Thursday, January 25, 2018

Market expensive? I agree partially BUT...

Where else should one put their money? Cash (which literally means return of about 3% to 4% from deposits), properties which is not cheap now (rental return less than 3% in most cases), bitcoin (are you sure), gold, other commodities, JJPTR equivalent (even more are you sure) etc?

The market has been inundated with headlines - first from the head of EPF - who is a very powerful person due purely to the size of the fund he oversees and second from a fund manager from Affin-Hwang. Think of it this way, the head of Affin-Hwang can be a respected figure but his fund would not cause ripple (not the digital currency) but the action from EPF can cause aftershock to the market. EPF oversees some RM600+ billion or could be as high as RM700 billion of funds. That is some 36% of the capitalisation of Bursa Malaysia.

Of course, EPF has investments all over the place i.e. MGS, private investments, private bonds, but equity forms more than 40% of its holdings (local and foreign). To my calculation of where majority of its equity investments is still in Malaysia - the exposure of EPF in the local equity market is about RM200 billion. That is more than 10% of our market. Considering that many of our companies are either GLCs or family controlled, the 10% really play the king maker role - ala PAS, the political party - i.e, third force.

Hence in this respect, with EPF moving overseas and hunting for deals - I agree but once EPF goes overseas it is now a big fish in a big ocean or five oceans, no more a big fish in Selat Malacca where it does not have much room to manuever. A big fish in a big ocean though will have bigger fishes - even bigger sharks. Then in that respect (with all due respect) it is now a equivalent of Affin Hwang Asset Management in Malaysia. Not easy. That's why EPF is - to some certain extent - still back to Malaysian-related deals such as the Battersea. It is better to do what you know, than to invest in areas which you are not so sure.

Now back to the first topic in this blog. Is our market expensive? If one is to look at KLCI and the type of companies that represent it, I would say very - just like what the Value Partner guy, Cheah Cheng Hye said. In fact, back in late 2016, I have put up a blog (on our KLCI counters) where if I were given a choice to pick from the Bursa KLCI Composite 30, I do not know which companies to pick.

Investments is not just about the PE of today or next year, but how we foresee (with good hindsight) on where these companies will lead themselves into. Based on that same article above, I just do not have good positive view of these companies moving forward. These companies which forms the 30 Composite - AMMB, Axiata, Maxis, Digi, YTL, PDB, Tenaga Nasional - they are not exciting.

(Note: the last 1-1/2 year, there has been movement in the KLCI 30 where Press Metal, Nestle has joined taking over from IJM, Sapura Kenanga, BAT but the two new counters have since became expensive.)

So, is out market expensive? Based on that 30 stocks (which forms about half our our market capitalisation) - yes. Not just on current PE valuation but future valuations of these companies.

One should know, funds (local and foreign) form 2/3 of the movement of stocks almost daily. Many of them are exposed to the KLCI 30 and the mid-cap 70 stocks i.e. the larger capitalised companies. These funds when they make a mention of the market they look at the PE of the market as a whole. (I look at this as well but I like to look much much more micro - which means the individual companies - then only macro)

Our market, on the large part is a bit stale as there have not been much new exciting listings over the past few years. If there are new potential ones, it is more of a repackaging i.e. Sime split into 3 companies, KFC wanting to come back, eDotco - the tower arm of Axiata coming onstream.

As I see it, on the micro level, there are still a portion of attractive companies - which I am not going to discuss here. Because of the general perception that the Malaysian market is not cheap and some of them are avoided or missed out by the funds, they are surprisingly still very good in my eyes. As mentioned above, the global market is now running on low interest rates still and to find investments that secure more than 5% is not easy. It is hard to find companies that are consistently growing and yet traded at less than 10x PE. If you have one and quite confidently see that they will be having that good growth 10 years down the road - you and I have found gems.


At 8x PE for example and if the company is growing at 10% growth yearly in terms of earnings, one could get easily 15% return yearly over a long term period from its investments based on value - not price. Isn't that better than keeping cash? Of course, there are risks but in today's world keeping cash is risky - if you know what I meant.

HENCE. Do continue to keep looking because there are those types of opportunities still in Bursa. And sometimes being a small fish is perhaps better as I do not really need to eat a lot to satisfy myself.


WK Wong said...

Airasia, the one currently PE8x, continue growing and make profit, and also we see much more stable in their business by refocusing to the core. I bought AA since 3 years ago and keep avrg down over the years, now harvesting the fruits. By looking at the PE you cant find the gem, because everyone know how to see PE, even uncle from kampung can see PE. Therefore its just basic, everyone should know. The real gem is hiding somewhere in the annual report which is always >200 pages long and the understanding of the business.

felicity said...