Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Malaysia's Property Prices To Rise As Much As 20% Within 6 Months?

According to Datuk Michael Yam, President of Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association
Malaysia (REHDA), prices of residential properties will rise 10-20% over the next six months because of cost and inflationary pressures! He added that the current housing market is simmering, and there is neither boom nor bust, but property prices will rise. The increase will be in high-rise and landed properties in all price categories across Malaysia! The issue of rising property prices was partly due to an imbalance of supply and demand as more migrants move to land scarce Kuala Lumpur.

Interestingly, in a recent survey of 133 Rehda members, 81% expect price hikes by as much as 20% in the next six months!

Can you ever imagine a terrace-linked house being sold for about RM1.6 million? Well, that's happening in the upper-class enclaved Desa Park City!

Nevertheless, there are views that Malaysia's property prices are still under appreciated by foreigners. Some experts attributes this to a lack of liquidity in the market and competition from Hong Kong and Singapore where capital appreciation is better due to price volatility. In addition, when other important consideration comes into play, such as public transportation, the branding of the city and KL is considered provincial when compared to London, Hong Kong or Singapore. In simple terms, KL needs to be seen as world class and provides better livability.

For the full article on the above, click this link.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Back In The Black, For Now At Least...

Malaysia has just reported a strong growth of 10.1% for the 1st quarter of 2010, led by strong recovery in exports! On the other hand, Central Bank has also raised the OPR (Overnight Policy Rate) or the official interest rate by another 25 basis point. That means Bank's BLR will go up likewise, by the same token at the very least.

Seems Malaysia represents only the handful countries in Asia that keeps pushing up interest rates...

In a way no surprises to me, given BNM's normalization process as economy recovers. In fact, I expect another rate hike coming around July after the announcement of 2nd quarter GDP.

Does this mean all are hunky dory from now on? Not quite. Much will still depend on how the current European (PIIGS) sovereign debt crisis pan out. Greece has been bailed out no doubt, but that could well be just the tip of the iceberg!

If things turn out for the worst, then we should expect economy to start turning down again in the second half of this year.. Expect to have an eventful second half! In the midst of another potentially looming crisis, the consolation is that we can at least sit back and enjoy the upcoming football World Cup.....It will be another set of drama for sure!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How To Invest in Individual Stocks Using EPF Money

Phillip Capital Management (PCM) is one such company licensed by Securities Commission and an approved Fund Manager for EPF. In order to invest your EPF money with Phillip Capital to buy individual stocks, you will need to first of all satisfy the criteria set by EPF as summarised in my previous article "Can You Invest In Individual Stocks Using EPF Money?"

Calculation example:


  1. Fill up the application Form KWSP 9F (AHL) which you can download from EPF website or visit your nearest EPF office.
  2. Download or obtain a copy of the latest EPF statement
  3. In the Form, indicate the amount you are entitled to withdraw and submit it to PCM, together with a copy of your MyKad, and that's about all!
  4. PCM will then submit the relevant documents to EPF for processing, which is expected to complete within 2 to 4 weeks.
  5. Once completed, the funds will be transferred into your PCM trust account.
  6. You may start to purchase any of your desirable stocks using PCM's online trading platform.
Upon disposing the stocks, the funds will be returned to the PCM trust account. Upon termination of account, the funds will be reverted back to your EPF Account 1.

Other noteworthy Terms & Conditions:
- upfront fee of 3% chargeable by PCM. Withdrawal from EPF is free of charge;
- annual management fee of 1.5% is chargeable by PCM;
- normal on-line trading brokerage & admin charges at about 0.55% of transaction amount is payable;
- minimum holding period is 1 year. Termination only upon one month's written notification thereafter;
- minimum investment is RM30k but can be broken down into trunks starting with RM10k, as long as the minimum amount is satisfied within one year;
- Stocks are only applicable for equity stocks, excluding warrants or any other preferential stocks

Do manage your risks before investing! Best to adopt defensive strategy as EPF money is not meant for excessive speculation!

Can You Invest In individual Stocks Using EPF Money?

Many people are probably aware that they can withdraw money from their EPF (Employees Provident Fund) savings to invest in ministry approved Unit Trust funds. However, many are probably not aware that there is also a way to invest the EPF money on individual Bursa Malaysia stocks!

Some people prefer the idea of leaving the tough decisions on choosing the right investments with Unit Trust Fund Managers but in doing so, they effectively relinquish control over how the money will be invested. Ironically, the objective of Fund Managers are often to safeguard their jobs, instead of looking after investors' best interest, i.e., make money and return on investments!

On average, EPF's average annual rate of dividend is between 5% to 6%. The rate of return is no doubt better than Fixed Desposits (FD) return but for the savvy or wise investors, this sort of return is barely sufficient to counter inflation! (By the way, forget about the so-called officially reported inflation rate of 2% to 3% because the reality is much higher than that!)

So instead of keeping all your money in EPF or leave the money with someone else, why not consider moving some money from EPF to investing in individual stocks of your choice? Without doubt, there are risks with this approach because one can potentially lose this hard earned money if the wrong choice of stocks is chosen! With the stock market being so volatile, you may think that this is extremely risky!

To mitigate the risk, one of the key success factor is through first of all doing a little bit of homework up-front and selecting stocks or companies that possess good quality and fundamentals, plus supported with decent dividend yield. To be comparable with the annual rate of dividend from EPF, one should look for dividend yield that can at least match EPF's if not better. A scan across some of the quality Bursa stocks will reveal that a number of companies under REITs and consumer businesses generally do fit such criteria!

So how do you qualify to withdraw funds from EPF for the above investment? Let's list down some of the salient points:

  1. savings of at least RM5,000 more than the Basic Savings amount required in Account 1, and must be equal or below 55 years old. The basic savings is the minimum amount you must have in Account 1 before you can apply under this scheme. The table below shows the different minimum savings required for people of different ages:

    2) 20% from your savings in excess of your Basic Savings amount in your Account 1, that means the minimum amount for investment withdrawal is RM1,000.00, given the condition set in point (1).

    3) Formula of eligibility = (Account 1 – Basic Savings) x 20%.
    4) Investment can be made at the intervals of 3 months from the date of the last transfer, subject to the availability of the required balance in Account I.
    5) Investment must be through appointed external Fund Manager by the Ministry of Finance. Click here for the complete list.

    I hope this gives you an idea of an alternative form of investing, for your hard-earned savings that you can't simply screw up, i.e., EPF. In my next post, I shall touch on precisely how you can invest in individual Bursa stocks using your EPF funds and the inherent costs that you should be aware of.

    Here's the link to EPF should you require further clarification.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Inevitable...Postage Rate Hike

After much speculation, I just got the confirmed news that POS Malaysia will increase the tariff or postage rate effective from 1st July 2010! Frankly, I foresee the rate hike is a matter of time, given that the last hike was way back in 1992!

As per the information that I have gathered so far, the postage increase will affect domestic postage stamps for standard mail below 50gram, non-standard mail below 100 gram, periodicals, and PosDokumen.

Here's the quantum of increase....
- For standard mail weighing up to 20 gram - RM0.60 to 0.70 (from the present RM0.30 to RM0.40).
- For others in general, the quantum of increase is 75%.

The higher postal tariffs effectively paves way for POS Malaysia to raise employees’ salaries (which is currently reported to be below the average government servant’s salary) by 30%.

In addition, the higher earnings will also pave the way for the company to undertake it's aggressive transformation plan such as potential mergers & acquisitions, revamping operational efficiency and cost reduction exercise.

No wonder it's share price has also shot up the past few days...let's take a look. "Someone" obviously knew this is coming for sure!