Friday, June 29, 2012

Voltaire's Thoughts About Labour

Labour holds off three great evils:  tedium, vice and poverty.


Work as boring as it seems wards off tedium or boredom.  Boredom can drive people mad.  Imagine having no purpose in life and having absolutely nothing to do.  So yes it does ward off tedium.  But work can sometimes be boring too after a while.

Of vice, it does ward off to a certain extent.  After all, it is during idleness that the children start disturbing the cats.

And with work, rightly should come some form of income.  Thus one who works ought not to be poor.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Armour Residential REIT

Have bought 500 shares of ARMOUR Residential REIT (ARR). ARR pays out US$0.10 per month in dividends. Its current share price is around US$7.00

Harvard Classics - Herodotus and Book of Job

I must have done at least 6 hours of pure reading yesterday.  And I sure covered a lot of ground though some of my reading was outside the "canon" of the Harvard Classics.  I spent most of time reading the Book of Job though I spent a greater part of the time wondering why this had been placed under the History of Civilizations section since the Book of Job was clearly a book that discusses about suffering (or in particular, why do good people suffer).  I guess it was helpful to see what the wisdom was about why suffering occurs and how some times, human wisdom has its limitations.

Reading Herodotus' Histories is tiring.  In the harvard classics, it is his second book that is inside and it gives an account of Egypt.  Or should I say ancient Egypt.  As much as I love history, the way it is told is actually a bit too detailed for my liking.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Harvard Classics - Five Foot Shelf of Books

I have started  into my reading habit once again.  And what better way to start by doing it in a structured manner rather than the current haphazard way in which I conduct my reading.  Have been reading Harvard's Classics, which is supposed to be the "Western Canon" of books worth reading in order to attain "a liberal frame of mind or way of thinking".  I was tempted to try Adler's Great Books but then decided to start with the original so-called "canon" first before I proceed on.

This whole exercise is just a way of educating myself for free. Almost like obtaining a liberal arts education except without the need to attend lectures/tutorials/etc And besides,  I love to read.. (Oh gosh, how much I miss school).

Well, it will certainly be a challenge as there are a total of 50 volumes worth of books. You can find all the books online (which means you save lots of money too) in this link:

 I am getting started on the section regarding History of Civilization (refer to Volume 50 for the introduction to the Readers Guide).  I guess it sure beats reading from Vol 1 to Vol 51.  

If anyone else is interested in getting started on reading the Harvard Classics too, feel free to comment!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Investing in things I use - Mapletree Commercial Trust and Breadtalk

It is always good to have some insider insight to stocks that one will like to invest in.  One simple way to do that is to invest in retail REITs.  There are many REITs in the retail/commercial sector and many of them own shopping malls in Singapore.  Just take a walk at one of the malls and it might give you a good sense of how business might actually be doing for the REIT, whether there is potential for rent increase, whether asset enhancement initiatives are ongoing, etc, etc.  It is almost like an insider's view of the business.

Mapletree Commercial Trust

One of the properties owned by Mapletree Commercial Trust (listed on the Singapore stock exchange) is Vivocity.  To those who are not familiar with Vivocity (or Singapore), it is one of the largest malls around located at the southern tip of Singapore just at the entrance to Sentosa (where one of the integrated resorts - Resorts World - is located at).

Vivocity has 1,038,000 sq ft of net lettable area and 2,179 carpark lots. The occupancy rate stands at slightly above 98% and has 300 over tenants.  More recently in the news, PageOne bookshop closed citing high rental costs.  When PageOne moved out, the space was quickly taken up by two other retail outlets - Franc Franc and Cotton On.

Just walking around Vivocity, you will be quite amazed at the shoppers who are there.  Families, teenagers, tourists, office workers, etc.  One would expect it to be less crowded during the weekdays but it is not.  Sited just beside harbourfront, tourists from cruise ships often go there to shop.  Not to mention that Sentosa is just conveniently located by a monorail from Vivocity to Resorts World.  

The shops are also wide and varied.  There is Giant and Cold Storage (supermarkets) for those who want to do grocery shopping, a cinema, many food outlets and restaurants and lots of retail shops.  The shops cater to a wide mix of shoppers whether they are shopping for electronic products, home furniture, clothes, luxury goods, etc, etc

I think Vivocity will continue to do well but I am not certain what the impact of the new cruise terminal at Marina will have on the business it gets from tourists. Nevertheless, since it is conveniently located at the doorstep of Sentosa, I am certain it will continue to get lots of business from travellers who are staying at Sentosa.


Well, it is easy to analyse a business if you can see how many customers there are.  Breadtalk is one of those business that has been expanding abroad.  While I am not too certain how the overseas outlets are doing, I can say that the outlets in Singapore are doing pretty well.  Breadtalk sells bread and together with many of the Breadtalk shops are Toast Box (basically a cafe like shop that rivals another famous Singapore brand Ya Kun).  

Anyway, let us focus on Breadtalk first.  Many of its outlets are conveniently located where there are office crowds.  Just walk into a Breadtalk outlet in the morning and you will be surprised to see the number of people queuing up to buy breakfast back to eat in office.  I figure that a typical Breadtalk shop can easily have more than 200 customers just during a one-hour window in the morning peak hour where office workers are streaming to the office and need to grab some food to eat.  Each customer probably spends $3 to $4 on their breakfast.  Many of them are repeat customers.


So there you have it.  Two businesses that are listed in the Singapore stock exchange that you can easily observe to determine how well they are doing.  At my writing, Mapletree Commercial Trust was trading at S$0.965 and Breadtalk was trading at S$0.50.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Michael Vincent Performs on Penn and Teller Fool Us

Michael Vincent performs wonderful sleight of hand techniques on Penn and Teller's show "Fool Us".  Unfortunately, it is classical magic and there is no way Penn and Teller will get fooled by it.  Entertaining nonetheless.  Teller even kisses Vincent's hand at the end to show how much respect he has for him

Canadian Royalty Trusts Post 2011

During the mid-2000s, Canadian Royalty Trusts (or Canroys) grabbed the minds and attentions of many retiree investors with their double-digit dividend yields. Structured as trusts, they were exempt from federal tax as long as they paid out dividends to their shareholders.

All this changed in 2011 when a new law was passed that these trusts would also be taxed like normal corporations and taxed at the corporate tax rate.  I wrote about this sometime back in the post "Future of Canroys".   This new law made little sense for the trusts and many of them converted to corporations, merged with other companies or chose the easy way out of liquidation.  The dividends of most of these Canroys have also declined sharply as they no longer enjoyed the tax exempt status.  Likewise, share prices also dropped.

Today, most of these canroys trade at only around 10% yield.  Pengrowth Energy Corporation (PGH) now trades at around US$7 but pays only a monthly dividend of Canadian $0.07.  That puts Pengrowth at a nearly 11-12% yield.  Still pretty decent for a monthly dividend stock or if one's purpose of investing is for income.  However, there have been recent talks that even Pengrowth might have to follow the path of Enerplus which cut its dividends by 50% recently. Enerplus shares have taken a beating since.

Canroys will probably face challenging times ahead.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Life is So Much More Interesting

Life will be a whole lot more interesting if we take ourselves less seriously and start dreaming.  Unfortunately, due to pressures from friends,family,society, etc, we often stop dreaming.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Buy Which REIT?

There are actually quite a few REITs now listed in the Singapore stock exchange.  Have been thinking of investing a bit of my money again since there is some spare cash sitting around.  There are really so many options to choose from: industrial, retail, office, hospitality, etc etc.

I am having a difficult time deciding what to buy.  Have been thinking that maybe I should get a handful of Saizen REIT, Sabana REIT and Starhill Global REIT.  What do you all think?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New Look for This Blog

After contemplating for some time, I decided that it was time to shed the "bluish" look that has stuck with this blog for the past 1 to 2 years.  So I am trying out something new and sticking to a really clean look which I hope readers will actually find more soothing to the eyes.  I am not a design kind of person so do bare with me.  I remember that there were some offers to help me design the blog (for a fee of course), but I could not afford it. Anyway, the look is new but the content remains the same.

 I must admit that I am guilty of not pushing out  enough posts to satisfy my readers.  There is always this fear that I am boring readers to death and that there is really nothing interesting I can write about.

Okay, question of the day:  Will Greece default on their debts?  

If so, how can we profit from it?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Good Stuff to Share

Just an old posting that I will like to share =>  we are powerful beyond measure.  Really good a reminder whenever I feel low or suffer from a bout of low esteem.

Another good stuff that I will like to share =>  Two Ideas that Every Investor Should Know.  Just plain old wisdom from plain old me.

Anyway, the month of April and May were bountiful in terms of the dividends that I received.  April dividends was $700plus while month of May was around $1400plus.  Good stuff if you ask me.  The money is already being spent or at least I am thinking of investing it again.  Stock prices are low but I bet that they will go lower.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dividends and Passive Income for May 2012

The month of May 2012 was a bonus month for me as I received quite a bit of dividends/passive income.  The main contributor came from some of my small cap stocks.

Total dividends/passive income for May 2012 is $1483.26

Probably one of the better months for me thus far.

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