Thursday, July 30, 2020

We Shall Go Fo(u)rth, Regardless

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the Bedokian Portfolio blog.


Dark clouds of (technical) recession are already upon us, and the effects of it are already being felt, with businesses closing and retrenchments beginning. All these can be attributed to the prevalent economy-slowing COVID-19 pandemic, which at this point is still showing no signs of abatement. Second or third waves were already reported in places where it was brought under control previously, prompting the reinstatement of containment measures such as lockdowns and limited gatherings. Though the rush for the vaccine was on, there is none yet approved for use by the mass population. Governments around the world have or have had rolled out stimulus packages to get the economy going and temporary reliefs to tide things over, such as the lowering of interest rates and asset purchases in the United States, and locally the introduction of the four budgets (Unity, Resilience, Solidarity and Fortitude).


Despite the doom and gloom of these times, there are still some silver linings amongst the dark clouds. Several sectors and industries are experiencing a boom, noticeably those which present alternatives or substitutes to the normal (or pre-COVID-19) way of things. A good example is video conferencing tool Zoom, one of the get-arounds of physical meetings; its stock returns year-to-date (YTD) was about 270%. Another was e-commerce giant Amazon, seen as a proxy to physical shopping, had a YTD returns of 64%. 


Adding on, sectors and industries that support the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph are also showing resilience, like for instance representing data centres is Keppel DC REIT, which gave a YTD performance of almost 45%, even though its price nosedived during the first half of March. Mobile payment ETF IPAY stood firm at 6% YTD, after experiencing the same nosedive as Keppel DC REIT back in March, too.


Unlike the Global Financial Crisis back in 2008/2009, this current situation is not a liquidity crisis, where there is not enough liquidity or cash and credit flowing around the economy. Rather, it is a fall of demand and supply of goods and services resulting from the countermeasures, regulated or not, towards COVID-19. This could explain why there was a sudden rush for goods and services at some countries the moment the stringent measures were lifted or eased (e.g. our transition to Phase 2); the so-called “pent-up demand”.


However, as per my economic machine analogy herethe longer the economic slow-down, other segments of the economy will slow or worse, grind to a halt. This causes a lagging downstream effect that we are feeling now. A good associative example: viral outbreak > reduction of travelling > tourism reduced > air travel reduced > airline profits down > aviation sector hit. This was why some countries would want the economic machine to keep going, albeit with safe practices such as safe distancing, work-from-home and donning masks. Short of a vaccine, which may probably take at least half-year more for mass usage, this would be the best way going forward to get things back to normal (old or new).


No matter what life throws at us, we shall go forth, regardless.

Monday, July 27, 2020

My Portfolio Transition Experience

A few of my friends and acquaintances had asked me about my experiences during the transition from trading to investing, in which I had shared, very briefly, in the “About The Bedokian” page of this blog. In this post, I will describe more about my journey and what were the main steps that I took during then.


It All Began With A Nap


I love to take weekend afternoon naps, which normally last between 30 minutes and one hour, to rejuvenate myself for the later part of the day. I remembered it was a Saturday in the beginning of 2013, where I had my usual short slumber. Around 15 or 20 minutes into it, I suddenly jolted up and began to ponder on two important questions: Do I have enough to retire? Do I have enough for my kids’ education?


Whilst I have had (and still have) long term savings in the form of endowments and education funds, I was thinking to myself can I do better in growing our monies. At that time, I was doing some trading in the stock market, and although I was quite alright with it, I felt my inherent skill sets and knowledge were not suitable for it. Later on, I started to look at the investment side of things, got convinced and did not turn back from there.


The Quest For Knowledge


I graduated with a degree in economics and management, and part of my subjects learnt were economics (ok, duh…), the various aspects of management and a subject in elementary accounting. These underlying competencies served as background information as well as a springboard to understand more, which helped a lot in shortening my learning curve. I also held a polytechnic engineering diploma that enabled me to have a train of thought in a systematic and logical way. These traits allowed me to have a holistic and macro view of things, and it greatly assisted my learning journey to come.


I started off by reading up material from different sources; for online, there were forums, blogs and videos. Offline reading included books, business newspapers and magazines. Here are some of the materials that I had referenced, in no particular order and not exhaustive:





  • All the Dummies Series books on investment
  • All About Asset Allocation by Richard A. Ferri
  • The Permanent Portfolio by Craig Rowland and J. M. Lawson
  • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
  • One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch
  • Handbook For Stock Investors by Goh Kheng Chuan
  • Building Wealth Through REITs by Bobby Jayaraman


I trawled through the above (and some more others) to gain as much know-how and information that I could, and I am still reading new materials to gain additional insights. I also re-read past books and articles to do an “unlearn” so that I can pick up fresh perspectives and points that I may have probably missed out earlier.


The Holistic View


I believe in the grand scheme of things (or so-called macro view), since everything and everyone are interlinked to one another. The economy and the financial markets are no exception to this concept, and this led me to the idea of managing investing on a portfolio basis, with different asset classes making up the investments.


Along with the above came the importance of diversification. We need to know that in times of booms and busts, some asset classes perform better than others, and with diversifying (and the accompanying characteristic of rebalancing), we could ride out the cyclical waves of the economy and markets with some gains or not-so-much losses.


The Actual Transition


Having said much about the theoretical and strategical aspect, it is time to delve into something more operational. As at the time when I had that fateful nap, I still held some share trading positions, one dividend counter, and I also went into other asset classes such as the Genting 5.125% Perpetual bonds and silver bullion. For the remaining part of 2013 and early 2014, I was reading up and researching, finding the ideal portfolio mix, selling counters which did not fit me and buying those that did, all at the same time, like a project with planning, executing and post-review all done at once.


It was not a clean start, which was why I came up with Bob (see here) as a sample to demonstrate, in real time, an actual Bedokian Portfolio at work.


And Finally The E-Book And Blog


A lot of effort and thoughts went into the formation of the Bedokian Portfolio, and in early 2015, I had decided to pen down the knowledge and information gathered during that period into a journal for my family, which evolved into an e-Book after I had decided to share what I know and learnt. After I had done up my e-Book, I started this blog as a continuation to document and share my views, opinions and tips, while continuing to read-up and learn more. After all, learning is a continuous journey.



Sunday, July 19, 2020

Inside The Bedokian’s Portfolio: Apple

Inside The Bedokian’s Portfolio is an intermittent series where I will reveal what is actually inside our investment portfolio, one company/bond/REIT/ETF at a time. In each post I will talk a bit about the counter, why I had selected it and what lies ahead in the future.


For this round, I shall talk about one of the most iconic technological lifestyle brands in the shape of a bitten fruit. Yes, you guessed it, Apple (ticker: AAPL).


Tech And Lifestyle Giant


From its garage days when it was first founded back in 1976, Apple is now a tech giant that provides a huge ecosystem comprising of its hardware (MacBooks, iPhones, Apple Watch, etc.), software (Mac OS, iOS, etc.) and content (Apple TV+). Other than being a technological company, Apple had developed into a lifestyle one, too. Owning and using an Apple device is seen as hip and a form of status symbol, and the products’ good design further strengthened those impressions. However, not all Apple users chose it simply because they wanted to be seen with one, but perhaps for other reasons such as better specifications and ease of use.


Why Apple


From my investment strategy research back in 2013/2014, I had identified four counters that a U.S. market newbie can start with, and Apple was one of them (on top of the S&P 500 ETF and Berkshire Hathaway which I shared earlier). I viewed Apple as one of the leading representatives in U.S. technological innovation and being one of the global brands with a huge loyal following. 




Apple was seen as revolutionary in their approach to products and services, but it gradually turned to evolutionary as the initial “wow” factor was fizzling out. They are fighting their competitors on multiple fronts; on hardware (against HP, Lenovo, etc. for computers and Samsung, Huawei, etc. for mobile devices), software (versus Microsoft and Android) and services (Spotify for music, Netflix for content, etc.).


Since the first quarter of Apple’s fiscal year 2012, the mobile hardware segment, i.e. iPhones, had dominated its revenue source, ranging from 40-ish to almost 70 percent1. In the past there were countless mobile phones touted as the “iPhone killer” but none had really made its mark. However, serious challengers had risen in recent years, such as the recent Samsung Galaxy S20, and these models could sway swing users of iPhones. Depending on the proportion of the swing on a macro scale, this may cause income fluctuations for Apple.


Still, the user base is substantial; according to an Apple press release in early 2020, there were about 1.5 billion installed base of active Apple devices2. Using a rough assumption, if we equate one device for each user, that translates to about 20% of the current world population.


Nevertheless, we can never doubt the strength of Apple as a brand. A number of brand ranking sites placed the company among the top few, if not first, of their lists. Coupled that with user loyalty (e.g. the Apple fans) and the earlier-mentioned lifestyle icon, it will be around and relevant for at least the next decade.




Bought Apple at: 

USD 94.25, June 2014

USD 96.00, August 2014

USD 99.41, September 2014

USD 93.20, April 2016

USD 149.36, January 2019





1 – Share of Apple’s revenue by product category from the 1st quarter of 2012 to the 2nd quarter of 2020. Statista. 3 Jul 2020. (accessed 18 Jul 2020)


2 – Apple Reports Record First Quarter Results. Apple. 28 Jan 2020. (accessed 18 Jul 2020)