Saturday, October 19, 2019

Market is idiot to treat all semiconductor companies the same

The world's semiconductor market is a $400 billion market. Thank goodness, some of the Malaysian companies and economy is in the play. A large part of the Malaysian semiconductor industry though is dependent on foreign companies such as Intel, Agilent, First Solar, Infineon. The real serious local companies only comprise of not more than 100 companies. The ones that are listed on Bursa Malaysia and seriously in play may not exceed 20.

Just take a look at China's exports below, which electronics have been the largest by far. The trade war is about semiconductor and its related industries (or larger context, technology per se) war. Electronics and electronics related products probably comprise 40% of its exports. 
"The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Chinese global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from China.
  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$664.4 billion (26.6% of total exports)
  2. Machinery including computers: $430 billion (17.2%)
  3. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $96.4 billion (3.9%)
  4. Plastics, plastic articles: $80.1 billion (3.2%)
  5. Vehicles: $75.1 billion (3%)
  6. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $73.5 billion (2.9%)
  7. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $71.4 billion (2.9%)
  8. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $71.4 billion (2.9%)
  9. Articles of iron or steel: $65.6 billion (2.6%)
  10. Organic chemicals: $59.8 billion (2.4%)"
If US, and probably Europe in the future is to reign on China's strength in technology related sector, a large sum of these businesses is going to move to countries that are to pick them up.

Vietnam is going to be the largest beneficiary. Singapore will not. Malaysia will benefit partially, but we need to know which company will benefit from it. If we look below, we are just playing every company in the semiconductor list. I have seen that the market have been excited about the better pick up in Iphone 11 sales, hence Inari's shares have picked up. Are we looking that short term? Is Inari mainly only produces its chips for IPhone?

Let's look at where in the value chain is Inari. Who does Inari sells to? And to which value chain it is in. Inari sells to Broadcom, Osram largely. These companies a portion of it sells to companies in China or Chinese companies and they are most of the time assembling their products in China. These products are sold to US and many parts of the world. That's why packaging companies are assembling semiconductors in package format. Many of Broadcom's components are not substitutable. If there are, high chance it is another US or European company.

But, China is working very very hard to make themselves. I cannot see Inari to be exciting as they are supporter of American based companies. China, if they can will try to avoid.
Let me put in this perspective. No semiconductor company if they are substantial in size, can be just dependent on one country. I have heard of China, because of the threat from the trade war has asked its companies to support Chinese companies first. Hence, the Chinese manufacturers are looking within then only external. Usually, in this scenario if they can find substitute, they will buy local. Only when there is no substitute, they will have no choice but to buy foreign. On the other hand, foreign companies that have been having products manufactured in China, will want to look for other alternatives.
Why I like box-build companies
Unlike Inari for example, which is dependent largely on Broadcom, many of these box build companies are more spread out when comes to its customers base. They can build for US. They can also build for Europe. When US is threatening to impose 25% tariff, and they have done it, many companies will look beyond China because the final product after VS Industry or PIE Industrial have produced will be shipped to US. That is where the 25% is imposed - after VS has manufactured and put them in the corrugated carton box - and later sent to US.
Today, if I am a big size manufacturer and doing assembly out of China, some of these companies may want to approach me. 
If I am a company that my product is sent to China for it to be assembled, I may be suffering. If I am doing something where my work or product can be replaced by some Chinese companies, I may be suffering as well - since China is working on "Buy Chinese goods first".
Remember, we have to know which part of the value chain our Bursa companies are.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Lin See Yan's take on our economy

I find that this morning's interview by BFM with Lin See Yan on the current state of the economy is pretty straight forward.

Here's the link.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

PLUS is already owned by the public

I have read on the news on PLUS where the government prefers it to be acquired by the public. As it is, PLUS is already owned by the public. PLUS is owned 51% by Khazanah, 100% MOF company, and 49% EPF. We know already whose money is EPF.

Why restructure the ownership when it is perfectly fine with the ownership. The reason why potentially some government is looking at private sector is because of efficiency. I do not think PLUS is efficiently run - although this comment is up to argument.

If everything is preferably public sector to manage, then the country is getting closer to being leaning to socialism. As it is, we have been facing assets where it is too much owned by the government - and I thought the last promise in election was to reduce that.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Performance of VS Industry will give us where some of the businesses will be heading

I have in the past mentioned about focus on businesses that has sales to overseas or in short exports. This however does not include stocks dealing in palm oil as it has other challenges themselves. When I mentioned these, I was more of referring to the Guan Chong's of this world, the semiconductor stocks such as Globetronics, MPI, Unisem, Vitrox, Pentamaster, PIE and maybe rubber gloves - although I am seeing some oversupply position among the rubber gloves makers in the short term.

Anyway, as we know - the world is transitioning. We are seeing the clash of two superpowers - US and China. When two superpowers collide, are we the pelanduk (mousedeer) that will die in between (a Malaysian proverb - Dua Gajah bertarung, pelanduk mati in tengah-tengah).

Malaysia, coincidently is not taking sides - particularly in business. We are exporting to both countries. We do business with both countries - business and politically.

In dealing with trade wars, we have to be really in the know what type of companies and business we are dealing with. Semiconductor company - in this particular case - VS Industry - a downstream player - also called a box builder. It is one of the largest South East Asian owned box maker - i.e. the one that assembles, value adds and helps one of its customers, Dyson to manufacture its vacuum cleaners. Dyson for your knowledge does not own a single factory - just like Nike's model - or closer Apple.

In this article, I am not going to mention in detail the business of VS but what it has announced recently and where some of our companies in Malaysia will be heading - not the next few quarters alone but the next few years at least. As a summary, VS Industry has businesses in three countries - Malaysia, China and Indonesia (as below latest results - 4Q19).

Malaysian revenue comprise of 80% of its total revenue. Surprisingly, revenue from Indonesian operations has dropped while unsurprisingly revenue from China dropped even further. As we can see, Malaysia is highly profitable and China is making losses. Indonesia is barely breaking even. China's losses as it has mentioned is because the company seems to be downsizing in that country - not surprising. VS is taking a financial hit in China as it seems that they are focusing harder in Malaysia.

So, what we are seeing is a business where Malaysia is somewhat strong in among our competitor countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and China (which overtook us by far in the last 2 decades). As below is the explanation as provided by the management of VS which I tend to believe and agree. (no point rewriting them as I can make use of the wonders of cut and paste)

As mentioned above, we know already given that if we do some "reading and watching" and if we know the geopolitical and cross border business perspective, it is the start of where we see what we may see more in the near and medium term future.

More and more businesses are looking out of China - still the factory for the world, and Vietnam and Malaysia will get more queries. The above performance, I see as just the beginning - for VS and few more companies in Malaysia. This is the reason why I am betting on PIE Industrial. PIE, to me could be even better as it is largely only Malaysian operation and does not have operations in China - the setback that we see through VS. The weakness for PIE though is that it is smaller than VS and it is Taiwanese controlled.

Given that if I have time, I will share more of my opinion on export businesses in Malaysia and the trade which I have been spending a lot of time and my current dealings in.

I am though a little bit not satisfied that we start to see this trend as above through VS and several more, but I do not think the "G" i.e. "government, side is doing enough. There are opportunities I think with this trend, moving forward. VS, by the way is doing quite well as a company and management given that they are managing the transitioning - it is not easy.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sold Armada

I have decided to sell Bumi Armada largely because I do not know how to value this company at the moment.

As mentioned before, the previous reaction towards the company was because of over-reaction on its balance sheet and projects difficulties faced.

This has never going to be a long term holding, though, hence the sale. Additionally, since WCE is coming on stream for its additional rights, this sale is to allow cash accumulation.