Thursday, 28 August 2014

My First Paycheck 11 Years ago compare to Fresh Graduate Salary Today

Fresh Graduate Pay Survey 2014

Read an article from Business Times yesterday on Fresh Graduate Pay Survey 2014. The investigation is conducted by Hay Group, a recruitment company who had been tracking the figures annually since 2009. 

From Hay’s report, the average monthly starting salary for degree holders in the three qualification categories are as follows:
  • Without Honours - S$2,741 (up 2 per cent from 2013)
  • With Honours (Second Lower) - S$2,853 (up 2 per cent from 2013)
  • With Honours (Second Upper) - S$2,939 (up 1.6 per cent from 2013)

Meanwhile, diploma holders can look forward to an average starting salary of S$1,878 per month.

Engineering jobs emerged top
The Fresh Graduate Pay Survey 2014 revealed that for Bachelor Degree (without honours), jobs in Engineering were at the top, commanding the highest average starting salary of S$2,888 per month, followed by jobs in Legal (S$2,856 per month) and Information Technology (S$2,816 per month).

For diploma holders, Engineering graduates command the highest average starting salary of S$1,976 per month, with Marketing graduates coming in second at S$1,938 per month and Administration/ Support/Service graduates taking third place at S$1,925 per month.

 Source: Business Times -  Hay Group

My Hiring Experiences of Fresh Graduates

I worked in the offshore and marine industry. Taking 2011 to 2013 as a gauge, I had experiences hiring fresh graduates with NTU or NUS Mechanical Engineering Honors degree (non-1st class). The confirmation monthly salary is averaged S$3,100 for engineering positions be it design, project or sales technical support role. I also hear from the market that Keppel or Sembawang are offering around S$2,800 to 3,300 per month for average fresh graduates pursuing engineering roles. In some cases, fresh jobseekers are required to sign a two-year bond.

When I Graduated in 2003

Rewind eleven years, it was me and friends throwing my graduation mortarboard. I was from Mechanical Engineering faculty receiving my 2nd Lower honours degree, filled with hopes and aspirations so eager to join the workforce. Unfortunately, it was also the time when Singapore economic outlook was dark clouded by the impact of Iraqi war and fallen oil prices having weathered the 911 terrorist act only less than two years ago. If you think that it is a very bad timing to graduate, the worst has yet to come! Singapore was plagued by one the worst epidemic crisis when the first case of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was announced in the beginning of 2003. The SARS outbreak caused fear and anxiety among Singaporeans and tourists with all businesses badly affected. Singapore economy contracted and unemployment is at all-time high of 5.5 percent.

My Fresh Graduate Interviews

My hopes of landing my first graduation job were shattered when my many applications sent were without even a single reply for interview. Not to be deterred, I disciplined myself to send more customised resumes each day and finally I was summoned for my first interview.

The first experience was me braving through rainy day interviewing to become a procurement engineer buying electronic components. During the interview, I failed to identify the function of a particular prototype. The second interview was a design engineer position focusing on software design and modelling. This time I was hammered with design questions I could not answer. The outcome was pretty obvious. On both occasions, I was not selected.

My third interview was for a mechanical engineer project role. It is a SGX listed firm in the oil and gas sector doing really well then (I was told by the recruitment agent). It did not go easy again, but I was better prepared this time. My interviewer was very stern sending fear down my spine as he questioned. I went through a two-hour long interview including 45 minutes of impromptu writing test in a room alone. Thankfully for me, I beat a very thick stack of application letters/resume, my future boss showed me.

My First Employment Contract after Graduation

On the same day of interview, I was told that my gross salary will be S$1,800 per month. However in view that I have a degree with honours, my future-boss make clear that he was willing to pressure the HR to offer me S$2,000 per month. In return, I must promise not to negotiate the salary or any other terms later when contacted by the HR. I agree without hesitation. “Anything as long as you hire me”, I thought to myself then.

A week later, I signed the employment contract without any negotiations as promised. The letter of offer includes a 4-month bond and penalty of S$6,000 if I breach it. The company of course can terminate me anytime as and when they deem fit. Probation is 6 months with no annual and sick leave for the first year of employment.

Am I Happy? Yes of course!

I was 25 years of age then desperate to earn my first pay check. Coming from a humble family, I was already carrying a debt of S$35,000 as a result of my tuition fees, study and computer loans. Moreover it does not help that my loan repayments and interest rates for the debts already started on the day I graduated. In that year, let alone fresh graduates, even jobseekers with work experiences had uphill trask finding a job. Companies are busy cutting costs and reducing headcounts. Many of my friends took more than six months looking for jobs, and still nowhere close to being hired, with many ended in temporary contract jobs. Therefore penning my maiden employment contract considering the circumstances, is sufficient to make me very happy. Those one-sided employment terms did not bother me at all.

How it Compare?

While I am happy with my S$2,000 a month salary, a friend graduated with 1st class Honours Mech Engineering degree got a job at Hewlett Packard starting at S$2,700. Another friend in the same Engineering cohort but specialized in Electrical and Electronics with 3rd Class Honours ended up with Philip Electronics at S$2,500. The banking sector like DBS is offering management trainee positions for Engineering graduate with minimum 2nd Lower Honours at S$2,500 too. There are also friends in the same course and holding the same certificate as me, starting at S$2,100 or S$2,200 in a smaller local firm. Others with engineering degrees, who are not so lucky to find an ideal job, are willing to start with S$1,800 per month.

To summarize, S$2,250 should be a reasonable estimation for Fresh Engineering Graduates from NTU holding at least 2nd Lower Honours in year 2003. Comparing similar certificate at S$2,853 today, it is approximately 27% higher than what fresh graduates received more than 10 years ago.

For diploma holders, the average starting pay should be about S$1,500 for Engineering graduate in 2003 – my own estimate!. This is around 32% lower than what fresh diploma engineering graduates get today at S$1,976. 

Are you happy with your Fresh Graduate Pay then/now?

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Why is Raffles Medical Great? – Facts & Figures

More than a week ago, I wrote about Raffles Medical Group from the viewpoint of a “Patient” why it is great. Today I will highlight why the company is great from the viewpoint of an “Investor”. 
To quickly recap, Raffles Medical Group (SGX: R01) “RMG” is a healthcare service provider with mainly hospital and healthcare services. Hospital services include Raffles Hospital in Singapore which contributes 63% of total revenue. Healthcare Services comprise of 78 clinics in Singapore and 4 medical centres in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Together with healthcare insurance, nutritional supplements and diagnostic equipment, this segment accounts for 34% of total revenue.

Strong Financials

RMG is one of the darlings in the stock market this year. The company share price escalated 29% to S$4.00 since the start of the year. In contrast STI increase was approx. 5% year to date.

It is not difficult to understand reasons for the surge of share price. In the last five years, RMG had managed to increase its earnings quite remarkably. Revenue and net profits increase steadily yoy at an astounding average yearly rate of 31% and 45% respectively. Earnings per share soared more than twice from 7.22 Sc to 15.24Sc. NAV also increase significantly from 48Sc to 85Sc

In its latest quarterly result announcement ended June 2014, Raffles Medical Group’s 1Q14 revenue grew 6.6% to S$92.6m while earnings flourished with an 8.5% increase to S$15.6m yoy.  1H14 performance were equally strong demonstrated by top and bottom lines growth of 7.3% to S$180.2m and 8.1% to S$30.3m yoy respectively. In the interest of shareholders, the company declared a 50% rise in interim dividends from S$0.01 per share a year ago to S$0.015 per share. 

As of 30 June 2014, the company’s balance sheet had cash of S$130.6m and debt of S$5.2m, even after the investment of more than S$190m on the purchase of property, plant and equipment since the start of 2014.

Upbeat Outlook

The year ahead seems optimistic thanks to additional growth from opening of new medical centres. Within core central regions, the group opened a brand new comprehensive medical centre at Marina Bay Financial Centres, which will be offering a wide range of services to patients within the downtown business hub. Outside core central regions, RMG added dental facilities at White Sands, Bedok Mall and Jurong Point. It also opened a new Yew Tee Point clinic in January 2014 to cater to a new population region in Singapore.

Raffles Hospital also saw the addition of state-of-the-art medical technology recently with the introduction of its new nuclear medicine centre on 21 July 2014 to enhance the hospital’s cancer diagnostics and treatment capability and concurrently increase its capacity for advanced imaging modalities.

Last year, RMG announced plans to open hospitals in Shanghai and Shenzhen in Feb and Sep respectively. There were no news since then, but if these negotiations are successful, it will allow RMG to expand its operations overseas and diversify its geographical client base.

With an extensive network of clinics in Singapore as well as a hospital, RMG is expected to benefit from the Community Healthcare Assist Scheme (CHAS) and Medisave alterations announced/implemented by Singapore government.

Twin Engines of Growth

Moving forward, the most promising engines of growth should be:

1) Extension of Raffles Hospital which could potentially add 220k sqft to the existing 300k sqft of gross floor area for the hospital. The total development cost, including the purchase price of the adjacent site, construction costs and improvement works to the existing hospital, is estimated to be approx. S$310m in addition to the S$105m purchase consideration.

2) The construction of a 5-storey commercial building in Holland Village, having 65,000sqft of gross floor area with medical, banking (DBS), retail, food and beverage services. The construction started April this year. It is estimated that the cost of redevelopment, including construction costs, development premium, stamp duty, property tax and interest expenses, will amount to approx. S$65m in addition to the S$55m purchase consideration. 
Both developments are expected to be completed sometime in 2016.


Just when everything appears extremely bright for the company, there are always two sides of a story.

As much as RMG has anticipated possible increased demand of healthcare services in the face of Singapore aging population, its competitors had all geared up too. Many hospitals and medical centres, both private and public, will be rolled out from now till 2020. Eminent threat should arise from the higher subsidies from government and rising cost of living prompting Singaporeans to switch from private to public healthcare services. Moreover a portion of RMG clients from Indonesia will be deterred from crossing the border to seek for healthcare services due to the depreciation of their currency.

Here’s more from Maybank Kim Eng on the list of upcoming hospitals/medical centres:

Official data shows the rapid rollout of new private and public hospital beds in 2014-20, after the completion of the 220-bed Farrer Park Hospital this year and five new public hospitals. In addition, a slew of private medical suites will be completed in the next few years. They are currently being marketed. Other than Connexion, which we have been flagging, at least three other integrated developments housing medical suites are being built. These are Farrer Square (42 strata units) next to Connexion at Farrer Park, Royal Square in Novena (171 strata units), Vision Exchange in Jurong East (53 strata units) and Mediplex@SBF Centre (48 strata units).

Please also refer to “Straits Times Feb14 News here” for a list of new hospitals in the pipelines. In particular Ng Teng Fong General Hospital at Jurong reported this month that it is facing delay of six months in its opening to mid next year.   

Without doubt, the two development projects at North Bridge Road and Holland Village could potentially boost revenue once completed. However the total cash outflow for the capital investments is about S$535m for two years. Having already paid S$190m and currently holding S$130m cash, there is still a shortfall of S$200m and more. Without any direct injection of funds, RMG may resort to borrowing money to pay for it all. Similarly any new hospital expansion overseas (China) in the short term will also require leverage in a rising interest rate environment.

Since inception, RMG leader, Dr Loo has been instrumental in the company success. Dr Loo is already in his mid-sixties and the need the right successor can be critical.

At its current price of S$4.00, RMG price to earnings ratio is valuated at 25 times trailing earnings which is not at all cheap. Then again in the long run, the overall demand for healthcare services in Singapore is still bright in the face of an ageing population.

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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Why You Should NOT Buy a Stock during Earnings Seasons

The last two months must be hectic for most listed companies in Singapore, as companies were busy preparing their quarterly and half-yearly reports ending 31 June 2014. Likewise I am busy blogging on the post findings analysis for companies within my portfolio. One question we may ask is: 

"Should we buy a stock in anticipation of its positive news during results period?"

Let us discuss and find out more in the following article. 

Earnings Seasons

Every three months, most public listed companies will release their quarterly earnings reports in a period known as earnings seasons. Each earnings period normally start one or two weeks after the last month of each quarter (Dec, Mar, Jun and Sep). In other words, most earnings release is in Jan-Feb, Apr-May, Jul-Aug and Oct-Nov periods. Not all companies report during earnings season because the exact date of an earnings release depends on when the given company's quarter ends. As such, it is not uncommon to find companies reporting earnings between earnings seasons.

High Volatility

Trading volume is usually higher during this period and stock price is more volatile. Why? Earnings essentially tell us how well a company is doing. If earnings cannot meet its consensus estimates (normally by analyst), it is called "earnings miss" or negative surprises. Vice versa, if earnings exceed consensus expectations, it is called "earnings beat" or positive surprises. Therefore a stock can see tidal movements if the results deviate from what the market was expecting.

Traders Strategy

Experience traders often use the earnings season to their advantage. Strategy is to initiate buy volumes prior to earnings period. Retail investors will then react to the price rise as rumoured certainty of earnings beat. It is plausible that more people will buy into the stock driving the share price further up. Once target price is achieved, traders will then sell, either 1-2 days before earnings date or immediately after.

Earnings Miss - share price sure drop

Prior to earnings date, most analysts will try to calibrate expectations by providing a conservative earnings estimates. This is so that company can still beat earnings by a cent or two during announcements. If a company still misses in spite of this, the share price is sure to drop. An earnings miss is devastating for a company’s stock price. You can probably get whacked for double digit percentage point losses.

Let us illustrate using Super Group Ltd share price as an example below.

  • Traders bought on 4 Aug at S$1.48 before results announcement date.        
  • Once price rise 2.7% to S$1.52, traders began selling to take profit. This occurred on 7 Aug, two working days before earnings date.
  • Poor results reported on 11 Aug. Hence price slides 3.6% within a day to S$1.40.
  • Few work days after, the price "seems" stable at S$1.40 on 14 Aug. You may think it is a fair price to buy considering the strong fundamentals of the company. You are wrong! Price continued to slide a further 3.7% to S$1.35 one week later.
  • Overall, the stock price fall 7.4% since the earnings date, and a total of 11.8% in two weeks or so.  

Another example of “earning miss” from MTQ Corporation Ltd causing share price to free-fall 20% within less than a month. 

Earnings Beat - not necessary share price gain

If you speculate that a company will have positive earnings surprise and make a buy call prior to results date, you are probably taking a big risk. This because an earning miss means you will be crushed by price fall of 10, 15 or even 20%. Yet, if there is a earnings beat, you will likely to see only mediocre rise or even flattish outcome

Often times, traders/investors already factor in the price way before earnings is announced. Therefore when earnings exceed analyst expectations, price will not rise. Instead, you are likely to see price dip when traders/investors adopt the strategy aforementioned and take an exit position to reap profits just before or after the earnings. 

Let us illustrate using Nam Cheong Ltd share price as an example below.

  •  After the positive result releases, Nam Cheong share price shot up 6.5% to S$0.495 within one working day.
  • Instead of expecting share price to increase further, traders start selling to reap profits and share price dipped 5.3% to S$0.47. 
  • It had since rise a mere 2% to S$0.480 and stay stable.   
  • Despite the strong results reported, share price rise only a tad above the price prior to earnings. Even when there were several new orders announced afterwards, it is not sufficient to pull the price up during this period.  

Strategy for Long term investors

Do nothing
For long term investors, the best strategy during earnings periods is probably to do nothing. If there is one thing you may want to do, it is to reduce holdings in company that you are anticipating a negative surprise due to weakening of fundamentals or pessimistic outlook going forward.    

Do not rush to buy “earnings beat” or “earnings miss”
If a stock beat earnings expectation and you miss the opportunity to buy immediately after, do not rush into it when the price is already high. It is never too late and you always have more time later to act. In fact, studies shown that even good stocks with high expected earnings growth tend to have prices underperform over periods of time. This is because it is so difficult to exceed high expectations over an extended timeframe.

Similarly if a stock miss the earnings and took a plunge, do not buy it immediately thinking that the price is already rock bottom low. There is a chance that the stock will continue to underperform the market for some time and slide further. If you think that the stock earnings decline is transient and has good long term fundamentals, give it some time for the price to settle before you act. 

Be Patient
It is better to be patient and wait until the tide has calmed and the mold set. This will be the time to decide if the earnings report was good or bad, which we can then base our buy or sell decisions upon. 

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Saturday, 23 August 2014

My Portfolio – 2Q14 Post Findings and Views (Part 2)

Last week, I evaluated companies within my portfolio for their result announcements the week before. You can find the article here “My Portfolio – 2Q14 Post Findings and Views

Similarly this week, I will provide analysis of companies who announced their quarterly or half-yearly results last week. Companies on microscope are Super Group, KSH Holdings, Overseas Education, Courts Asia and ComfortDelgro, where I had tabulated results and Rolf’s views below. For KrisEnergy and ASX listed Coca Cola Amatil (announced result this week), I will only provide a brief review of their latest results for reasons explained as you read on. Croesus RTr will announce financial results coming Thursday. 

In the consumer sector, Super Group and Courts Asia underperformed facing with cost pressures. Aside from overheads, both Super and Courts also suffered slowdown in South East Asian and Singapore markets respectively. Both companies have strong brand and long track records. I am quite certain that the current sets of poor results will be short-lived. Both companies’ share prices are at their all-time 52 weeks low, which may present good buying opportunities.  

Coca Cola Amatil (CCL) is throbbed by the slowdown and competitions in Australia market, but this is within expectation. What is outside expectation is the dismal performance in Indonesia, intensified by currency depreciation, cost of inflation and competitions. Overall, EBITA fall 10%. Interim dividend also decline to A20c (75% franked) from 24c last year. On a positive note, net debt declined by A$34m to 1.9b. I am not too concern about CCL financial performance for now, instead I am confident that CCL is currently undervalued and its iconic brand and track records will see it through in the long run. This is also why I have not gone into the details of the financial results.  

Construction and property based KSH Holdings also underachieved compared to a year ago, grieving over the effect of sector slowdown. However I reckon that its strong project wins and gradual diversification of business into property sectors both locally and regionally, supported by strong balance sheet tide it over in the medium to longer term.

Overseas Education reported flattish top-line but declining bottom-line as a result of higher operating expenses. It is expected that there will be higher expenses going forward. It includes higher interest expenses from net proceeds received from the issuance of bonds earlier as well as continual rise in operating cost. Good news being its new and bigger campus construction is on schedule to be opened next year.

Despite aforementioned companies reported dismal results, one of my favourites and larger holding - ComfortDelgro provided some optimism. The company continues to grow both organically and inorganically with encouraging top and bottom lines performances. What appears inescapable too is the rising cost environment which erodes its margins. To me, the future is bright for Comfort Delgro with growth potentials in Singapore (DTL and Govt Contract Model for bus) and particularly in China where urbanization and growing population will be the main drivers. I shall keep vested as long as I could.  

KrisEnergy constitutes less than 1% of my portfolio, therefore I shall not go into financial details. KrisEnergy is an upstream Oil and Gas Exploration and Production (E&P) company. E&P companies hold stakes in offshore producing assets with initial capital outlay into exploration and development of oil wells. Once the oil wells is deemed suitable for production, Rigs, FPSO and other offshore vessels will be chartered and deployed for the drilling operation to extract the “first oil”. If wells start producing oil, the company will become income-generative and returns will multiply. On the contrary, any unsuccessful work to reach production stage may well mean that capital expenditure going to drain. On a different note, Keppel is currently the second largest shareholder in the company with a stake in excess of 30%. Since my investment in the company is just pint-size, I am ready for this high risk/ high return sector. Since KrisEnergy results announced, its share price rose by ~4% to S$0.78.

Results FY Ending Jun 2014

Super Group

• 2Q14 net profit down 58% to S$15.6m; 1H14 net profit down 43% to S$34.2m yoy. Drastic decrease also due to 2Q13 one off gain of S$17.1m from disposal of Sun Resources.
• 2Q14 Revenue down 5% to S$131.7m; 1H14 rev down 5% to S$256.3m (1H14) yoy.
• 2Q14 Op profit down 27% to S$17.5m (2Q14); 1H14 Op profit down 22% to S$37.2m yoy.

• 2Q14 gross profit margin dipped 3% points to 36% yoy, due to a higher composition of FI sales which carry a lower GPM and higher raw material costs, particularly palm kernel oil cost which seen rise of >60% yoy

• Healthy balance sheet with cash position of S$77.7m
• Declared interim dividend of 1.0c per share.
• Total dividend for the year at 7.0c almost same as 7.1c last year.

Rolf’s Views

Like: Solid balance sheet. FI growth potential. Stable dividend payout.

Dislike: Significant dip of operating profits due to rising costs. Instability of core market – Thailand.

Outlook: Lacklustre result may continue in the short term, mainly due to lower Branded Consumer sales from slowdown in Southeast Asian markets worsen by unstable political outlook and currency depreciation. However Food Ingredients sales are still growing and account for higher percentage of total revenue i.e. 36% of the total revenue in 2Q14.

KSH Holdings

1Q15 net profit down 18.0% to S$9.6m yoy.  
Revenue down 14.6% to S$62.5m yoy. Decrease in revenue mainly due to slowness from construction business.
Cost of construction down by S$12.5m offset by personnel expenses increased by S$1.5m. Construction cost down in line with revenue decline. Personnel cost up mainly due to staff salary/bonuses increase.

• Strong balance sheet. Low gearing of 0.02x and strong cash position of S$104.5m
Strong order book of >S$490m as at 31Jul14 for next two years.
Many New projects. S$147.8m public sector project.
Acquisition of Prudential Tower with partners. Condo developments at Fernvale Road in SG. Residential development in Brisbane with partners of A$150m with KSH holding 4.95%.

Rolf’s Views

Like: Company diversification of business from construction to property. Further regional diversification within property sector. Strong balance sheet and order backlog.

Dislike: Soft property outlook and increase labour/ material costs.

Outlook: Many new projects. Still confident in the local property market on a longer term.   

Overseas Education

• 2Q14 net profit down 14% to $5.49m; 1H14, net profit down 4.3% to S$11.0m yoy.
• 2Q14 and 1H14, revenue up 0.3m and 0.6m respectively. 1.2% improvement yoy
• Higher revenue from increase in tuition fees offset by higher operating expenses.

• Property, plant and equipment rise to S$75.3m from S$22.3m end Dec13. Cash position is S$201.1m up from S$124.7m.
• Both increases are due to the new school’s capital expenditure and net proceeds from the issuance of bonds in Q214.

Rolf’s Views

Like: New bigger campus on schedule to be opened Apr15.

Dislike: Increasing staff costs. Future interest expenses from its bond issuance.

Outlook: Personnel costs and interest expense will continue to increase. Confident that there will be tuition fees hike and expected higher revenue from the expanded student base when the new campus starts.


• 2Q14 net profit up 9.9% to S$75.7m yoy
• Revenue up 11.9% to S$1.02bn yoy.  Revenue rise contributed by all business segments, notably buses and taxis. Bus segment reported operating profit increase of S$9m.
• Operating profit up lesser by 6.5% to S$119.9m yoy.
• This is due to increase in staff costs, fuel & electricity, and premises costs.
• Operating margins slipped slightly to 11.8%, from 12.4% a year ago. 
• Strong balance sheet with net cash of S$48.1m and gross gearing of 24%
• An interim dividend of 3.75 Scts was declared vs 1H13 of 3 Scts, equating to 57.6% payout ratio.
• Recent acquisition of Blue Mountain Bus Company from Sydney for A$26.5m (S$30.8m).

Rolf’s Views

Like: Stable growth, increasing dividend payout, diverse revenue of which 50% is outside Singapore. SBS starts to be more profitable.

Dislike: Cost challenges and weakness in Australia transport segment. 

Outlook: Short term will continue to face cost pressures offset by fare hike in April this year for local market. Government contracting model will only come into effect after End Aug 2016. ComfortDelgro expected to have an advantage supported by experiences in overseas market.

In the long term, China has great growth potential due to urbanisation and population growth. Singapore fare will continue to rise with inflation. DTL MRT will add further revenue.  Lesser private vehicles from higher COE also mean more business for public transport.

 Courts Asia

• Q1 FY15 Net profit down 27.9% to S$5.1 million yoy
• Q1 FY15 Revenue down 1.5% to $194.1 million yoy
• Decrease net profits were mainly due to lower Singapore store sales and increase in operating expenses of 14%. 
Strong cash position of S$101.2m.

Rolf’s Views

Like: Discounted PE/ PB. Strong brand and strong management. Growth potential in Indonesia.   

Dislike: Cost challenges. Continual reduction in Singapore store sales.

Outlook: Bleak outlook in the short term with reduced earnings due to high cost, softer property outlook and reduced rate of population growth. In the long term, positive about Indonesia continual growth with Jakarta branch open by Sep this year. Mass furniture demand in Singapore could also come in 2016 due to more HDB completed then.

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Rolf Suey’s Interview

Started my yearly national obligation, beginning this week. I had been busy since, with almost no time for blogging until today when I was released early. 

Nevertheless, I had undergone an interview session organized by a witty and active blogger – Richard Ng, the owner of “Invest Openly”.

To find out more on the interview and Invest Openly blog, click the link here:

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Why is Raffles Medical Great? – A tale of personal experience!

I am no stranger to hospital visits. I had personally gone through surgeries, check-ups and follow-ups and even hospitalised for weeks before. Of course there are also more joyful visits such as newborn experiences. While I am generally satisfied with Singapore above par hospital/ healthcare services, I am most impressed by Raffles Hospital standing proud along North Bridge Road.

Raffles Medical Group Brief

Raffles Hospital is the flagship business belonging to Raffles Medical Group (SGX: R01) “RMG” listed in SGX. This is the hospital that made news pioneering surgeries separating Siamese twins. RMG started with two clinics in 1976 founded by Dr Loo Choon Yang and Dr Alfred Loh. Few years later, it was renamed Raffles Medical adopting the name of two founders’ school, Raffles Institution. 

The company is a healthcare service provider with business segments mainly in hospital services and healthcare services. The Hospital segment is exemplified by flagship Raffles Hospital, which contributes 63% of total revenue. Healthcare Services accounts for 34% of total revenue, comprise of 78 multi-disciplinary clinics in S’pore and 4 medical centres in HongKong and Shanghai. This segment also includes healthcare insurance and the development and distribution of nutritional supplements, vitamins, and medical diagnostic equipment. Investment, which is non-core, and consists of mainly investment properties accounts for 3% of the total revenue.

My visits to Raffles Hospital

My first visit to Raffles Hospital was early last year, when I accompanied an overseas colleague there, after he was injured onboard an offshore vessel in Singapore. A friend suggested Raffles Hospital. It is absolutely the right choice. The whole experience from admission, consultation, x-rays to treatment, and eventually payment, was so efficient and smooth sailing.

Months later, the unfortunate victim is me! I met with an accident and had severe lacerations around chin area. Without hesitation, I head straight to Raffles Hospital again, attended by Dr/Prof Walter Tan of plastic surgery department. I suffered twenty-stiches while wide awake in a more than hour-long surgery. Even more punishing, are the post operation pain, permanent scarring and abstention from solid food for a month or so – NO JOKE!

Aside from the pain, I am pleased by the efficiency of the whole process, and first-rate services rendered by hospital staffs from admin, nurses and my doctor. In my subsequent follow ups, the excellent services remained. On one occasion, I drop an email to my doctor and he responded promptly. It comes to me as a surprise despite him being head of department with such busy schedules.

Impress by the superior services Raffles Medical provided, I also scheduled my regular dental checks there. This is despite the longer travel distance compare to neighborhood dentist. My dentist is Dr Adrian Goh. To me, he is the friendliest, most polite and happiest doctor I ever come across. The scaling and polishing treatments are also very professional without causing any hurt or even discomfort.

Subsequently, the illness-prone Rolf developed sinus problem and led to few visits to the ENT department. Again there were no surprises to the good services offered.

No Money-Sucker

Unlike many other doctors I met/ heard, both Dr Tan and Goh are no money-suckers.

I completed my scar treatment last month. In fact, I asked Dr Tan for more follow ups and injections to soften the scar tissues, but the advice was let time heal the scar, and not to spend unnecessary.

For the dental treatment, it is bi-annual schedule. In my last visit, Dr Goh was pleased with the upkeep of my oral cavity, and advised that I can re-visit him on a yearly basis instead to save some money. I told him to stick with 6 months appointment. Firstly, I love the after-feel of teeth shining; secondly, why would I resist seeing regularly a doctor who is so jovial, courteous and yet professional.

Price is reasonable within a hundred bucks for private hospital charges. What is even more heartening was a ten percent off my total bill specially initiated by Dr Goh.

In all my visits to Raffles Hospital, I never once have problems finding car parking lots. Finding car park lots is not as easy as one may think in many other hospitals. Moreover Raffles Hospital car park rates are very reasonable comparing hospitals within core central region. See below.

Rolf’s Summary

Overall I am charmed by Raffles Hospital “book’s cover and its contents”! The ambience and decorations of the hospital are soothing and modern. Hospital staffs are friendly, courteous and seemingly happy – Always! I also like the fact that there is also no appointment card needed. One week before every appointment, there will be advance SMS reminder followed by a physical telephone call days before. During many of my visits, I was remembered by appearance, without even having to show my identification card for registration. Doctors there are professional with high “EQ” and treat patient with respect, explaining every major procedure in detail. 

Peter Lynch suggests that investor should keep alert for possibilities based on their own experiences.

Seeing this truly great company and discovering its excellent balance sheet later, I see no reason why I should not own the company last year. The share price and earnings performance of the Raffles Medical are just as good as the healthcare services offered by the company.

Stay tune to my next post where I will cover more on the financial performance of the company. 

Examples of Two Typical Bills - ADDED after request from reader!

This is upon request from a reader. Note that the bills may not be an accurate representation of the pricing. It varies depending on doctors, time and types of treatments etc. It is merely for information only here! Also I am in no way promoting the Raffles Medical Group since I am vested in it. I am just relating my own experiences and it may differ with different individuals. 

Part 2 here....