When PNB bought a controlling stake in SP Setia, he decided to leave and sold all his shares (at a hugely attractive price) in the company and started Ecoworld with several other partners.
That company is redefining again how a property developer should be - so much so that I feel that the SP Setia brand which he helped to create is now drowned by a new competitor in town. Now after having left (in fact, prior to him officially leaving), he had his proxies (including son) to manage the newly created developer. That has caused dilemmas among his competitors, and created excitement to property buyers as well as stock investors like me.
The excitement can be seen from the below chart where its share price went up more than 4 times as it did a reverse takeover of a little developer in Johor, called Focal Aims. At that time, as in my true nature as an investor, I was never going to chase after a stock that was spiking up especially when we do not know what their actual plan was.
Now their plan is much more clearer. They are very aggressive with their business (despite the slow down in properties market). Since then, Ecoworld has acquired vast strategic land banks. Among them, landbanks in Semenyih, Kota Kemuning, Batu Kawan (Penang) - later rescinded, 2000+ acres of land in Ijok and the latest a JV near the iconic Setia Alam. It has also managed to secure the old Pudu prison project which is now named BBCC in a JV which is owns 40%.
In the reverse takeover, it also injected several other landbanks which it acquired before the exercise. These has made Ecoworld the new kid on the block, which no one will NOT notice especially if you are a property buyer whether it is to stay or invest.
In a short period of 4 years, it is becoming the leader in the property market. Yes, there are Sime Darby, IOI, IJM, UEM, Mah Sing etc., but they cannot keep up with the style that Ecoworld launches its projects. Obviously, it costs a lot (of marketing expenses) as well in the process but it created such a buzz so much so it is I think it created a dilemma to its competitors.
Ecoworld has raised more than a billion ringgit over this period and it is not stopping with the latest, i.e. its plan to raise another RM770 million through another round of private placements. Notice that its main shareholders have committed to subscribe up to 76% of the placement portion at RM1.30 a share.
Part of the newly raised funds is to subscribe 30% into its newly created Ecoworld International where it is having projects in London and Australia. This group really has huge appetite and are not afraid to execute. That's their strength.
With the softening property market and that has caused its share price to taper to now RM1.26, I have decided to purchase 8,000 units.
At this price, it is at a market valuation of RM3 billion and I think it is attractive due to the amount of investments that the group has put in to create the brand and company. Also, I can envision how big this group wants to be. It may not have the landbank that Sime Darby has but, there are prospectively some land owners that would want to work with them, such as the case in Cascara and BBCC. Even Tropicana (I think), would want to sell part of its land near Kota Kemuning, as Eco World would be able to enhance the value of properties around the same area where they have projects near each other.
Should one look at its PE to judge its value, I think it is the wrong benchmark at the moment as it is still building its value.
To those who are sceptics or do not really get what I am talking about, take a drive to any of its projects, be it in Penang, Selangor, KL or Johor than you will be amazed with how it has redefined building and selling properties.
Take note that when investing in companies such as Wal-Mart, Airasia - look for cost leaders. When it comes to property developers, look for the value they can create from per square foot of land it owns as against other competitors. Without specific data, in my mind, Eco World is probably one of the best.
Here is the latest portfolio.