while everything’s red.

Cos that requires you to take up really contrarian positions, and not just that, but to hold on to these positions despite the pain, unpopularity, and seeming stupidity in doing so.

Here are the specific reasons for my current divergence from market indices:

Contrarian positions. 

1 of my core positions continued performing well. Wirecard announced new (and improved) guidance for 2019 following the Q1 results release. FCF continued climbing, and is up by 37% yoy. In fact, every metric shows continued rapid growth across the board.

Having a concentrated position in a contrarian play certainly allows you to buck the trend, but beware, it could jolly well be in the wrong direction if you get it wrong!

Shorts. 

Now, I don’t short for the sake of shoring, but market were just roaring non stop since the start of the year. As I mentioned in earlier posts, it’s >16% returns since the start of the year for S&P, so the downturn now is a relief.

It’s a relief because I’ve shorted some companies earlier, in the belief that they are either over valued, or are unlikely to show significant improvements in their financials anytime soon.

Most of these shorts have been very much uncomfortable in the past month, being a dead weight to drag around while my portfolio tries to open up the gap against the indices. Fortunately, I managed to use options to keep the costs of shorting in check. Still, it hasn’t been fun since they’ve been in the red practically from the second I shorted. (until now, of course)

In looking for candidates to short, I try to look for guys with negative FCF, and/or companies that are unlikely to suddenly hit rapid earnings growth. Or stuff with potential road bumps that are pretty obvious (to me). Perhaps an acquisition that the markets are cheering, but the integration remains uncertain?

Prior to this bout of market weakness, I was short GDS, EB, MU, TSLA, JD, NKE and SPY itself (S&P index)

I wouldn’t go into specific details as to why I shorted those names, but just very briefly, I think EB’s integration would show more hiccups than they are letting on, and it’s proven in the last ER. Think I discussed about this somewhere in IN at that time.

TSLA was an obvious short to me, and actually, still kinda is. Sorry Elon, I’m on Einhorn’s side now.

GDS is another short that has given me lotsa heartburn, but as of this week, it’s finally payback time. I don’t know what Temasek sees in GDS.

I also now learnt that I should NOT structure my S&P shorts by selling SPY calls, esp naked ones.

S&P can move upwards really relentlessly. It’s almost logic defying. Also, the IV is low, and premiums are kinda pathetic for the level of exposure each option contract requires.

Of course, in times like now, thank god for my shorts!

Still, my impatience got the better of me. In just 2 days of the market turmoil, I’ve covered most of the shorts, taking almost everything off the table. Perhaps it’s cos a part of me is just relieved and happy that the shorts have worked out. Having to constant struggle against a relentlessly upward market is not fun.

Yet, as of now, that’s looking like a dumb move cos Trump does look serious in raising tariffs on Friday, and it definitely doesn’t look like something concrete will get finalized by then.

In short, I think we should expect more volatility, and I probably left way too much on the table.

Should’ve gone to bed early instead of tinkering around.

Speaking of volatility, that leads me to the 3rd reason:

Volatility.

Having built up a position in VXX, the current volatility and redness in the market has been a godsent.

For example, VXX shot up 16% yesterday (Tuesday) alone! 

Yes, in a single day!

That’s the nature of VXX and actually, most volatility derivatives. When times are good, the rollover just simply kills any VXX longs, but right when the times are at its darkest……. the upwards movement is scary.

So that’s it for this short post.

It’s just to explore the reasons for my portfolio divergence against the current market weakness, and how I structured certain contrarian positions.

I’m sure everybody has their own ways to do so.

My next post would be an investing thesis, and a highly contrarian one too. Credits to a reader who brought this to my attention, but since he declined to be named or identified, so I’d just leave it as such.

It should be fun to read.

If you understand it, that is.

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Just realized that my last overall portfolio performance update was back in June 2018, and I haven’t been updating it for the past 10 months.

The page is now updated and revamped. I’ve added in a line chart of the portfolio size, going back to 2011 since I’ve started tracking. Note that this includes any capital injections or withdrawals. (Mostly injections, except for 2015 and thus far, in 2019).

I’ve opted not to add to the portfolio thus far in 2019, as I’ve shunted some capital into the property fund instead. Hopefully, there’d be some firesales that come up soon. Thus far, all the “firesales” that I’ve seen, are not really firesales but just marketing ploys.

I’ve only really seen 1 true blue firesale a couple of years back, and I was too slow (problems with not having liquidity on standby), and missed out on it. You know it’s a true firesale when the unit gets a confirmed offer and the whole deal is tied down less than a fortnight from the time it got listed. The buyer got real lucky there, as he/she is sitting on at least $550k in gains, and it’s only been 2 years.

(Yes, that’s TTI’s lantern flying away)

SG Markets

Total portfolio value in SG markets is $384,033.

I’ve hardly had any activities in the SG market in 2019, only transactions being to lighten my stake in Geo Energy Resources, a stake I’ve held since 2016:

Geo Energy Resources Investing Thesis – Part I

Geo Energy Resources Investing Thesis Part II

My current SG portfolio comprises Alliance Minerals Assets, Geo Energy Resources, Dutech Holdings, Venture Corp and Q&M Dental.

I’m not currently evaluating anything new on SGX, and so, correspondingly, will not be likely to add anything on SGX. If anything, further divestments are likely.

Dutech Holdings just concluded their AGM, and although I didn’t attend, I was given a comprehensive account of what transpired by a friend who attended. In short, it doesn’t seem to hold very good news. I’m still holding, and optimistic about my stake though. The last earnings report was very satisfying to me, and I believe Johnny has made more progress on the integration of their acquisitions. AFAIK, Metric continues to be the 1 bleeding arm, and I hope 2019 will finally show a turnaround there.

Bonds

Nothing much to talk about here, the bond portfolio is approximately $550,000. The intention is to leave all coupons to compound, with next to zero activity here.

US / Global Markets

This is where I’ve focused all my attention on, with stellar results.

Results that have way surpassed what I was expecting myself.

Current portfolio value here is USD 649,167.44 or SGD 884,230.97.

As a continuation of these updates:

Best. January. Ever.

Best. February. Ever.

Best. Mar……….. You Know The Drill!

I should’ve titled this post Best. April. Ever……

Hitting a new YTD high of 40.61% ROI, this has been the best start to a year that I’ve ever had.

NAV increased from USD 441,055.43 to USD 650,993.49, inclusive of a capital injection of USD 29,526.10.

NAV gain is USD 209,938.06, and net capital gains YTD is thus USD 180,411.96.

My strategy in the global markets is an extension of what I’ve always been doing.

It’s 2 pronged.

Using options, I try to generate regular positive cashflows by capturing premiums on contracts that I think are either unlikely to get exercised, and/or contracts that I’d be happy if they get exercised.

Using the cashflows from these options, which can take several weeks or even months to expire/exercise, I look for unique situations whereby there’s potentially a huge return, relative to the present risk. Of course, these situations would usually crop up in instances of severe duress, and that’s when I love to commit large amounts of capital to. Wirecard being a most recent case in point.

YTD 40.61% means I’ve managed to completely trash the passive indices thus far this year, by taking on asymmetrical and contrarian positions.

What strikes me is that the global passive indices have actually done very well too. SPX (which is an S&P500 index ETF), has exceeded 16% ROI YTD, which in any other given year, is a very VERY  impressive return in itself, considering it’s only been 4 months.

I don’t believe beating the passive benchmarks can be achieved without significant volatility though, and my portfolio hasn’t been an exception:

The volatility sure looks crazy.

On good days, TTI’s portfolio wildly outperforms the global indices by a mile. I mean, just look at that straight blue line somewhere around the 27/03/2019 mark.

The reason for all this volatility is the large, concentrated, contrarian positions. If the position does well, the impact on the overall portfolio is very much significant. If it does poorly, the reverse is true as well.

There are also several blue lines well into the negative territory, and many times, the blue line has gone the opposite direction of the global markets, whereas the green, purple and yellow lines have moved in lockstep.

Perhaps this is most instructive:

Despite returning more than DOUBLE that of the next best passive index, TTI’s portfolio had only 47 positive periods, whereas the other 3 indices had 53 – 54 positive periods.

TTI’s portfolio also had 36 negative periods, which is way more than the 29-30 negative periods for the benchmarks.

This can only mean 1 thing:

I’ve been making the “positive periods” count, while trying to ensure the “negative periods” hurt that much lesser.

Which is actually, an extension of a lesson I’ve learnt from Stanley Druckenmiller (I’m sure I’ve already quoted this before somewhere in this blog):

“I’ve learned many things from [George Soros], but perhaps the most significant is that it’s not whether you’re right or wrong that’s important, but how much money you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong.”

I’ve taken some profit off the table on my wirecard positions, but still hold a significant stake in the form of 1,500 shares held directly, and several put options sold.

I’ve had time to evaluate their most recently released 2018 full year results, and there hasn’t been any surprises there. Even their guidance for 2019 hasn’t moved 1 bit. The shares are pricey though, and I generally don’t share the level of enthusiasm as most analysts that are positive on the company.

Nothing grows forever.

Yup. It’s pretty amazing that this is so logical, but the markets, and human psychology, always expects the most recent trend to continue indefinitely. My layman explanation for this is that the markets would always have new entrants and exits, so for those who have just bought into a growth story, the story always seems to have “just started”.

Currently, I’m assigning a PE of around 45, and a forward EPS of 3.8 euros, giving a fair value of around 170 euros. But since I believe in leaving something on the table, I’d look to sell calls with strike prices of around 160 euros.

Thus far, my total profit, both recognized and unrecognized, sits at around 58k euros, and that accounts for a big chunk of the YTD capital gains.

On average, every year, I’d put serious capital to work into just 2-3 big ideas, after evaluating tens of ideas. I know that I only need to get these 2 or 3 right. The rest are just the sugar icing.

If these concentrated positions pan out, the returns would likely beat the markets handily. If they don’t… well, I try to make sure I realize it soon enough, and don’t let the mistakes be fatal.

Having assessed several ideas, some of which are brought to me by my readers actually (thank you for that), I’ve decided to start deploying serious capital into the next company.

It’s a really interesting situation here, and I’ve already started building up a sizable position, but as the liquidity is low and the spread is at times, humongous, it’d take some time before I can finish accumulating a position that I’m happy with.

I’ve previously hinted at this in my last post:

Best. Mar……….. You Know The Drill!

Apparently, it’s not very subtle cos some folks already figured out what I’m talking about (Look at the comments section)

Which is pretty amazing considering that I’ve done nothing except to cut and paste some financials, out of the thousands of companies out there.

Maybe I’d post up my due diligence next, it’s rather comprehensive and intense though, as this is an industry that I’m very familiar with, and the industry jargon isn’t exactly easy to understand for the layman. I’ve had correspondence with the management too, and although the CEO has been very cautious in not revealing any information that she isn’t allowed to, reading between the lines has allowed me to glean tidbits of information that has been useful.

That’s all I have for this post.

Investing is a really long and tedious journey, and the best investors are usually the ones who are not afraid to walk it alone, and in fact, wouldn’t have it any other way. I leave you readers with this photo I took recently.

Godspeed.

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Oh Boy. I really could get used to this.

1 post every mth, “Best ____ Ever” everytime.

I’d let the stats do the talking:

With yesterday’s massive rise, a huge 15.61% portfolio gain in a single day, the ROI has shot up to 37.76% YTD.

NAV sits at USD 606,056.73, crossing the USD 600k mark for the 1st time (For US portfolio), with next to no capital injections too.

Taking into account a withdrawal of USD16.90, the total net capital gains YTD is… USD 165,001.13!

Obviously, the ride hasn’t been 1 way up though.

The 1 day spike yesterday masked a period of a few tough weeks when the ROI kept dropping (see in chart)

The reason for that is my US portfolio’s huge exposure to Wirecard.

Best. February. Ever.

With the latest report by the esteemed Rajah&Tan, the markets’ fears were proven wrong, and my wirecard positions jumped a cool 26% in a single night.

The numbers being thrown around prior to this were confirmed in the report, and they are puny. A mis statement of 2mil euros ++ for a company with over 2bil euro in revenue….

That’s 3 decimal places. I don’t even know how they are going to restate that in the financials.

But those numbers haven’t changed. What really happened is that the markets are now reassured that this is just a small insignificant event, and not the worst case scenario of widespread fraud that some doomsayers were forecasting.

Since the position is worth 6 digit euros, it added strongly to the outperformance.

37.76%! I mean, I honestly would’ve taken half of that number and closed out the year if you made me that offer at the start of 2019.

37.76% beats almost every professional US fund manager I track. Even Bill Ackman is a tad behind at 31.9%

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/ackman-s-fund-zooms-ahead-as-he-casts-himself-as-corporate-helpmate-11379398

I’ve sold several calls yesterday to take advantage of the spike in volatility, but the nett position remains a long one. Very much so in fact.

My take is that the share price will continue to rise (it’s slightly red today as some jittery shareholders take profit after yesterday’s rise).

Yet, it’s not smooth sailing. There’s still 1 hump ahead, and I think that relates to Wirecard’s acquisition activities there. I don’t think that has as much coverage as the supposed few million euro restatement, which is curious, cos if anything, that’s potentially a bigger worry to me than this few million euros worth.

In any case, I’ve been keeping busy by looking for the next idea to put some serious capital to work.

As I’ve said before, it usually takes several weeks, or even months, of due diligence, before I start allocating capital, for large, core positions.

That means that in any given year, I’d probably have only… perhaps, 3-4 core, big ideas and I only need to get these right and it’d be a massively good year.

My next idea though, really comes from a reader of SG TTI. No credits yet, as I haven’t asked the said reader, and also, cos I’m still accumulating. It’s going to be a looooong position though, and it’d take time.

It’s definitely not your typical “value” play here, or rather, I think it is, but the numbers would certainly scare away most “value investors”.

Here’s a teaser.

Would you buy a company that reports these numbers?!

Losing money year after year, and more and more too!

Balance sheet is even more horrendous!

Negative equity! My god.

Don’t even get me started on the cashflows. It’s negative operating CFs and negative FCF and negative any parameter you can think of!

Scared enough?

Everybody’s running far away from this! Even Hyflux in it’s current form, looks better! LOL.

But TTI’s accumulating gradually, and I’d continue to do so over the next couple of months until it reaches a sizable position, as long as the investing thesis doesn’t change.

Yes, it is atypical for sure.

But just like Wirecard and GDS holdings (11% Returns In A Single Day. Thank You Blue Orca Capital!) and Shinsho Corporation (Divestment Of Shinsho Corporation & Kobe Steel – TTI’s Post-Mortem), the greatest rewards lie in the most atypical situations.

#Ballsofsteel.

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OK, not exactly. It’s more like best YTD ever. And that’s only for US/Global portfolio.

But I wanted a title for this post that’s a continuation of:

Best. January. Ever.

You know… kinda like how some stamps come in a set or a series.

A picture speaks a mod-zillion words:

I’ve said at the 22% mark that I’d be happy to close the year with that sorta returns.

Then, I’ve said at the 28% mark at end Jan, that I probably should close out all positions and do nothing for the rest of the year.

Yet, as of end Feb 2019:

US/Global Portfolio ROI is a very pleasing 29.50% YTD.

NAV gain YTD till end Feb 2019, taking into account a withdrawal of USD 22,088.60 made, is USD 128,387.87.

As seen in the chart above, the benchmark indices’ ROI are all hovering just below the 12% mark, with EFA being the worst and SPX doing the best amongst the 3.

So the outperformance is an amazing errr 17-18% or so.

And let’s not even bother to talk about the perennially under performing STI (which is like <5% I think)

I always prefer to look at SPX since that’s the broadest barometer of the US market and is pretty much the index itself (it’s an ETF of the S&P 500 index).

I’ve already previously discussed about my positions that have resulted in this outperformance:

Best. January. Ever.

The 1 bugbear that hasn’t done well is CTL, and it continued to underperform and drag onto my returns. The position is sizable, so the other guys in there must’ve done so amazingly well so as to mask CTL’s drag.

I continue to hold onto that position, and continue to sell CTL options on both sides of the equation, depending on the market conditions.

As seen in the chart above, it hasn’t been 1 way up.

There was a period where there was a massive drop from a +27% or so, down to a +10% or so, in pretty much just a couple of days. 2 horrible days specifically.

The reason for that lies in a new position I’ve initiated: Wirecard.

You see, I’ve been taking profit in most of my positions, and as of the end Jan 2019, held a substantial amount of USD. Since then, I’ve been looking out for stuff to deploy capital into.

Yet I’m cautious, cos the markets have rallied relentlessly thus far in 2019. Everybody seems to have forgotten the world’s problems. China’s data hasn’t been great, US employment numbers are worrying, and their debt numbers aren’t even starting to improve despite Trump’s promises. Volatility and VIX have been trending down down down. Everybody’s happy.

I’m happy too. But it’s more like errrr happy-skeptical.

After looking long and hard enough, I decided to deploy a substantial bit of capital into Wirecard, with their recent troubles.

And as always, I don’t always get to buy at the absolute lows, and as Wirecard shares continued plunging, it dragged down the overall ROI.

All’s well ends well though, and the subsequent recovery provided a significant boost to bring the overall ROI to the all time YTD high of 29.50%.

Now, when I talk about Wirecard shares here, I’m really talking about a direct equity position in the germany DAX listed company, not the ADRs of the company. So it’s listed in Germany, and there’s currency exposure risks to Euros in this instance.

Now, I continue to hold onto a sizable long exposure to WDI (Wirecard), but I’ve already started selling some far OTM calls on those positions, taking into account the strong recovery.

I’d have really wished to have a Cinderella fairytale ending here whereby the allegations are completely false, FT reporter goes to jail or something, and the price shoots up to 250 euros (the target price for some analysts).

Yet, I’ve SOME reservations.

I do think the next earnings release on the 4th April will surprise the markets and provide a further catalyst/boost to the share price. And I’d normally have the guts and capital to plonk down for the long run (or however long it takes for a recovery)… but in this instance, I’ve my reservations cos of the…

Singapore Police Force.

Yep. When the CAD department of SPF is involved, it lends a lot of weight to the short side.

And as always, I don’t say this or put undue emphasis on this without having done the necessary DD and having some real concrete data to back up my thoughts.

In this instance… what better way to understand the thought process and how it works…. than to check with someone within the CAD itself?

I reached out to a friend who’s sufficiently high ranking enough within the CAD:

There’s other info like the approximate duration of an investigation and the processes etc but that’s not going to be shared here.

Basically, I do have faith in the way CAD conducts an investigation and this kinda puts a dampener on my wirecard long thesis.

I might be right in my long thesis, but I can’t be sure how the markets react to new developments when CAD probes deeper.

As mentioned, I’m currently still deeply long as I think the odds are still in my favor. Any investigation of wrongdoing, would more likely impact on the individuals involved, rather than the company itself.

In any case, if you’ve been following, BaFin (which is Germany’s equivalent of MAS), has stepped in to ban short selling of wirecard, putting the German authorities firmly behind Wirecard’s management.

We’re only in the early innings of a long drawn out battle, so it’s interesting to watch.

Already, wirecard has added almost 10k in euros to  my portfolio (paper profits), and I expect this to further increase in March and April.

Yes, it’s not a plain vanilla straightforward long case here, but…. well, if I wanna add any further to the 29.5% ROI this year, I figured I’d have to find really unique situations and take concentrated positions and come out the better of it.

Also, I’d like to give a shoutout to Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, for their amazing investigative journalism. OK, they did a negative piece on Wirecard, and that places them on the other side of the equation from me… but it’s still amazing work.

Check it out:

http://sirf-online.org/2018/01/23/wirecard-ag-the-great-indian-shareholder-robbery/

Plus, I think they can be right… and I’d still be profitable in my investment due to the option premiums arising from the volatility created from their work. LOL.

OK, that’s about it. I’d have written more about my wirecard DD, but others before me have done similar if not better work, and I thought the only thing I have to add is my understanding and investigations on the CAD side, since not 1 wirecard report/post/analyst report/journalist’s piece has spoken about that. And it’s understandable why, cos these ang mohs don’t even know what’s CAD to begin with.

(Plus I’d like to keep some aces up my sleeves myself. Heh)

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Well, at least until October 2023.

But first, let me state that this post is not exactly a discussion on APAC Realty. I don’t own APAC Realty’s shares, I traded it twice, and was fortunate to walk away with a mere couple of grand in profits, but that’s about it.

This is specifically, a discussion of APAC’s recent acquisition of Hersing Centre. (And the numbers behind it)

On the 10th Sept 2018, APAC completed the acquisition of Hersing Centre, situated in Toa Payoh, and renamed it ERA Centre.

The plan is to use ERA Centre as the headquarters, while simultaneously generating rental income from leasing out the retail units.

“The Property is a leasehold commercial property with a site area of approximately 1,392.4 square metres and a gross floor area of 4,121.4 square metres. Its 99-year lease from the Housing and Development Board (“HDB”) commenced on 1 August 1970. The Property has three levels: the first and second levels are currently leased to retail businesses, while the third level and the mezzanine are currently leased out as office space. There are also two auditoriums on the third level which are leased out. Total lettable floor area is approximately 2,155.3 square metres, excluding auditorium space of 441.34 square metres.”

ERA Centre’s location is not too bad actually. It is just a little off the main road, but enjoys pretty good frontage. It’s also not exactly smack in the Toa Payoh town hub per say, where all the buzz is, but is pretty close… I’d say, just 5 mins walk away.

Aside from using it as a HQ, the company plans to use the auditoriums in the 3rd floor for internal training and lectures for their own agents. (that’s what I’m told by an agent that I checked with)

The consideration for the acquisition is a cool $72.8 million, of which $58 mil is a property loan from DBS bank (according to FY18Q3 earnings release).

“The loan bears interest at the prevailing 1-month SIBOR plus 0.9% per annum for the first 2 years and 1-month SIBOR plus 2.0% per annum thereafter. The loan is repayable over 59 equal monthly instalments of $241,667 per month with a final bullet principal payment of $43,741,647 on the final maturity date, 19 October 2023. The first monthly instalment repayment of the loan is on 19 November 2018.”

Yup. So APAC has to cough up repayments of $240k every month, all the way till Nov 2018.

Being the curious cat, I rolled up my sleeves to investigate as I wanted to figure out if ERA Centre is going to be cashflow positive every month.

TBH, it’s not so much cos of interest in APAC Realty… but rather…. hey, if commercial premises in TPY town centre was going to be CF positive, I might jump in (on a much smaller scale of course), and pick up a few units somewhere there as well. I happen to be offered another commercial unit that’s even closer to the town centre than Hersing Centre.

It’s been almost half a year since the completion of the acquisition of ERA Centre though, and thus far, it doesn’t look good.

The ground floor is leased out to the “Hawker Chan” restaurant, which is famous for being the 1st 1 Michelin starred hawker. That certainly does brisk business, so they’d probably be around for a while longer.

That’s where the good news end.

After almost 6 months, the building is still terribly empty, with little traffic. Many units are empty too.

Even the road facing unit on the ground floor, which certainly enjoys pretty good roadside frontage, is empty.

I’d let the pictures do the talking.

I’d certainly think this should be the easiest unit to lease out.

Ground floor, just beside the road that many people use to cross to reach the HDB hub.

But it’s empty.

And empty for several months already.

I’ve been down to assess twice. Cos the 1st time was right after their announced acquisition and… well, maybe the company needed more time right?

But these pictures are recent. And it’s kinda disappointing I think (not to me, I’m not a shareholder!) that they still can’t get it leased out.

The 2nd floor is worse. There’s a hairdresser and a law firm on the 2nd floor.

These 2 are the only 2 non-F&B businesses in the entire building I think. I won’t put pictures of these cos the staff faces are in it, and it’s maybe not very nice if they suddenly find themselves plastered over an investing blog.

The rest are all small sized eateries selling F&B.

And yes, there are yet some more vacant units.

And finally, THIS.

I actually found this to be quite funny.

LOLOL! Check that out.

The sign btw, says “ACCESS TO LEVEL 3 ARE STRICTLY FOR TENANTS ONLY”

OK, firstly, it should be “is” and not “are”.

And they didn’t need to put that sign up. I wouldn’t have dared to go up anyway!

LOL!

The escalator was not working, and it’s almost like a pathway to hell with the darkened corridors and the eerie red light! Maybe they can lease this part out to film ghost movies.

Anyway, I’m told that it’s just 2 auditoriums on level 3. They certainly don’t have retail units there since the public is not allowed to go up.

Initially, I thought that since the total lettable area is a known fact, I’d just have to guesstimate occupancy rates, and crunch in the average psf numbers (can call agents to find out easily)… but looking at how unoccupied it is, I think we can safely conclude that ERA centre sure isn’t going to generate $240k in rent every month.

In other words, expect this to be CF negative every month until the end of the lease. (unless they find tenants)

I’d also point out that with this acquisition and the accompanying loan, the company no longer has an “asset light” model. As a matter of fact, they further increased their exposure to rate hikes, as the loan is pegged to Sibor.

Rate hikes are of course, always going to be a dampener for the property market, both price and volume wise, but with this loan, APAC would also be further directly impacted by rate hikes, or the lack of it.

Again, this by no means, indicates the current investment merits of APAC Realty.

I’m just sharing some observations, thoughts and photos of their acquisition of ERA Centre.

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Just less than a year ago, I scratched my head and stared at one of the new catalist IPOs.

It seemed like a terrible joke then, and I think I was as unsubtle as I could possibly can then. These were the comments I made then in response to news of its IPO:

And these were in response to enthusiastic but illogical potential shareholders:

I’m guessing this dude ain’t so enthusiastic now.

Of course, even TTI is not infalliable. I gave it 5yrs of existence. It now seems that I was being way too generous.

Barely a year after IPO, the company is now suspended after practically dropping from day 1 relentlessly. (I dunno the reason, don’t really follow it, just noticed it got suspended and hence, this post.)

I know SGX really wants the listing fees… but it’s precisely stuff like this that makes the SG market a pathetic one.

Retail investors as a whole, are really foolish. That’s why they’re the punching bag for intelligent investors to make big monies.

But even for the dumbest of the dumb… there are only so many times you can screw them up before the heart goes cold and they stay out or seek greener pastures… permanently.

IMO, SGX should really change their direction. They’ve screwed up big time with all the dubious S chip listings, and are continuously chasing ridiculous IPOs with crappy companies, presumably for the listing fees.

Add to this is the toxic environment for minority shareholders and the use of lawsuits to silence them, and you have a game whereby the odds are stacked heavily against the retail investor.

That’s the reason for the dull SG markets whereby 1 in 2 of these retail investors are just hanging around for income.

GUESS THE COMPANY.

Oh, and if you think that these institutional investors with their team of expert analysts churning out fancy reports know any better……

Well, you must be new around here.

Just a mere 4 months ago:

https://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/investingnote-production-webbucket/attachments/ac89ed9ebd6a04cc3ec11757033e312653e59616.pdf?1535678765

Now, let TTI tell you what’s going to happen next.

2 words.

“Cease coverage”

Hang around long enough, and you’d see what I mean.

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January 2019 is making the -8.8% in 2018 feel like a distant memory.

Since my last post, I’ve received some queries asking about my specific positions. With the CNY break around the corner, I’ve some time to put all this up. Some have asked me why I’m no longer putting up my extensive writeups on stuff that I’ve done DD on. Well, that’s cos I’m mostly working on global equities, particularly US ones, and I don’t think there’s much appetite for that here.

And anyway, I did put up in fact:

11% Returns In A Single Day. Thank You Blue Orca Capital!

TTI: “I’m Sorry, It’s All Over Between Us. I’m Breaking Up With You”

OK, I can’t find the one on DIS right now, but I’m sure it’s somewhere around.

This post is specifically on the US portion of my portfolio, excluding the SG and the bond portions.

Since my last post (1st Post Of 2019.), things have gotten… even better. MUCH better.

I’d have taken a 22.11% return and ended 2019 right there and then. Yet, TTI’s US portfolio continued outperforming S&P and other index benchmarks massively.

As of end Jan 2019, the ROI shot up to 28.36%.

NAV rose from USD 441,055.43 to USD 550,988.57, and that’s after a withdrawal of USD 14,716.20 made. 

Net quantum gain in Jan 2019 alone was thus USD 124,649.34.

The best 1 day return was on the 04th Jan 2019, when the portfolio gained 7.32% in a single day, while the worst was on the 03rd Jan 2019, when the portfolio fell 4.45% in a single day.

I’d just cut and paste parts of the report that IB churns out for me…

As one can see in the pie chart, my long positions are mostly in the form of equities, and short positions are in the form of options.

There is a huge short position in the form of cash (I utilized USD cash leverage), as I expected the USD – SGD to weaken when there’s a recovery following Dec 2018’s carnage.

And weaken it did in 2019 thus far, giving rise to a tailwind that amplified my returns.

I don’t usually consider forex too much in my considerations, but this 1 instance is… hmmmm…. kinda like a sun eclipse.

Everything’s aligned perfectly.

Well, I’m hoping it lasts a bit longer than an eclipse.

Here’s what fueled the outperformance:

FB, BHC, CTL, CHK and V were the 5 largest positions, of which, only CTL is currently in the red YTD. All other positions are up, with the others being up double digit percentages.

Although I didn’t do an extensive write up on these positions, I did put in estimates on IN with a quick explanation:

Even nestled within the “OTHERS” part of the portfolio, are smaller positions, but they too have contributed greatly to the outperformance with double digit returns in Jan alone. Like my perennial favorite AVGO and MU, as well as a new small position in SWK:

The 1 position that has not come through for me thus far is CenturyLink, yet I remain confident in my DD. At an average entry price of around USD 18+, the yield is almost 12%! (lower after the 30% witholding tax)

Obviously, markets are anticipating a dividend cut… as they have been since the past 6 quarters. For the record, management has reaffirmed that the div will be protected, and thus far, their FCF is able to support the div and debt payments until 2021.

Despite growth in FCF, the markets attributed a lower share price to CTL since Q3’s ER, mainly due to concerns over the topline.

Management has explained the reason for the revenue weakness. As part of their ongoing review of contracts, management has eliminated contracts or allowed the lapsing of contracts that are not FCF generative.

The question I guess, in everybody’s mind, is… how much lower will the revenue drop when this exercise is concluded. We’d find out more in the next ER due on 13th Feb 2019, so that’s something really exciting for me to look forward to. In the meantime, my options strategy provide a constant tailwind. I just… need a tiny boost from CTL’s results k.

Back to the reporting:

This bar chart looks simple, but packs quite a bit of info.

Firstly, obviously, most of my long positions are in the form of the traditional long equities. Options account for a tiny part, but really provide a massive boost (if I get it right) from the inbuilt leverage.

Also, we can see the blue bars getting shorter, as I’ve been liquidating some positions and locking in the profits.

The green bars also indicate my short USD positions since the start of the month, and since the USD has weakened considerably, I’ve started covering the USD shorts, hence the shortening of the green bars.

Man. What’d you know…

IT idiot TTI is actually pretty heavily vested in… gasp. Technology?!

LOL. Basically from my outsized positions in FB, which has gone ballistic.

AND THIS.

This is the most important to me, the relative performance against benchmarks:

(Blue line = TTI)

Well, like what Alex Ferguson used to say:

“The table doesn’t lie”

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Just realized that it’s been >1 month since my last post. Have been swarmed with work and life in general.

And what’d you know… Just as I was typing this post, I got this email:

LOL. Yea. Exactly 37mins ago.

Anyway, the 1st post in 2019 will be just a random mish mash of whatever comes to mind. Oh oh, I guess some results reporting is in order too.

But 1st up, part of the motivation for this post is to help the guys at SGX announce this .(belatedly, but better late than never).

I’d just literally cut and paste instead of trying to talk about it (cos I’m really tired right now):

I am pleased to inform you that the long-awaited new SGX.com will be officially replacing our existing website on 12 Jan 2019.

The new website features three key improvements:

  1. It is mobile responsive and device agnostic, being compatible with any smartphone, tablet or desktop device.
  2. It supports multi-lingual content, and is now available in both English and Chinese. More relevant languages will be added in future.
  3. The site interface, navigation and content structure have also been streamlined and improved. Some major improvements include the reduction of the number of page levels from 6 down to 3, and the total number of pages from 450 to 80.  These changes will ensure that information is concise and easy to find.

One other key highlight is the implementation of smart data visualisation, which enriches our content and help users derive insights and trends more conveniently. Market data is also close to real-time update and the data refreshes automatically without requiring the users to click to refresh.

As a multi-asset exchange, we have a wide range of website users with different needs. This new sgx.com is our first step in upgrading our customer’s digital experience. Future developments in the pipeline include segment-specific portals – such as the emerging investor portal, issuer portal, and more. These will help us in catering tailored information and services to users with different specific needs.

Yup.

New year, New site.

SGX has been working on their new site for some time actually, I rem they sent me some beta test site sometime last year. I guess being compatible with mobile devices is really important, these days, multi million dollar decisions are made on mobile huh.

So go check it out.

I’m pessimistic.

I’m not talking about investing and the stock markets, but the general business environment and the climate in SG. And specifically, for my personal businesses.

But then, here’s the kicker.

I’m always pessimistic this time of the year, when planning and doing the projections for the business for the whole year. Been like this since 2010.  And each year, I keep thinking, how are we going to match the results of the prior year.

Yet… I’ve been wrong for the past 9 years! Every year showed both revenue and profit growth yoy. And in fact, 2018 was a record year. By far.

This is a plot dot chart of the business’ monthly revenue since 2010:

Maybe TA experts can tell me what they see. LOL. My interpretation… is that actually a sort of plateau is starting to form.

I guess, the past decade or so, since the GFC, has been just boom times for everyone.

Instead of celebrating though, it makes me more worried than ever. It just seems so hard. Cos if you think about it, the operating costs for businesses keeps rising every year. Without fail.

Just staff costs alone has to keep rising. Ask any salaried employee in SG. Are they happy with an increment that matches that of the previous year’s? Many are actually not. I’m not talking about no increment, I’m talking about a CONSTANT increment. Yet most of the staff I talk to, wants an increasing increment. The quantum may seem small, but think about it from the perspective of the organization.

It’s like swimming against a tide… except that the tide isn’t just a constant tide. It’s a tide that’s increasing in strength.

You see, the logical balance is that businesses must raise it’s selling costs every year. At least to match inflation right? Cos staff costs increase, rental costs increase, COGS increases. Yet, (At least in my experience) there are very few businesses that actually increase their prices every year. Maybe… only hawkers get to do that.

So most businesses increase their selling prices every couple of years, and try to increase it at a rate that it covers the inflationary costs over the previous couple of years.

At the ground level, I’m really not seeing how 2019 can match the results of 2018’s. I’m not expecting a catastrophe kinda crash or doomsday scenario… but growth is hard. It’s very hard. To achieve growth each year, you’ve to maintain what you’ve been doing… and build on it. Add something to it. Do something different. Or do it more efficiently.

Either way, it’s no status quo. It’s a constant struggle to find that something different from previous years, to provide that spark for that growth.

That’s just so tiring sometimes.

Investing wise… 2018 has been a forgettable year for TTI.

After leading the S&P and STI ETF for a large part of the year, my ROI ended up in the red for 2018, coming in at a sad -8.8%. 

That compares unfavorably with STI ETF’s -7.03% for 2018 (inclusive of dividends)

Quite ironic right? I thought “8” is supposed to be huat. How come I got 2 of that and it feels so sucky?

I could’ve sworn it felt like I was ahead of the STI ETF. I guess the Nov/Dec market weakness hit the US markets much harder than SG’s, and with my now increasing exposure to US markets, my portfolio lost the lead in that last quarter.

That’s the bad news.

The good news though, and this is 1 helluva good news, is that…

I’m starting 2019 with a massive BANG.

How massive you say?

Freaking bombastically massive.

YTD, and I know it’s only been about 2 weeks into the new year, but my US stocks and options portfolio is up a massive 23.42% MWR!

That blue line on the chart above is TTI’s portfolio (non SG component), and in the past 2 weeks, it’s just been absolutely killing the competition.

The other lines are benchmarks that Interactive Brokers set… I’m not sure if they can be changed but I’d just follow. 1 of them is SPX, which is the S&P index and that’s the main benchmark I use. (That’s the lime green line)

The other 2 are:

iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund (EFA) (purple line)

and

Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (VT) (orange line)

Consequently, NAV has increased from USD 441,055.43 at the start of 2019, to the current USD 538,555.82, with zero capital injections in this period.

That’s an increase of USD 97,500.39 to my net worth since the start of the year!

The best 1 day return was on the 4th Jan, with a massive 7.32% return in a single day.

Now, this is just the US, and mainly options, portfolio, but SG is generally up too anyway, so I’m recording this as a big win thus far.

2 weeks gone, come on, let’s keep it like this for another 50.

As mentioned in earlier posts, my global options portfolio is likely to form a larger part of my overall portfolio going forward. As of today, it forms just under 40% of the overall portfolio, and will likely keep increasing over 2019.

So that’s all I have for the 1st post in 2019.

Blog posts will prob come once in a blue moon. Don’t really feel like documenting my DD these days. It’s so long and tedious. Energy and time is scarce.

P.S. To the reader above who emailed me: See? Blog’s not dead!

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