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Monday, October 14, 2019

On finding purpose

There was a sincere and introspective post on A Millennial's Attempt at Adulting recently.

The post explored the writer's inner thoughts on the purpose of her job (life?) and invoked the oft-cited Japanese concept of ikigai,  which may be summarized as doing something, which you love, which you are good at, which is useful to society, and which pays you.

Ikigai seems to be the elusive holy grail that many are seeking. I do not pretend that I understand why this is so.

"Purpose" is itself a rather loaded word in my opinion. Is purpose a mantle you choose to wear on your shoulders; is purpose foisted upon you by others; or is purpose simply a malleable thing which is constantly shaped and reshapened by what you think others expect of you?  I suspect the answer lies somewhere inbetween, ironically, not unlike the famous ikigai Venn diagram.

I have never felt that there was any purpose in what I do. But more importantly, I have never felt compelled to seek out purpose.  What would be the point I wonder? Perhaps I am quite happy to not be particularly skilled in something. Perhaps there is insufficient altruism in me to want to do things for the greater good.  Perhaps I have no great lasting love for any chore. Or perhaps I am just a plain old hedonist. 

Hedonism, I feel, is a much maligned way of life.  I shall not attempt to explore whether hedonism can be a moral philosophy to live life by. I generally do not think that people should have to justify their outlook on life to others.  After all, was it not Epicurus who said that the greatest good is to seek sustainable pleasure in a tranquil life that is free of fear.  To me, that alone, is a persuasive justification for being. No metaphysical explanations required. No need to sprain any brain muscles.  If it is good enough for one of the greatest Greek minds ever to walk the planet, I suppose, it would do just fine for me.

Indeed, I feel like the whole FI movement is predicated on Hedonism or, if you want to split hairs, Epicureanism. Why do I say that?  You would find that each tenet central to Epicureanism finds a parallel in a FI philosophy:

Sustainable pleasure - Nothing says sustainable pleasure more than a constant, recurring stream of passive income.

Tranquil life - No bosses, no clients, no deadlines, no politicking colleagues. Does it get more tranquil than that?

Free of fear - You know what I fear the most, the thought that I might be trapped forever in a job I detest just because of the need for survival.  No other solution comes close to resolving or removing this fear than becoming FI.  Furthermore, he who has FI-ed fears neither competition, retrenchment, nor retirement. I would argue that this is true freedom from fear indeed. 

So to all those who might be suffering from a bout of mid-life crisis, or who suddenly feel like their life is devoid of purpose or meaning, verily I say to you: Abandon your false prophets, and disabuse yourself of vacuous notions like ikigai.

To seek happiness, through whatever is applicable to you, is what counts. If that means waking up at 11 AM every morning with no where to be, and nothing to do, so be it. 

Onwards to FI my friends!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Added Cromwell REIT


72000 shares @ 0.500 EUR a share

Expected yield: 8.2% based on last half yearly payout

Accordingly, this investment may yield around SGD 4,300 a year in dividends, or around SGD 360 a month.  Yet another step towards breaking 100k a year passive in 2020.



Wanted some geographical diversification.  I currently have exposure to Singapore, UK, and Australia (AA REIT +  FCOT + Starhill), China  (CRCT), US (Eagle HTrust), ID (First REIT).

Ultimately, it was a toss up between IREIT and Cromwell.  Overall, I preferred Cromwell REIT because I feel there is less tenant concentration risk compared to IREIT.

ECB money printing quantitative easing bond purchases

This is a double edged sword.

On the one hand, low interest rates is always a boon for REITs. It provides cheap financing for the REIT to acquire new assets, and further boosts the NAV of the underlying assets.  Cromwell REIT is already trading at a discount to NAV.  Any further boosts to the NAV would make the share price more attractive.

On the other hand, for Singapore-based investors who receive their dividends in SGD, any signficant devaluation of the EUR would adversely impact the dividend income.

With ECB tiered rate cuts expected in October, it is any one's guess what the future holds. I can't imagine the Fed or Trump not responding to this.

Strong Sponsor

The Sponsor, Cromwell Property Group, has 3.7B Euros of assets under management in Europe alone. Sponsors with a ready pool of assets are always good since it represents a pipeline for future injection.

Reasonable Yield 

As long as the DPU is sustained, I am not expecting the share price to perform phenomenally. DBS has a TP of 0.59 on this share.  I am happy for it to trade side ways while collecting a 8% payout.

IMHO, it makes far more sense to put money in this than a recently IPO-ed, (basically 1 Orchard mall) REIT with a forecasted 5.8% yield (and this is at 100% payout mind you), and where one of its top 10 tenants by Gross Rental Income  (Forever 21) just declared bankruptcy.

Struggled to understand why it was 14 times, sorry, 14.5 times oversubscribed. I mean, have you ever been to Somerset 313 and went: wow, this place is dope. Not me.

Furthermore, the WALE of Someret 313 is a pitiful 1.8 years, and 35% of its leases by GRI is expiring in 2020. Awesome. It almost feels like Sky Italia was injected so that the overall WALE looks more palatable to investors. 

Perhaps I am missing something. Who knows. After all, so many people, can't all be wrong right.


Onward to FI friends!

Monday, September 30, 2019

2019 Q3 Dividends and Portfolio

It is time again to take stock of FI progress.

Portfolio Q3 2019

September 2019Shares heldLast tradedValue
AIMSAMP Cap Reit2574001.45$373,230.00
Cache Log Trust136000.735$9,996.00
CapitaR China Trust431001.53$65,943.00
First Reit 500001.04$52,000.00
Eagle HTrust 420000.655 (US$)$37,688.70
Keppel Corp50006.02$30,100.00
StarhillGbl Reit900000.75$67,500.00
Warchest $117,000.00
Total Porfolio Size$1,449,241.17

Q3 was characterized by general weakness across the market, with blue chips stocks DBS, OCBC, Singtel and Keppel all falling below their July peaks.  REITs experienced some downward pressures but have largely remained resilient, possibly due to expectations of interest rate cuts.

Warchest got a healthy boost from dividends and salary bonus pay out. Will be looking to add to DBS at below 24, OCBC at below 10. I also have some REIT targets in mind which are hovering close to my target entry price.

Recently doubled my holdings of Eagle Htrust @US$0.650 a share. At this price, the forecast yield is approx. 10%.  This was a bit of an uneasy buy for me.  Conventional wisdom dictates that one should not be a yield pig. If the yield is that high, there is usually something wrong with the company (looking at you Lippo Mall Trust).

If something is too good to be true, it usually is.  That said, apart from the Queen Mary issue, I struggled to find other compelling reason(s) for the severe pessimism inflicted on this REIT.  Since Madam Market wants to give a discount, I shall do a small deal with Her.  Word of caution, one rarely comes out on top trying to outsmart Madam Market, but you know... no risk = no rewards.  Just play with money you can afford to lose.

Looking forward to deploying the remainder of the warchest before the end of December.

Portfolio now stands at 1.449M, which is up 27% from 1.141M a year ago.

Q3 Dividends

Total dividends received for Q3 2019:  $19,864

Big thank you to the following hardworking employees:
FCOT - $5616
SINGTEL - $5167
Starhill - $990
First REIT - $1075
AA REIT - $3035
DBS - $300
Keppel Corp - $400
Cache Log Trust - $180
CRCT - $2205.10
(Redacted) - $900

Compared to Q3 2018 which netted me $8,315 in dividends, this represents an increase of 139%.

I am pleased to report that FI remains on track.  Cheers to breaking more milestones in the months to come.

Onward to FI friends.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

I love Septembers

I love Septembers.

It is my birthday month.

My bonuses get paid this month.

It marks the end of Q3 of the calender year. Yet another stretch completed in the arduous journey toward FI.  I shall be tabulating the Q3 dividend earnings and overall portfolio in a separate post at the end of September.

It is also the month where a fair number of companies pay out yummy dividends, including First REIT and AIMSAPAC REIT. Together with my bonuses, the war chest gets a pretty healthy boost. 

What's not to like?

As icing on the cake, I also sold all my HKLand shares at 5.98 on 4 Sep, booking a small gain of 1.7k.  This was never meant to be a long term trade anyway. 

Currently on the look out for more deals in the market. 

Recent news concerning the strike on Saudi's oil facilities brought about a brief spike in oil prices. Keppel recovered briefly above the 6.2 mark but the momemtum was regrettably not sustained. I believe Keppel continues to be a defensive play due to its diversified income streams, and remains best-positioned to ride any O&M recovery wave.  I am cautiously optimistic.

The other counter I have been looking at is Eagle Htrust. After buying in at US$0.685, the share price has retreated further albeit slightly, and now hovers around the 0.66 - 0.67 range. The weakness is likely due to recent institutional sell downs of the share.  I remain contrarian on this counter. While the concerns regarding its Queen Mary hotel are not entirely unfounded, it is also notable that the the alarmist "ship at risk of sinking without repair" news have been erm, floating around, since 2017, and well,  the hotel remains erm afloat. 

Probutterfly actually did a pretty balanced write-up on this REIT here. Feel free to have a read. In summary, I believe the current share price provides a fair valuation and good yield, taking into account the REIT's potential asset and FX risk. But certainly not recommended for the risk-averse. 

Vested. DYODD.

Onward to FI!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

New Quest: Breaking 100k passive in 2020

Recently went on another shopping spree with the capital recycled from the Ascendas Htrust sale.

I kept saying pace yourself, pace yourself dude, don't spend it all in one place. But when the market is offering a ton of discounts, it is hard to say no.

I have decided the year 2020 should be that year when i finally breach the 6-digit passive income benchmark.  

Sometimes I picture myself hopping into a time machine and going back to say hello to the 25-year-old me in 2007. Fresh out of Uni, with a massive $800 to my name sitting in a POSB Savings Account, and about to embark on a 12-year long journey in a hellish, soul-crushing, and perspective-altering career.

What would I say to him? Would he believe me if I told him, thanks to me, he would be able to sit on his ass and do absolutely fuck all, and still make 100k a year in 2020?

The 25-year-old me would probably see it as a ticket out of employment. Poor sod, I might have to break the sorrowful news that even District 1, 99-year condos cost above 3k psf now.  And therefore, despite a 6 digit passive, a job remains necessary, for the time being.  Would have loved to see that jaw drop. LOL.

Back to reality. To even have a remote chance of breaking 100k passive next year, there is a ton of tough work to be done. And it begins now in September 2019:

Summary of purchases

Passive Income
HK Land
 +16.8k (around 6.5% yield)

Overall in August, I added a total of 136,000 shares of AIMS APAC @ an average price of 1.42, increasing my total AIMS APAC holdings to 257,400 shares. It remains my second largest holding after FCOT, but only trailing slightly.  But because AIMS provides a higher yield than FCOT, it is expected to be my biggest passive income contributor for 2020. The estimated passive income from AIMS APAC alone is about 26k per annum. This amount is also notable because it actually exceeds my first year take home pay.   Eat that 25-year-old me.

Subscribed to CRCT preferential shares and applied for excess. Received a total of 8100 shares @1.44. Increased my holdings from 35000 shares to 43100 shares.

Bought 3,500 shares of HongkongLand @ US$5.57.  I know right. Ouch. But cautiously optimistic. I believe in the pragmatism of HK-ers to resume the business of making a living. Don't agree with violence but I can empathize with the bleeding heart idealism. We were all young once.

Added 1000 shares of DBS @ 23.98. It is D-Bloody-S with a 5% yield. It is self fucking explanatory. This is consistent with my investment philosophy of accumulating blue chip bank shares at 5% yields. I now hold 2000 DBS shares. I am usually reluctant to add more because DBS does not exactly align with the objective of an income investor.  But at 5%, it is foolhardy to pass up. The idea is to constantly accumulate blue chip bank shares at acceptable yields and gradually increase its weightage in my portfolio as I grow older (when portfolio survivability in a black swan economic event becomes increasingly important).

So far quite pleased with my purchases.

Of course I kept a chunk dry ammo. And September is typically a good month for me in terms of reinforcements.  Bonus is coming in and it is also a traditionally strong month for dividends.  More FIREpower!!!! Hah.

Onward to FI brethren.