Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Random thoughts: 2018 work review- A midlife crisis

2018 is a difficult year for me. I will just talk about work in this post.

This is the 4th year in my appointment. It is a difficult year as I have to manage many staff having issues at work. While I have genuinely tried to help all, I think only 2 turn out well.

This is the worst year in terms of results, I think most of my staff have put in their best. To be honest, I do think with such bad records and having so many years into the job, I really need to take a hard look at my approach and admits something is wrong.

I am not quite sure what is wrong, but while I have tried to change approach, the change in approach is in direct conflict with my beliefs. It's fine if readers think I am a sore loser or I am eating sour grapes, but I decided to step aside for someone with a different approach. I am really looking forward to 1 year transistion period where I will slowly hand over my work. I told my boss about my intentions and she supported my choice. The only spanner is she is leaving soon, but she told me she will let the new boss know.

Frankly speaking, this year high is when I think I gain the trust of a staff who had wanted to leave and when unable to, is feeling very sour.

The low point is, for all my efforts to reach out to my people, which is very exhausting, I was told and hinted that I indulge my officers and I have built a culture that is not productive. I really felt insulted when I heard this, but I realise I not too sure if I know of alternative way. That is also an important reason that I think I should step aside.

This year, I really give all my best to my pupils in order for them to do well in PSLE. This year is the first time I think I balance hoping they do well so I do well in my KPI and also genuinely hope they progress well in exam. For my part, my pupils did better than I expected. While it might not be exceed expectations, I think it is very good. For all the pupils that would in normal circumstances be streamed to take Foundation level of the subject, i manage to turn around most. In fact, many manage a B, more than a pass.

The nights listening to the oral, marking their assignments seem worth it. But, in my boss eyes, I done all these at the expense of my staff and department needs.

I really agree with her assessment, and can only come to the conclusion that I have a capacity problem. I cannot help my pupils and my teachers at the same time. When given a choice, I choose pupils, and my class pupils.

It's quite embrassing, but I am quite happy that my class pupils do well so much that the the level do not do well (the other spectrum of A, my job is to help the weakest pupils pass) , it did not bother me as much. As a friend jest, I need to have 大爱,I am responsible for more than just my pupils. Indeed, my job scope require me to monitor the whole school pupils performance in my subject area. This is another marker that I am a misfit in my job.

In all honesty, I would rather go out at a high, and not because of realisation that I do a bad job. But I guess no point killing my passion for teaching for doing something that I don't like. I know stepping aside with have adverse effect on my career progression. I am glad my wife supported my decision. I am mindful that after I step aside, it might be a slippery slope down, but I will take what come a step at a time. Right now, I will just focus on doing the job as best as I could for another year before I move on with or without my superiors blessing. I am 40 next year. Mid life crisis start early for me.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Random thoughts: Sickness

Is the holidays. I usually get very sick when the term break is here.

The funny thing is, beyond the obvious physical discomfort, I actually feel more at peace. I could have guilt free and care free rest, and the people around me are more understanding. When I fell asleep with newspapers around the room, my wife just picked them up without nagging. When I slept and slept, it didnt feel like I am wasting time.

When I brought my dad out for dinner, I had the most relaxing moments with my dad, soaking in the christmas atmosphere at the restaurant. Even when something unpleasant happened that required a lot of cleaning up, I felt my frustration is lower than usual.

I made me wonder seriously about 2 things.

1) Sickness could be managed suffering and it dun have to be all dark and painful, especially with loved ones around.

2) I should really get a change in scope in my job. Not sure how fast and how much things will change with a new boss, but I am very sure now, my job is eating too much of me. The non pupils related part of the work is toxic to me. One man poison could be one man meat. I am not judging,just felt its time to move on if a circle can't fit a square hole.

Anyway, there are counters in stock market is not in good health.

The Lippo Family of Reit is one. Anyone interested in getting FR, I would advise to wait for annoucement of acquisition aka dumping and rights issue.

Lippo mall dumping is always done quite ruthlessly, except for the Kemang Village deal (IIRC the name of the integrated development). FR might fare better, but look at the deal when it appear, there is no need to rush to buy.

Keppel Infrastructure Trust is always trading at above 8 percent yield with another yield Accretive purchase in the pipeline ( I am looking at the discount factor) of rights to buy.

My style of investment, as someone from IN said, is turnaround value play or cyclical play. I am not too sure if it is a accurate assessment, but I am not too concerned about the name.

It Seems just like managed sickness too. It doesn't has to be pure suffering. TheIR could be some peace and panadol of owning it as we wait for the recovery.

Companies that are sick which are in my radar for acquisition or accumulation include:

1) APPT
2) SIA engineering
3) QAF
4) FR
5) KIT
6) Singpost
7) Sembcorp

As with all sickness, some has already taken medicine (aka APPT), some have been resting for a while, some has been hit by the seasonal flu. They might not recover to the best of health just like all illness weaken our body.

Please take note that being around with sick people increased the probability of u falling sick, and where precautions aka risk management ia possible, it is not something u might want to do given a choice.

I just feel that I wouldn't use my sickness as a excuse for absence of caregiving since the doctor just say be careful and wear a mask.

My break, if it has to be given via a sickness, so be it.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Random thoughts: Silly Inc Corporate updates

Dear Readers,

It was stated last year the Silly Inc will no longer do half-yearly intern report, but so much has happened in Q3 that I, as the Chairman, find it necessary to give a update.

First of all, the rule of diversification of that our counters in our portfolio should be around 5-10% by cost value is broken. The company accumulate Silverlake Axis prior to its strong Q1 report and the company itself now takes up almost 15% of the whole portfolio value. We still have about 50% of the portfolio in cash.

Rationale for the accumulation is Silly Inc believed the company should be in the cusp of recovery due to capex recovery from the banks. The average purchase price of the counter is 50 cents, and break even price after accounting for dividends received so far is 43 cents, so we are still in the red. However, the company believed that Silverlake is undervalued and market will re-rate it sooner or later if it continues to announce stellar quarter results. The last quarter show a 70% improvement in net profits and doubling of cash flow. However, it is a big disappointment that it did not match last year dividends given its strong cash flow. This could be the reason why the counter is under-performing despite directors buying. We believe and hope the company will pay out more dividends from 2nd quarter onward. 

Secondly, Silly Inc made it first purchase using CPF monies to buy ST engineering. It was bought to ensure as and when it is necessary to purchase shares using CPF monies, there will not be teething problems. We are pleased to announce that this trance of investment is in the green as it is bought at a price of $3.2. Silly Inc has also tried exploring the iFast Fund SuperMart  (FSM) platform, and the company wanted to be ready to purchase certain ETF that is available on its platform. However, the company find the platform very user unfriendly with the need for transfer of cash into investment account. It is now monitoring the Shanghai Exchange Link from its UOB kayhian Acc instead and will most probably be buying its first overseas counter soon. The purchase is also to sort out any teething problem for such purchase as and when it is conducive to do so.

Silly Inc has made several purchases in the Q3, they are

1) Sarine Tech at 51 cents
2) SIA engineering at $2.9
3) Netlink trust at 78 cents (cum dividends)
4) APPT at 16.9 cents

APPT is a speculative position with only 10 lots taking 1.5% of the portfolio. Please rest assured the company made the decision on its own and it is purely coincidental that a celebrity blogger is also making big moves in that counter. Silly Inc made the purchase before we saw the post by the blogger, and we will continue to DYOD. SIA engineering is not doing well in terms of price, but we are not worried. We believe we might not be able to get our purchases constantly above our purchase price, but we believe that if we get the business right, its cash flow and profits right, the risk reward profile will be in our favour. The heavy capex D-checks should start increasing over the next 3-6 quarters if we calculate the number of years the down turn of D-checks start and the longer window of 6 years per check.

There are already several corporate updates aka blog posts on Sarine Tech so we shall not bored the readers further. Netlink is a company with obvious growth drivers. If the growth continue, it should be able to pay out its projected dividends purely from cash flow from 2020 onward without any need for borrowings. Silly Inc will monitor this company closely as market did not seem to buy into its growth story that is brought forward by Starhub exiting its cable network earlier. NBAP connections should be next growth drivers as Singapore gears up to be a digital ready nation and also with the network coverage buildup of the 4th Telco TPG. While the yield of 6.2% is nothing to shout about, we actually bought into the company expecting both capital gains and dividends increase with its growing revenue.

In terms of sale, the company has sold M1 in the open market, and has decided not to wait for the privatization offer to be finalized. $2.1 sale price would be a 13% gain including dividends over a 18 months period.

Conclusion of the first 9 months

Trading gain = $270
Dividends = $2012
Total returns = 2270

ROA = 2.06%

Friday, November 9, 2018

Random thoughts: PSLE results

I finally caught myself.

I missed my pupils. Counting down to the days left before I don't get to see them anymore.

Years ago, in my previous school, I had that feeling too. Feeling lost after a graduating batch leave me, not sure what else left to do.

The last three years, I have been worrying about the release of the results, because I worried about not meeting my KPI, I worried that I do not produce results, what would my subordinates think of me.

So much so that, I didn't have this feeling of missing my pupils anymore. Not that I am not worried about their results this time round. I am.

But I didn't realize I see them more as a statistic than a person. Each person is 1 percent pass or 1 percent quality pass.

The last 5 years I have learnt a lot. But I think it is a bad journey as a human. Hope it get better, I am harbouring thoughts of leaving too frequently and feeling frustration too often.

May all those who deserves to do well on the 22 Nov do well, and if they didn't do well despite their best efforts, may God let them see that adversity can be a jumping board to great things and they get stronger.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Random thoughts: Abstaining from meat

It's has been more than 2 years since I have tried not to eat meat.

It is not health reason that I tried to abstain from meat, more like I hope to reduce killings?

I never claim I am a vegetarian, because I take diary products and I didn't care about sambal chilli containing dried shrimps or what type of stock mushroom soup used. (Yes, chicken stock is use for mushroom soup at Swenson, I didn't bother)

I hope I can abstain from meat for a lifetime, but I have been taking meat for about 2-3 meals a week now.

The journey is quite a failure, I would say.

Initially, when I see roasted duck, I do feel for the duck being killed and roasted. Now, I feel like getting a bite. Yes, it is meaningless to abstain from meat now, but I do hope perhaps one day, I could still get that compassion and that simplicity back.

In my first year, there are occasions where I took meat with my dad, but I didn't consider myself failing to abstain from meat. There and then, my intention was for my dad to have a good meal, and I know he could not finish the food if he was to have it by himself. I also knew he feel bad wasting food, so I order and share it with him. I have no desire to eat the meat, I just want to be kind to my dad too. No guilt at all.

Now, when I have meals with my dad, I frequently take meat, but I knew the difference, because I wanted to have the food and I crave it now.

There is no lying to oneself.

The subtle difference means the world of difference, although looking at it for a external lens, maybe nothing much has changed. In fact, I consider it worse now, because it borders on cheating oneself.

If we look at it from a cognitive angle, I start to understand the innate disposition difference of a trader and a value investor.

Was discussing about TA and FA with LP and co, and while I couldn't quite explain myself clearly, I knew there is no fudging of the 2 at its core, although some might be able to find a balance between the two.

If one pursuit the other in depth, one would realise the inherent difference. I am not interested in semantics debate, I feel it in my bones.

But it is fine, as long as make money, who cares, it's more for self awareness anyway. It doesn't work for me, might work for others

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Random thoughts: Moral?


Saw this at Facebook. Strike a chord. This is my comment to his Qn, |"so what do we do"

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I think the article is right but ignore the fact about moral development readiness of a child.

Like learning, there is some rote learning at the beginning of mastery of  basic nummeracy etc.

Hence, a child would need to be simply reinforced and reprimanded for act of goodness and selfishness at certain early stage of life, until they could understand I do good or evil simply because I want to and it is who I am.

The only way for values to be learnt, is for it to be caught. After it is being caught, it tugs the heart and not just the mind. Therafter, it needs to be practised. (Hence the earlier reward and punishment for some practice before the action can be driven by internal values). Practices, is a dirty word nowsaday. It is associated with drills and is supposedly harmful to critical thinking and kills joy, which is bullshit. If u Understand a Maths concept or heuristic, but never practice any question, do u think u can apply the concept or heuristic fluently or naturally? Most probably, after a while, u will also forget the concept.

 Pic speaks a thousand words, and action speaks louder than words. And the action I am referring to, is not just the act of goodness or selfishness. The action, here includes also the reactions of a person after consequences or results is known. Is he at peace with himself doing good that no one appreciates and thinks of him as a fool?

A whinning man who feel victimized after doing good, acts based on expected rewards and not what he believes.

I am no sage. I know my karma will catch up with me, but I take reaponsiblity as I know it is my choice regardless of circumstances. Some circumstances might be migating enough but it doesn't change the fact that no one point a gun at your head.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Random thoughts: Sarine Technology update

Not vested yet.

I continue to read up on Sarine technology, or rather, more on Lab growth Diamond and synthetic diamond.

I scuttlebutt at one local retailer, and ask if they sell lab growth Diamond. He told me they dun, but it can be already be found quite easily in Singapore market.

He told me lab grown diamond will lose its shine after a long time as compared to natural diamond. Well, that is a good one because no one can verify long time now.

He goes on to say they have buy back policy for diamond and there is no such for synthetic diamond.

I tested his sincerity but checking if it is cheaper by 20- 30 percent. I know debeer create diamonds that are 80 percent cheaper. So it should be anything between 30 to 80 difference. He first tried to evade the ans by saying it depends. But when I come back to the qn  he said for his own opinion, it can goes up to 50 percent. BINGO!

When I ask around if anyone would buy a sythentic diamond, one mentioned it depends if there is accreditation that it is real diamond, meaning it's made of carbon hahahah.

I checked online and realized that there is accreditation for lab growth Diamond although there is some resistance from GIA to grade and accredited it specifically.

I change my thesis.

This could well be a big disruptor and is a war not easily won by incumbents.

If sythentic diamond offer buyback and accreditation, then the only differentiation would be the atas vanity effect to differentiate market segment. Although there is worse secondary market for sythentic than natural diamond now. I believe sythentic diamond would make secondary market for natural diamond even more challenging, such that any small stored value is considered as negligible for both diamonds

But there would have become a niche market and lost the mass market. Remember the farmed salmon and wild salmon thingy in my previous post.

If one is concerned about value, I would buy sythentic compare to natural because if a jeweler can't tell the difference, who is going to risk paying a premium even with accreditation?

Not only that, if I understand the young better, the yolo generation cares quite a fair bit about ideas and sustainability. Natural diamond marketing is a diamond is forever, and it is used to link to love.

Sythentic diamond claim to be green, sustainable and conflict free. In short, there is no blood stain on your pledge of love. I think that is quite a strong narrative that can easily catch on.

The things is, sythentic diamond require cutting, and polishing too. Sarine Tech has the capability to do that.

Right now, it's a war like oil sand and conventional crude by OPEC.

Debeer want to undercut the margin and at the same time, differentiate the natural diamond premium.

I think Sarine do not have any binding agreement with natural diamonds supplier, but going to the other side too early only risk angering the suppliers and customers.

In conclusion,

Sarine will survive, no matter who win the war. But before one side dominate, it can just make do with the smaller pie before switching ...

I would think it's really worth watching, like the CDG and Grab fight.

This time, I think I will not make the same mistake of not taking action when it is clear which side is gaining