Friday, December 24, 2010

DB Brazil ETF - Part II

The second risk is China's decreasing steel consumption.

The last five years saw China's big ambition to develop its infrastructure and mass market condos for its people and hence steel consumption went through the roof, resulting in the bull market in steel and shipping (of iron ore to make steel). That party is now probably going into its 11th hour and Cinderella is ready to drop her glass shoe.

China needs to shift its economy from manufacturing to services, which would need less steel and hence less iron ore. Not to mention that after getting squeezed by the Australian and Brazilian iron ore producers for so many years, China is also aggressively pursuing new avenues of supply in other regions like Mongolia and Africa. This means new supply, less pricing power. So the iron ore story might not have a happy ending.

The saving grace for the iron ore producers would perhaps be bargaining power. With 3 guys controlling 80% of the market, basically they call the shots. They manage the supply, make sure there is always just enough. They manage the spot market, make sure that it stays elevated, then the contract pricing would have to follow.

In the longer run, it is also worth noting that steel consumption is very much integral to the development of our civilization and it will continue to grow. China may have peaked, but S.E. Asia needs a lot steel in the next few years. Not to mention Latin America would probably step up, which will benefit Vale. After that we have India. So maybe there is still hope.

To sum it up, the Brazil ETF makes a lot of sense, especially for the long run. Pricing wise, it is currently 25% below its all time high. It is likely to surpass that in the next 5 years.

As to downside, well, there is about 70% to its Lehman low, but it's not likely to go there bcos there is some valuation support. I would say it might go to 1.3x PBR or PE of 8x, ie 30% decline from current levels. But if that happens, then it's time to buy more!

Well just to sum up here:

Exposure to Energy, Iron Ore and Brazil
Cheap valuation at PER 11x with 3% dividend yield
High single digit long term growth rate
Often at discount to NAV (due to tracking error - see below)

Replacement of oil and China's slowdown
Low liquidity (10,000 shares traded per day only)
High tracking error (does not track the index well)
70% from absolute low

Friday, December 17, 2010

DB Brazil ETF - Part I

Last checked, there are now 75 listed ETFs in Singapore. As blogged a couple of times, ETFs present an easy way for lay people to invest into stocks and shares without having to put in too much effort (ie do a lot of study and research). Basically, you just buy into the regional/sector growth of the ETF. To learn more, simply click on the ETF label at the end of this post.

Today's post is about Deutsche Bank's Brazil ETF listed on SGX. It seemed like this might be one of the cheaper ETFs out there amidst global bullishness on Emerging Markets.

Brazil has the 8th largest economy in the world and it is projected to be in the top 5 in the next 20 years. GDP growth should be a high single digit for the foreseeable future, although a tad weaker than China, its cheaper valuation more than make up for it.

The Brazil ETF trades at a PBR of 1.7x, 1 yr forward PER of roughly 11x and gives a dividend of close to 3%. Although not as mouth-watering as in early 2009, I find such valuations quite acceptable, given its growth profile. And definitely cheaper compared to China.

The components of the ETF are basically just 4 items.

1. Petrobras, the oil giant with its mega oil-field currently under-development.
2. Vale, the iron ore major, which depends on China's appetite for steel.
3. The banks, which basically mirror the growth of Brazil.
4. The consumer staples, discretionary and utilities sector in Brazil, ie the Brazilian economy.

These four sectors roughly make up 25% each of the ETF. So basically, for every dollar put in, 50c is betting on Energy and Resource, and the other 50c on Brazil itself.

The first big risk here would the replacement of oil. As we all know, when oil hit $150 per barrel during the heydays, it really gave a wake-up call to the guzzlers of the world (which is pretty much everyone), reminding us that being held hostage by the Arabs is no fun and we better start to reduce our dependency on this energy source derived from the remnants of the dinosaurs.

And so, the techies of the world started their engine and ventured out there looking for new energy sources. We are now going big into nuclear, wind, hydro, oil sands, shale gas, solar and even human dynamo in Africa. Of course, we are also trying to use less at the same time, ie more hybrid cars and EVs. Now this is definitely no good for Petrobras.

Well, fortunately, I think the mitigating factor would be that it takes a long time for these alternatives to actually come to the market and finally free us from the Arabs. So meanwhile, we want to develop other big oil fields to limit their market share of oil. And this is where Petrobras and its mega oilfield comes in. And it is in the interest of the world to develop this and make it work.

Next post, we touch on another risk and round-up this topic!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Habits and Snowballing

The Snowball, the much talked about book on Warren Buffett sits on my shelf waiting to be read. It would probably take me some time to get to it, as my reading list is so damn long, with at least 10 books on it. Not to mention the other big book that also lies in waiting: Poor Charlie's Almanac.

The concept of the title was made known by its author, again both simple and insightful and really apt to describe Warren Buffett. Perhaps you might already have heard of it. Anyways, here is my interpretation of it.

Basically, the idea is that something which starts small can grow very big given enough time, consistency and momentum, just like a snowball. When you first push a small snow ball, it rolls and gathers a bit of snow with every turn but stays small. It takes a while for the consistency to set in, more effort, and finally the momentum kicks in and it can cause an avalanche if you want it to.

It also reminds me of this mass email that basically transpired the same concept. A picture showed a beautiful field of tulips, or was it lavender? But anyways, what was interesting was the signboard next to the field which says:

Who: A woman
How: 1 tulip a day for 60 years
Why: For everyone

Or something like that.

Value philosophy shares the same idea. It is not about quick profits or the next trade of the year. It is consistency, patience, effort and time. One angle of it is about identifying companies that are basically doing that. These are the great consumer staples that basically keep growing their markets by selling the same products with the same strategies. Look at Coke, just do the same thing over and over again in different parts of the world, and the earnings will follow. They were in Asia long before we started talking about it. Now they are in Africa!

One big plus why these companies can do it is because they have planted enough seeds such that their brand is entrenched. Just like the field of tulips that take our breath away when we see it. It is also about mindshare - market share of people's minds. When it's as big as Coke or the tulip field, it's difficult for you and I to start a new drink today to compete. The snowball just keeps rolling until it causes an avalanche.

The other angle is how we as investors exercise and implement this idea thoroughly. That is how we consistently implement the same investment process, find good stocks, at a very cheap price, wait for them to grow and see the return compound to some astronomical number. It is not as easy as it sounds. The big hurdle is, as usual, ourselves. Or more specifically our emotions which inhibit our ability to make rational decisions.

This is the habits part. Good habits adopted at an early stage bring profound results over time. Think about exercising just 15 mins a day, or saving just $20 a day. Bad habits ruin lives: smoking, drinking alcohol. Investing is then also about adopting good processes or good habits.

I would say some important do's would be like reading a couple of newspapers daily, talking to at least a few experts per week. Specifically when looking at stocks, it would involve pouring through at least of couple of years of the firm's financials, trying out the products, talking to other users and finally waiting for the right price.

Don't's would naturally be don't buy on tips/rumours, don't look at the share price daily, don't sell to take 20% profits.

With good habits cultivated, it would then be applying the same processes over and over again when buying each and every stock or investment, for many many years, and hopefully the returns will snowball into something big and meaningful.