Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Getting inspired by design

I have been pretty intrigued by design in the last two years. A large part of it has to do with influences by great designers like Jonathan Ive from Apple and Matias Duarte from Google. Design is beginning to play an increasing part of our lives. It is getting more pervasive, from our gadgets, to the architecture around us, to innovative solutions to everyday problems.

Design goes beyond aesthetics, but examines the fundamental essence of things around us. There is also a methodology of creative problem solving known as design thinking, which uses the way designers think to solve wicked problems (i.e. problems that are generally hard to solve by conventional means).

Now, what has this got to do with investment? As I explore and look at different aspects of design, I begin to see how we can apply design to our everyday lives. Just like how we can design a solution to a problem, we can also design the way we approach investing. There are a thousand and one approaches in investing. One can choose to trade frequently, or hold long term for the intrinsic value, or combine a mixture of either approaches, etc.

For me, designing an investment approach involves thinking about our own philosophies and approach to life. Do we seek a more thrilling and exciting life? Or a more stable and conservative approach. Do we prefer once off capital gains? Or dividends that are recurrent but usually in smaller amounts. As we answer some of these questions about our own preferences, we can design an investment approach or a portfolio that would suit our temperament. This would allow us to have a coherent investment approach that is in sync with our beliefs and lifestyle.

Design is interesting because it allows us to start from a clean slate to design an outcome. And from there develop solutions around the outcome we have in mind. I'm inspired by design, are you?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tech Focus: The Jaybird Bluebud X

As a recent evolution of my blog, I have decided to also cover technology that are of interest to me in addition to investment related stuff. My first post on this topic would be to look at a pair of earbuds that I have recently bought. The Jaybird Bluebud X, as seen in the picture on the left.

Development in wireless technology has really gained pace over the past few years. In the past, bluetooth headsets were limited to those single-sided earpiece purely for functional call-taking purposes. The compression and audio quality over bluetooth is just not good enough for any decent music listening.

Fast forward to today, I believe wireless is where the future is. In time to come, other than hardcore audiophiles, I believe most people would not see the need for wired headphones or earphones. As a bit of a geeky and gadget guy, I bought the Bluebud X to see how far wireless technology has come. The earbuds are quite costly (about $170 over Qoo10), but I guess that is the premium to pay for wireless, at least for now.

Wireless is a big boon as it allows me to move around without being tethered to my phone. Being a casual listener, the audio quality is certainly good enough for my ears. The build quality is decent but not something I would be comfortable to abuse to test out its ruggedness. While it's supposed to be waterproof, I use it mainly in the office for easy listening. Battery life is good and rated at about 6-8hrs. I have not exactly tested it out for duration of use, but at least I don't feel I have to keep charging it.

My only qualms with the earbuds is that they do not really fit snugly in the ears. This could be due to the size or fit of the silicon buds. I read from online reviews that getting comply foam buds would help, although those are quite expensive for what they are. I may consider down the road.

All in all, I think the earbuds are great for non-critical listening. Wireless is where we are heading, and I am sure the technology would mature with prices coming down with improved audio quality over time. Do consider the Bluebud X if you are considering a pair of wireless earbuds. The waterproof earbuds would also come in useful if you intend to use them for running, though not something I have tested out myself.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Art and Science of Investing

There are many approaches to investing. Some may prefer the speculative or trading approach, which involves looking more at technical indicators to determine the short term movements of stock prices. There are also the long term or value investors, which tend to look more at the fundamentals of a company before deciding which stock to buy and hold for the long term. There have been countless debates on the merits of each approach.

To me, the investment approach or investment philosophy is one of the key determinants of whether an investor will be successful over the long haul. Either approaches can work, but the most important thing is to know your own temperament and which approach is more suitable for you. This is where I will elaborate on what I think is the art and science of investing. Like many other things in life, things are seldom simply black or white. There are many grey areas where I believe taking both the art and science approach would allow a more holistic look at the issue.

In terms of investing, the science aspect is relatively clear cut. By studying the figures in financial reports, the technical indicators in charts, it allows one to make informed decisions about the investment value of a certain stock or company. One would also need to understand the science of interpreting the numbers in order to make sense of what is being presented, whether is it financial ratios or information on the financial health of the company.

However, I believe to look at investing only from the scientific perspective would be only looking at one side of the coin. There are many aspects of investing which can be subjective and depend on the individual's experience to make a judgment call on the appropriate action to take given the circumstances surrounding a stock. This is also where different individuals may have different preferences on the approach to take for investing, be it long term, short term, dividend, value or growth investing.

I invest not just for financial returns or financial well-being. I enjoy the process of investing, which is both an art as well as a science of putting information together to make informed choices. I believe that by looking at both aspects of investing, I am better able to appreciate the nuances of investing as well as the differences in approach between various camps of investors. Hopefully as I continue this investment journey, I would be able to hone my art of investing as well as better understand the science behind the numbers I gather from financial reports.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dividends in July - Sept 2014

FCT - $0.02288/share - $46 (17 July)
SATS - $0.08/share - $80 (13 Aug)
Boustead - $0.05/share - $750 (19 Aug)
Hourglass - $0.06/share - $60 (tbc)
ART - $0.03937/share - $118 (25 Aug)

Total - $1054

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Recent Stock Actions: CMA and CSE Global

I have made a couple of moves lately in my portfolio. The first of which was the divestment of CMA through the Capitaland buyback. I actually owned both CMA and Capitaland. I see the buyback of CMA by Capitaland as a strategic move to simplify its structure and have better control over its asset allocation. CMA is the jewel in Capitaland's holdings and privatising CMA will allow Capitaland to enjoy the full growth of its China Retail assets.

Personally, I welcome the move as I have been wanting to reduce my holdings in Capitaland / CMA in view of the imminent slowdown in the property market. So this recent deal gave a good opportunity for me to divest some holdings at a decent gain. I will continue to hold on to my existing holdings in Capitaland, and perhaps add on to it if a good opportunity presents itself.

With the funds freed from the divestment of CMA, I have added on to my existing holdings in CSE Global. I continue to see CSE as a fundamentally strong company. With its recent sale of Servelec, it is now net cash and giving out a respectable 5+% dividend based on 2013 yields. I hope to see CSE sharpening its focus and building on its existing businesses.

In terms of the overall market, I think we are at a crossroads now where the market cannot decide if it wants to move up or down. I suppose alot will hinge on how the US intends to play out its quantitative easing and interest rate policies. I will stick to my strategy of buying on dips and continue looking out for fundamentally sound companies with around 5% dividend yield.

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