Friday, July 29, 2011

Most Asian markets down on US debt problem

Most Asian markets down on US debt problem

PETALING JAYA: Market sentiment in Asia took a beating yesterday, tracking concerns in the advanced markets where in the United States, lawmakers are struggling to find a solution to the country's debt problem.

At the close, most key Asian markets were down by an average of 0.5% each.

At home, the 30-stock FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (FBM KLCI) managed to claw back some of its morning losses to finish 6 points, or 0.40%, lower to 1,551.91 after losing more than 11 points in the earlier morning session.

“The scary part of the story is the fact that markets have not priced in the US defaulting on its debt. Should the unthinkable happen next week, then a throw back to the chaos of 2008 would again become a reality,” CMC Markets analyst Ben Le Brun told Singapore's Dow Jones.

Down market: A man walking past a stock market indicator board in Tokyo yesterday. The Nikkei Stock Average lost 145.84 points, or 1.45%, to close at 9,901.35 in line with other Asian markets. — EPA
Essentially, should the United States fail to raise its borrowing limit before an Aug 2 deadline, it could default on its debts for the first time in history. On Wednesday it was reported that talks between policymakers on the matter had reached a stalemate.

“From now until a solution is found ... markets will remain jittery,” Danny Wong, chief executive officer of Areca Capital said.

Most stock markets around the world were climbing last week as a new help plan for Greece had eased some concerns that the other major debt crisis over in Europe, would get worse.

“But this US debt impasse has changed the whole equation. Unless the deadlock is broken, the risk on US sovereign credit will inevitably rise,” MIDF said in a report issued this week.

The first test of ratings on the US will be on Aug 4 when US$30bil in Treasury bills mature, it noted.

That said, fund managers are expecting Asian financial markets to enjoy a positive impact from the US debt issues, more so if talks between US policymakers fail.

“While we acknowledge negative knee-jerk reactions on a near-term basis, we believe Asia ex Japan could eventually benefit from a stronger inflow of funds, strengthening their currencies against the US dollar and boosting financial markets,” MIDF said.

Malaysia is also poised to enjoy the “positive effect”, the research house said.

Wong concurs, saying the spillover effect from the debt crisis in the United States would be positive for Malaysia as investors would look elsewhere to channel their funds.

“I am not overly concerned about any deep negative impact from the US crisis. However, if the United States goes into a recession, the global supply chain will be adversely affected,” he said.

MIDF noted that foreigners have been net buyers of Malaysian stocks in 15 out of the last 18 weeks

Local institutions turned net buyers last week, the first time in six weeks, while retailers were net sellers in the week that just ended.

----we should wait and see and be prepared to jump in, always remember play safe, play smart and never ever try to fight the tide

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bar Council: RCI 'suicide' verdict unfounded
Bar Council: RCI 'suicide' verdict unfounded
Posted by: waynebwng

The Malaysian Bar, however, does not concur with the finding by the RCI that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide. Such a finding, in our view, is unsupported by the facts and the evidence.

Contrary to the statement made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, forensic psychiatrist Professor Paul Mullen did not testify that Teoh Beng Hock had a “weak character” that had led to him taking his own life. Professor Mullen also did not conclude that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide; rather, his testimony stated that “in [his] opinion, what we learned of Teoh Beng Hock’s personality and behaviour do not suggest any increased risk of suicide”. He further opined that the context of the events that had taken place was not one “which, in [his] experience, leads to suicide in custody”, as he had not been made aware of anything “to explain panic and distress sufficient to drive [Teoh Beng Hock] to conclude his honor had been irreparably tarnished”.

This is in stark contrast to what the Minister reportedly stated during the release of the RCI’s report, namely that Teoh Beng Hock had “truly committed suicide based on his character that had changed from a low-risk group to a high-risk group for suicide after undergoing a continuous and aggressive questioning session”. Professor Mullen’s testimony does not provide the basis for the RCI’s finding of suicide, such as that described in the section titled “conclusion on forensic psychiatric aspects” in the RCI’s report.

It is noted that the RCI found the following:

(1) That the time of death had been between 7:15 am and 11:15 am on 16 July 2009;

(2) That Teoh Beng Hock had not been released at 3:30 am and been left alone sitting on a sofa after his statement had been recorded, as Hishamuddin Hashim had issued a written circular the previous month that “witnesses and visitors in the Selangor MACC office should be accompanied at all times”;

(3) That Teoh Beng Hock had been subjected to a fourth interrogation session after 3:30 am by Hishamuddin Hashim and his officers, which was aggressive and relentless. In addition, the RCI rejected the evidence of MACC officer Raymond Nion that he had seen Teoh Beng Hock lying down unattended on a sofa at approximately 6:00 am;

(4) That the fourth interrogation session was probably between 3:30 am and 7:00 am; and

(5) That the window from which Teoh Beng Hock is said to have fallen out was located conspicuously.

In view of the above, and that there was no evidence whatsoever produced at the RCI hearing of Teoh Beng Hock’s whereabouts or movements after 6:15 am, and the staff of the Selangor MACC office would have begun arriving by 8:00 am, to surmise that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide between 7:15 am and 11:15 am requires a leap in logic and an assumption of facts not in evidence.

The Malaysian Bar also notes that the joint expert psychiatric report of Dr Badiah Yahya and Dr Nor Hayati Ali – the experts engaged by MACC who were present during most of the court proceedings and had interviewed Teoh Beng Hock’s family members, housemate and work colleagues – stated:

We did not have any evidence on how the investigation was conducted as there were “no written questions posted to [Teoh Beng Hock]” or audio recording as to ascertain the amount of pressure that he experienced. It is not known whether he had experienced in his mind the effects of being possibly prosecuted on the allegations, whether it would have been devastating for him and/or his organisation. This should require more information on what was said and done in the period taken [sic] into custody until he was found dead.

It is very clear to the Malaysian Bar that full responsibility for Teoh Beng Hock’s death lies squarely and solely on the MACC, and that immediate action must be taken to hold the culpable officers accountable for their behaviour. In this regard, we welcome the reported statement by Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, that “appropriate action would be taken against the officers through the process of law without delay”. The authorities should investigate the relevant MACC officers for possible offences under sections 304 and 304A of the Penal Code, namely for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and for causing the death of TBH by negligence, respectively.

The Malaysian Bar also calls on the Government of Malaysia and MACC to consider:

* offering an unqualified written apology to Teoh Beng Hock’s family, and to the citizens of Malaysia, for his death; and

* making reasonable recompense to Teoh Beng Hock’s family in respect of his death. The Malaysian Bar extends its heartfelt sympathy once again to Teoh Beng Hock’s family and loved ones.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Free Dr Jeyakumar Now !

THE recent arrest of Dr Jeyakumar M. Devaraj, Member of Parliament for Sungei Siput, on charges related to communism was most unfortunate.

Many of us have known Dr Kumar for years, some of us since 1976, when we were classmates at medical school in Universiti Malaya.

In those days the number of students was small and it was thus possible to know one another pretty well after five intensive years together. Most of us knew him first as a fellow university student, then colleague and more importantly as a friend.

In all our years of relationship we have found him an honest and sincere individual, concerned for the plight of the average person. He is a man of integrity and honour, an advocate for the down trodden and those without a voice.

Even as a medical student he was already very much interested in looking out for the interests and well being of the socially and economically disadvantaged segment of society.

Since becoming a doctor and now an MP, he has worked hard to champion the rights of the poor, the marginalised and neglected. Many individuals and communities in desperate need have benefitted from his involvement.

Never have we found him to espouse or communicate communist ideas. He has always stood for social justice. His lifestyle mirrored his beliefs. If anyone cares to trace his service record in the medical services, it will be easy to see that Dr Kumar’s principles and values in life have remained consistent throughout his career.

Unlike many people, Dr Kumar definitely walks his talk. He has shared his time, energy and what little wealth he has with the poor and neglected.

He comes from a distinguished family line. His father was also a very well respected physician and his uncle was the founder dean of the first medical school in Malaysia (i.e. Universiti Malaya).

He could have led a very comfortable life for himself, but he chose to make many personal sacrifices to help others lead a better life.

Many of us have admired Dr Kumar’s passion, determination, discipline and desire to help fellow Malaysians in need. He has been an inspiration to many people.

We appeal to the authorities to free him and others arrested with him.

This letter is signed by 50 concerned colleagues and friends

What can you do?
1) Write to the Press if you can write well.
2) Sign the online petition if you can.
3) Talk to anyone you know and ask them to at least sign the online petition.
4) Vote wisely in the next election.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Investors seeking safe haven bet on gold

buying gold?good idea?when the market is down we should not loss our focus, concentrate on what you do well!

Investors seeking safe haven bet on gold

PETALING JAYA: Gold prices are on the way up again as concerns over debt levels in the United States and the eurozone prompt investors to move their funds to safe-haven assets.

Investors were also betting that rising agriculture commodity prices would mean higher food prices after the Standard & Poor's GSCI Spot Index, a measure of 24 commodities, rose for the third consecutive week.

Gold, also seen as a hedge against inflation and volatility, has seen gains since 2009 as an impasse over how to lower the US deficit continued.

Investor fears have also heightened amid concerns that deficit levels in eurozone members Italy and Spain could not be sustained in the long term.

A Bloomberg report said gold futures climbed for nine straight sessions to July 15, which is the longest rally since November 2009.

Analysts who spoke to StarBiz said prices would rise above the US$1,600 per ounce level in the near term due to inflation in China and the debt crises in the United States and the eurozone.

Singapore-based Phillip Futures Pte Ltd analyst Ong Yi Ling said gold was likely to rise to US$1,650 in the August to September period as demand was traditionally strong during that time.

She said that with Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke not discounting another round of fiscal stimulus, this signalled to the markets that the recovery in the world's largest economy could still be a drag on global growth.

Ong added that demand for gold in China was high as both an investment and retail purchase. Investors like it as a store of value and hedge against inflation while rising incomes have allowed retail customers to buy the metal, according to Ong.

She, however, noted that price volatility would increase as prices rose.

Meanwhile, a Singapore-based gold trader attached to a bank said gold prices would likely rise to US$1,615 in the next one to two weeks before the market rebalanced from the price rise.

“Funds are flowing to gold from securities due to the volatility of the US and European markets but may return to the US market as second-quarter financial results may beat expectations,” he said.

According to Brad Durham, an EPFR managing director, there was fear in the markets of a potential downgrade of US debt and more negative news from the eurozone.

“It was a good, old-fashioned flight-to-safety trade,” he said in a Bloomberg report.

Data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission also showed hedge funds and other money managers lifted their net-long gold position by 25%, which is the biggest jump since the week ended Sept 8, 2009.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New frontiers for property firms

New frontiers for property firms
Written by Chua Sue-Ann
Monday, 11 July 2011 11:38

KUALA LUMPUR: Many Malaysian-based property developers are now increasingly spreading their wings to developed economies after an earlier adventure to developing countries such as Vietnam did not pan out well.

In the past few years, larger Malaysian property and construction groups had flocked to Vietnam, once touted as the rising star of Southeast Asia. They include the likes of Gamuda Land (the property arm of Gamuda Bhd), S P Setia Bhd, WCT Bhd, IJM Land Bhd, Berjaya Land Bhd and Ireka Corp Bhd via its London-listed property fund Aseana Properties Ltd.

But now, there appears to be a growing trend for property players to invest in real estate opportunities in Singapore and Australia, and even as far away as Canada and the UK.

A property industry observer opines that earlier optimism on Vietnam’s real estate prospects were largely fuelled by expectation of strong take-up by the sizeable expatriate population in Vietnam — which has since shown to be unsustainable as prices were out of reach of the local population when demand from foreigners dried up.

Over the past two decades — since the “Doi moi” (renewal in Vietnamese) economic reforms initiated in 1986, foreign direct investments have been pouring into Vietnam.

These reforms have made Vietnam one of Asia’s success stories as it made its transition from a command to a more market-oriented economy, with a low-cost industrial base and a growing middle class.

Investors, including those from Malaysia, poured into its real estate sector, where prices and returns were unrealistically high due to a lack of supply of expatriate housing and international-class office space.

Since the 2008 global crisis, however, the euphoria has died as the economy faced economic woes, including rising inflation, a widening trade deficit, currency depreciation, declining foreign direct investments and high interest rates.

“The prices of the higher-end developments there are unsustainable. There isn’t a large middle class population base to support the supply, as prices are aimed at the limited expatriate market. It will take a long, long time for Vietnamese income levels to reach some of the asking property prices before the crisis.

“After experimenting with Vietnam, developers are now going to more stable countries such as Singapore and Australia,” said the observer.

“Local income levels relative to house prices are important, a factor which developers that went to Vietnam ignored during the euphoria,” he said, adding that developed markets such as Australia and Singapore see steady demand from a mix of local and foreign buying interest.

Selangor Dredging Bhd (SDB) is among the list of developers venturing beyond Malaysian shores, having planned several small projects in Singapore.

SDB has three property projects in Singapore, namely its mixed development Okio Residences on Balestier Road, a high-rise residential project Gilstead Two on Gilstead Road and Jia, a low-density residential development on Wilkie Road.

Recently, SDB ventured into London where its indirect subsidiary had in March acquired a piece of freehold land for development.

IOI Properties Bhd, a unit of IOI Corp Bhd, has been active in the Singapore property sector for a while. Together with its joint venture Ho Bee Investment Ltd, IOI Properties is developing the Pinnacle and Seascape at Sentosa Cove on Sentosa Island. It also working with Mergui Development Pte Ltd to develop a high-rise residential project at Mergui Land in Singapore.

Recently, IOI Corp announced its partnership with City Developments Ltd to develop South Beach, a mixed development project with total land area of 8.64 acres (3.46ha) located at a landmark site between Raffles Hotel and Suntec City and next to the Esplanade MRT Station.

But leading the charge in Singapore is UEM Land Bhd which is likely to play a key role in developing projects via its parent Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s tie-up with Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.

The partnership between the two sovereign wealth funds to develop land parcels came after a land swap deal after Singapore and Malaysia agreed on the relocation of the Tanjong Pagar KTMB (Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd) station in Singapore.

UEM Land’s subsidiary Sunrise Bhd, which it acquired earlier this year, has seen very strong demand for its Quintet development in Richmond, Canada.

Located outside downtown Vancouver, Quintet comprises condominium units and townhouses with a total gross development value of C$400 million (RM1.2 billion) spread over two phases.

Investors snapped up almost all 300 units under Quintet’s Phase 1 late last year within a single weekend. This prompted Sunrise to bring forward the launch of Phase 2 to June this year, which saw 90% of available units snapped up within a weekend. With nearly 600 homes sold, Quintet has sold more homes in the lower mainland area recently than any other development and has broken numerous real estate records, the developer said.

Last weekend, Sunrise launched the final 100 units of the development in Tower E, which has premium mountain and park views.

Property analysts opine that Malaysian developers’ push abroad is in line with the growth trajectory to enable the companies to achieve their aspired scale. “For the bigger Malaysian property developers which want to grow their base and have high annual growth, Malaysia may be too small a market. They would have to go regional,” said one analyst.

Nevertheless, it may prove difficult for Malaysian property developers to go abroad in a big way unless the companies have already built up a strong following and brand, said another analyst.

“For overseas projects, Malaysians would prefer to buy from a developer they’re already familiar with, and can deal with easily here... rather than through long-distance phone calls and correspondence”, the analyst said.

He added that the developers’ plans to expand abroad were also to tap Malaysians who wanted to diversify their assets overseas.

The stronger ringgit also bodes well for Malaysian property groups wanting to venture abroad to buy land and start development, analysts said. Many analysts also pointed to Vietnam’s present economic uncertainties and the policy risks evident in China as the government moves to cool the residential property market in major cities amid fears of overheating.

Although many developed economies, with the exception of Australia, are still facing uncertain economic growth prospects, there are still opportunities to be tapped by property players, analysts said.

In a report last month, CB Richard Ellis (Australia) senior managing director Rick Butler said Australia’s property market showed a pick-up in activity in April after a slow start for the year as buyers began shifting focus towards other Asia-Pacific markets following the Japan earthquake.

“Australia continues to record a noticeable increase in enquiries from Asia-based funds looking to deploy capital previously earmarked for Japan,” Butler said.

Butler expects the pace and volume of real estate transactions in Australia to pick up in the coming months as more assets are made available for sale.

Last month, Magna Prima Bhd announced that it had entered into an agreement to purchase a freehold high-rise apartment project in Melbourne from its developer which had already sold about 62% of the project. The property, named Dynasty Living, is a 25-storey residential development with 320 apartment units which will commence construction in 4Q of 2011.

However, the latest giant to pit its fortune Down Under is S P Setia Bhd which recently launched its maiden Australian property project, the Fulton Lane high-rise apartment and commercial development in Melbourne.

S P Setia is also embarking on joint ventures to develop property in Hangzhou, China, and had recently acquired a project for development in Singapore as it continues its endeavours in Vietnam.

Fulton Lane is a mixed-use project comprising retail space and two blocks of residential units in the northern part of Melbourne’s central business district, with a GDV of A$470 million (RM1.5 billion) and is slated for completion in 2014. S P Setia released about 297 units under Fulton Lane’s Phase 1 launch while Phase 2 will offer over 400 units.

S P Setia’s Fulton Lane property saw strong take-up rates of 70% of its Phase 1 during a recent preview launch, which bodes well for the developer given its ambitions to expand its landbank in Australia.

Australia has managed to escape economic recession during the 2008 global credit crisis, thanks to its booming mining sector, making it an attractive investment destination in the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia’s growing population and a shortfall in housing supply, particularly in the major capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne, have also attracted the interest of investors from Singapore, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong.

Sam Nathan of independent Australian property consultancy firm Charter Keck Cramer noted that Melbourne had been attracting Asia-based property developers and investors in the last five years.

There are currently about 16 high-rise residential projects being undertaken by Asian developers in Melbourne’s inner city region, Nathan told reporters in a recent briefing in Melbourne.

To cope with population growth, Nathan said property players need to deliver 35,000 dwellings per annum but are only completing about 26,500 housing units annually in Melbourne.

Melbourne and Sydney are facing shortfalls in residential properties as demand continues to be driven by immigration-fuelled population growth, rising student population and lifestyle changes.

“This is not a speculative boom. This is a response by the property development community to the fundamental need for dwellings,” he said.

Nathan, however, concedes that prospects appear bright for now, given Australia’s economic prosperity on the back of its booming resources sector due to consumption by China and the Asia-Pacific region.

Like the Vietnam experience, only time will tell if the ventures to the developed economies prove a winning bet in the medium term.

This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, July 11, 2011.

Monday, July 11, 2011

From The Edge --What is so wrong about peaceful demonstrations?

What is so wrong about peaceful demonstrations?
Written by By Azam Aris

Tuesday, 05 July 2011 14:19

As a journalist, I like to revisit some of the issues I have written about. I have gone back to quite a few lately, mostly to update myself and the readers to see if things have changed for the better or remain the same. If there haven’t been any improvements and issues have not been resolved amicably, then there hasn’t been any progress and we are not moving forward as a nation.

Back in 2007, there were a lot of “walks”. Lawyers and their supporters went on a “walk of justice” to Putrajaya to seek the setting up of a Royal Commission to look into the VK Lingam tape. Bersih, the coalition for free and fair elections, was on the road to demand reform of the electoral system, while the Hindu Rights Action Force took to the streets to highlight the plight of the Indian community. Many others took to walking that year and some chose to because they had an occasion to celebrate, for example, International Human Rights Day.

All these demonstrations were deemed illegal by the government as they were not issued permits by the police. But let them walk peacefully, I commented, as there are ways to do it without the risk of havoc and civil unrest.

I quoted a New SundayTimes interview with elder statesman Tun Musa Hitam, the former deputy prime minister, who said as a nation celebrating its 50th independence (then), a multiracial Malaysia was more than ready for peaceful assemblies, and agreed that freedom of expression was not just a middle-class idea.

Peaceful assembly relates to the right to free expression, the right that is given to human beings to express their views … Freedom in a democratic society is quite clear. People do have a right to demonstrate and they must be given the right,” he said.

In the same article, I pointed out that the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) had expressed regret that the government had ignored its repeated calls to repeal the law requiring permits for public assemblies and processions. Former attorney general Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, who was Suhakam chairman at the time, was quoted by The Star: “In London, you can hold peaceful assemblies and the police are around to prevent public disorder. But here, a group needs a permit even to submit a memorandum.

“The possibility of public disorder should be based on evidence, not speculation or imagination. Unfortunately, a gathering of three is an assembly under Section 27 of the Police Act. The intention is irrelevant. Suhakam wants Section 27 repealed because it goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and appears to be inconsistent with the spirit of the Federal Constitution.”

Nearly four years on, this issue about the right to peaceful assembly remains in a muddy quagmire, with no solution in sight. No permits, no rally, no demonstration and no walk. Progress has not been made on how to move forward. There are still no guidelines on how Malaysians can carry out peaceful demonstrations despite the numerous recommendations presented to the government, including proposals by Suhakam, and many effective methods implemented overseas that we can follow.

The right to peaceful demonstration is actually not a complicated matter if the government has the political will. If there were accepted guidelines and rules of assembly, many of the problems today, including parties antagonising each other and bringing up racial issues, could have been avoided.

Instead, the police have made more arrests and questioned Bersih organisers. The Home Ministry has even declared Bersih T-shirts illegal as they are associated with an illegal rally — developments that would not score well for us when it comes to our international human rights ranking.

But Bersih still wants to walk on July 9 — and it wants the police to identify the route — because it feels that since 2007, many flaws have persisted in in the electoral system. The group’s eight demands are reasonable enough, and these include a clean electoral roll, reformation of the postal ballot, use of indelible ink to reduce voter fraud, a minimum 21-day campaign period, free and fair access to media, the strengthening of public institutions to act independently and impartially in upholding the rule of law and democracy, the end of corruption by acting against all allegations of corruption including vote buying and an end to dirty politics.

The Election Commission says it is looking into the demands, but it did not help matters when it admitted to a major error in the electoral roll where six individuals were wrongly registered to the house address belonging to the mother of opposition Gombak MP Azmin Ali.

Malay rights groups Perkasa and Umno Youth also want to walk the same day to present their counter views and express their feelings — some of which have already been expressed in a very aggressive way. The police are perceived as being unfair as arrests have been made against opposition members and Bersih organisers but not against Umno Youth when it demonstrated without a permit in front of the PKR head office and allegedly threatened to burn down the building, ironically, just a few shophouses away from a police station.

Suhakam has maintained its stand and urges the government to allow Bersih 2.0, Perkasa and Umno Youth to exercise their constitutional rights in an orderly and responsible manner. At press time, the police are adamant about stopping the July 9 rally.

So where do we go from here? Let the issue remain unresolved without a workable guideline for many more years to come? Can we continue to deny Malaysians their constitutional rights? Can we become the developed and high-income nation that we aspire to be by limiting what is considered a fundamental right in all developed nations?

The history of the nation’s independence began with Malayans, notably Umno and the Malay pressure groups, demanding that their rights be respected. If not for peaceful street demonstrations, which the British colonial rulers allowed, the Malays would not have defeated the Malayan Union in 1948 — a new British administration that was aimed at further usurping the political power of the Malays and their rulers.
So what is so wrong about peaceful demonstrations today?

Azam Aris is executive editor at The Edge. Comments: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BToto: Numbers bode well for dividend

BToto: Numbers bode well for dividend
Written by Insider Asia
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 11:48

Berjaya Sports Toto may have disappointed the market slightly when it announced a lower-than-expected dividend for the financial year ended April 2011. The gaming company is among the higher yielding stocks on the local bourse, a characteristic that has appealed to investors, especially in times of market uncertainty.

Indeed, high-yielding stocks, including real estate investment trusts (REITs), may be fairly good investments at this point with bank deposit rates staying near the lower end of their historical range and concern over slowing global economic growth dampening sentiment for the broader market.

Berjaya Sports Toto declared a final dividend of three sen per share in conjunction with its 4QFY11 earnings results. That brings total dividend for the year to 21 sen per share, compared with 25.2 sen for FY09 and 27 sen per share for FY10. At the current share price of RM4.43, shareholders will earn a net yield of 4.7%, still decent though not quite up to expectations. The stock will trade ex-entitlement for the final dividend on July 8.

On a positive note, the company’s gearing improved to 22% as at end-April 2011 with net debt totalling RM98.9 million, down from 40% in the previous financial year. The strengthening of its balance sheet should pave the way for higher dividends going forward, especially on the back of expectations of better earnings.

The company’s earnings for 1HFY11 were hurt by the increase in pool betting duties from 6% to 8% in June 2010. Net profit fell by more than 36% year-on-year for the first six months of its financial year. The negative impact was offset by the subsequent reduction in prize payout from RM200 to

RM100 for the 4D Big special prize in December 2010. Earnings recovered smartly, net profit was up a strong 21% y-o-y in 2HFY11. Nevertheless, net profit for the full-year was still down by some 9% at RM348.1 million.

The double-digit earnings recovery should continue into 1HFY12, given the low base effect, before tapering off in the second half of the financial year. Overall, we estimate net profit will expand to roughly RM406 million.

Dividends should rise in line with the higher earnings. Total dividend payout for FY11 was equivalent to about 82% of net profit. Assuming a similar payout level, dividends should total some 25 sen per share. That would raise investors’ net yield to a more attractive 5.6%.

Its valuations too appear fairly decent, estimated at roughly 14.6 times our estimated forward earnings. Indeed, its prices and yields compare quite well with the usual suspects for historically high yields.

The company recently launched a new 4D Jackpot game, previously offered only by rival Magnum, which has seen positive response from the gaming public. Market observers believe the new game is a much needed boost for the company to protect its market share, which has declined over the past two years.

Nevertheless, growth prospects for its underlying gaming business are expected to remain somewhat pedestrian. Turnover growth is expected to be in single digits. Thus we suspect its relatively high yields will continue to be the stock’s main draw, and should provide good floor support to Berjaya Sports Toto’s share price.

Note: This report is brought to you by Asia Analytica Sdn Bhd, a licensed investment adviser. Please exercise your own judgment or seek professional advice for your specific investment needs. We are not responsible for your investment decisions. Our shareholders, directors and employees may have positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, July 6, 2011.
Nice article to read and share as I owned some BJ Toto, may be times to relook at the fundamentals and buying in some more ?

Monday, July 4, 2011

5 Easy Steps to Becoming a Millionaire

5 Easy Steps to Becoming a Millionaire Erin Joyce
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who wouldn't want to be worth a million dollars? Many of us dream of achieving this goal, more often than not for the sake of the freedom financial stability would bring. So how can we get there? The answers are actually much easier than you might expect. Here are several easy steps to get you into the millionaires' club. (With a little discipline and the help of some powerful savings vehicles, anyone can hit this mark.)

1. Only Marry Once(haha, interesting!)
According to "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D and William D. Danko, Ph.D, the average millionaire is married with three children. The wives of these millionaires are good budgeters and most often described as even more frugal than their husbands. Interestingly, according to Stanley and Danko's survey, half of these wives do no work outside the home and of those who do, they are most likely teachers.

One upside of only marrying once is avoiding the costs of divorce and of subsequent weddings. The cost of a divorce depends on many factors including income, attorney fees, court fees, and the assets a couple has and how they are divided. The average wedding cost in the United States in 2010, according to The Wedding, was $24,070.

2. Live Off One Income
One of the advantages of having a life partner is the potential to pull in two incomes. If you are able, consider structuring your set expenses based on only one income, and save what comes in from the other income. Doing so strengthens your financial position in two ways: In case of an emergency or if one partner loses their job, you will not only have less set expenses to cover, but you will also have built up your net worth as a safety measure.

3. Choose the Right Career
According to The Millionaire Next Door, "self-employed people make up less than 20% of the workers in America but account for two-thirds of the millionaires." The book goes on to list an average of 45 to 55 hours spent working per week, so by no means is this the self-employed fantasy of playing golf while your business grows.

The idea of the "right" career can encompass a myriad of factors. Ideally, this would be a career you enjoy, otherwise you likely won't be putting in the dedication required to be successful. The right career would also coincide with overall working trends, or at least not work directly against them. For example, starting a career in typewriter manufacturing may be something you are passionate about, but it would likely suffer due to the current technological trends.

4. Put Your Money in Appreciating Assets
According to Stanley and Danko, the millionaires in their survey invested nearly 20% of their realized household income each year. Nearly 20% of the household's wealth is held in "transaction securities such as publicly traded stocks and mutual funds" and the millionaires tended to rarely sell their equities. Only a very small number of the millionaires surveyed had ever leased a car; few even drove the current year model. Half of those surveyed had lived in their homes for more than 20 years, which, as the authors point out, means they have likely enjoyed "significant increases in the value of their homes."

The end result? These people put a financial priority on assets that will make them money, from their homes to their businesses.

5. Don't Live the Millionaire Lifestyle
Warren Buffett's frugal lifestyle (especially relative to his net worth) is the go-to example for this point. The average value of the surveyed millionaires' homes was $320,000. The bottom line is, those who spend their money on non-appreciating assets cannot put that same money in an asset that will net them a return and increase their wealth. If it is important to you to build your financial worth, stop spending it on new cars, toys and clothes. (The Oracle of Omaha has a net worth in the billions, but his lifestyle is not as rich as you may think.)

The Bottom Line
Becoming a millionaire is easier than ever. While this is a dream that will take work and discipline to achieve, it isn't as far out of reach as you might think. Be smart with your money and before you know it, you'll be able to count yourself among the world's wealthier citizens.

This article is part of a series related to being Financially Fit
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