Friday, October 28, 2011

The top 10 in Interbrand Best Global Brands 2011

Interbrand, a leading brand consultancy, has just released their 12th annual Best Global Brands Report.

This annual valuation report has been voted as one of the most influential benchmark studies by business leaders. It provides insights into the yearly performances of the world's Top 100 brands.

Interbrand ranks the brands by Brand Value, which is calculated based on the formula below.

Due to the volatile markets and uncertain business climate that characterized 2011, brands are in the midst of adapting to a new reality.

"Uncertainty is the new status quo, so today’s brands need to be quick and nimble," remarked Jez Frampton, Interbrand’s Global Chief Executive Officer. "Consistency, relevance and commitment are imperative if a brand is to keep pace in our rapidly changing world."

The top 10 brands in 2011 are:
  • Coca-cola
  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • GE
  • McDonald's
  • Intel
  • Apple
  • Disney
  • Hewlett-Packard
The chart below shows the change in Brand Value of these top 10 over the years. Google and Apple are both progressing fast.

Click here to download the full Best Global Brands 2011 Report for free. There is also an iPad version of the report available in iTunes Store.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

5 main reasons why prospects will not buy from you

According to Zig Ziglar, there are 5 main reasons why your prospects will not buy from you:

  • No need - They don't feel they need what you are selling
  • No money - They don't have any (or enough) money
  • No hurry - They are just not in a hurry to buy
  • No desire - They don't really want what you are selling
  • No trust - They don't trust you
If you apply the correct tactics, you can still close the deal.

In most cases, people are going to buy what they really want, not necessarily what they need. It is your opportunity and responsibility to sell the legitimate benefits of your goods and services in a legitimate manner so that your prospect will want to buy from you, again and again.

Perhaps you can learn from the late Steve Jobs on how he could get you to buy his range of Apple products.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ubuntu Linux 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) released

Canonical has just released Ubuntu Linux 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) on 14 October 2011. You can freely download and install it from here.

In this version, we can see major upgrade to its Unity user interface, with refined Dash and improved Launcher and Filter. The Ubuntu Software Center is now looks even more alike the Macintosh App Store.

It has replaced Evolution with Thunderbird as its default email client.

It has tighter integration with the Ubuntu One cloud service.

The Linux kernel has been upgraded to version 3 too.

While Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) is a major revamp that brings in new user experience, I would say Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) is the subsequent refinement and stabilization release. The coming version of Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) will be a Long Term Support (LTS) release.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A visit to Logos Hope ship - the world largest floating book fair

Logos Hope, a ship known as the world’s largest floating book fair, is now berthed at Port Klang Cruise Centre at Pulau Indah (photo below), Selangor, and is open for public visit from 29 September 2011 until 23 October 2011. After that, it will depart to Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Singapore and other ports around the world.

Opening hours:
  • Tue - Sat: 10am - 10pm
  • Sun: 1pm - 10pm
  • Mon: closed
The ship is big. You can find out the technical details of Logos Hope and its book library features here.

After boarding, the tour in Logos Hope started with a 2 minutes video introduction about the ship, then you will go through the exhibition area, book fair area, multimedia "Life Experience" display, cafeteria, interactive educational section, and finally the exit.

There is actually quite a big crowd visiting Logos Hope, and the stream of people boarding and departing the ship is continuous. The photo below only captured one section of the book fair.

The books are quite cheap, especially those McGraw-Hill textbooks at the last section of the book fair. Most of the books are selling in special units, and Logos Hope uses a currency conversion scheme to convert the units to RM. Some of the items are sold directly in RM without the need of conversion.

If you haven't visit Logos Hope yet, I recommend you to do so. It is a good experience boarding to the world largest floating book fair.

Malaysia immunization (vaccination) schedule

The Ministry of Health (MOH) of Malaysia has scheduled for every child to be immunized to gain protection against childhood diseases including:

  • Tuberculosis (肺结核)
  • Hepatitis B (B型肝炎)
  • Diphtheria (白喉)
  • Pertussis (百日咳)
  • Tetanus (破伤风)
  • Polio (小儿麻痹症)
  • Hib disease caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b (bacteria) (b型流感嗜血杆菌)
  • Mumps (腮腺炎)
  • Measles (麻疹, applicable in Sabah)
  • Rubella (德国麻疹, applicable for girls)
And the immunization schedule is as follow:
Beside that, some private clinics also recommend additional immunization against:
  • Rotavirus
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate
  • Pneumococcal Polysaccharide
  • Hepatitis A
  • Influenza
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, applicable for girls)
It is up to the parents whether to let their children accept vaccination to these optional immunization or not.

You are encouraged to consult medication experts for the immunization requirements of your children.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My YB-642 Yoobao Long March Power Bank with 11,200 mAh capacity

Nowadays it is pretty normal for us to have a few mobile devices powered by rechargeable battery, including handphone, GPS navigator, tablet, digital camera, PSP, MP3 player, etc.

Some of those high end mobile devices are fast in consuming battery, require us to recharge their battery very frequently. For example, we almost have to recharge our smartphone (Android, iPhone, ...) and tablet (iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, ...) on daily basis.

During the recharging period, the mobile devices are no longer mobile. They might be still usable while plugged in a wall socket for battery recharge, or they are temporary unusable because the battery is taken out to be charged by external charger. A common way to overcome this is to prepare additional batteries, so that the mobile device can still be used by replacing the flatted battery with the spare one.

However, different mobile device uses battery of different size and capacity. Their battery is charged with different charger too.

Imagine that we are going for outdoor activity in a place with no electricity supply, such as camping or mountain climbing, for at least a few days. How to solve the battery power need of our smartphone, GPS navigator, tablet, and even torch light?

I have just bought a YB-642 Yoobao Long March Power Bank with 11,200 mAh capacity at the price of RM185.50 from an online store, which I believe is the perfect solution.

A power bank is an external battery with high storage capacity, that is able to provide power to the mobile device through its charging mechanism. Yoobao produces a few models of power bank, and I have chosen YB-642 because of its high power storage capacity of up to 11,200 mAh, which is very long lasting.

The size and look of YB-642 is similar to old style PDA, and its weight is just 253g, not heavy to carry.

Inside the package, there are:
  • The YB-642 power bank itself
  • A micro-USB cable to charge the power bank
  • A power adapter that convert AC 100-240V power to DC 5V-1000mA
  • A DC3.5 switch cable that connect YB-642 to one of its connectors
  • Connectors for mini-USB, micro-USB, Apple (iPhone, iPod, iPad), Nokia, Samsung phone, Sony Ericsson and PSP
  • User manual

YB-642 has 2 USB output interfaces. The left one (marked as 1A) is able to output DC 5.3V-1000mA max, suitable for most mobile devices that accept 1000mA charging. The right one (marked as 2A) is able to out DC 5.2V-2000mA max, suitable for tablets and other devices that need a higher charging current.

YB-642 is very easy to use, just put it to the device and charging will automatically begin. Disconnect its cable and it will automatically turn off itself. See it in action charing my HTC Incredible S smartphone.

YB-642 is able to charge up to 2 mobile devices at the same time, by using both of its USB outputs.

YB-642 is also able to provide current to Samsung Galaxy Tab, which accepts 2500mA charging. Just plug the Samsung Galaxy Tab to 2A output of YB-642 using the USB cable that comes with the tablet. Although it cannot effectively recharge the battery of Samsung Galaxy Tab which require 2500mA current for recharge, plugging YB-642 to the Samsung Galaxy Tab enable you to use the tablet for a much more longer time.

YB-642 also has a LED light in front, which you can use it as a torch light. Push its button for more than 2 seconds to toggle the torch function. The LED torch can last for 540 hours (over 22 days) in a fully charged power bank when its USB outputs remain unused during the period. This is very handy and useful for outdoor activities.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Attended the 7th AGM and 2011 Investor Day of ICAP

I have been proudly the shareowner of Bhd (ICAP, 5108) since 2008, and this is the 3rd time I attended its AGM (just held in KL Convention Centre on 1 October 2011). This is also the 2nd time I attended its Investor Day, which is an annual investment event held in conjunction with ICAP AGM since 2010.

There is nothing much to talk about the AGM, as this year, there is no presentation of  ICAP investment portfolio by Mr. Tan Teng Boo, which he used to present in previous AGM. Therefore, the AGM ended pretty fast, and the Investor Day session started earlier than last year.

The Investor Day session is a remarkable one. Again, Mr Tan and his friends (including the young Jonathan Quek, the middle-aged Rajen Devadason and the senior-aged David Gerald) are trying very hard in educating the participants on value investing.

Well, value investing might look simple on the surface, but not so easy to truly comprehend, and need high discipline to practise. A lot of people out there claim that they are Warren Buffett followers, and that they trade stocks using value investment strategy, and one thing I learnt from this Investment Day is that, the moment you say you "trade stock", you are very likely to be already deviated away from the path of value investment.

Mr Tan emphasized (repeatedly) that we should focus on the value of the business behind the stock counter when doing investment, rather than paying attention to its stock price movement. If we practise "buy low, sell high", we are trading the stock as a kind of commodity, and that is not the value investment way. If we invest as businessmen and practise "buy cheap, sell expensive", then the stock transaction is based on value.

In value investment, if we want to determine the time to buy and/or sell, we should not focus on timing the stock market sentiment (that could affect the price movement) or timing the stock price level (without referencing to its intrinsic value) or market index level. Instead, we should analyse the fundamentals of the business prospects that could be driven by the global and local economic growth, the business environment (such as inflation and interest rates), the corporate earning power, etc.

ICAP portfolio now is holding on more than 50% cash. That is because Mr Tan opined that the worldwide economic outlook in the near term doesn't look favourable, not because the KLCI had gone high or the stock market had tumbled. And because he has been consistently doing comprehensive and detailed fundamental analysis, Mr Tan has been warning us insightfully about his bearish view on world economics since April 2011, 3 months ahead of the 1st round stock market crash in July 2011.

And I agree with Mr Tan that, we can always buy ICAP when its price is at discount to its NAV, even at the current moment that is full of risk and uncertainty. Why? Because I believe that Mr Tan is a good and professional fund manager that I can entrust to take good care of my investment money. After all, we let fund manager manage our fund, because we believe the fund manager can make better decision than us, and can perform better than us in long run. Otherwise, we might as well be our own fund manager if we believe we can beat their performance.

You might think that the NAV of ICAP might still drop further, and hence affecting its share price to also drop further, if the share market continue to collapse. So, why not keeping the money with you now and buy later at lower price? In this case, you become your own fund manager, and nothing wrong with it. In short term, this might be a wise move. However, when will you anticipate the economy to recover? Are you doing the same amount of homework as Mr Tan? Do you have the same discipline, wisdom and perseverance in value investing as him?

There is possibility of NAV of ICAP will not drop even during the most scary situation, if Mr Tan can foresee that scary situation and hold 100% cash for ICAP, or if the stocks in ICAP portfolio able to withstand such critical business environment challenges. In fact, some of the portfolios in the iCapital newsletter already shown 100% cash position.

So, as shareowner of ICAP, we put our trust on our fund manager in managing the fund for us and make wise investment decision for us to grow our money. If we no longer has such a trust with him, or if we believe we are better than him, then its the time to sell out all our ICAP shares.

One of the ICAP Investor Day 2011 activities is the final judging of The Budding Value Investor Award. 5 student finalists were put on stage presenting their analysis of "why invest in ICAP" and asked to answer the question will they invest in ICAP.

I find that the contestants didn't answer that question well. They said they will invest because ICAP NAV is giving about 17% annual return since inception. Well, all of us have to always bear in mind that a fund's past performance is no guarantee of its future success. Sounds familiar? Because this statement is made as a compulsory reminder of all funds to their investors. In fact, investing in any fund based on its past performance is a risky attempt.

To me, I bought ICAP and still accumulating it from time to time, because:
  • I believe that the investment philosophy of ICAP, which is value investing, is a workable way for long-term capital appreciation of low risk high return. (Every fund has its own investment philosophy. There is no point investing in a fund that you don't believe in its investment strategy, isn't it?)
  • I trust Mr Tan is much more hardworking than me in analysing the investment targets, has done much more insight investment researches than me, is more disciplined and wiser than me in picking and dumping stocks. (If not, why don't I invest myself instead of relying on him? And in fact, I do make my own stock picks and investment. There were short term periods that I performed much better than him, and there were also short term periods that I performed worse than him. In the September 2011 market drops, ICAP is among the counters in my portfolio that dropped the least, which means I could have lost more if I didn't bought ICAP but bought another stock that has dropped deeper than ICAP recently.)
  • I trust the professionalism, independence, intelligence and integrity of ICAP fund managers and its board of directors. (This is very important. When I evaluate a stock, I always look at its board of directors, management team and major shareholders, and find out the tracked record of those people to check if I can trust them.)
  • The price of ICAP is at great discount to its NAV. (Value investing in ICAP is very straightforward. We don't need to do a lot of calculations to find out the so called intrinsic value of the stock, just look at its NAV and make sure we are not buying at high premium.) Because ICAP exercises "intelligently eclectic" value investing strategy for its portfolio, buying ICAP below its NAV provides the margin of safety of lower risk, higher return as we get "double discount" to the stocks in ICAP portfolio. This is in line with Buffett's advice on "Rule #1: never lose money; Rule #2: never forget rule #1".
  • I bet that Mr Tan will be still around, managing the fund for the shareowners of ICAP, for at least 15 years. (And this seems to be a better bet than Warren Buffett, who is 81 now.) This is important, because we are talking about long-term investment. The fund manager must also service long-term, or at least get a right-hand-man and/or successor similar to him to continue service long-term. It is like you are taking a long journey flight from Kuala Lumpur to Los Angeles. You can't afford anything bad happen to your pilot (and co-pilot) halfway on top of the Pacific Ocean, can you?

I'm looking forward to attend the next AGM and Investor Day next year. Although the educational content is the same every year, which is about value investing, I find it a very good refresher course to us, and I learnt something new from Mr Tan every year.

Bank Negara instructed credit card issuers to use payment received to settle highest interest rate item first. But...

Bank Negara has issued new guidelines to be implemented from 1 October 2011, requiring all credit card issuers to use payment received to settle highest interest rate item first.

Generally, Malaysian credit cards interest rates per annum of retail transaction range between 13.5% to 17.5%. Cash advanced rate can be as high as 18% per annum. Balance transfer rate ranges from 0% to 18% per annum. Interest rate of instalment payment plan also ranges from 0% to 18% per annum.

Let's say in a particular month, your credit card balance is as follow:

Retail transactions with interest @ 16% p.a. = 2000
Balance transfer instalment @ 0% p.a. = 500

If you pay 1000 for that month:

  • In the worst case scenario, 500 of your payment is used to offset the balance transfer instalment, and only the remaining 500 be used to offset the retail transactions with 16% p.a. interest.
  • In the best case scenario, 1000 of your payment is used to offset the retail expenses, and none will be used for balance transfer instalment.
However, the best case scenario for this month might not be good to the card holder, if the bank consider the balance transfer instalment be defaulted and charge a hefty 18% p.a. interest rate thereafter. The only way for the card holder to maintain the 0% balance transfer rate is to pay the monthly credit card charges in full until the balance transfer instalment is settled.

I believe Bank Negara should have think of this kind of scenario, and the guidelines should be comprehensive to ensure card holders are charged with the lowest possible interest charges for current and also subsequent months. Otherwise, scenario like the above might form a trap, causing the card holders end up need to pay even more interest.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.