Friday, November 17, 2017

The Most Important Thing Illuminated by Howard Marks

I just finished reading my book "The Most Important Thing Illuminated" - by Howard Marks

Below are the summary of the book:

There are 20 important things of Investing highlighted by Howard in his book:

(1) Second-Level Thinking

(2) Understanding Market Efficiency (and Its Limitations)

(3) Value

(4) The Relationship Between Price and Value

(5) Understanding Risk

(6) Recognizing Risk

(7) Controlling Risk

(8) Being Attentive to Cycles

(9) Awareness of the Pendulum

(10) Combating Negative Influences

(11) Contrarianism

(12) Finding Bargains

(13) Patient Opportunism

(14) Knowing What You Don't Know

(15) Having a Sense for Where We Stand

(16) Appreciating the Role of Luck

(17) Investing Defensively

(18) Avoiding Pitfalls

(19) Adding Value

(20) Reasonable Expectations


The best foundation for a successful investment - or a successful investment career - is value. You must have a good ideas of what the thing you're considering buying is worth. There are many components to this and many ways to look at it.

To achieve superior investment results, your insight into value has to be superior. Thus you must learn things others don't, see things differently or do a better job of analyzing them - ideally, all three.

Your view of value has to be based on a solid factual and analytical foundation, and it has to be held firmly. Only then will you know when to buy or sell. Only a strong sense of value will give you the discipline needed to take profits on a highly appreciated asset that everyone things will rise nonstop, or the guts to hold and average down in a crisis even as prices to lower every day. Of course, for your efforts in these regards to be profitable, your estimate of value has to be on target.

The relationship between price and value holds the ultimate key to investment success. Buying below value is the most dependable route to profit. Paying above value rarely works out as well.

What causes an asset to sell below its value? Outstanding buying opportunities exist primarily because perception understates reality. Whereas high quality can be readily apparent, it takes keen insight to detect cheapness. For this reason, investors often mistake objective merit for investment opportunity. The superior investor never forgets that the goal is to find good buys, not good assets.

In addition to giving rise to profit potential, buying when price is below value is a key element in limiting risk. Neither paying up for high growth nor participating in a "hot" momentum market can do the same.

The relationship between price and value is influenced by psychology and technicals, forces that can dominate fundamentals in the short run.

Extreme swings in price due to those two factors provide opportunities for big profits or big mistakes. To have it be the former rather than the latter, you must stick with the concept of value and cope with psychology and technicals.

Economies and markets cycle up and down. Whichever direction they're going at the moment, most people come to believe that they'll go that way forever. This thinking is a source of great danger since it poisons the markets, sends valuations to extremes, and ignites bubbles and panics that most investors find hard to resist.

Likewise, the psychology of the investing herd moves in a regular, pendulum-like pattern-from optimism to pessimism; from credulousness to skepticism; from fear of missing opportunity to fear of losing money; and thus from eagerness to buy to urgency to sell. The swing of the pendulum causes the herd to buy at high prices and sell at low prices. Thus, being part of the herd is a formula for disaster, whereas contrarianism at the extremes will help to avert losses and lead eventually to success.

In particular, risk aversion - an appropriate amount of which is the essential ingredient in a rational market - is sometimes in short supply and sometimes excessive. The fluctuation of investor psychology in this regard plays a very important part in the creation of market bubbles and crashes.

Most trends - both bullish and bearish - eventually become overdone, profiting those who recognize them early but penalizing the last to join. That's the reasoning behind my number one investment adage: "What the wise man does in the beginning, the fool does in the end." The ability to resist excesses is rare, but it's an important attribute of the most successful investors.

It's impossible to know when an overheated market will turn down, or when a downturn will cease and appreciation will take its place. But while we never know where we're going, we ought to know where we are. We can infer where markets stand in their cycle, from the behaviors of those around us. When other investors are unworried, we should be cautious; when investors are panicked, we should turn aggressive.

Buying based on strong value, low price relative to value, and depressed general psychology is likely to provide the best results. Even then, however, things can go against us for a long time before turning as we think they should. Underpriced is far from synonymous with going up soon. Thus the importance of my second key adage: "Being too far ahead of your time is indistinguishable from being wrong." It can require patience and fortitude to hold positions long enough to be proved right.

In addition to being able to quantify value and pursue it when it's priced right, successful investors must have a sound approach to the subject of risk. They have to go well beyond the academic' singular definition of risk as volatility and understand that the risk that matters most is the risk of permanent loss. They have to reject increased risk bearing as a surefire formula for investment success and know that riskier investments entail a wider range of possible outcomes and a higher probability of loss. They have to have a sense for the loss potential that's present in each investment and be willing to bear it only when the reward is more than adequate.

Most investors are simplistic, preoccupied with the chance for return. Some gain further insight and learn that it's as important to understand risk as it is return. But it's the rare investor who achieves the sophistication required to appreciate correlation, a key element in controlling the riskiness of an overall portfolio. Because of differences in correlation, individual investments of the same absolute riskiness can be combined in different ways to form portfolios with widely varying total risk levels. Most investors think diversification consists of holding many different things; few understand that diversification is effective only if portfolio holdings can be counted on to respond differently to a given development in the environment.

Oaktree's motto, "If we avoid the losers, the winners will take care of themselves," has served well over the years.

Risk control lies at the core defensive investing. Rather than just trying to do the right thing, the defensive investor places a heavy emphasis on not doing the wrong thing.

Risk control and margin for error should be present in your portfolio at all times. But you must remember that they're "hidden assets." Most years in the markets are good years, but it's only in the bad years - when the tide goes out - that the value of defense becomes evident. Thus, in the good years, defensive investors have to be content with the knowledge that their gains, although perhaps less than maximal, were achieved with risk protection in place...even though it turned out not be needed.

One of the essential requirements for investment success - and thus part of most great investors' psychological equipment - is the realization that we don't know what lies ahead in terms of the macro future. Few people if any know more than the consensus about what's going to happen to the economy, interest rates and market aggregates. Thus, the investor's time is better spent trying to gain a knowledge advantage regarding "the knowable": industries, companies and securities. The more micro your focus, the greater the likelihood you can learn things others don't.

An important pant of getting it right consists of avoiding the pitfalls that are frequently presented by economic fluctuations, companies' travails, the markets' manic swings, and other investors gullibility. There's no surefire way to accomplish this, but awareness of these potential dangers certainly represents the best starting point for an effort to avoid being victimized by them.

Another essential element is having reasonable expectations. Investors often get into trouble by acting on promises returns that are unreasonably high or dependable, and by overlooking the fact that, usually, every increase in return pursued is accompanied by an increase in risk borne. The key is to think long and hard about propositions that may be too good to be true.

Only investors with unusual insight can regularly divine the probability distribution that governs future events and sense when the potential returns compensate for the risks that lurk in the distribution's negative left-hand tail.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Does My Investment Strategy Work for me?

Innotek Q2 result was a disappointment, the bottom line had been declined for 2 consecutive quarters. Thus, it met my Selling Criteria.
I sold all my holding about three months ago as soon after they released their Q2 result.

Two days ago Innotek released Q3 result and to my surprise most of their plans turned out to be quite well. Net profit for 9M has increased to about 7.1mil, Q3 revenue up about 1.3% driven by growth of TV segment and they are on track for their Thailand expansion with completion targetted to be first Half of 2018.

I made my 2nd time purchase of Innotek yesterday at 35.5cts per share as now Innotek meets my Buying Criteria.

I sold my Innotek at 33.5cts per share. Three months after selling, i bought back. Am i in the right track of my Investment Strategy?

I wonder......sometimes i am not very sure of myself too if i am on the right track and if my Investment Strategy works for me. If i keep my Innotek shares until today which i amend my 2nd Selling Criteria a little bit to as long as the revenue does not decline (we are talking abt more than 10% declining), i should give the management longer time like another 2 more Quarters to prove themselves to carry out their business plan or i should just do what i did with Innotek?

In terms of monetary, actually i made much more gain this round with sticking to my current Selling Criteria. I channelled my fund from Innotek to buy Cogent & Ellipsiz. Cogent gave me low five figures profit and Ellipsiz as per current giving me high four figures unrealized profit + realized dividend. And the different between my 2nd time Buying Price to my Selling Price cost me a low four figures.

Honestly i am still puzzled...i guess only time is able to tell me if i need to change my system. Just hope my learning experience will not cost me too much.

While i am still fixing my puzzles, let's continue to learn.........

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 2017 Portfolio Update

The reporting season for 3rd Quarter is finally almost over and all my holding companies have reported:

(1) Sunningdale's Q3 result is good and inline with my expectation. This company is my top favourite company so far and it happens to be my biggest holding too. What i like about this company is the way they operate their business in a predictable manner. The management does not seem to over promise to their shareholders, yet they have shown their confident in putting the best interest of their shareholders. They are careful and full of strategy in executing their business plan. So far i can see this is the only counter i am willing to hold for a very long time for both capital growth & dividend. Unless it is taken offer private, or it meets my Selling Criteria as i have mentioned some time ago in my blog, i am willing to continue holding. However, i will need to monitor their result Q by Q, Y by Y.

(2) Best World's Q3 result is still inline with my expectation. Their Taiwan revenue has dropped in double digits rate, and China revenue has also increased in double digits rate, with a higher profit margin. I am still comfortable with my current holding with Best World, although the market always likes to speculate in this counter. It can be down more than 10% in a single day and it can be up more than 10% in another single day, or it can be down consecutively in a couple of days, and vice versa. Personally, i am not really shaken by the day by day market reaction once i have set up my mind on a certain counter on why i bought them in the first place and why i am still holding them until today. I am looking forward their FY result in February and will decide from there.

(3) 800 Super's Q3 result is also inline with my expectation. A recession free, quite a capital intensive but good in generating cash flow kind of business. Now i am looking forward the commencement of their biomass boiler in the first quarter of 2018 and the completion of the sludge treatment facility. This company is also a long term holding for me, as long as it meets my holding criteria.

(4) Avi-Tech just released their Q1 result yesterday. It is progressing good with increasing top & bottom and about 35% of their current market capitalization in their working capital.

(5) Frencken's Q3 result is good and i am looking forward their FY result in February 2018.

(6) Ellipsiz - Ellipsiz has been turning out to be quite different from their past since they decided to sell off their core business in Probe Card and the retirement of two of their key main management (CEO & CFO) recently. I am looking forward their new business plan and will decide from there.

(7) Cogent - was offered private by Cosco Shipping International about 2 weeks ago at $1.02 per share. I had divested all my Coget shares last week at $1.01 per share and giving me a return of about 28% from my cost of 78.80cts including broker's fee and after minus off the 3.13cts of dividend. I am quite happy to be divested because of their business valuation is higher about 25% from my purchasing valuation at about 390mil. Although the minority shareholders seem trying to push the share price up, and it might end up higher than the current offer price by Cosco, i will still be contented with my selling price at $1.01. I will not pursue for higher price as i think this could be a good offer for Cogent's shareholders to divest their shares.

(8) Trek 2000 International - i made my purchase of Trek 2000 International last Wednesday (a day after they released their Q3 result) at an average price of about 27.50 - 28 cts per share.

The following are in a very brief form why i invested in this company:
(1) My purchase valuation is about 89mil. Their 9 months business has generated net profit of about 7.5mil. I think i am buying with the PE of about 10 or less.

(2) Trek 2000 International has positive working capital of about 68.1mil (net cash & equivalent of about 45.7mil and quoted investments of about 22.4mil).

(3) They are operating in asset-light business model with a low capex. Net cash used in capital expenditures is only about 43.5k for 9M2017, and about 2.1mil for 9M2016.

(4) The bottom line has been increasing YtoY.

(5) They are an innovative company which has invented ThumbDrive, FluCard, & i-Ball, currenly striving into medical technology industry.

Some of the points worth my consideration when purchasing this company:
(1) Trek 2000 International is currently in phase two of a review, conducted by forensic accountant RSM Corporate Advisory about certain transactions between one of its subsidiaries and a customer.

(2) The topline has been declined 33.4% YoY, although Trek mentioned it was as the result of the disposal of Racer Technology Pte Ltd in Q1 this year.

(3) Electronics industry which they are in, is very competitive and cyclical.

* Above are just my thoughts. The accuracy or completeness of the information above cannot be guaranteed. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

What makes a person to excel in everything he or she does?

"Ancora Imparo" are said to be spoken by Michelangelo (the largely self-taught Italian sculptor, painter, architect) on his 87th birthday.

Translated from the Italian, "Ancora Imparo" means "I am always leaning."

I think to be able to excel in our life, we have to always learn and open up our mind to know and learn new things. Things always change, people change, environment changes. The moment we stop learning and think we have enough to do something, we will start to miss out a lot of things.

This applies in our family, work, and society life.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Long Term Investment in Stock Market

Just sharing:
(I am no longer holding the shares now, as i sold in 2014).
I bought UMS shares in 2013 abt 38.5cts.

If let's say i bought 100,000 @38.5cts/share. It had cost me $38,500 (my capital).

UMS issued 2 times bonus shares in 2014 & 2017 every 4 shares to 1 share. So my 100,000 shares would had become 100,000 x 125% x 125% = 156,250 shares.

UMS paid 4 times dividend a year (quarterly) with total of 6cts per year (except 2013, UMS paid 6.5cts). So i should have collected:
2013: 100k x 6.5cts: $6500
2014: 125k x 6cts: $7500
2015: 125k x 6cts: $7500
2016: 125k x 6cts: $7500
= $29,000.
UMS value as per time of writing = 156,250 x $1 = $156,250.
Value + dividend = $185,250.

This is just an example of one stock which such capital/portfolio growth can only be achieved through long term holding in a good company. Of course, we have to continue monitoring the company quarter to quarter, year to year to check if the result is still on track. Should the result out of track and the share price growth is much higher than co's growth rate, we should not hesitate to divest our holding. Or should we found other co with better prospect and lower pe, we should divest and move to others.

For this reason, i strongly believe long term investing is the best.

Just sharing my humble opinion.