Winding down for the year 2022

In a few days’ time, it would be Dec 2022, coming to the end of the year.

I have not been blogging much as I wanted to take a breather from social media and investing, and just focus on other aspects of life.

Nevertheless, looking at my own portfolio, in terms of value, I could safely say 2022 is technically ‘a lost year’. The value of my portfolio did not go up or down for the whole of 2022. In fact, I could say that I have basically lost a year’s worth of active income in addition to some more unrealized loss. Or put it another way, if I have liquidated all my positions at the start of 2022, and stayed out of the market for much of 2022, I would have been better off financially (at least my net worth would have increased based purely on my active job income).

Some of my counters which were green at the start of 2022 (unrealized gains) have turned red (unrealized loss). Well, many counters are still technically green.

However, all these are in retrospect. I do not have a crystal ball.

Still, I have stayed invested throughout 2022 and during the month of Oct 2022 (China’s stock capitulation), I have added more to my Hong Kong dividend counters (and only a tiny bit to my Pinduoduo holdings). I read with interest the post by Brian titled “The Day of China’s Capitulation – 24 Oct 2022” read here. And I made a mental note to invest more should Brian write a similar post again.

Today’s Sunday Times (27 Nov 2022) is interesting because many articles do relate to financial matters in one way or another. These articles are not just in the Invest section. There are articles about the rising cost of living, about investing in Tech stocks, and articles questioning if China has indeed reached the breaking point over zero Covid-19 (which would have implications for people interested or vested in China-related stocks).

Even the Life Section has the headline titled “Work from anywhere? How about a beach in Bali or a farm Down Under”, with stories of Singaporeans having overseas “workations”.

The couple who are planning to stay and work from Bali reminded me of the Youtuber Jean Vorokova (Year in Bali: Pros & Cons, the Realities of Life in Bali as a Foreigner (watch here))

Has China reached breaking point over zero-Covid-19? (read here)

Work from anywhere? How about a beach in Bali or a farm Down Under (read here)

The risks of investing in tech stocks (read here)

IT workers turning to unions as tech layoff tsunami reaches India (read here)

With the rising cost of living in Singapore and the impending stepped GST hikes in 2023 and 2024, many middle-class Singaporeans are already feeling the pinch. For those with the option to work ‘anywhere’ due to the flexibility brought on by technological advances and the general acceptance of remote working after the pandemic, staying and working in another country with a lower cost of living suddenly seems possible and alluring.

Indeed, the idea of ‘geo-arbitrage’ given the strong Singapore dollar and the remote working trend is gaining traction. My wife and I were having a chat with my teenage son this morning at Starbucks, and he mentioned that he wants to work in Croatia when he grows up. He saw some videos about the nice natural sceneries and food there, people there communicate in Italian and English, etc… Personally, my mental map of Croatia is pretty blank if you ask me.

The article that probably struck a chord with many people is the article about the rising price of the humble “cai png” or economy rice.

Typical economical rice in Singapore (Photo: Desiree Koh)

The caifan story: When ordering it is stressful – because prices have gone up (read here)

Personally, I was also caught by surprise by the price hike. Just a few weeks back, I ordered an economy rice meal consisting of 1 meat and 1 vegetable (the meat was a big chicken thigh (steamed) and the vegetable side was a dash of lady fingers) from the Koufu coffee shop near where I stayed. I was rushing for a meeting and had only a few minutes for lunch. Prior to that, I looked at the sign behind the stall, and it mentioned $3.80 (or $4 plus) for 1 meat (side) and 1 vegetable (side). When it was time to pay, I was told that it costs $8! That was like almost a 100% increase.

Think they have forgotten to update the price list at the stall (or was it left not updated on purpose :p).

My Portfolio

Recently I have sold off most of my Singapore Saving Bonds (SSB) which were yielding 2+% to the low 3+%. I intend to recycle the funds to purchase the fore-coming SSBs. I have invested a small sum for the upcoming Dec 2022 SSB, and will be slowly adding more SSBs next year. In gist, I am recycling my funds to purchase the latest rounds of SSBs.

For the longest time (perhaps never in my personal investing journey) have I witnessed bonds / T-bills / bank deposits becoming such hot investment yield plays, and ultimately giving dividend stocks and REITs a run for their money. I am still much more inclined toward dividend stocks and REITs currently despite the past (and ongoing) carnage and have accepted that policies and short-term interest rates are beyond anyone’s guess.

Nevertheless, I have retained the amount allocated for SSBs. And at times, I am undecided whether to DCA more into dividend stocks or REITs (or even Chine Tech stocks) or should I just turn to SSBs or T-bills.

In mid-Oct 2022, I liquidated my position in SATS, and together with some of my war-chest holdings, added to SGX and Pinduduo in late Oct, and added to Alphabet, Trade Desk, BOC HK, Hong Leong Finance, CapLand Ascott in Nov. While at the same time liquidating my SSBs to purchase more SSBs later.

I seldom liquidate my positions in stocks totally. However, I am disappointed with the SATS CEO/President’s decision to purchase WFS at such a ridiculous price (after the run-up in revenue and income of WFS due to the tailwinds of the pandemic). Not forgetting the resulting deteriorating balance sheet amidst the rising/high-interest rate environment. I don’t see how such a move is beneficial for investors long term; and accept that no matter how sound or solid a company is, it could one day be mismanaged. On another note, I read that this CEO was only recently appointed; and probably was under immense pressure then to turn the business around.

Although the overall net value of my portfolio has dropped…it was not devastating. Perhaps as most of my funds are in dividend counters (and not growth stocks), the decline (percentage-wise) is not huge. Perhaps like what Christopher Ng would have said (Living a Dividend Life – How much do you need? watch here), they are probably more ‘forgiving’, in the sense that I can still look forward to the dividend payouts while hoping for sentiments to turn around. I reckon I should be able to hit $30,000 in dividend/interest payout for 2022.

From another angle, the overall yield for my portfolio has been slowly creeping up. Which is good from a long-term perspective.

I may have probably missed the China Tech stocks capitulation in Oct 2022 given the past month or past weeks’ price increase. For instance, Tencent HK was just HKD 200 in late October 2022 and has quickly risen by 36% in less than a month.

Likewise, the price increase for Pinduoduo is impressive. I managed to snagged some shares at USD 40 in late Oct 2022. Now it is trading at USD 65.75. Up almost 48%.

Nevertheless, these are short-term price volatilities. Your guess is as good as mine.

However, I am reading with interest, into the recent developments in China. China has been trying to keep the restriction controls under radar (and avoiding a full-blown country-wide lockdown) but given their public stand, it might be difficult for the top officials to change tack.

The same risks which have caused many to say China Stocks are ‘uninvestable’ only recently are still very much (and even more) in place. With the record high Covid-19 cases in China and the pent-up frustration of the public, and the recent committee leadership round-up from the National Congress, there might be a case for good investment opportunities sometime in the future for those who are well-prepared (eg. war-chest).

Or China might finally stop its zero covid position, and may eventually fully open up in early 2023 (which would be good news for all who are currently vested in China-related stocks).

Well, I am never good with market timing, but then again, I always feel that opportunities will come to me – in the form of dire headline news. There is no need to go around trying too hard to look for opportunities. Either way, I am staying invested.

Time out

Will be taking a long break from work in Dec 2022. Going for a staycation in Sentosa with the family and a nearby trip. Been quite tired from work, and hope to recharge. The construction sector is still plagued by supply chain issues and the project that I am involved in is having many issues.

Coming out of the pandemic, there appears to be some shift in the work culture. As it is still early days (to tell), I hope I can find a better balance in the future.

I was coming back home from work one day and saw this ad on the bus (by a job recruitment company), with these words in bold: “The best escape is a better job”….. hmm… what say you guys, who are aiming for FIRE?


Thank you for reading.


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About apenquotes

Born in 1976. Married with 2 kids (a boy and a girl). A typical Singaporean living in a 4 room HDB flat. Check out my Facebook Page:
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