Top News this Week (9 May)


Rounding up top investing articles from around the web, including articles shared by fellow investors in the Financial Horse Facebook Group.

SPH to restructure media business into not-for-profit entity to support quality journalism (Straits Times)

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which publishes The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao,  intends to transfer its media business to a not-for-profit company as part of a strategic review of its various businesses. The restructuring entails transferring all the media-related businesses, including relevant subsidiaries, employees, News Centre and Print Centre along with their respective leaseholds, and all related intellectual property and information technology assets, to a newly incorporated wholly owned subsidiary, SPH Media Holdings Pte Ltd (SPH Media).

SPH will provide the initial resources and funding by capitalising SPH Media with a cash injection of $80 million, $30 million worth of SPH shares and SPH Reit units, and SPH’s stakes in four of its digital media investments.

5 Real Estate Investment Trusts with Distribution Yield above 6% for the Past 3 Years (Investor-One)

Given the low interest rates environment, many investors are searching for solutions to achieve a higher return on their investments. One option for them will be to invest in REITs that could potentially provide them with higher distribution yield. Overall, a distribution yield above 6% is considered ideal, with the current market conditions.  Hence, here are 5 such REITs:   

  • Sabana Shari’ah Compliant REIT (SGX: M1GU)
  • Cromwell European REIT (SGX: CNNU)
  • EC World REIT (SGX: BWCU)
  • ESR REIT (SGX: J91U)
  • Keppel Pacific Oak US REIT (SGX: CMOU) 

Where to Invest $100,000 In Asia Right Now (Bloomberg)

You can find good investment opportunities in China but also in South Korea, Taiwan and some parts of Southeast Asia, especially in the small to mid-cap space. There’s a local cloud-based enterprise solution provider for small and medium-cap companies out of Korea. In China there are more “verticalized” players in areas like construction, healthcare and finance software.

How to play it with ETFs:  If you want exposure specifically to China’s IT sector, you could look at the Global X China Cloud Computing ETF, says BI senior internet analyst Vey-Sern Ling. Top holdings include local giants like Tencent Holdings Ltd. as well as data center providers like GDS Holdings Ltd. There isn’t yet an ETF focused on the trend for the wider region. 

The rise in household wealth as China continues to emerge has meant unsophisticated hot money entering the stock market and chasing hot themes that fizzle out. Yet it has also meant reliable growth in consumerism and consumption of financial products and services. What is growth in China often equates to speculative bubbles in the West, while value maps more naturally to what is considered growth at a reasonable price (GARP) in the West. One way to play this theme is with the Hong-Kong listed Premia CSI Caixan China Bedrock Economy ETF

How to play it with ETFs:  If you want exposure to fast-changing consumer trends in China, you could consider the Global X China Consumer Brand ETF,  says Catherine Lim, BI senior analyst, Asia-Pacific consumer discretionary and retail. Its holdings are all in industries where brand names hold sway with the consumer. Top holdings include spirit manufacturer Kweichow Moutai and China Tourism Group Duty Free Corp. It has assets of HKD $1.2 billion ($155 million) and an expense ratio of 0.68%. If you wanted straight exposure to China’s banks, then the Global X MSCI China Financials ETF tracks the biggest players, says BI senior banking analyst Patrick Wong.

How to play it with ETFs:  Most pure-play exposures to the Indian fintech world are only available in the private deals space right now or for the high-net-worth clients of private banks, BI’s Asia banking analyst Diksha Gera says. One indirect way to gain exposure to the trend if you think existing companies will benefit from greater online penetration would be via the Nifty India Financials ETF. Its biggest holding is private bank HDFC Bank Ltd., where 85% of its customer transactions are done online. The ETF also has 36% of assets in India’s diversified financial sector. 

Driving centre students turned away as their TraceTogether records indicate proximity with Covid-19 cases (Straits Times)

Some students taking lessons at ComfortDelGro Driving Centre (CDC) have been turned away as their TraceTogether App showed that they had been in close proximity with Covid-19 cases.

COVID-19 virus variants from India detected in Singapore: What you need to know (CNA)

Amid a rise in community cases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has found that nearly half of the 60 COVID-19 local cases detected here last week were infected with variants of concern or interest. These 29 local cases have viral variants that were first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil or India.

On Tuesday (May 4), MOH director of medical services Kenneth Mak said that seven cases in three local clusters have one of the Indian variants – the B16172. This includes the Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster which had 40 cases as of Tuesday.

“The new variant strains have higher attack rates, they are more infectious, they are causing larger clusters than before,” he said. “Due to the new variants, (the cases) are more infectious and larger clusters are forming.”

Scientists are still studying whether the Indian variant is driving an unexpected explosion in cases in India. WHO said in its Apr 27 update that preliminary modelling suggests it has “a higher growth rate than other circulating variants in India, suggesting potential increased transmissibility”.

ESR-Reit to raise S$150m as it acquires Singapore, Australia assets (Business Times)

ESR-REIT is looking to raise about S$150 million via a private placement and preferential offering to fund its S$119.2 million acquisition of a Tanjong Penjuru logistics facility, as well as asset enhancement initiatives for properties in Tai Seng and Ang Mo Kio.

The real estate investment trust has also obtained a S$68.5 million unsecured loan to finance the acquisition of a 10 per cent interest in a GIC-majority-owned Australian logistics investment for A$60.5 million (S$62.4 million).

21 million-dollar HDB resale flats sold in April as overall prices rise for 10th straight month (Business Times)

The Housing Board resale market remained robust in April as 21 million-dollar flats changed hands and overall resale prices rose for the 10th straight month. Experts said the return to phase 2 Covid-19 curbs will help underpin demand. 

Resale prices climbed 1.2 per cent last month compared to March, according to flash data from real estate portal SRX released on Thursday (May 6). The 21 million-dollar flats sold last month was an increase from March when 17 such flats were sold. The monthly record so far is 23 million-dollar flats sold in February.

Gym and fitness studio owners disappointed at mandated closures as they find ways to adapt (CNA)

In announcing the new measures on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said: “Based on overseas and local experience, higher-risk settings such as indoor gymnasiums and indoor fitness studios have a tendency to be hotspots for COVID-19 transmission.

Ms Dewi Chen, the founder of Terra Luna Yoga, said she is disappointed by the restrictions, adding that authorities should have been more specific in the types of activities restricted, rather than a blanket ban on gyms and studios. She noted that there also needs to be clearer guidelines for multi-use spaces, as some studios like her have business models based on hiring out the space for other uses.

Mr Koh from F45 Upper Thomson said it is important for landlords to help affected gyms and studios during this period. “Charging rent means fitness firms who pay white-collar wages may have issues meeting payroll if everything goes to rent. This fundamentally goes against the grain of society and what policymakers wanted, which is the absorption of those who lost jobs.”

Glove stocks in the red amid concerns over mounting pressure on selling prices and overcapacity (The Edge Markets)

While investors are weighing the resurgence in the number of Covid-19 cases and the vaccine roll-out, Supermax Corp Bhd’s remarks on current spot prices of rubber gloves being on a decline and more intensive competition have added another dosage of skepticism about the industry. Lower average selling prices (ASPs) would mean thinner margins moving forward for the glove makers. This brought the glove stocks on Bursa Malaysia into the red this morning. 

Hedge funds had become ‘extreme’ sellers of stocks even before Yellen’s interest-rate remarks. Here’s why. (MarketWatch)

As a former Federal Reserve chair herself, now Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen should have known that her comments about the possibility of a need for an interest-rate hike would send markets into a tizzy, and by the end of the day she had walked back her remarks.

Bank of America reports that, of its clients, hedge funds have been “extreme” sellers of stocks. The rolling four-week average flows for hedge funds were the lowest in the history of this series, which dates back to 2008 — and were three standard deviations below the average.

The hedge-fund selling was most concentrated in the communications-services and information-technology sectors, according to the BofA data — i.e., the tech winners that have thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic. Who’s buying? Retail clients were the only group to buy U.S. equities for the third week in a row and have been net buyers for 10 straight weeks, per Bank of America.

Why would hedge funds be getting nervous? Well, the April payrolls report on Friday is expected to be a seven-digit affair, after nearly topping a million in March. Even with Federal Reserve policy makers at pains to dismiss signs of surging inflation, they can’t ignore a rapidly healing labor market, so official data showing a surge in jobs creation will inevitably cause market discussion of when the central bank will pull back on its bond buying.

China ‘indefinitely’ suspends economic dialogue with Australia (CNBC)

  • China said it has “indefinitely” suspended all activity under a high-level economic dialogue with Australia, one if its largest source of imports.
  • Relations between China and Australia deteriorated last year after Canberra called for an international inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The Australian government has increased scrutiny on foreign deals, and in April canceled two involved with Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Coastal Oil CFO pleads guilty to defrauding 8 banks using forged invoices (Business Times)

With Coastal Oil Singapore facing severe cash flow problems since mid-2016, its chief financial officer – together with three others including co-director Tan Sing Hwa – conspired to use forged invoices to cheat banks here and in Hong Kong into disbursing US$320 million, the court heard on Monday.

Ong Ah Huat joined the wholesale distributor of petroleum and petroleum products in May 2016, and he soon learnt that Mr Tan had devised a scheme to obtain bank credit to address Coastal Oil’s financial problems.

Instead of walking away, the accused participated in the conspiracy, duping China Merchants Bank in Singapore and seven banks in Hong Kong between June 2017 and December 2018.

Mark Cuban: The 3 ways Ethereum ‘dwarfs’ bitcoin (CNBC)

Ether, the cryptocurrency that runs on the Ethereum blockchain, hit a record high on Tuesday. Though it is still second behind bitcoin in market value, there is growing excitement surrounding Ethereum and its capabilities.

According to billionaire investor Mark Cuban, “the number of transactions and the diversity of transaction types along with the development efforts in Ethereum dwarf bitcoin,” he tells CNBC Make It. “The utilization of Ethereum is much higher.”

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the two said in a statement posted on Twitter. “We have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. “We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life,” their statement said.

In a joint petition for dissolution of marriage filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle, the couple stated: “The marriage is irretrievably broken.” They said they had reached an agreement on how to divide their assets, though the financial details of the decision were not immediately clear. 

The divorce filing, which states that the couple have no minor children, comes after the youngest of their three children is believed to have recently turned 18. The spouses asked the court to approve their agreement on division of assets but did not disclose details.

Elon Musk in S’pore in Nov. 2021 for Bloomberg New Economy Forum (Mothership)

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk is coming to Singapore to attend the Bloomberg New Economy Forum to be held here from Nov. 16 to 19, 2021. The forum will see top businessmen and government leaders in Singapore to discuss global challenges and solutions.

Commentary: Why the interest over TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi’s nationality and how Singaporean he is? (CNA)

Chew, who is based in Singapore, was previously the CFO at ByteDance. Prior to that, he was part of the senior management team in Xiaomi, another Chinese tech behemoth.  Chew has been said to have the deep knowledge of the industry and is part of the Chinese inner circle. He was instrumental in securing much needed financing from investors and played a huge role in seeing through Xiaomi’s listing. 

How Love, Bonito’s Rachel Lim is building a fashion empire from Singapore (CNA)

This is one of the key reasons why Love, Bonito is one of the largest omni-channel women’s fashion brands in the region today, with an international e-commerce presence in the Philippines, Australia, greater China, UAE and the United States, as well as 19 retail stores including those in Malaysia and Indonesia.

While she speaks like a true fashion and retail veteran, it was only in 2013 that she had this Eureka moment, while steering the business through one of its most challenging phases. That year, two of the four business partners left Love, Bonito to pursue other interests. “I had a hard time adjusting,” said Lim, who had taken a big gamble in 2010. Lim had dropped out of university to transition Love, Bonito from a blogshop that sold the friends’ pre-loved clothes and flea market finds into a formal e-commerce platform where they started designing and manufacturing their own label. 

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