Thursday, August 22, 2019

The next wave of stocks will be companies that have dealings overseas

Ever since 2016 and 2018, i.e. 2 major events, the drop in oil price generally and change of government from BN to PH, we are seeing major shifts in the way we should look at companies. In my context, as I am talking about listed stocks, these are the shifts that we should be looking at. In those 2 events in 2016 and 2018, there have been transitions. Firstly, because of the drop in oil prices, our country's dependency on one major commodity to finance a large part of our budget is diminishing. Although in 2019's budget that has been brought back as the MOF has asked for more money from Petronas to support the GST repayment - this will not be a yearly event, but rather a one off situation.

Secondly, because of the gradual decline of Malaysia against other competing countries, our policies and actions have been focusing on B40 and to a lesser extent M40. Note that I am not saying that Malaysia is declining but against other regional competing countries, we are not better off. Obviously, for businesses - with the focus on the poorer group, the country will face difficulties to drive the businesses that have been largely dependent on local consumptions and investments.

Malaysia's private debt to GDP is one of highest in the world - around 82% (2018) and from here we know that the push by our policy makers previously for consumption driven economy is not going to be as strong as previously. One can only spend so much either from our own's income as well as from our borrowings. We must be mindful that personal debt must be paid off.

On the other hand, the new government of PH is looking at reducing its government budget over the longer run. The current government as in its previous message of RM1 trillion debt is looking at reduced government spending.

So how does a PH government continues to drive the economy or at the very least maintain the GDP growth of 4.5% to 5%, you might ask - as government spending is to be lessen while consumption is curtailed.

Some of the drive that I see is the government's strategy of putting more spending power into the median and average income earner - and those are the M40s and B40s. In today's many economic policies globally - when the disparity of income widens, many governments today are trying hard to reduce that. Malaysia is no different. However, for many Malaysian businesses, we are neither here nor there. These challenges in addressing the needs of the B40s, will cause the government to not do any positive fiscal actions for larger companies in Malaysia. One can see it through the increase in gaming tax on Genting Malaysia as well as introduction of traveller's levy. They need to bring in more income hence the focused taxes.

So, in short, because the government needs to squeeze more money from the larger corporations and pass them to the lower income group, I do not see the Composite Index (which comprises of normally Top 30 companies) to be exciting. Most probably, the best it can move on to is 1800 level over the long run - until 2022. This is because, I do not see much growth potentials from these group of companies.

With all the gloom, where would the growth be then?

Businesses that are dependent on overseas dealings and where there are transactions involving international transacts.

One of the small positives which I am seeing - but have yet to bear fruits is the drive for automations (they term it Industry 4WRD or Industry 4.0) and they try to get more investments money to the SMEs. Both are interlinked in some cases.

SMEs as in any other businesses will not invest when they do not see potentials. The local consumption story is a much lesser potential as there will not be as strong local spendings as in the past. Just to give an example, the furniture retailer in Malaysia will not invests much when the housing market is slowing - and that has links to the private debt as many just cannot afford to increase their borrowings anymore.

What has potentials then? Despite the slow down in global economy, I do see Malaysia's trading economy situation (i.e. our trade internationally) NOT to be highly impacted. As it is, Malaysia is still a middle income nation and there are positive trades when a country just do good trades. From my study of the impact of Trade War, I see Malaysia to be positively impacted once the situation becomes clearer. Nations still need to trade whether there are trade frictions or not. At the current situations, many companies or businesses that are dependent on international supply chain are busy reallocating their supply chain. What does this means? A company like Wal-Mart or Amazon for example, will consider Vietnam or Cambodia as an alternative manufacturing site - and they are doing this much more aggressively.

Malaysia is not Vietnam. The higher value add of the supply chain - there is a potential it may land in Malaysia. When US imposes tariffs (whether they do it for long term or by 2020 it is solved) onto China, things are going to change anyway. As it is, China's costs advantage is diminishing. There will be a different type of engagement between China and US in the next 20 years.

Malaysia as a trading and manufacturing hub will be benefiting if we are fast and certain in our actions. That is if we know the right thing to do. The government must put more effort to drive these businesses and entrepreneurs.

On the perspective of stocks, I foresee companies that have international engagements will see more and more international engagements. Some of them are getting ready for more deals and businesses as it is.

I am identifying some of these companies for investments. Let me know if you come across any of them. There are rooms for discussions.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Why PIE Industrial is a stock for the trade war

By now, many would have known what the term trade war is about. It started during the Trump's administration which felt that to reign the growth of China, one of the method is to rebalance the trade deficit faced by US against China. Since the admittance of China into WTO, US has faced trade deficits against China and it felt that the unfair support provided by the Chinese government towards its exporters is the main culprit. Whereas, many has also felt that the reason why US has become so petty is because of the growth of China as a world superpower especially given that China is now quite strong technologically in some areas which is of concern to US.

Of course, the US government felt that the way to control the growth of China is through imposition of tariffs of up to 25% on $200 billion worth of goods from China. Since the late 20th Century, China has been steadily growing as the world's manufacturer, and this trade war is set with the intention to reduce that dependencies on China. Funnily, China which is now the second largest economy globally is already planning for this since the beginning of this 2010 decade. Since Xi Jinping has taken the helm in 2012, he has largely been trying to drive China to be a consumer and technological power.

In any case, Malaysia having been one of the larger semiconductor based products manufacturer would have been affected by this "trade war" disruption as many companies especially whom are dependent on China as a supply based are now reevaluating themselves. To this end, I can say all the semiconductor companies would be affected one way or another. To see this clearly, we have to understand in which value chain would many of these E&E companies would play. The diagram below, would provide a good indicator although there are other ways to slice that presentation.

Many of the products that are exported to US would be at the end of the value chain, i.e. box build and this is where the 25% tariffs is being imposed on. Box build basically means the phones, routers, switches, accessories etc that are assembled and exported. Malaysia is not a big exporter of final value chain products but rather the component exporters - pretty much at the Intel, Broadcom, Osram and Inari level.

At the moment, due to the disruption caused by the tariff, the component sellers are affected as most definitely many buyers are reducing their purchases due to the wait-and-see attitude from the negotiations between the Trump and Xi's trade team.

In any case, I see that the trade war is something which is not only due to Trump but is coming nevertheless. US as a country would not allow China to surpass them as it has been dominant since World War 2 -  i.e the world's superpower without much competition for 75 years.

This phenomenon will see changes in terms of supply chain. I do see some Malaysian companies getting larger orders as they have been building themselves as the system builders (box-build).

One of them is PIE Industrial - a final system exporter. Ironically, the company has not been doing that well for the last few years due to several reasons - such as shortages of supply and lost of customers. This trade war will see difference as in the management discussion (2018 Annual Report) provided below.

I have decided to buy 4500 units of PIE.

Sold PowerRoot and PowerRoot-WA

Recently with the rise, I sold both the Power Root and Power Root's warrant.

For both stocks I have sold all.

Total PWROOT sold was 2460 units, while PWROOT-WA sold was 1360 units. Total received was RM4626.73 and RM994.80.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Jaks recent rise is almost a given

From lows of 42 sen, Jaks shares had made a comeback quite quickly - to now 79 sen. In that period of between 18 December 2018 to now, these were the happenings:

- Ang Lam Poah awarded himself 25.164 million shares under the Restricted Share Plan scheme. That's about 5% of new shares for free.
- Jaks had to bear a RM 25.5 million charge on its loss given Star exercised on the bank guarantee in January 2019
- Ang Lam Poah had a close call as an old man fought him tooth and nail over the company, in the process asked him to do all kinds of things including issuing free warrants. (There could be more which I did not manage to track)
- Additional warrants were also issued with Jaks issuing a 1 warrant for 2 shares held. These warrants were not free but one has to pay 25 sen for it. (This basically also additionally cornered KYY as he probably had to come out with a substantial sum of money for the warrants)

Checking back, I have written this article on Jaks 2 years ago. At that time, I knew KYY was going to corner himself given the amount that he had been purchasing. He went to buy more after that and the highest he and his wife were holding was close to 30%. He was basically asking the public to bail him out. See below.

Of course, in that fight over shareholdings, as I have mentioned Ang Lam Poah would have fought back, and fought back he did. He did not have the funds to challenge and given the ridicularity of the exercise, there would not be a 2 party proxy fight.

Ang Lam Poah knew he had the upper hand. In the end, the condition of the market (which was bad after GE14) as well as the selling by smaller shareholders whom were taking opportunity to sometimes sell to KYY, it was obvious there would be huge pullback. The pullback was further made worse by a huge selling (including margin calls) of close to 30%. Imagine 30% or more shares changed hands over a period of 6 months. There was bound to be oversold position especially when the fundamental was little change - except for the RM50 million bank guarantee which was call upon in the Star vs Jaks case.

All in all, KYY was not honest, and I remember reading somewhere where he said the purchase of Jaks was meant for the long term - which obviously was a lie.

On Jaks and whether at this price is it fairly priced

In another one of my article, I have mentioned that Jaks had a lucrative contract. It is not yet completed and scheduled to be completed partially only by 2020. I am not so sure of Jaks' capabilities in the execution, but with its China's partner - it should as CPECC does have the capabilities. At its current market capitalisation of around RM461 million despite Ang Lam Poah giving himself free shares, it is probably still undervalued as that power plant contract itself is substantial.

Another potential upside is that if we check around situations around Vietnam, currently it is facing shortages of power supplies towards the future, given that it is hugely industrialised now. The US China trade war presents a lot of opportunities for Vietnam and power is needed.

Personally, I do not like the way free shares were awarded to the CEO and his director, but I guess he also did it to protect himself. Another person that comes along may be more professional and deeper pockets than KYY.

But, as in any person sometimes there are some trading opportunities and this seems to be one of it.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Airasia's 4Q18 results shows purchasing power is weak

Airasia is going to be fine. They have positioned themselves to grow when there's space for them to. Although the leasing of planes that they have sold are committed, the commitment is not long. In any case, the way Airasia positions itself, it will need the planes anyway. It has rooms to grow in Philippines, India and even Indonesia and Japan. Whether those new additions will translate into immediate profits is however arguable. Hence, comes to the bigger issues.

I know where and what Airasia is thinking, to an extent. It wants to be the dominant ASEAN airline - forget me saying about low costs airlines as even in Malaysia one can see that they have 58% market share. If that is the number, this means low costs airlines is now mainstream, and full fledged is going out of mainstream. The way Airasia positioned that, to me - in the short run will have some issues. If one is to buy tickets, pricing wise, the competition is scarce especially in Malaysia. To fly to Singapore from KL though, we have additional options for cheap fares.

However, for Malaysia, that option is almost now negligible. Airasia is actually fighting against Airasia in terms of pricing. For example, if I want to fly from Penang to KL around 8pm to 10pm, I have options in terms of pricing - all from Airasia. If I go out of Airasia, then I have to pay considerably more. Hence, Airasia has positioned themselves as such. It has crowd out Malindo and MAS. It plans to also crowd out others in other countries that it operates in - such as Thailand, maybe Philippines in the longer term. For Indonesia, it will be tough as Lion Air is very strong despite the sad event last year.

For 2019 and 2020, what used to not be its strategy for last 2 years, it has brought back into decision. Hedging fuel price. Hence, so far so good. It has hedged 52% of fuel for 2019 at USD63 and 40% for 2020 at USD60. That, by itself shows that Airasia knows what is the price point, people will be willing to buy its tickets. Hence, by eliminating some of the uncertainties in costs, it can strategize better.

Now, then if Airasia is doing that well, why is it announcing such a bad result. To me, it was triple whammy for the last quarter. What supposed to be the most promising quarter usually as it is holiday period, they turned in losses - massive. The first thing was fuel costs. Something went wrong. I know they did not hedge as at last year's policy but it was USD91 jet fuel. The highest Brent crude went was about USD80, then towards November it went down to as low as USD52 in December. I also understand that Airasia sells a lot of their tickets upfront but at USD91 is surprising.

Second thing, of course is the weak currencies throughout ASEAN. A lot of the costs are in USD - from lease to fuel to interests payment.

The third thing, for Airasia is the lease costs which it has to now bear because it has sold a substantial number of its planes and need to leaseback. These are costs which will stay. I do not see our ASEAN currencies to be significantly stronger in the next few quarters. Neither will the lease be going off soon.

However, one BIG thing which I do not put in as a whammy is the weak pricing of its tickets. Its RASK is 14.82 sen for 4Q18 against 15.46 sen in 4Q17. It can say that its total available seats has grown substantially by more than 20%, but that drop is also bad. Suffice to say that the load factor has also gone down from 88% to 84%. As mentioned, usually, this is the period where people travel - many a times for leisure. Hence, its pricing is now elastic, significantly elastic - which is no good. Perhaps, Airasia for regionally has no longer become the airline for leisure but business travel has become a big part of its business. When people take off for holiday or stay at home, its yield suffers - as they have become leisure traveller rather than business traveller, perhaps.

I may be wrong in some part - but the argument of huge disparity of income is potentially true. The richer ones are travelling to Europe, or Japan. The poorer ones are no longer flying for holidays or maybe very petty when comes pricing.

No good for the economy. Airasia will overcome that in the longer run as it now understands demand and readjust. It has readjusted partially, as mentioned above in hedging the fuel price early. But the poor spending behaviour shows that people are very timid when comes to purchasing. What I fear is that the trend that Airasia has shown being a regional airline is that not even Malaysia, regionally people are not having that much freedom to buy.

I have seen in some of the results, not even on Airasia but others. The larger scale of things, we do not know how big will the impact be in the shorter term future. I have mentioned about what's dangerous in the near term, but this is one which is really I am seeing signs that shows what is potentially coming.