Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Eh Aye…

Two English vowels had gotten a lot of fame these few months. Ever since the Chat GPT phenomenon in late 2022, this domain had gotten the attention from students, technopreneurs, and of course, investors.

So, what are the letters? Chances are that you had already guessed them: AI, or artificial intelligence.


I had written a piece about AI here with regards to Alphabet’s (or Google’s) response to Chat GPT, and true enough, after suffering initial setbacks to their version Bard, they came roaring back.


While AI was nothing new and had been around for decades, the explosion of it beyond just chats and searches is making waves around. The first to be seen was in the arts scene, where there were a lot of AI applications generating graphics and pictures which, for some of them, came across as very real-life. There was even talk about AI replacing some professional jobs, where the practitioners spent years getting the necessary academic qualifications to do them, and this is a nasty bummer to those who may be potentially affected. And now we have had heard of people trying to use AI to carry out their investment decisions.


Short of a Skynet or Matrix scenario happening (which I am very afraid of deep down in my mind), the permeation of AI is happening, or going to happen, now, but for this post I am not going to talk about the societal and ethical dimensions of it. Rather, being an investment-related blog, I am going to offer my views from an investor point of view.


Associative Investing


Let me introduce another AI into the fray: associative investing1. This A.I. (using this to distinguish from artificial intelligence) is useful in where and how to invest in AI. AI is just a theme, and there are many things and components that support this, and things that benefit from its downstream. One glaring area would be the big companies that utilises AI themselves, with Alphabet and Microsoft being the obvious examples. Another is the chip industry, and to name one of them: Nvidia, whose CEO had just stated a few hours ago that chip manufacturing is an “ideal application” for AI computing2. And definitely, we have to include self-driving technologies, which AI plays a big role.


Using A.I. is easy; just take an A4-sized paper, draw out mind maps or relationship lines of things that are directly or indirectly related to AI, and you can see where you can further explore the various regions/countries, sectors/industries and companies, and exploit your investment capital.


Exchange Traded Funds


If drawing hubs and spokes is not your cup of tea, there is still the encompassing method of investing into AI as a whole, and that is via exchange traded funds, or ETFs. There are a few such ETFs available in the market, with most of them listed in the United States. Although the ETF providers had cobbled up AI-related counters in their funds, further research on them such as the indices that they follow, the expense ratios, etc., is necessary as to determine which one(s) is suitable for your investment portfolio.




The Bedokian is invested in Alphabet directly, and Microsoft and Nvidia indirectly via a S&P 500 exchange traded fund.




1 – The Bedokian Portfolio (2nd Ed), p137-138.


2 – Caulfield, Brian. Chip Manufacturing ‘Ideal Application’ for AI, NVIDIA CEO Says. Nvidia Blog. 16 May 2023. (accessed 16 May 2023).

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Suntec REIT And Apple: Results And Looking Forward

Recently two of our holdings, Suntec REIT and Apple, had reported their quarterly results. The reason why I had selected these two is because of the mixed reactions to the published figures. Let us take a brief look at each of the counters. 

Suntec REIT


In a recent announcement, Suntec REIT had recorded a 27.4% decline in distribution per unit (DPU, or dividend in REIT speak) for the first quarter of 20231. The reasons cited were higher financing costs, weaker Australian Dollar and Pound Sterling against the Singapore Dollar vis a vis the REIT’s properties in Australia and the United Kingdom, and a lower joint venture income from Marina Bay Financial Centre. This is despite the rise in gross revenue and net property income (NPI) mainly contributed by Suntec City itself. In fact, Suntec REIT had also reported a fall in DPU for the second half of 2022, stating a sharp increase in financing costs for the reason, again regardless to the increase of gross revenue and NPI2.


From these two pieces of news, the main culprit for the lowering of DPU is financing costs, which is a given due to the rising interest rates that happened within the last 12 months or so, and of course foreign exchange risks.




Apple had beaten estimates to its quarterly results3: earnings per share +USD 0.09 at USD 1.52, revenue +USD 1.88 billion at USD 94.84 billion and gross margin +0.2% at 44.3%. However, if we looked below the revenue figures, revenues from the sale of Macs, iPad and services were below expectations, with other products and in particular the iPhone sales carrying the team.


Another point to note is that the year-on-year revenues for the current and last quarter had fallen 5%4 and 3%5, respectively. The CFO for Apple also mentioned that the next quarter results would be similar “…assuming that the macroeconomic outlook does not worsen from what we are projecting today for the current quarter”3


The Past, The Present And The Future


Quarterly results are about the numbers that were achieved and realised during the last three months, which the timeframe is known as the past. We knew that past results are not indicative of future performance, so the relative not-so-good news may not mean as such when the next quarter(s) arrives. Driven by high interest rates, which increased financing costs (and affecting Suntec REIT) and the possibility of a recession (and somewhat affecting Apple), present signs and indicators are pointing to some doom and gloom approaching from the horizon, despite knowing that we truly cannot tell the future.


On the flip side, the recent announcement by the Federal Reserve (Fed) had hinted to a pause on further interest rate increases6. The Fed, while combating inflation by accelerating interest rates which would likely cause a recession, would want to have a “soft landing”, i.e., a less painful recession or possibly avoiding it altogether. If this do happen, it would be a reversal of the “doom and gloom” mentioned in the last paragraph.


So, in conclusion, the markets and economy could go either way.


Individual Counter Perspectives


With the total opening of borders and mass easing of pandemic restrictions, NPI from Suntec City, the crown jewel of Suntec REIT, is increasing with the return of tourists, shoppers, convention visitors and office workers. In the first quarter of 2023, Singapore had welcomed 2.9 million visitors, according to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). In addition, STB had highlighted it will work with stakeholders on six key areas, one of which is to be a leading MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) destination7, in which Suntec REIT would be a direct beneficiary.


As for Apple, no one could beat its ecosystem of products and services. Recently, they had, together with Goldman Sachs, launched a savings account that offered a high yield of 4.15% to Apple Card users. Under the stewardship of its pragmatic CEO, Apple, though large, is nimble enough to maneuver itself through different regions in terms of production and revenue sources, with India being the next big place.


Whichever way the economy is heading, we would slowly increase our holdings if the prices are going down, or to enjoy better returns (dividends, DPU and capital) in the immediate future quarters if the prices are going up.


1 – Tan, Felicia. Suntec REIT reports 27.4% lower DPU of 1.737 cents in 1QFY2023. The Edge. 26 Apr 2023. (accessed 7 May 2023)


2 – Tan, Janice. Suntec Reit’s H2 DPU falls 9.7% to $0.04074 as financing costs rise. The Business Times. 20 Jan 2023. (accessed 7 May 2023)


3 – Leswing, Kif. Apple reports better-than-expected quarter driven by iPhone sales. CNBC. 4 May 2023. (accessed 7 May 2023)


4 – Apple reports first quarter results. Apple. 2 Feb 2023. (accessed 7 May 2023)


5 – Apple reports second quarter results. Apple. 4 May 2023. (accessed 7 May 2023)


6 – Schneider, Howard and Saphir, Ann. Fed raises rates, opens door to pause in tightening cycle. Reuters. 4 May 2023. (accessed 7 May 2023).


7 – Raguraman, Anjali. Singapore welcomed 2.9 million visitors in Q1, two-thirds of pre-pandemic numbers. The Straits Times. 7 Apr 2023. (accessed 7 May 2023)

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Buy At A Low, Sell At A High, Then Repeat

Buy low, sell high, make a profit, then repeat.

This is a given. However, a couple of people whom I know had given the recommendation of doing this to the counters which I had planned to hold for the long term.


The proposition is simple: let’s take Apple shares for example. Assuming my entry price was USD 100 way back and knowing the Federal Reserve would likely raise interest rates in 2022 (and cause markets to go down), I would sell it at, say, USD 160 at around end January 2022. Then, when the market goes down in June 2022, I would scoop them up at USD 140 and hold them, until the rally in August 2022, where I would sell them again at USD 170. Again, I will buy in at USD 140 sometime in November 2022. In all, I will have a realised gain of USD 90 [(160 – 100) + (170 – 140)] per share, instead of just holding it and gaining nothing without selling.


Even netting off dividends (close to USD 1 per share during the abovementioned period) and transaction costs (negligible if using discount brokerages and the number of shares is relatively large), you would still make around USD 80-ish per share. Translating that to just 100 Apple shares, that will be around USD 8,000-ish. That is a substantial injection of capital that can be deployed elsewhere.


It is a simple and convincing strategy, and a tempting one, too, for me as a buy-and-hold investor. Imagine with the profits, I can get additional dividend-generating counters to do the compounding effect further and grow the portfolio at a faster pace. How about giving this a shot?


Price Movements Are Unpredictable


The example above is cited on hindsight, and hindsight is 20/20. If the Apple shares were sold at USD 170 in August 2022, and if it continued to go up, you would have lost the opportunity to buy back. Even if it did go down, it could be at a new low (not USD 140 but perhaps USD 180), and you would be forking out an extra USD 10 for each share to re-enter (provided you still want to stay vested in Apple).


Price movements are unpredictable. Using technical analysis (which I am not good at) and/or “guestimate” by using current information and indicators (which I am below average at) does not guarantee a set price. Sometimes there may be circumstances and factors which are unexpected and/or overlooked, and they could throw a spanner in our forecasts.


And lastly, the adage about prices holds somewhat true, which is “high can go higher; low can go lower”.


What To Do With The Gains And Capital


The USD 8,000-ish gain stated in the example, plus the initial capital, would need to be deployed somewhere, else the purpose is defeated if this amount is sitting idly waiting for the next entry to Apple. This is why it is important to have a “wishlist” of securities to go into once additional funding is received; they could be new counters which you had recently prospected, or existing holdings that are suitable for entry, or maybe just split the amount into periodic investment into ETFs, or a combination of those mentioned. 


This is related to another concern: what if the capital from the sale of Apple is already vested, and Apple has reached the price for reentry? If you do not have available capital, in a way you are prevented from getting back in. It is an oxymoron to sell away the already vested capital to reinvest, especially if the newly vested securities are doing too well to be pulled out, or it is not due for withdrawal (e.g., parked in term treasuries and bonds).




Despite my concerns above, I am not critical to this idea; after all, ideas in the investing and trading world are worth knowing and learn from. It is just that whether you would want to adopt this into your own investment methodology.


May the Fourth be with you.



The Bedokian is vested in Apple.