Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My favorite furniture

I'm sorry if I've turned this finance blog into some kind of social networking site. Can't help it. The market did not provide enough excitement for me to talk more about it. The movement of stock prices is only confine to a narrow group of stocks and it's very random. We don't get an environment of all the boats lifted by strong bull run tide.

So back to my renovation subject. Beside lighting, furniture plays a big part of the mood that we are going to create. I would want to spend enough time to shop around because I'm going spend a lot of time using it. Artistic expression and ergonomics designs are very important to me.

There are a few pieces of timeless furniture are well liked by me. Here are some of them:-

Eames lounger

Arco floor lamp

My old iMac

Barcelona chair

Egg chair

With the right composition, the house will look very 'cool', without breaking our piggy bank. I find that despite of their very modern lines, it can blend very well in classical designs as well.

Falling in love with these great designs is very easy, I just need to make sure that I space them properly without turning the house into a furniture shop. I will limit one design per one corner of the house - living hall, family hall, masterbed room, study room, tv room, etc..... Space is critical to let these pieces to provide strong focal points.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Good morning Malaysia

Still could not sleep and now is 2.30 am here in the US. This is the second night that I'm in the US, still struggled with jet lag. I had barely 2 hours sleep yesterday. Got up 5 am and jogged around neighbourhood. Surrounded by pine and maple trees, occasionally greeted by a few deers. It's a very beautiful environment that may take me an hour to describe it. But you may still won't be able to get the picture. Damn, I forgot to bring my cellphone with camera. To work around that, I plucked a branch of maple tree and some grass to describe how refreshing is it when you are surrounded by green.

May 24, 2011

Air traffic turned upside down yesterday due to tornado in Chicago. It was a havoc when I traveled from Philadelphia to Boston. Did not reached hotel till 2.30 am, a delayed of close to 8 hours. We Malaysian take things for granted. We don't have to deal with uncertainty and natural disasters. Everyday looks the same, sun will show up every day. That makes us lazy and do not want to plan ahead.

In Japan, their people will have earthquake drill very frequently. In Disneyland Japan, their cast will do daily drill -- makes it one of the safest place in the world. They know that they can be attacked anytime and any day. That's why they are much more prepared mentally and physically than us.

Not all people behave the same. I don't like folks in the Philadelphia. They are very rude. When I went jogging in the morning, cars will still turn when the pedestrian light turn green. When I was in New Jersey the other day, cars will slow down when they saw me but in Philadelphia, fast cars like Ferrari or street cars will move faster and won't give a damn about me.

Just some random observations while on the road.

May 26, 2011

P.I.E profit slump, a concern?

A 10% slump in share price forces me to take a look at the recent quarterly announcement. I was having dilemma whether I should explain this a bit further because I do not want to be perceived that I am trying to defend the share. Well, It's a silly thought because I do not think my blog has that kind on impact on the market.

Having said that, here are my comments:

The good news is they announced 0.35 dividend that will go ex by May 25 and will be paid by June 8. At 3.86, gross dividend yield is 9%.

Secondly, the price drop was very sharp and that indicated a very huge dissapointment, definately shoot first ask question later kind of phenomena. But the volume was very thin, indicating that there were no instituitional selling. More important aspect is there is no follow through selling today.

Now going into the financial results, the real problem as gross margin which shrunk by 6% YoY(13% Q1 '11 vs 19% Q1 '10) despite of 10% growth in the top line. If they can hold at about 19% gross margin, the profit would have jumped by more than 50% instead of 20% slump. So the real question is can the gross margin go back to 19% ? The management indicating that profit margin was impacted by unfavorable product mix, i.e. more lower margin products. I also suspect that there are facing problems of unable to pass on the cost to customers fast enough due to rising commodities and Ringgit strength. Since the business is cyclical, I believe that the recent correction in commodities complex will be favorable to P.I.E.

Is it time to sell? No. If it's NOT the time to sell, is it time to buy? I was trying to buy some today at $ 3.85 but there were not enough sellers. So, you make that conclusion yourself.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Found a good guy

Found a good guy but I can't describe about him too much because I may put him in trouble. He is the first ID guy that I met that will criticize his own profession. He will tell you a lot of features in that kitchen cabinet do not serves its purpose, but lack of it, you are losing the sense of that kitchen design flavor. It's classical kitchen that I'm talking about. What makes a classical kitchen are hood, small drawers, distinctive carving, wine tray, etc. If you are trying to get rid of these features, it will not be classical design anymore.

I'm not a qualified professional but just sharing from a user perspective. If you fall in love with this kitchen when you step into a showroom and ask them to make a copy exact, then I think you will be in big trouble. Here the why(click on the image to see my comments)

If I really like it, I will make a few modifications. First, I will ask the designer to add enough task lights(build into the cabinet), lighting that is bright enough for me to work(washing plate, preparing food, boiling water, etc). Then I need to ask myself do I have anything that I want to showcase. Let's say I've a big vase of Ming dynasty(it's out context anyway to put it in a kitchen cabinet), then I'll need some kind of accent light -- lighting to highlight the features of that Ming dynasty vase. My point is, make a list before I see my designer or else you probably I'll ended up spending money for nothing. Or if I've Picasso, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Ibrahim Hussein, Syed Ahmad Jamal, Chua Teng Teng, Yong Mun Shen, etc, it's time to show off. It's time bring it out. You can't work backward, so got to do shopping on all the big items before talking to plaster ceiling and lighting guys.

Then I will get rid of that restaurant or lobby entrance of night club feel lighting. When comes to lighting, I probably will talk to somebody who can give me enough advice on how much brightness or illumination I need for the general lighting(ambient light). Those lighting specialist will be able to tell you what is the lighting coverage a specific light. A good guy will tell you how many sq feet a particular light can give you. From there, you can decide how many lights you need without throwing the whole ambient off balance. I'll go for LED lighting as it requires less maintenance, lower power consumption and less heat being generated but the initial investment is higher.

More thoughts on renovation

Shit, my yesterday posting was a piece of shit, too many grammar mistakes. During normal times, when I take my leisure time to write them, there were a few mistakes here and there but yesterday piece was terrible.

I spend a lot of time on the road, seen enough 5 star hotels, restaurants, airports, spas, etc. That was my opening statement to all the people that I met. I told them please don't give me any idea that will look like that. Don't design my house anything like that. A house is a home. A home is a place that you can be yourself. I mean you are not going to be in tie and suit. It's a place, in my opinion, you can be half naked or in pagoda singlet(yeah like A-Pek) but who cares?

The important point, again it's only my opinion, you need to be completely honest with yourself how you spend your time at home. It's what I call 90/10. A lot of people spend 90 percent of money and efforts but those resources were underutilized. You use it only 10% of the time. If it's only to show off to your friends and relatives during your son or daughter weddings, Chinese New Year or some birthday parties, forget it. If you like, put a classic 911 or Ducati in your parking lot, driving it 12 times a year, it will have much much more powerful effects.

From my experience of running factories, one of the powerful concepts is 5S

SEIRI means Organisation or sorting
SEITON means straighten or prepare correctly
SEISO means Cleanup or Cleanliness
SEIKETSU means Standardisation
SHITSUKE means Discipline

Typically, the first step we did when launching 5S program was snapping photos all over the places. So I did that. I was shocked. Embarrassed but I must show it to whoever is going to design my furniture and solve those problems. I'm just going to pick on one example because it's not so good to wash dirty linens in public. Yeah, two of the uglier, ugliest places are actually my entertainment and working areas. That's because it has way too many wires. When I talked to the electricians the other day that I need at least 13 points for the my working area, he was shocked. I mentioned in my yesterday post there were 3 most important places in the house but it's 4 actually in today's modern lifestyle: living hall, kitchen, master bedroom and a computer room. If you have a nucleus family, there will be at least 3 - 4 computers there. If you take into consideration of notebooks, desktops, printers, table lights, handphone chargers, that will come out to that many points. If you have big enough space, try to separate your entertainment area from living area.....that way you will force people to talk or at least when you have guests, they don't have to glue to the TV or you have to scream at your kids........please lower your PSP volume!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Not much to blog

My investment faculty has gone sabbatical. Other than reading a few of my favorite blogs, I've not been doing annual report search or anything serious. So, please don't take my investment views seriously as I may not have done enough homework. Most of my free time have been occupied getting my new house ready. I think I still need to run around for another 1 - 2 months. Bear with me, the quality of blog will be below average. I'll still try my best to post on some big picture views that possibly has some impact on overall market movements.

After running around for past months, perhaps I should write something about my renovation experience as a reflection. It's kind of relevant as it's dealing with money as well(I'll save this for the last).

The first thing I started was the grille. This has huge impact on the overall mood of the house. Put it not so nicely, you are going to be caged since 40% of the house is going to have this thing. Forget about the gated or guarded or both. For some reasons, you will never feel safe enough. That speaks how safe is this country. I have seen nice houses turn into something very ugly despite of nice interior that they have.

The second thing I started was the wall. That's just to improve the privacy. You know how busy body your neighbors can be. While doing gardening, suddenly you find your neighbors are starring at you. Again, that speak the level of privacy respect in Malaysia.

Then the real pain starts when you start to round around to get your utilities services started. The experience was mixed. You get fast service from PBA but your developer screw you up by not getting the fixture ready. Tenaga front office in Seberang Prai was doing ok job but the contractor that fixing the meter was pain in the ass. They got the job done in 4 weeks after getting the pressure from left, right and center from us.(KPI met?????)

You may remembered that I went round to snap photos to decide what kind of garden I wanted. That homework paid off, the moment I showed the photos of plants that I wanted to landscape contractor, they knew exactly what I wanted. I picked a few bigger trees to improve privacy and interesting plants to maintain a sense of spacious. Picking the right grass is important as it will be like water, cover 2/3 of the earth surface.

Then I move on to inside of the house. Three most important places of the house, living hall, kitchen and masterbed room. I was undecided whether or not to engage a freelance interior designer to coordinate the whole thing for me. I went round island and mainland to talk to a few of them. The first thing I noticed when I was reviewing their portfolio, practically all of them are like showroom. Powerful lighting highlighting features of wall, furniture, mood, etc.......I guess you will get toast when you have 8- 10 downlights with 50 watts, sun bathing you. Then I noticed that you get the whole house aircond. Well, I estimated the electricity bill can run into at least RM 600-700/month. If you were to turn off the aircond later, then you will fall exactly into the trap of how we get 1st class infrastructure, 3rd world mentality -- things or ideas die off in the middle of the way. I also noticed that the material that they used was something closer to today's mentality of throw away society. Things made meant to be disposal, it's cheap but you got to keep on changing. Today's technology is wonderful, you can get a very "shiok" effects with some cheap plywood, etc, but these things don't last. Are you going to remodel the house every 3 years? Hmmmm..........some of the concepts were very exotic with glasses, lots of stainless steel, .... a number of them putting good thoughts to blend substance into form. After grilled them enough questions, they thought I've no money and finding excuses not to buy. Though my pride was hurt but I did learn a lot from them.......

Got to go now, will continue in another post.......

Monday, May 16, 2011

Level of personal loans not a worry....really?

(The Star) PETALING JAYA: Financial institutions believe that personal financing, although on the rise, is not a cause for concern as it still constitutes a lesser segment of the total household debt.

RHB Bank Bhd acting director of retail banking Vince Au Yoong told StarBiz that although personal financing expanded by 29.4% last year, the outstanding balance accounted for less than 5% of total household debts.

“Additionally, almost half of the household debts were from long term secured borrowings to fund house acquisitions of about 46.2% in 2009,” he said.

Personal loan, as one of the components of household debts, has a been a topic of concern among some economists who worry that growth seen in consumer spending may have been a result of debt instead of income growth.

Personal loans was up 14.3% in March from a year ago and 1.9% higher than February.


My Views

Most of that views are from bankers. They of course are not to be concerned with 50% of their clients salary will go to them every month, to settle their installments. I read in one of the Bank Negara's reports that they are not concerned too. They argued that the level of investment/saving rates of our population are very high. So when you net it off, it's okay.

Well, looking at too much of big picture can be dangerous. First we need to look at the demographic profile of the borrowers. If they are young and having high saving rates, I think I would agree with the rest of the arguments. Unfortunately, my hunch tells me that it's the young people that are having high level of debt and low level of saving. The older people is doing the reverse, having low level of debt but high level of saving. Unless we are talking about the old people will come out to bail their sons and daughters, all we need is to take a big recession to stir shit in the pot and sending it to a fan....you get the picture(Yaaaak!).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

EA Holding purchase decision explained, short one though

A few reasons to be captured in my post,

1. Any stock on long decline but with improving outlook will attract my attention. I bought into reasons explained by a post in Malaysia Finance blog(http://malaysiafinance.blogspot.com/2011/04/watch-this-stock-closely.html). More contracts and immediate contribution from acquisition. I like the fact of them of having a very structured acquisition process. Disciplined acquisition and smaller in size will increase the odds of success tremendously.

I'll keep this stock when their plans turn into results. If they don't, they're already beaten down, I can exit without a huge penalty. In other words, good bet on the upside but with limited downside. I may have abused Ben Gram or Warren Buffett's teaching but one thing that's matter to me: evaluate your downside(call it "abused margin of safety" if you will).

2. Why am I buying based on other people idea. It's because I'm lazy.

More serious reason. In a complex world, one person can't do all the things by herself/himself. In business, that's why people form strategic alliance. In the world of blog, though we don't know each other but we can read and study their ideas. If their idea is good, act on it. If it's not a good idea..............(don't complain since they do it for free).

3. Nasdaq composite index has broken out from their tough resistance. Not 2000 high but it's higher than 2007 high. Sooner or later, some people will catch the tech and dot.com fever. Soon tickers with yellow color will be on top volume leader board. So, I need some exposure in technology sector.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Turtle bought 8,000 shares of EA Holding

KLCI = 1,523.

Bought 8,000 shares of EA Holding at $ 0.405/share.

Malaysia Finance blog has done all the heavy lifting job analyzing the company. All Turtle needs to do is to wait for the right timing and opportunity.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Turtle Portfolio Update -- May 11

Added 888 saving to portfolio. There was some formula error in my spreadsheet, missed out a few months of capital and it has been corrected now. Sorry for any inconvenience caused. After corrected the mistake, portfolio stood at 22% gain.

Looks like commodities complex is correcting now.

The ringgit, which was weaker against the US dollar in the week just ended, is likely to retreat further next week to within the 3.0130 and 3.0200 levels, dealers said.

The local unit is also expected to see a further downside next week as demand is centered on the greenback, a dealer said.

"The market is liquidating long commodities and long Asian currencies now. This is expected to contribute to a weaker ringgit.

Read more: Ringgit likely to see further downside http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/20110507115318/Article/index_html#ixzz1LlUMLkdE

This has set the tone of more equities weaknesses ahead. Like I said, we are going to see the consolidation, fluctuation within a band. It will move a bit lower but it will somehow find a support. It's also means that most likely it's a trader market for the next few months. A buy and hold portfolio like Turtle may be going no where but that is the objective of this portfolio so I will leave it alone.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Adding another link

Just landed in Penang. The first thing I did was looking for a plate of Char Koey Teow. Perhaps I should put aside all the bull shit reasons why I still ended in Malaysia despite of all kind of issues that we have. It's still that damn hawker foods and kopi O that keep this not so old heart rooted here.

Just saw the unemployment thinge. I can tell you that this is not the important indicator to look now. The employment situation will continue to improve bit by bit and by the time you hear unemployment is low, then you know that the next recession is around the corner. Why? It's a sign that excesses has crept in when people start to think past performance is indicative of future performance. The important thing to look now is interest rate. Stock market will continue to tango with interest rate hike until...........

A reader invited me to visit his blog. Obviously he has some good grasp on psychology. This guy seems to like philosophy and plus a bit of personal development as well. Obviously he is an admirer of "botak", Steven Covey who is one of the hottest personal development gurus in mid 90's. But I suspect he has even deeper admiration for Victor Frankl. It's a well written blog and hope he'll have stamina to continue with his blog. All the best Dimpledbrain.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Getting back to business

At the beginning of this week. I raised a question of whether will there be a deep correction coming though the general direction is still up.

The market has a long list of things to worry as they climb the wall of worries. This list looks something like this

The end of QE,

The impact of Japan on supply chain -- inventory prior to the quake is running low now. A number of shut downs are scheduled now.,

Sovereign debts,


Rate hike,


Of many factors, there's only factor that worries me the most --- oil price. If oil price is breaking through its double top. The price will continue to run to uncharted territory. Can the world withstand US $ 150 per barrel?

The good news though, the crude oil price is climbing but the volume has been declining. That will make it more likely a double top rather than a breakout, at least in the short term. That will allow equity markets to do two things either continue to move up marginally for a while or moving sideways. I'm leaning towards consolidation and sideways for now. I suspect next few months trading sessions will be dull.