Earnings Call Digest 2017.11

Facebook (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

Our community continues to grow, now with nearly 2.1 billion people using Facebook every month and nearly 1.4 billion people using it daily. Instagram also hit a big milestone this quarter, now with 500 million daily actives.

The reason I’m talking about this on our earnings call is that I’ve directed our teams to invest so much in security on top of the other investments we’re making that it will significantly impact our profitability going forward, and I wanted our investors to hear that directly from me. I believe this will make our society stronger, and in doing so will be good for all of us over the long term. But I want to be clear about what our priority is. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.

Over the next three years, the biggest trend in our products will be the growth of video. This goes both for sharing, where we’ve seen Stories in Instagram and Status in WhatsApp grow very quickly, each with more than 300 million daily actives, and also for consuming video content.

In messaging, today already more than 20 million businesses are communicating with customers through Messenger. Now we’re starting to test business features that make it easier for people to make the same kinds of connections with businesses through WhatsApp.

We’re now using machine learning in most of our integrity work to keep our community safe. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, we used AI to look at satellite imagery and identify where people might live and need connectivity and other resources. Progress in AI can unlock a lot of opportunities.

Facebook has over 6 million active advertisers, and we recently announced that Instagram has over 2 million advertisers. The vast majority of these are small and medium-sized businesses, which are a major source of innovation and create more than half of all new jobs globally. These businesses often have small ad budgets, so the ability to reach people more effectively is really valuable to them.

Video is exploding, and mobile video advertising is a big opportunity. Until recently, ads were only eligible for Ad Breaks if they also ran in News Feed. But in Q3, we gave advertisers the option to run ads in videos alone. We’re seeing good early results, with more than 70% of Ad Breaks up to 15 seconds in length on Facebook and Audience Network viewed to completion, most with the sound on.

I would say not all time spent is created equal. That’s why I tried to stress up front that time spent is not a goal by itself here. What we really want to go for is time well spent. And what the research that we found shows is that when you’re actually engaging with people and having meaningful connections, that’s time well spent, and that’s the thing that we want to focus on.

I do think your point is right that not all kinds of content can be supported by ads, no matter how effective we make that. That said, the current model that we have for at least getting some of the lighthouse content onto the platform is to pay up front. And what we would like to transition that more to over time and what an increasing amount of the content is, is revenue shares for ads shown in the videos. And as we do better and better on the monetization there, that will support people with higher production costs and doing more premium production and bringing their content to the platform. And we’ve certainly found on the Internet and YouTube and in other places that there are whole industries around creators with different cost structures than traditional Hollywood folks who can produce very informative and engaging content that a lot of people like and enjoy and that builds communities and that helps people connect together in a way that definitely can be supported by this ad model.


Apple (Q4 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

Turning to Services. Revenue reached an all-time quarterly record of $8.5 billion in the September quarter. A few quarters ago, we established a goal of doubling our fiscal 2016 services revenue of $24 billion by the year 2020, and we are well on our way to meeting that goal. In fiscal 2017, we reached $30 billion, making our Services business already the size of a Fortune 100 company.

The reason I’m so excited about AR is I view that it amplifies human performance instead of isolates humans. And so as you know, it’s the mix of the virtual and the physical world and so it should be a help for humanity, not an isolation kind of thing for humanity…Apple is the only company that could have brought this because it requires both hardware and software integration, and it requires sort of making a lot of – or giving the operating system update to many people at once. And the software team worked really hard to make that go back several versions of iPhone so that we sort of have hundreds of millions of enabled devices overnight.

But in terms of price elasticity, I think it’s important to remember that a large number of people pay for the phone by month. And so if you were to go out on just the U.S., since that tends to be more of the focus of this call, you look at the U.S. carriers, I think you would find you could buy an iPhone X for $33 a month. And so if you think about that, that’s a few coffees a week. It’s let’s say less than a coffee a day at one of these nice coffee places…In terms of the way we price, we price to sort of the value that we’re providing. We’re not trying to charge the highest price we could get or anything like that. We’re just trying to price it for what we’re delivering.


Alibaba Group (Q2 2018 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

In the 18 years since Alibaba was founded, China’s per capita GDP grew by a compounded annual rate of 14%. By comparison, the per capita GDP of the United States grew 3% during the same period. We all understand the magic of compounding. When you compound at 14% rate over 18 years, which is the life of Alibaba, the average Chinese citizen is 10 times better off today than in 1999 with per capita GDP growing from $870 to $8,100.

Today, China’s per capita GDP is still only 1/7 of the per capita GDP of the United States. Based on the track record of sustained income growth over the past years as well as on the backbone of a modern Internet infrastructure and productivity gains from technology, I’m very optimistic that China will continue to experience real income growth for years to come. This will translate into a rising middle class characterized by ever-increasing and higher-quality consumption. And this long-term secular trend bodes well for Alibaba.

Our cloud computing business continues to defy gravity. Revenue increased by 99% year-over-year. We continue to multiply our product portfolio, including the introduction of a new relational database and a state-of-the-art server developed in-house that serve the needs of large enterprise customers.

Mobile MAUs on our China retail marketplaces reached 549 million in September, an increase of 20 million over June quarter. Annual active consumers on our China retail marketplace reached 488 million, a net add of 22 million from the 12 months period ended June.

And the key thing is that the data-driven logistic network, actually we are – Cainiao is not going to be a logistic company and we are not interested into building another logistics company. Instead, we will work with a lot of logistic companies, delivery companies to build a network across the world.


Live Nation Entertainment (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

Our concerts business is our flywheel, attracting over 30 million fans to shows globally in the quarter, which then drove record results in our onsite ticketing and advertising business. Through October, we have sold 80 million tickets for concerts in 2017, up 20% year-on-year. Digging deeper into concerts, strong global demand for concerts through the third quarter drove a 16% increase in attendance to 65 million of fans at our 20,000 shows in 40 countries.

With the success of the concert flywheel, we’re promoting more shows for more fans, more effectively pricing and selling tickets and delivering a better experience than ever. As a result, we will spend over $5 billion producing concerts this year, making Live Nation far and away the largest financial partner to musicians.

With over 1,000 sponsors across our onsite and online platform, Live Nation is a global leader in music sponsorship, providing brands with opportunities to reach our core audience.

There is no artist that’s dying to put tickets on a secondary platform as a solution. That isn’t how they build their brands with their fans. What they want to do is figure out how to price it right and then make sure their fans actually have a shot to buy the ticket, not deliver it to the on-sale, have the scalper buy it, and their fan in Boston ends up paying 3 times the price.

We think Fan Verified and then you add on presence from the digital perspective are a real important combination for these artists of the future, who now believe they have some shot at controlling and delivering to their fans the price point at the exact price they want. And so, we think this is a pivotal product – suite of products that we’ve developed in Ticketmaster. It’s under a new division within Ticketmaster called Artist Master where we have a new leadership team waking up every day, making sure that we can deliver artist products, so the artists can deliver their tickets to their fans at better pricing and at the price they want.


Tesla (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

In fact, there’s 10,000 unique parts, so to be more accurate, there’re tens of thousands of processes necessary to produce the car. We will move as fast as the least competent and least lucky elements of that mixture. So while the vast majority are going incredibly well, there are some problem areas.

The primary production constraint really, by far, is in battery module assembly. So a little bit of a deep dive on that. There are four zones to module manufacturing it goes through four major production zones. The zones three and four are in good shape, zones one and two are not. Zone two in particular, we had a subcontractor, a systems integration subcontractor, that unfortunately really dropped the ball, and we did not realize the degree to which the ball was dropped until quite recently, and this is a very complex manufacturing area. We had to rewrite all of the software from scratch, and redo many of the mechanical and electrical elements of zone two of module production.

The ramp curve is a step exponential, so it means like as you alleviate a constraint, the production suddenly jumps to a much higher number. And so, although it looks a little staggered if you sort of zoom out, that production ramp is exponential with week over week increases.

There’s vastly more automation with Model 3. Now the tricky thing is that when one automation doesn’t work, it’s really harder to make up for it with men and labor. So with S or X, because a lot less that was automated, we could scale up labor hours and achieve a high level of production. With Model 3, it tends to be either the machine works or it doesn’t or it’s limping along and we get short quite severely on output.

I think that we will be able to achieve full autonomy with the current hardware. The question is, it’s not just full autonomy, but full autonomy with what level of reliability, and what will be acceptable to regulators. But I feel quite confident that we can achieve human level – approximately human level autonomy with the current computing hardware. Now regulators may require some significant margin above human capability in order for a full autonomy to be engaged. They may say, it needs to be 50% safer, 100% safer, 1000% safer, I don’t know. I’m not sure they know either.



Qualcomm (Q4 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

We are very excited about the increased momentum in 5G around the world. We are leading the industry and are accelerating the commercial launch of 5G across millimeter wave and sub-6 gigahertz in early 2019. We recently announced the world’s first 5G data connection achieved on the Snapdragon X50 modem chip set, and our leading 5G 3GPP standards development, ongoing prototype efforts and are supporting global 5G new radio trials.

Gigabit LTE is the first step in network operator’s transition to 5G, and there are now 41 operators in 24 countries supporting Gigabit LTE. We have demonstrated download speeds of greater than 1 gigabits using our X20 LTE modem in the U.S. with both Ericsson and Verizon, as well as Nokia and T-Mobile. Most leading device-makers are rapidly adopting Gigabit LTE into their device portfolios.

In the premium tier, our gigabit-enabled Snapdragon 835 now has more than 120 designs launched and in development, including recent flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, LG V30, and the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2. We have also introduced new high-tier and mid-tier Snapdragon products to further expand our competitive position in China across all tiers.


Trupanion (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

Lifetime value of a pet grew to $701 in the quarter, reflecting improvements in retention and in optimizing our cost-plus pricing strategy by subcategory. As lifetime value increases, we are able to increase our allowable tax spend and invest more aggressively in testing of new acquisition initiatives, with a goal of understanding whether they can meet our internal rate of return targets over time.

Total enrolled subscription pets increased 15% year-over-year to approximately 359,000 pets as of September 30. Monthly average revenue per pet for the quarter was $52.95, an increase of 9% year-over-year. Average monthly retention was 98.61%, consistent with the prior year period.

We want to be cash flow positive. The other guardrails are internal rate of return. And for any significant investments that we’re making, we are targeting internal rates of return of greater than 30% and hopefully, closer to 40%. When we’re doing some different testing or some long-term initiatives, maybe they’re a little bit lower, but on a blended basis, we want to be over 30%, internal rate of return closer to 40%. So those are probably the guardrails that we’re using. When I talk about how much more we’ve learned, it’s really driven around increasing the velocity of hospitals in our same-store sales initiatives. And order of magnitude may be we’ll invest an additional $2 million or $3 million next year than we otherwise would have anticipated. So definitely inside of our guardrails, but long term and foundational.

Well, the biggest opportunity, this is the overall market. I mean, we’re still in a very low underpenetrated market. And I’ll be saying this for the next 5 years. If you look at the number of pets that have some form of medical insurance, we’re over 1%, but we’re still under 2%. We want to try to grow the category growth. When we think about how to do that, it’s all around veterinarian first and making it normal and key. We have historically been growing the company by adding stores. Over the next few years, we feel it will become important for us to work on the same-store sales.

So as a reminder, our goal is to eliminate a slow cumbersome reimbursement model, where a pet owner fills out a bunch of paperwork and puts it in the mailbox and wait for 2 to 3 weeks to see if they are going to get paid. We think the problem we’re solving for pet owners is making it easier for them to budget for if and when their pet become sick or injured. And part of solving that problem is being able to pay hospitals directly at the time of invoice. Part of that solution is being able to integrate with practice management software in a way that makes the process very quickly. Our goal is to pay these invoices in under 5 minutes from the time those created. We like the results that we’re getting. But we want to speed up the velocity of the – number of places that we’re rolling it out now that we’re better at it. And we’re still in relatively early days to learn how to speed up the velocity, now that we like the results we get on a per hospital basis.


Tucows (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR is a piece of legislation passed by the European Union to enforce tougher more consistent guidelines on organizations that operate across the region and particularly, global Internet companies and deals with customer data and product deployments. These guidelines impact the millions of domain names that we have registered to European end-users. So, we need to comply along with everyone else by May 25, 2018. This will require a significant investment in engineering. However, its work that needs to be done by everyone across our industry and across many industries and it plays to our engineering strengths. Also, other governments are starting to the EU’s lead and pass their own legislation. So, while the work will cause some pain in the short-term if we do it well better and faster than others, it could create some opportunities in the future.

This deal gives us access to the Otono eSIM platform. eSIM allows mobile users to choose and switch between networks without needing to insert and activate traditional SIM cards. In coming quarters, eSIM should allow Ting to support high-profile smartwatches and other exciting new connected devices. In coming years, eSIM should allow Ting customers to move seamlessly between networks on almost any device imaginable.


Chegg (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

In just four years the results have been dramatic, which Chegg now serving nearly ten million visitors in a month according to ComScore and we expect to have around four million paying customers in 2017. Further, we expect to have more Chegg Services subscribers than textbook customers for the first time in our history. Our Chegg Services revenue has grown from just $25 million in 2012 to what we expect will be over $180 million in 2017.

And given our new adjusted EBITDA guidance today, we will go from a company who was losing $16 million in adjusted EBITDA right before our IPO, to a company that is now forecasting nearly $45 million in adjusted EBITDA for 2017. This turnaround has helped us go from a company using over $100 million in cash each year to support a slow growth textbook business to a high growth, high margin learning company that now produces free cash flow. It’s been a successful transition and we feel like we’re just getting started.

As powerful as Chegg Study is already, we believe the service will become even more relevant to an increasing TAM, as we continue to expand its content and capability. To that end, we recently announced the acquisition of Cogeon, developer of the app Math 42, an adaptive A.I.-driven Math application, which has been downloaded over 2 million time. Math is the universal need and unfortunately a universal problem as 64% of U.S. students are not prepared for college level math, and over 40% of U.S. students take at least one remedial math course.

Even though students look to A.I.-driven tools to help augment their learning, we know that one-on-one human help will continue to be critical in the learning process, which is why we continue to invest in Chegg Tutors. In the third quarter, we saw the time students spent on the site increase, with an average student now spending 188 minutes in tutoring sessions throughout the semester in key subjects like computer science, calculus, statistics, finance and accounting.

The magic of what we are building is the ability to have access to millions of millions of millions of students and their records and their history, all the data about them it’s in our proprietary student graph, and then the ability to do matching based on that uniquely done by how we are capable of doing it versus others. So, we met with all the players in the space. Obviously, everybody would like access to this Chegg audience, but we believe what working on is going to be special and unique and has the opportunity to be huge.

So, we don’t see a reason with such high gross profit margins to change the price. But we do know we have significant pricing power, given the fact of not only the test results which you can just look at the usage. We have record usage in terms of how often they use it, how many pages they consume, what they use for the number of questions that they’re asking, the number of the subjects that they’re asking it in. I mean Chegg Study has become a beast, and we just — what we want to do is be able to grow as big as we can and invest in as much as we can and continue to increase the TAM. So we don’t have to think about pricing at this point, but we do know we have pricing power.

We actually believe and we try to say this on the last couple of calls which is the more we invest in the product, the more content, the more formats that we deliver that content, the more subjects, the greater the Q&A that we add. That the TAM is probably two to three times the size just in the U.S. alone about original number we gave out. And that’s because, it will cover the other 50% of subjects that we don’t cover. And it will go deeper in the subjects that we do cover. So we want wide at first now we’re going deeper. So we’re freshmen all the way through the seniors on key majors and that was not a year ago, the plan.


Workiva (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

…our ability to integrate Wdesk with more than 100 cloud, SaaS, and on-premise applications including Oracle ERP Cloud has expanded our TAM to $16.2 billion.

We continue to gain market share in the SEC compliance market, where Wdesk is considered a best practice. We’re also seeing more demand for Wdesk from foreign private issues that use IFRS taxonomy because they’ll be required to submit their SEC filings with XBRL tagging starting December 15.

We finished Q3 with 2,991 customers, a net increase of 295 customers from Q3 of 2016, and a net increase of 83 customers from Q2 2017. Our subscription support revenue retention rate excluding add-ons was 96.5% for the month of September 2017, compared with 96.1% in June 2017, and 95% in September 2016. Customers being acquired or ceasing to file SEC reports, accounted for a majority of the revenue attrition, consistent with our experience to date. With add-ons, our subscription support revenue retention rate was 108.6% for the month of September 2017, compared with 106% in June 2017, and 108.7% in September 2016. Increased subscription revenue on non-SEC use cases from existing customers continues to be the primary driver of our add-on revenue retention rate.

 

Curated Insights 2017.11.26

What Tesla’s big rig must do to seduce truckers

In North America alone, the largest heavy duty freight trucks—Class 8 semis—account for about $30 billion in sales each year, or more than 250,000 new trucks, according to industry data tracked by Bloomberg. Class 8 trucks, which have a loaded weight rating of at least 33,000 pounds, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from trash trucks and cement mixers to city buses all the way up to tractor-trailers whose drivers spend days and nights living on the road. The most common day cab delivery trucks cost around $100,000, and big rigs with sleeper cabins are about $150,000.

Batteries are the single most expensive component of an electric truck, and the battery of a cross-country hauler could cost $100,000 even before they build the truck around it. But that upfront investment can be offset by cheaper operating costs. Running a truck on electricity saves tens of thousands in fuel costs as well as savings of roughly 7 cents a mile on lower maintenance costs. And if the autonomous driving system is good enough to run without a driver, it could also dramatically cut labor expenses, which add about 57 cents for every mile on the road.

Any range less than 400 miles is likely meant for local and regional deliveries, the sort of thing done by UPS and FedEx or the type of hub-and-spoke model used by giant retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to move goods from distribution centers to stores or warehouses. If Tesla wants to go after the longest routes to replace what are known as “over-the-road” trucks, which feature sleeping cabins for multi-day driving stretches, the company will need a range of at least 500 miles—or else a way to charge an electric truck that’s faster than anything in use now. The battery needs for each of these categories would be different, and so would the costs.

Perhaps Tesla’s biggest advantage over other truck makers is that its semi will share some core parts with the Model 3. Musk disclosed during an earnings call in May that the semi uses “a bunch” of Model 3 motors, which sit in line with the truck’s axles. These relatively cheap electric motors will give the semis unparalleled electric torque for getting quickly up to speed with a heavy load.


This man is leading an AI revolution in Silicon Valley—and he’s just getting started

Booming demand for its products has supercharged growth at Nvidia. Over the past three full fiscal years, it has increased sales by an average of 19% and profits by an astonishing 56% annually. Nvidia meanwhile has so far managed to retain its roughly 70% market share in GPUs despite competition from formidable rivals—among them Intel and AMD—who want their share of the billions in chip sales to come from this new tech revolution. “IBM dominated in the 1950s with the mainframe computer, Digital Equipment Corp. in the mid-1960s with the transition to mini-computers, Microsoft and Intel as PCs ramped, and finally Apple and Google as cellphones became ubiquitous,” wrote Jefferies equity analyst Mark Lipacis in a July note to clients. “We believe the next tectonic shift is happening now and Nvidia stands to benefit.”

“We believed this model of computing could solve problems that general-purpose computing fundamentally couldn’t. We also observed that video games were simultaneously one of the most computationally challenging problems and would have incredibly high sales volume. Those two conditions don’t happen very often. Video games was our killer app—a flywheel to reach large markets funding huge R&D to solve massive computational problems.”

“In the future, companies will have an A.I. that is watching every single transaction—every business process—that is happening, all day long. Certain transactions or patterns that are being repeated. The process could be very complicated. It could go through sales to engineering, supply chain, logistics, business operations, finance, customer service. And it could be observed that this pattern is happening all the time. As a result of this observation, the artificial intelligence software writes an artificial intelligence software to automate that business process. Because we won’t be able to do it. It’s too complicated.”

“We’re seeing early indications of it now. Generative adversarial networks, or GAN. I think over the next several years we’re going to see a lot of neural networks that develop neural networks. For the next couple of decades, the greatest contribution of A.I. is writing software that humans simply can’t write. Solving the unsolvable problems.”

Google advances their future smart clothing vision with focus on delivering an ‘interactive garment’

Notably the user is able to trigger various different types of functionalities through interactions with the interactive garment, such as by touching or swiping the user’s shirt sleeve. In addition, by enabling the triggering of functionality through interactions with a wearable garment, instead of a device, the user does not need to fiddle around with the user interface of a smartwatch or smartphone in order trigger a functionality. In fact, the user may be able to provide the gesture to the interactive garment without even looking at the garment. In addition, a simple gesture to a garment is discreet and thus enables the user to trigger functionalities in a crowded setting without the need to take out their smartphone or other electronic device.


Apple’s ginormous share of industry profit expands, says Canaccord

Apple is capturing more and more, at 72% of total industry profits, up from 68% in the July quarter, while Samsung’s share dipped slightly to 24%. Looking ahead, Walkley thinks Apple’s share of all smartphone units shipped in 2018 will expand to 14.5% from an expected 13.3% this year, while Samsung’s share he thinks will dip to 19.1% from 20.2%. He expects Huawei and Xiaomi, two big privately held Chinese vendors, to both see share rise in 2018, at 11% and 6.4%, respectively. They won’t do as well, however, as Oppo and Vivo, two other Chinese competitors, who may capture 7.8% and 7.5% of the market next year, he opines.


Why Apple’s HomePod is three years behind Amazon’s Echo

The Echo is a truly standalone product at the center of an ecosystem. The cloud-based operating system has made it easy for developers to create thousands of skills or voice-activated apps. By contrast, the HomePod is essentially an extension of the iPhone, like an accessory. When someone asks the HomePod to open a third-party app, the request won’t go directly to the cloud, as with the Echo, but to an iPhone. As a result, developers can’t write apps for the HomePod. They must create tweaked versions of existing iPhone apps. What’s more, Apple has limited the kinds of apps to messaging, to-do lists and notes. If Alexa is the beating heart of the Echo, Siri is almost an afterthought.


Asia’s consumers snubbing global brands for these products

In Indonesia’s $1.3 billion instant-coffee market, the disparity is more pronounced. During that period, Javaprima gained about 12 percentage points for a 33 percent share, while Nestle lost 1.4 percentage points to 16 percent. Nestle declined to comment on the Indonesian market. Javaprima is capitalizing on local trends, such as demand by women and new coffee drinkers for a smooth and creamy brew, director Agus Susanto said.

Nestle’s revenue from Asia, Oceania and Africa fell 23 percent between 2012 and 2016 to 14.5 billion francs ($14.7 billion). To capture more Asian consumers, the company introduced ready-to-drink cold coffees in the region, opened branded cafes at Chinese universities and formulated a Cafe Viet lineup.

Pechoin, owned by closely held Shanghai Pehchaolin Daily Chemical Co., saw its market share jump fivefold between 2012 and 2016, according to Euromonitor. The parent company had revenue of about $1 billion in 2016. The newfound popularity came partly at the expense of the L’Oreal Paris label, which lost more than a fifth of its market share in the same period. Pechoin, founded in 1931, focuses on herbal products and claims to be one of China’s first cosmetics brands.

L’Oreal remains the No. 1 beauty group in China, and the nation’s increasing demand for luxury cosmetics bodes well for its premium positioning, the company said. Paris-based L’Oreal also has boosted efforts to tailor products for Asia. In 2014, it bought Magic, a Chinese brand known for skincare masks, a popular local beauty ritual. The company also introduced a liquid foundation that uses a cushion applicator popularized in South Korea, and it’s competing with Amorepacific Corp. for the Muslim cosmetics business in Southeast Asia.

A new kind of self-sustaining fishery could offset the worst impacts of animal farming

The Ocean Farm 1 – created by leading salmon farming company SalMar – is the first offshore fish farm capable of complete automation in feeding and monitoring fish. According to SalMar, the farm can mature up to 1.5M fish in just 14 months. If the experimental facility proves viable (and environmentally sound) it may compel more companies and governments to use offshore fish farms to help grow our global food supply.

But American seas are newly open for business: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a rule in 2016 that allows for large-scale fish farming in federally controlled waters three or more miles offshore. In Europe, the regulatory environment has been more friendly. The EU embraced policy changes recommending the shift of aquaculture offshore back in 2002; by 2008, offshore farms were operational in Norway, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and several other countries. Norway is arguably the aquaculture capital of the world: Fish farming helped Norway produce around 1.18M metric tons of salmon in 2016, and fish contribute $8B annually to Norway’s economy – accounting for about 8% of its exports.

Developing only 1% of Indonesia’s suitable ocean area could produce more than 24 million tonnes of fish per year or over 3.9 × 1011 individual 4 cm bivalves. If consumed entirely within Indonesia, this volume of additional fish production would increase seafood consumption per capita sixfold. In fact, there is already considerable activity working to expand Indonesian aquaculture.


Asia’s richest banker spots a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

For India, it’s a $207 billion mess, a pile-up of bad loans years in the making that’s dragging on growth. For the nation’s wealthiest banker, it’s the kind of opportunity that very rarely presents itself. What has billionaire Uday Kotak salivating is the government’s attempt to finally draw a line under delinquent loans, with recent steps to overhaul India’s bankruptcy laws and recapitalize state-owned banks. The moves are intended to lift a burden from the country’s banks and encourage them to accelerate lending, supporting economic growth.

The sense among some Indian executives that they could walk away from their debts without facing consequences was a major factor limiting past efforts to bring delinquent loans in check. The government’s announcement last month that it will inject a record 2.1 trillion rupees into state-owned banks is another sea change, in that it should give the lenders sufficient capital to write off bad loans weighing down their balance sheets.


Billionaire Kotak says Indian banks need to cut costs: Q&A

Debt markets and other segments will put pressure on the bank loan markets because they are working at much narrower spreads between the investor and the issuer. This is going to be one of the biggest challenges at a time when non-bank sectors like mutual funds, insurance, debt capital market and so on are dis-intermediating on the one hand, and technology is commoditizing the lending business at the other.

First is the formalization of finance. For instance, you see a reduction in the cash economy as less money is going into land and real assets, especially in rural India. That money is going into the formal economy which is a mega change which we are seeing. The second trend which we are seeing is the broad-basing of financial services. As finance became broader, savers wanted to look at things in addition to or beyond bank deposits. So money is going into mutual funds, insurance and equities markets. The third is digital. It, combined with Aadhaar (India’s biometric identification program), is a very potent force. We are at about 1,360 branches now. In the past we would have thought we would need about 5,000 branches. But with the digital economy, Aadhaar and customer behavior changes, we believe we can do with less.


Traffic is piling up—and so are its costs

Last year, congestion cost each U.S. driver $1,400 on average, for a total of nearly $300 billion, according to Inrix’s latest annual scorecard. The cost reflects wasted fuel, decreased productivity and lost time, which might include longer delivery times or missed meetings. The biggest losers are the most congested cities.

“We find that 49% to 61% of ride-hailing trips would have not been made at all, or by walking, biking or transit,” the researchers reported.

First digital pill approved to worries about biomedical ‘big brother’

Experts estimate that so-called nonadherence or noncompliance to medication costs about $100 billion a year, much of it because patients get sicker and need additional treatment or hospitalization.

The technology could potentially be used to monitor whether post-surgical patients took too much opioid medication or clinical trial participants correctly took drugs being tested. Insurers might eventually give patients incentives to use them, like discounts on copayments, said Dr. Eric Topol, director of Scripps Translational Science Institute, adding that ethical issues could arise if the technology was “so much incentivized that it almost is like coercion.”

This ex-trucker has some questions about the Tesla Semi

This first version of the Semi will not replace the dozens of thousands of trucks on huge regional or coast-to-coast runs, clocking 2,000 to 5,000 miles per week.

I understand acceleration is a core Tesla brand value, but I’m far more interested in braking. An 80,000-pound tractor trailer needs about 550 feet to come to a complete stop from 55 miles per hour, and I spent a surprising portion of every driving shift trying not to obliterate car drivers who weren’t aware of that fact. Show me how much the Semi can lop off that braking distance.

Companies like Wal-Mart and JB Hunt that have placed orders for Tesla Semis have the routes, terminal control, and money for terminal infrastructure to make the most of the Semi, so we’ll see what the production unit looks like in 2019 (hopefully) and parse the feedback after 10,000 miles of road duty. Don’t be surprised to see more mirrors.


Can carbon-dioxide removal save the world?

Carbon-dioxide removal is, potentially, a trillion-dollar enterprise because it offers a way not just to slow the rise in CO2 but to reverse it. The process is sometimes referred to as “negative emissions”: instead of adding carbon to the air, it subtracts it. Carbon-removal plants could be built anywhere, or everywhere. Construct enough of them and, in theory at least, CO2 emissions could continue unabated and still we could avert calamity. Depending on how you look at things, the technology represents either the ultimate insurance policy or the ultimate moral hazard.

As a technology of last resort, carbon removal is, almost by its nature, paradoxical. It has become vital without necessarily being viable. It may be impossible to manage and it may also be impossible to manage without.

Building arks, rather than trying to predict The rain

“One thing I’ve come to as an investor, is recognizing that there are a lot of ways to make money in the market. There are a lot of investment approaches and philosophies that can do very well, but all of them test the investor in one way or another. Therefore, it’s important for you to figure out how to align your investment philosophy with your own personality – so that when the investment philosophy inevitably tests you, you’re the sort of person who will pass the particular types of tests required to successful manage your investment strategy.”


What is blockchain technology?

The blockchain is still in its nascent stages. However, blockchain technology promises to entirely reshape money, middlemen, and trust. Ultimately, blockchain is as much a political and economic hypothesis as a technological one. Blockchain technology provides a new way to think about how we agree on things. For the first time, multiple untrusted parties can create and agree on a single source of truth, without the use of a middleman. The technology’s implications for traditional middlemen and corporate players are therefore potentially enormous. As the landscape evolves, the future of blockchain will likely take on forms yet to be imagined.

It’s fructan, not gluten, that’s causing stomach problems, says new research

The scientists found that the participants only developed bloating symptoms after eating fructan-containing bars. Other bars, including those with gluten, did not cause the distress. This led the researchers to conclude that fructan, not gluten, may be behind the bowel problems. One big reason it’s important to figure this out – people who are on a gluten-free diet were found to have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes by other recent research.


To solve problems caused by sitting, learn to squat

In the past half century, epidemiologists have been forced to shift how they study movement patterns. In modern times, the sheer amount of sitting we do is a separate problem from the amount of exercise we get. Our failure to squat has biomechanical and physiological implications, but it also points to something bigger.

“Every joint in our body has synovial fluid in it. This is the oil in our body that provides nutrition to the cartilage,” Jam says. “Two things are required to produce that fluid: movement and compression. So if a joint doesn’t go through its full range—if the hips and knees never go past 90 degrees—the body says ‘I’m not being used’ and starts to degenerate and stops the production of synovial fluid.”

Company Notes 2017.11.24

APM Automotive Q3 FY2017 Results

APM believes that innovation is one of the keys to success and has not allowed the current challenging economic climate to be a deterrent in its pursuit of the same. In this respect, APM has invested in and established a fully functional research and development centre that houses more than 80 engineers. This centre is equipped with some of the latest cutting edge technologies and a central testing laboratory. APM’s engineers have been carefully selected and are capable of handling a range of tasks, including product design and development as well as manufacturing process and technology improvement.

Having the credentials that include over 30 years of manufacturing experience have enabled APM to remain competitive over the years but APM is aware that it cannot rest on its laurels and rely on past successes to drive it forward. APM aims to further improve on its competitiveness and market share through the gradual introduction of automation into its manufacturing processes, the continued adoption of forward transactions based on actual commitments rather than leveraging on derivatives and speculative hedging to curb losses associated with currency fluctuation and the increased focus on the export market for its products.


GD Express Carrier Q1 FY2018 Results

The decline in performance for the current quarter under review was mainly due to higher operating expenses incurred for expansion of network and infrastructure to cater for the higher demand of express delivery by e-commerce business.


Star Media Group Q3 FY2017 Results

On 12 July 2017, the Company announced the completion on the disposal of Cityneon Holdings Limited by Laviani Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary company. Accordingly, Cityneon Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries have ceased to be the indirect subsidiary companies of the Company.

With the sale of the two radio stations (Capital FM and Red FM) which were loss making in the last financial year, Radio segment is expected to contribute positively to the Group.

Star is actively searching for new investment opportunities especially in the digital sector to further complement and enhance its existing assets. The fast evolving media landscape into all things digital and the ever changing consumer preferences make it a priority for Star to maintain its engagement with its audiences via the latest technologies.


Daibochi Plastic and Packaging Industry Q3 FY2017 Results

The Group has marked good progress in its Myanmar plant. Daibochi Myanmar achieved, in a short period, the ISO 9001:2015 and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point food safety management system (HACCP FSMS) certifications in October 2017. With these certifications, Daibochi Myanmar is now equipped and ready to supply flexible packaging to global food and beverage (F&B) and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands.

At the same time, Daibochi Myanmar is extending its existing business footprint by pursuing new contracts from the FMCG sector in Myanmar. The positive feedback from the sales team after three months of visiting customers in Myanmar, coupled with Daibochi Myanmar’s technical capabilities and product quality, makes the Group confident of entering the qualification process for various companies and new product lines of existing customers in the fourth quarter of 2017.


Boon Koon Group Q2 FY2018 Results

The Group expects the automotive market to remain challenging due to stiffening competition for the rebuilt commercial vehicles as a result of the influx of more China commercial vehicles. However, the company will continue looking for option available to undertake new dealership for commercial vehicle and to progressively expand the number of distributors and marketing arms around Malaysia, particularly in Johor and Kuala Lumpur. The demand for the rebuilt and brand new commercial vehicles is continuously growing in these states in view of various ongoing and new mega infrastructure construction projects which are currently being implemented.


Supermax Q1 FY2018 Results

The Group is making good progress in developing its contact lens business. Not only has it successfully set up its production operations over the last few years, but it is also seeing its intensive efforts to procure the necessary certifications and approvals to produce and bring its products to market bear fruit.

The certifications and approvals obtained to date include the US FDA 510K, the CE Mark and the Brazilian Anvisa license for the overseas markets; and the Medical Device Authority license for the Malaysian market. It is currently pursuing the approvals required to gain access to the Japanese market, the 2nd largest contact lens market after the USA. The Group will continue launching its products in the various overseas markets after obtaining the necessary approvals.


Heineken Malaysia Q3 FY2017 Results

Group revenue in the quarter also received a boost in the cider category following the successful launch of HEINEKEN Malaysia’s new mainstream cider brand Apple Fox in August 2017 and the commencement of sale of locally brewed Strongbow Apple Ciders.


FoundPac Group Q1 FY2018 Results

Demand for our stiffeners and accessories for stiffeners are expected to remain steady. For medium to long term, we will put more effort and concentrate on the products of test socket, hand lids and accessories for test sockets to gain more market segment.


Rhone Ma Holdings Q3 FY2017 Results

The Group’s future plans and strategies will focus on the expansion of our manufacturing activities by constructing and operating a new GMP-compliant plant in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan Darul Khusus which will increase our production capacity by approximately four (4) times of the existing maximum production capacity. As at to-date, we have obtained the planning approval and are awaiting approval for the commencement of earthworks from the relevant authority. The construction of the plant is estimated to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2018.

We have commenced work on our new warehouse situated in Kapar, Selangor Darul Ehsan in July 2017. The new warehouse, which will be used as our main distribution centre to cater to our increasing storage needs for both animal health products and food ingredients, is estimated to be completed by the third quarter of 2018.


Techfast Holdings Q3 FY2017 Results

Preparations for the military and aerospace project are still underway as the machines are still being commissioned. The broaching machine and materials for this project from the USA are expected to arrive in December 2017.

Cape is currently working with one of the biggest semi-conductor companies in China, which is assessing the standard and the quality of our products. Sales to Taiwan had seen some volume increase in this current quarter. The management team expects that the standard and quality of our products would be accepted in a matter of time, as already evidenced by some increase in sales volume to Taiwan thus far

Oriem is working on a high end LED and epoxy projects with two reputable international original equipment manufacturers (“OEM”) in Penang. Oriem is already an approved vendor which meets the standards and requirements of their supply chain. The evaluation of our company’s new products is still in progress.


Serba Dinamik Holdings Q3 FY2017 Results

Recent announcement for the establishment of a chlor-alkali plant in Tanzania would mark as our first step into Africa and the Company expect to further grow the business in the region. It also re-affirms our plan to grow our asset ownership business model which would lead to further enhance our EPCC & O&M capabilities.


Tune Protect Group Q3 FY2017 Results

The innovative initiatives put in place are gaining traction in favour of the global Travel reinsurance business, notably in product bundling with our key airline partner. In its early stages of implementation, dynamic pricing and other targeted marketing initiatives also aim to elevate sales and overall customer experience. Continued collaboration with our airline partners and new personalized travel products in the pipeline, including Family, Migrant and Annual travel plans, is expected to further strengthen our recovery.


Focus Lumber Q3 FY2017 Results

The logs supply issue has been temporarily resolved since early August but the costing of our products had increased significantly due to the higher logs price paid in order to secure logs supply. Although the selling price of plywood has been an increasing trend recently, we expect that it will not help much on our profit margin recovery due to the current cost structure of our inventory as well as the higher logs price. Other than local suppliers, we are also looking to purchase veneer sheets from overseas when there is a shortage in logs supply in future.


Dagangan NeXchange Q3 FY2017 Results

The Group’s Information Technology business continues to firm up its e-services by broadening its product range in business-to-business segment to complement the Group’s position in delivering business-to-government services. The new recurring income from operation and maintenance of the VEP&RC System, eWork Permits, and the 1Trade, a Web-based one-stop portal for total cargo and trade management and related services have further open up a new revenue stream to the Group.


Telekom Malaysia Q3 FY2017 Results

Our main broadband service offering continues to grow with unifi reaching 2.70 million households nationwide to date, and our mobile offering achieving 8.0% mobile penetration.

In supporting the Government’s initiative, we successfully completed Sistem Kabel Rakyat 1Malaysia (SKR1M). SKR1M is the result of a successful Public-Private Partnership (PPP) collaboration between TM and the Government through Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) which has achieved the project completion as scheduled and is now commercially launched. The new submarine cable system spans over 3,800 km lands at six (6) landings in Kuantan, Mersing, Kuching, Bintulu, Miri and Kota Kinabalu.


N2N Connect Q3 FY2017 Results

Following the successful acquisition of AFE, the enhanced coverage in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, the United States, Hong Kong, Macau, and Vietnam has positioned N2N to become one of the largest Asian-based platform providers. As Merger and Acquisition is one of the key expansion strategies, N2N is continuously seeking several other suitable acquisitions that are synergistic to its business.

These prospects include information service terminal, trading platform, data center hosting, network infrastructure and the acceptance of our latest back office settlement system by several brokers in Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines.


Petron Malaysia Refining & Marketing Q3 FY2017 Results

With all sectors posting positive growth, total sales volume reached 9.0 million barrels, a 15% improvement from 7.8 million barrels last year.

Dated Brent averaged US$52 per barrel during the quarter compared to US$46 per barrel in the same period in 2016. Brent crude reached US$56/bbl in September this year, up by almost US$10/bbl or 20% from the June level compared to the range-bound movement during the same period in 2016. As oil prices rose, the price differentials between finished products and crude also widened which further improved the Company’s margin.

The Company continues to pursue its network upgrade and expansion program amidst the more challenging market and business environment.


Lii Hen Industries Q3 FY2017 Results

The cost increases in raw materials, labour and subcontractors charges continue to affect the Group’s gross profit margin by 2% compared to the immediate preceding quarter.

The fire outbreak occurred on 27 October 2017 at one of the finishing plants have the operational impact on the bedroom sets, however the effect was mitigated by working extra shift/hours at main premises. The production was resumed on 14 November 2017.


Salutica Q1 FY2018 Results

Leveraging on the Group’s experience and expertise in Bluetooth technology and R&D capabilities, we had begun developing Bluetooth-enabled personal healthcare related products under our in-house brand FOBO. Currently, we are at the proof of concept stage base on engineering prototypes.

The Group is continuing with the manufacturing of a USB-powered device that adds touchscreen functionality to a non-touch laptop screen. The touch enabling functionality may be incorporated into applications for various industry segments, such as automotive and electronic appliances, subject to expected gestation period for product certification or homologation.

FOBO Tag, the World’s 1st patented Bluetooth 5 tracker was launched on 31 August 2017 on a crowd funding platform. The Group will start shipping FOBO Tag product in early December 2017.


Chin Well Holdings Q1 FY2018 Results

In order to cushion the stress from the safeguard duty which imposed by the Malaysian government towards the end of the financial year ended 30 June 2017 on the wire rod imported from China, the Group had sourced its raw material from other alternative countries such as the Middle East and Vietnam which are duty exempted and without compromising the quality of our products. Application to the authorities for the exemption of the duty is in the progress with the hope to obtain the approval in the next few months.

The Group expects its DIY segment will continue to contribute positively to the Group’s performance through the increase of its distribution network in the European and US markets. While for the Wire division, with the expansion in the production of new product lines such as welded fencing, gabion and poultry mesh, it is expected to further enhance the division’s result in this financial year with its high value added margin.


Heveaboard Q3 FY2017 Results

The decrease in revenue for the reporting quarter was due to the planned annual preventive maintenance at the particleboard sector and also the shortage of foreign workers at the RTA sector which had resulted in higher operational costs as optimum production capacity could not be achieved.


PPB Group Q3 FY2017 Results

Although the flour markets in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam remain competitive, Grains and agribusiness segment is expected to perform satisfactorily. Performance of the Consumer products segment is expected to remain stable. The business of Film exhibition and distribution segment will continue to be driven by the newly-opened cinemas in Malaysia and Vietnam; and the movie title releases for the rest of the year. Environmental engineering and utility segment will continue to focus on timely completion of its on-going projects and participate in tendering for prospective projects. The launching of the mixed development project in Taman Megah, Petaling Jaya in November 2017 is expected to contribute positively in the coming financial year.


Kossan Rubber Industries Q3 FY2017 Results

The demand for gloves remains robust, with the Group’s production plants running at full capacity. The Group’s latest Plant 16 located along Jalan Meru, was initially expected to be completed in July 2017. However, there was a slight delay due to machine installation and water supply issues. Two of the eight production lines were completed in October which are now under production-trial, with the rest six lines going to be completed by Dec. We expect contributions from this plant for this year to be minimal, with full contributions to start from Jan 2018 onwards. Plant 16 which has an installed capacity of 3 billion pieces per annum, will focus on the Group’s patented Low Derma Technology gloves. This latest state-of-the-art plant incorporates many of the latest technologies, including highspeed dipping technology with a high-degree of automation to reduce the dependence on manpower. Construction works for Plant 17 and 18, also along Jalan Meru have commenced and expected to be completed by 2018. These 2 new plants would be capable of producing up to 4.5 billion pieces (1.5 and 3.0 billion pieces respectively) of nitrile
gloves per annum once completed.

Research & development remains one of the cornerstones of Kossan’s success. The construction of the Group’s integrated Research and Development cum Training Centre (“RDTC”) is completed in the 4th quarter of 2017. The RDTC will house the Group’s world class research, lab and testing facilities for new innovations and quality improvements. It will also serve as the nerve centre for research into engineering and robotic implementations as well as automation systems for existing and new manufacturing plants.


Thong Guan Industries Q3 FY2017 Results

For the third quarter ended 30 September 2017, the Group has continued its double digit growth trend in its sales. The group commissioned its second nano layer stretch film line and its 8th PVC food wrap line during the current quarter. With the additional capacity coming on stream in the final quarter of 2017, the Group is optimistic to continue its upward trend in sales volume and profitability.


Karex Q1 FY2018 Results

Result from operating activities was lower due to pressure on tender prices and rising production costs coupled with higher distribution and administrative expenses. Distribution and administrative expenses pertaining to efforts to build Own Brands through advertisement, hiring of human capital and expansion of our distribution network continued to impact profitability.

Distribution expenses had increased due to higher freight costs for shipments to Africa and Asia as well as the marketing cost for the launch of the MyOne range of condoms in US via an ecommerce platform.


Chemical Company of Malaysia Q3 FY2017 Results

The growth in profit before tax is primarily due to higher sales and margin as a result of higher average selling prices of its chlor-alkali products, higher volume sold during the period under review and positive impact on operational efficiency initiatives.


Malaysia Airports Holdings Q3 FY2017 Results

MAHB’s network of airports (including Istanbul SGIA) recorded 95.3 million passengers in YTD September 2017, representing a growth of 8.7% over YTD September 2016. International traffic improved by 13.3% while domestic passengers traffic increased by 4.9%. Correspondingly, aircraft movements improved by 3.1% with international and domestic aircraft movements increasing by 6.8% and 1.0% respectively


Eng Kah Q3 FY2017 Results

Going forward, the Group will further strengthen its presence in overseas markets and joint venture business. Atika Beauty Manufacturing Sdn. Bhd. (“Atika”) has completed its factory renovation and relevant machinery has been installed. The manufacturing operations if Atika has commenced in the third quarter of 2017. The Group’s research and development team has also developed a new range of unique and impressive souvenir products that are able to capture the beautiful scenery and memorable moments of customers’ choice with 3D printing effect on the glass bottle.


BCM Alliance Q3 FY2017 Results

The Group has successfully obtained an appointment from KLS Martin SE Asia Sdn Bhd as the non-exclusive distributor on 10 February 2017 to distribute OT lights and accessories, pendants and modular OR. This create the new brand for medical devices during the financial period ended 30 June 2017 and the new appointment is valid until 5th December 2021 which had been approved by MDA.


Chin Hin Group Q3 FY2017 Results

Lately, we have set up another new subsidiary, Metex Modular Sdn Bhd to venture broadly into Industrialised Modular Building System (IMBS). Application of IMBS in the commercial and industrial construction is not only fast and environmental friendly, this method of construction is scoring the highest IBS points, achieving higher assessment rating over the other IBS method. With appropriate design and construction practice, modular building can ever be a prefabricated prefinished volumetric construction solution system (PPVC System) for big scaled residential and commercial estate within 6 to 12 months period. Chin Hin will capitalise on its internal resources i.e. ready-mixed concrete, wall panel, wire mesh and C-Purlin to maximise its return on the modular business and target to be recognised as one of the most reliable IMBS manufacturer in the market.

Maybank initiates rent-to-own scheme

“The scheme will provide the transparency that customers need and certainty of their monthly rental commitments throughout the chosen tenure. It will also give them the opportunity to earn capital appreciation on their property via the cash-out option,” he added, noting that that “best of all, there is the option to buy the property at a later stage but at a predetermined price.”

To be eligible for the scheme, Maybank said applicants must have a household income of at least RM5,000 per month and committed to a minimum rental tenure of five years. Customers will be subjected to a flat rental payment for the first five years, and they will also be able to purchase the property at a locked-in rate, continue rental tenure with 2% annual rental step-up or terminate the agreement with no further obligations.

“In Malaysia, only 24% of households rent. The society has to correct this social stigma that renting is not the last resort, it is simply a choice.”


Chin Well plans regional expansion

“We have enquiries from customers for more of our new fasteners that are made in Vietnam. We will add more production lines in Vietnam to cater to the rising demand. We aim to have at least a DIY customer in each European country by 2019. We are targeting for the DIY segment to generate about 25% of the group’s revenue in 2019, compared to 15% now.”

“There is now a shortage of graphite, an essential ingredient used for stabilising the temperature in the furnace used for producing steel-based products. This is on top of the problem in China, where the government is closing down all the cottage industries using archaic technology to produce steel in a nationwide effort to curb pollution. We are well stocked on cold-rolled coils which were obtained on competitive prices due to the large amount we order. We have adjusted the pricing of our fasteners accordingly to the hike in raw material prices.”


Jaycorp expects great potential in Sabah’s construction sector

“We are looking at the potential of acquiring additional furniture factories with good management already in place. Our policy for investment is that the partner we look for must be well-known in the industry and the management must know its job. Come the right one, we will say yes.”

Currently, all of Jaycorp’s furniture products are catered for exports, transacted in US dollars. The Chinese market accounts for 40% of the group’s furniture division’s top line, followed by the US at just below 30%, with the remaining made up of several countries including Australia and European nations.

Jaycorp’s factories are running at an average utilisation rate of 80%. The group has three plants for its core business — furniture production, two for wood processing, one for carton box packaging, and one for renewable energy. The rubberwood furniture maker has no stress from cost or shortage of raw materials such as rubberwood — as it has an option to source supply from its subsidiary operating in Medan, Indonesia, which does pressure treatment and kiln-drying of rubberwood.


Tencent mulls e-payment launch in Malaysia next year

Tencent has made a “breakthrough” in gaining an e-payment license in Malaysia for local transactions, and plans a launch early next year, senior vice president S.Y. Lau said in an interview. “Malaysia is actually quite large in the sense that we have 20 million WeChat users, huge potential, and the market is quite warm towards internet products from China,” Lau said.


Top palm oil growers go on defensive against EU curb threat

Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s top palm oil producers, accounting for 85 percent of supply. The European Parliament’s non-binding resolution urged the bloc’s executive arm to step up efforts to prevent deforestation as a result of palm oil production. The expansion of plantations in the two countries has seen farmers accused of illegally using slash-and-burn methods to clear land, destroying rainforests and habitats for animals, and causing a severe haze that can blanket parts of Asia. Indonesia has said it is ready to retaliate against further attempts to curb palm oil exports.

The European Union is Malaysia’s biggest export destination, accounting for about 13 percent of shipments of palm oil and palm-based products last year, according to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board. About 90 percent of Malaysia’s biodiesel exports also go to Europe, Mah said.


Malaysian palm oil prices seen dropping further on India import duty

India lifted the import tax on crude palm oil to 30 percent from 15 percent, and increased import tax duty on refined palm oil imports to 40 percent from 25 percent. Indian oilseed crushers had been struggling to compete with cheaper imports from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and Argentina, reducing demand for local rapeseed and soybeans which have been trading below government-set prices in the physical market and angering farmers.

Property imbalance growing wider

Bank Negara says the bulk or 83% of the total unsold units were in the above RM250,000 price category. The central bank revealed that 61% of total unsold units were high-rise properties, out of which 89% were priced above RM250,000. Johor has the largest share of unsold residential units (27% of total unsold properties in Malaysia), followed by Selangor (21%), Kuala Lumpur (14%) and Penang (8%). Over the period 2016 to the first quarter of 2017, only 21% of new launches were for houses priced below RM250,000. This is insufficient to match the income affordability profile of about 35% of households in Malaysia. Secondly, the mismatch was exacerbated by the slower increase in median household incomes (compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) 2012 to 2016: 9.6%) relative to median house prices (15.6%).

Since the first quarter of 2015, the office vacancy rate in the Klang Valley has increased steadily from 20.9% to 23.6% in the first quarter of 2017. This is higher than the national average of 18.1%, and more than three times the regional average of 6.6%. The office vacancy rate is projected to reach an all-time high of 32% by 2021, far surpassing levels recorded during the Asian Financial Crisis. In other words, if current supply-demand dynamics persist, one-in-three offices in Klang Valley could be vacant in 2021.

In 2016, Penang had the highest retail space per capita in the country (10.5 sq ft per person), followed by Klang Valley (8.2 sq ft) and Johor (5.1 sq ft). In higher-income regional cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore, prime retail space per capita is only 3.6 sq ft and 1.5 sq ft respectively. The incoming supply of 140 new shopping complexes by 2021 across the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor is expected to worsen the oversupply going forward. While Penang currently has the highest prime retail space per capita, it will be overtaken by Johor by 2018. The large incoming supply of 15.8 million sq ft of retail space in Johor will be 1.5 times the existing supply.


Developers are responsible for the market overhang, says PEPS

In a statement today, the association blames the developers’ indiscriminate building of properties, a lack of market studies and financial feasibility studies being carried out prior to building and no coordination on planning among local authorities and indiscriminate approvals for the market overhang. Other causes include the delay in gazetting of local plans that leads to uncontrolled development and higher cost as well as artificial demand created by members of the public for fear of losing out on choice properties.

“The property industry has linkages to more than 120 industries and collectively account for 10% of gross domestic product. Therefore, any severe property market imbalances and overbuilding will affect the stability of the financial system,” said PEPS, adding that it concurs with Bank Negara Malaysia’s view that “severe property market imbalances can pose risk to macro economics and financial stability”.


Digital economy to contribute 5% to 10% more to GST revenue — Deloitte

“I anticipate that Malaysia will come on board in the next one year or two years. With the digital economy, companies can basically be based everywhere and anywhere, and the customs can move everywhere. We want to tax where the consumption occurs, where the customers are, because that’s where they’re receiving the service.”

“What I and many investors hope to see is a comprehensive tax incentive framework to attract the foreign investors and local SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to come in and make use of the platform to sell their products abroad. Especially for the SMEs, the government needs to offer some incentives in the form of funding made available for them to develop their e-commerce platform infrastructure so they can play a meaningful role in this space and be competitive.”


Online publishers sign MoU to form Malaysian Premium Publishers Marketplace

The current trend of programmatic digital advertising used by marketers is designed to automate how and where ads are placed online, promising wide reach and return on investments. However, this is done at the risk of advertisers losing control of where their ads are placed. In some cases, this has lead to the placement of ads in undesirable, irrelevant or even fake websites. MPPM therefore gathers some of Malaysia’s top media companies to effectively deal with the common digital advertising challenges such as ad fraud and brand misplacement and to provide an extensive solution to further expand brands’ reach to the local market. MPPM member publishers will also be able to improve their revenue, while offering advertisers quality inventory at a reasonable price.

Household savings growth ‘not promising’

Household savings accounted for a meagre 0.9% or RM6 billion of the overall household income, which stood at RM638.8 billion in 2014.

Pioneered by the World Bank since the early 1960s, the SAM is a comprehensive economic snapshot attempting to model the income distribution flow for households, and spending pattern for institutions.

Curated Insights 2017.11.19

Winners and losers In the patent wars between Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft

Google: The full stack AI company

A startup might achieve a breakthrough in an AI vertical, but reaching hundreds of millions of users could take years. The same breakthrough in Google’s hands could be “turned on” for a billion users overnight. Users benefit immediately, while Google’s products become sticker and more valuable.

Google is already seeing a similar benefit. While competitors are using off the shelf processors for deep learning, Google’s TPU provides higher throughout, reduced latency and, perhaps most importantly, reduced power consumption. Because data center construction is Google’s largest capital spending line item and power its highest operating cost, the TPU meaningfully reduces both Google’s capex and opex.

Google’s AI efforts have built a fully integrated company that spans algorithms, data, hardware, and cloud services. This approach helps funnel the world-class AI of Google’s consumer products to its enterprise offerings, providing Google Cloud with a competitive edge. Bringing chip design in-house increases Google’s AI moat by improving performance, lowering latency, and reducing cost. Perhaps most critically, vertical integration enhances its organizational agility: Google can steer all parts of its organization to bring a new product or service to market. Consequently, Google’s AI will be at the forefront of the innovation for years to come.


How Facebook figures out everyone you’ve ever met

Shadow contact information has been a known feature of Facebook for a few years now. But most users remain unaware of its reach and power. Because shadow-profile connections happen inside Facebook’s algorithmic black box, people can’t see how deep the data-mining of their lives truly is, until an uncanny recommendation pops up.

Facebook doesn’t like, and doesn’t use, the term “shadow profiles.” It doesn’t like the term because it sounds like Facebook creates hidden profiles for people who haven’t joined the network, which Facebook says it doesn’t do. The existence of shadow contact information came to light in 2013 after Facebook admitted it had discovered and fixed “a bug.” The bug was that when a user downloaded their Facebook file, it included not just their friends’ visible contact information, but also their friends’ shadow contact information.

It’s what the sociologist danah boyd calls “networked privacy”: All the people who know you and who choose to share their contacts with Facebook are making it easier for Facebook to make connections you may not want it to make. Shadow profile data powers Facebook’s effort to connect as many people as possible, in as many ways as possible. The company’s ability to perceive the threads connecting its billion-plus users around the globe led it to announce last year that it’s not six degrees that separate one person from another—it’s just three and a half.

“Mobile phone numbers are even better than social security numbers for identifying people,” said security technologist Bruce Schneier by email. “People give them out all the time, and they’re strongly linked to identity.”


Will Amazon disrupt healthcare?

Amazon is exceptional at developing formulas to increase efficiency and decrease waste — two vital elements sorely lacking in the current healthcare paradigm.

Baby boomers may be tethered to their in-person interactions with physicians and pharmacists, but millennials are not. They are Amazon’s target audience.

Amazon has several key advantages in a world of personalized medicine — loads of storage space because of its AWS business, sophisticated predictive algorithms, and long-standing, data-rich relationships with millions of “patients”.


How Netflix works: the (hugely simplified) complex stuff that happens every time you hit Play

Netflix estimates that it uses around 700 microservices to control each of the many parts of what makes up the entire Netflix service…And that’s the tip of the iceberg. Netflix engineers can make changes to any part of the application and can introduce new changes rapidly while ensuring that nothing else in the entire service breaks down.

Turns out that Netflix and Amazon’s partnership turned out to be a huge win-win situation for both companies. Netflix turned out to be AWS’s most advanced customers, pushing all of their capabilities to the maximum and constantly innovating upon how they can use the different servers AWS provided for various purposes — to run microservices, to store movies, to handle internet traffic — to their own leverage. AWS in turn improved their systems to allow Netflix to take massive loads on their servers, as well as make their use of different AWS products more flexible, and used the expertise gained to serve the needs of thousands of other corporate customers. AWS proudly touts Netflix as it’s top customer, and Netflix can rapidly improve their services and yet keep it stable because of AWS.


People watch Netflix unabashedly at work (and in public toilets, too)

About 67% of people now watch movies and TV shows in public, according to an online survey it commissioned of 37,000 adults around the world. The most popular public places to stream are on planes, buses, or commuting, the survey found. But 26% of respondents also said they’ve binged shows and movies at work. People in the US were more likely to stream from the office, while users around the world were more likely to stream during their commutes.

For Netflix, mobile still makes up a small chunk of overall viewing. Netflix said it was about 10% as of 2016. But the company also said half of its users stream from a smartphone during any given month. Its audience is now around 110 million subscribers worldwide.


Will traditional auto makers steal the future from Tesla?

Even if electric cars take off in the early to mid-2020s when their cost is likely to be comparable to gas- and diesel-powered vehicles, Garschina thinks the major global auto makers will still dominate the business. Credit Suisse auto analyst Daniel Schwarz recently wrote that auto makers would emerge as winners from simpler, less capital-intensive production of electric vehicles over the next 10 years.

Investors might not be giving the auto industry credit for manufacturing skills honed over decades. As Tesla has found, mass-producing automobiles isn’t easy; the company continues to lose money and grapple with production woes. “The more we learn about new technologies, the clearer it becomes that the key auto makers won’t be disrupted overnight,” says Arndt Ellinghorst, a European auto analyst with Evercore ISI.

Morgan Stanley has estimated that it could take $2.7 trillion of infrastructure investment by 2040 to support a global electric fleet, including 473 million home chargers and seven million super-charging stations. It’s unclear where all that money will come from. The additional need for electricity would be equivalent to current U.S. demand.


These hot restaurants aren’t on maps, only in apps

Virtual restaurants, with their low overhead, are allowing restaurateurs to shift away from the capital-intensive model that kills 60% of new restaurants in their first five years toward something decidedly more techy.

By far the biggest company in the app-driven food-on-demand space is Grubhub. It is so invested in virtual restaurants that two years ago it lent one of its own customers, Green Summit Group, $1 million to expand. Green Summit, which launched in 2013, has kitchens throughout New York City, Todd Millman, its co-founder, says. There might be up to 10 different “restaurants” In a single kitchen. Though they appear on Grubhub as separate establishments, each with a distinct cuisine, all the food might be prepared in the same kitchen by the same staff.

In San Jose, Grubhub competitor DoorDash has built out its own kitchen space. There is one tenant so far, a pizzeria called the Star. (More are on the way, DoorDash says.) To save on rent, DoorDash built the facility in a disused portion of the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. One month in, the Star’s savings have been notable, says Ben Seabury, chief operating officer of the 1100 Group, which owns the virtual restaurant. Typically, 30 cents of every dollar that comes into one of his restaurants goes to labor, says Mr. Seabury. But without waiters, bartenders and dishwashers, that cost is just 10 cents on the dollar—and even less when demand is high.

Virtual restaurants tap into a larger trend: Americans’ increasing aversion to cooking for themselves. For the first time ever in 2016, Americans spent more at eating and drinking establishments than on groceries, according to U.S. Census data. The food-delivery market is a small slice of that sector: It is only $30 billion in 2017, but Morgan Stanley estimates it could balloon to $220 billion within a few years.

 

Digitizing cash transactions could become quite profitable

Turning financial data into an asset is an early stage opportunity. On a global basis, more than 80% of transactions still occur in cash. Indeed, companies and, at some point, consumers have yet to digitize more than 1.4 trillion transactions per year, roughly equivalent to the number of Google searches per year. Our research indicates that the information associated with digital cash transactions could generate approximately $100 billion of revenue per year.

While we believe that disrupting and digitizing cash transactions represents a large “fintech” opportunity, the benefits are unlikely to accrue to the traditional financial services industry, as it lacks the requisite innovation agility, cost structure, and technical abilities to access and exploit it. Instead, innovative technology companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Tencent that already are transforming big data into big revenue, probably will capitalize on this opportunity.

Companies with the ability to develop deep and dynamic insights into consumer purchasing behavior will be in the best position to capitalize on this $100 billion revenue opportunity. Square, Tencent, Facebook, Amazon, and Alibaba are building the most precise consumer profiles, enabling them to offer value added services like capital loans and insurance either now or in the not-to-distant future. We believe these companies are building significant moats, or barriers to entry, with “value loops” generating more data from their consumers and building products that take increasing share in the marketplace.


Hasbro sets its sights on Mattel

Hasbro has held up relatively well. Chief Executive Brian Goldner has forged close ties to Hollywood, where the company is producing movies and is a favored partner for creating toys tied to films. In recent years, Hasbro won the coveted license for Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Princess characters and has long made toys tied to the media company’s “Star Wars” franchise. Hasbro is also more advanced in telling stories and creating content around its large brands, including a string of feature-length films for its Transformers franchise and more-recent launches like a My Little Pony movie.

Both Hasbro and Mattel were stung by the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy, which threw a major sales channel into turmoil and prompted them to stall deliveries to the retailer, but Mattel’s problems run deeper. The new regime laid out a plan that would keep the company in turnaround mode for a few more years as it tries to fix problems that it blamed on past management. Those included a proliferation of new toys with little staying power that heaped additional costs and complexity onto Mattel’s supply network.

A bigger concern was that a tie-up could trigger change-of-control clauses in the numerous licensing agreements with the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon and others.

Free games fuel $370 billion stock rally – and fears of a crash

In free-to-play games, 2% of players typically generate around 50% of revenue, according to consultancy Yokozuna Data. High-rollers often spend at least $500 per month. Today, the industry generates $100 billion in revenue with about 70 percent coming from in-game goods and services, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The industry is exploring dark territory. Last month, an Activision Blizzard Inc. patent surfaced which described how machine learning could be used to entice players to spend more. For example, a player could be paired with a teammate who owns a special paid item, and then encourage the player to buy it too.


It’s amazingly cheap to acquire a fleet of Airbus jets

Bill Franke’s airlines are generally fast-growing and profitable, in part because of low expenses and using the latest fuel-efficient jets. All three have exclusively adopted the A320 jet family for cost reasons too, as it makes it easy to swap flight crews and maintenance is less complicated.

Instead of buying jets outright, Frontier, Wizz and Volaris use sale-and-leasebacks. This makes financial sense. One industry observer says the cost of lease finance might be half that of funding an aircraft with equity because of the flood of cheap capital, much of it Chinese. By avoiding ownership, airlines also sidestep residual value risk. If a plane’s value falls, that’s the leasing company’s problem, not Franke’s.


Bob Lutz: Everyone will have 5 years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap

We don’t need public acceptance of autonomous vehicles at first. All we need is acceptance by the big fleets: Uber, Lyft, FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, utility companies, delivery services. Amazon will probably buy a slew of them. These fleet owners will account for several million vehicles a year. Every few months they will order 100,000 low-end modules, 100,000 medium and 100,000 high-end. The low-cost provider that delivers the specification will get the business.

These transportation companies will be able to order modules of various sizes — short ones, medium ones, long ones, even pickup modules. But the performance will be the same for all because nobody will be passing anybody else on the highway. That is the death knell for companies such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. That kind of performance is not going to count anymore.

Car dealers will continue to exist as a fringe business for people who want personalized modules or who buy reproduction vintage Ferraris or reproduction Formula 3 cars. Automotive sport — using the cars for fun — will survive, just not on public highways. And like racehorse breeders, there will be manufacturers of race cars and sports cars and off-road vehicles. But it will be a cottage industry. The era of the human-driven automobile, its repair facilities, its dealerships, the media surrounding it — all will be gone in 20 years.


Sean Stannard-Stockton interview: Shifting competitive landscapes

Today, if you log-on to Amazon and type in what you’re looking for – not a brand name, but a type of product – the #1 ranked item, regardless of brand, is likely to have thousands of reviews. If those reviews are say 4 or 4 ½ stars or better – with reviews from thousands of people, most consumers will happily purchase the item, no matter what the brand is. In this case, Amazon has effectively not just become a logistics provider, not just made shipping easy, not just benefitted from network effects, but it has inserted its own brand into the purchasing behavior – and so the consumer says, ”I trust Amazon and Amazon’s reviews so much that I don’t need to spend time searching or depending on a brand name, I can simply purchase the product no matter what its brand is.”

 

U.S. to dominate oil markets after biggest boom in world history

By 2025, the growth in American oil production will equal that achieved by Saudi Arabia at the height of its expansion, and increases in natural gas will surpass those of the former Soviet Union, the agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook. The boom will turn the U.S., still among the biggest oil importers, into a net exporter of fossil fuels.

Reflecting the expected flood of supply, the agency cut its forecasts for oil prices to $83 a barrel for 2025 from $101 previously, and to $111 for 2040 from $125 before.

 

I always used that as a metaphor for businesses. The customers pour in the Tender Vittles and in the U.S., when you had a union, they would fight and spill the whole bowl of Tender Vittles. In the end, no one could eat anymore. I looked at U.A.W. “It’s insane, they’re going to kill their company.” Sure enough, they damn near did. General Motors was almost bankrupt. In Germany, the unions have representatives on the board of the company. Yes, they say, “The first thing” — that this bowl of Tender Vittles — “we have to make sure that the bowl is there. We can fight all we want, but don’t spill the bowl.” You don’t destroy your company. That was not the attitude of Anglo-Saxon unions, either in England or the U.S.


Countries with the most farmland

The USDA now estimates that there is 15%-20% more farmland on earth than we expected. That’s 250 to 350 million more hectacres! With this addition, the USDA estimates there’s 1.87 Billion acres of farmland on earth.

In terms of total net cropland, this new study declares India as number 1.

 

 

Electric cars’ green image blackens beneath the bonnet

The Earth’s ozone hole is shrinking and is the smallest it has been since 1988

Warmer-than-usual weather conditions in the stratosphere are to thank for the shrinkage since 2016, as the warmer air helped fend off chemicals like chlorine and bromine that eat away at the ozone layer, scientists said. But the hole’s overall reduction can be traced to global efforts since the mid-1980s to ban the emission of ozone-depleting chemicals.

In June, scientists identified a possible threat to the recovery, believing dichloromethane — an industrial chemical with the power to destroy ozone — doubled in the atmosphere over the past 10 years. If its concentrations keep growing, it could delay the Antarctic ozone layer’s return to normal by up to 30 years, according to the study published in the journal Nature Communications.


How much is the Great Barrier Reef worth? Economists just figured it out

It came up with a value of A$56 billion ($43 billion) based on an asset supporting tens of thousands of jobs and which contributes A$6.4 billion to the economy. “Valuing nature in monetary terms can effectively inform policy settings and help industry, government, the scientific community and the wider public understand the contribution of the environment, or in this case the Great Barrier Reef, to the economy and society,’’ the Deloitte report said. “The tight and unforgiving deadline the Great Barrier Reef is up against necessitates an understanding of its true value to know what kind of policy action is required in response.’’


Why do we love pets? An expert explains.

In his latest book, Bradshaw argues that our fascination with pets is not because they’re useful, nor even because they’re cute, and certainly not because they’ll make us live longer. Instead, he writes, pet-keeping is an intrinsic part of human nature, one rooted deeply in our own species’ evolution.

People with animals, or as simply described as having a friendly dog with them, instantly become more trustworthy in the eyes of the person who’s encountering that person or having that person described to them.

The idea that simply getting a pet is going to make you happy and de-stress you is not going to work if you don’t do the homework about what the animal needs.

Both dogs and cats are carnivores — the cat is a very strict carnivore. The idea that we can continue to essentially farm the world in a way that provides enough meat for dogs and cats to eat, let alone humans, is probably not sustainable. Whether it will be possible for people to continue to keep these animals, or what kinds of substitutes they find if it does become impossible, I think is going to be fascinating, if somewhat painful for the people involved.

 

Why $450 Million for this painting isn’t crazy

Would 7.5 million people a year pay an average of 9 euros to visit the Louvre if La Gioconda, as the painting is sometimes called, weren’t there? If just a million of them passed on it, the museum would lose the entire amount paid for “Salvator Mundi” over 50 years.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone hoping to make much of a profit on a resale after paying such an outrageous price. But building a museum’s pitch for visitors around it could be a way to make economic sense out of the deal.

Company Notes 2017.11.17

United Plantations Q3 FY2017 Results

In the U.S., the soy bean harvest is in full swing and weather has been favorable, hence, the U.S. soy bean production is expected to be historically high due to the increased planted acreage in combination with good yields. In South America, the soy bean plantings are delayed in Argentina due to excessive moisture and in the northern part of Brazil due to dry conditions, however, at time of writing it’s still too early to ignore an expected South American bumper crop. The increase in soy bean production is therefore expected to have a negative impact on prices during 2018 as global vegetable oil stocks are expected to recover from current levels


Hovid Q1 FY2018 Results

Preceding quarter’s revenue was affected by lower sales and products being out-of-stock as they were depleted during the period when the manufacturing licences were revoked, and production not being able to run optimally due to insufficient workers during the initial months subsequent to the reissuance of the manufacturing licences. In comparison, production for all plants are operating at 24 hours a day during the current quarter to deliver the back-orders received during the period the licences were revoked.


Ranhill Holdings Q3 FY2017 Results

As for the International Environment sector, our strong partnership with SIIC has resulted in reducing the project loans’ interest with an average interest saving of approximately 1%. The joint venture is now poised to commence exploring new opportunities for industrial waste water concession contracts and other potential water related works in China and other South East Asia countries under the One Belt One Road initiative. 


Scicom MSC Q1 FY2018 Results

The BPO division has taken the following actions to mitigate the impact from clients’ change in strategy: a. Cost mitigation – The BPO division is mitigating its cost structure on two major fronts, namely controlling operations cost and enhancing utilization of the Group’s fixed asset base. For the current financial quarter under review as an indicator, direct contribution increased slightly to 30.5% as compared to 29.3% for the preceding financial year ended 30 June 2017; b. Extensive build up in sales pipeline Leveraging on Scicom’s track record and experience in multilingual contact centre management, Scicom’s business development team has been actively participating in new tenders with estimated contract value of approximately RM105 million. The management further expects to substantially successfully convert outstanding tenders from the above pipeline to commence operations and contribute to the Group’s bottom line by the fourth quarter of the current FY.


Apex Healthcare Q3 FY2017 Results

Steady revenue growth was achieved across all business units, with increased contributions from pharmaceutical sales to the Government sector and contract manufacturing services

During the quarter, the Group’s pharmaceutical manufacturing operations secured certification for compliance with European Union Good Manufacturing Practice, opening future growth opportunities.


Paramount Corporation Q3 FY2017 Results

…following the completion of the Sale and Leaseback agreement with Alpha REIT to dispose of the Sri KDU campus under its asset-light strategy which generated a gain on disposal of RM77.8 million. With the completion of the Sale and Leaseback agreement with Alpha REIT, as part of its asset-light strategy,
the Group would continue to explore opportunities to enter into similar ventures in future.

With the enlarged K-12 segment, comprising Sri KDU and REAL Education which offer premium and more affordably priced alternative private and international schools respectively, Paramount Education is now able to reach a wider segment of the K-12 market. Sri KDU’s mark of excellence in quality education continues to prevail in the market. Following the success of PISA in 2012, Sri KDU International School achieved the International School Quality Mark (ISQM) Gold Award this year, the first in Malaysia and third in Asia to procure this award.


Eastern & Oriental Q2 FY2018 Results

In the past months we are beginning to see more enquiries and bookings for our existing projects in STP1 namely Andaman and Tamarind. Besides selling down our inventory to improve our cash position and net gearing levels, we are heartened by the numerous unsolicited interest in our non-core assets which we have identified for disposal.


Lay Hong Q2 FY2018 Results

The entry of NH Foods Ltd into the Company as a substantial shareholder recently has marked a major step forward for the Company’s chicken product manufacturing business in the form of new product development and market penetration.

The Company is on track with its planned expansion to increase our production capacity. Our egg production now stands at approximately 2.3 million eggs per day to date and is expected to grow to our target. At the same time, our broiler capacity will increase to cater to new requirements in our food processing taking into consideration our JV with NH Foods Ltd.

The Company is constantly reviewing its strategies and will capitalize on the strength of NH Foods to take the Company to greater heights. A new joint venture company under the name of NHF Manufacturing (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd has been set-up and is now actively working on its plant set-up and product development. As at to-date, a total of 11 products have been launched and the response has been encouraging. The Company is continuously researching on viability of new products to be developed and introduced to our production line. It is expected that new products will be launched in future.

A piece of industrial land in Selangor Halal Hub, Pulau Indah has been identified for the plant to be set up and is currently working on the factory and machinery layout. This is expected to be the site for the JV with NH Foods. Works to acquire and build the said factory is progressing in a timely manner in accordance to our planned timeline.


Evergreen Fibreboard Q3 FY2017 Results

The increase in revenue was mainly contributed by commercial run of new Particle Board Plant in Segamat and higher average selling price as the Group emphasis more on high premium products as well as impact from weakening of Malaysian Ringgit against US Dollar.

The slight decrease in profit was mainly caused by higher log and glue cost, couple with higher repairing and upgrading cost incurred on the stoppage line in Thailand plant.


Ge-Shen Corporation Q3 FY2017 Results

The Group is still looking towards factory expansion across the subsidiaries to increase factory space and manufacturing assets in order to, amongst others achieve higher sales, improving cost structure and gain economies of scale. The construction and renovation of the new facilities in Vietnam is in progress despite some delays and expected to complete by beginning of 2018. Total capital expenditure is expected to increase due to higher building specifications and factory facilities investment and is expected to improve the cost structure and increase production capacities in the Vietnam subsidiary in the long
run.


Vitrox Corporation Q3 FY2017 Results

…contributed from the increase in revenue recorded for Automated Board Inspection (ABI) and Machine Vision System (MVS). The increase was mainly due to higher demand from widen customer base and positive acceptance of our products.


Aemulus Holdings Q4 FY2017 Results

Aemulus continues to create growth through innovation and leadership in the ATE markets for semiconductor devices. The launching of our new RF tester, Amoeba 7600-S combines our latest technology with scalability. We believe that the technology is going to be able to serve the smartphone and tablet market well especially in the Far East region. Based on the current business trend, demand for ATE from the smartphone and tablet segments as well as the enterprise storage segment is expected to continue into 2018. The group is expecting revenue growth to further accelerate in the fiscal year 2018, led by ATE sales growth in the Far East region with US region complementing it.


Pentamaster Corporation Q3 FY2017 Results

The higher revenue recorded was mainly due to increase in sales from automated equipment and smart control solution system segment which was partially offset by the decrease in sales from automated manufacturing solution segment.


IFCA MSC Q3 FY2017 Results

To further accelerate innovation and growth within the property sector, IFCA has initiated an accelerator program with a primary focus to create greater value and solutions for the property sector together with the start-up community. In this program which is specifically focused on prop-tech, IFCA will review potential prop-tech start-ups for opportunities for investment and partnership to bring new solutions and business models into the market.


Century Logistics Holdings Q3 FY2017 Results

Following the ongoing synergy process, the Group also intends to tap on the extensive network and infrastructure of its major shareholder, CJ Logistics Group. The Group is currently setting up the necessary infrastructure to roll-out its parcel delivery operation and expects to commence the operation by the first quarter of year 2018.


Kejuruteraan Asastera Q3 FY2017 Results

To (i) grow its market share in Malaysia by increasing tendering activities, focusing on affordable housing sector and geographical expansion; (ii) strengthen its capabilities by growing its mechanical engineering services segment; and (iii) diversifying its revenue stream by providing maintenance services including upgrading, expansion, refurbishment, retrofitting and renovation projects.

Hartalega to launch ‘game-changer’ gloves next year

“Bacteria coming into contact with the glove surface will be exposed to the anti-microbial activity which, in independent testing, has achieved up to a five-log (99.99%) kill within five minutes of contact. We have successfully conducted production trials and further clinical studies are planned to quantitate the benefits of using antimicrobial medical examination gloves in clinical settings.”


Spritzer eyes export markets, to place out stake to Singapore fund

“We think that growth domestically has become a bit saturated now. So, it is a good move to explore overseas markets. The partnership with Dymon Asia Private Equity will take us to new markets and expand the business even further. They can help us with the export markets and bring the brand to overseas markets especially in the countries that they are already in. To start from scratch will be an uphill challenge and this partnership is a good way to do it. Dape would like to give its industry experience and broad networks to support Spritzer.”

Spritzer will build a single-storey automated warehouse adjacent to its current bottling plant with a built up area of about 105,820 sq ft. “The new warehouse will have an automated storage and retrieval system. The existing warehouse is operated manually and almost fully utilised now. The current warehouse will not be able to cater to our needs should inventory levels rise,” said Chuah.


MAHB dismisses competition fears in Istanbul

Some analysts believe that MAHB’s wholly-owned Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISG) has benefited from the current Ataturk Airport’s space constraints as the latter is surrounded by urban areas, constraining cost-effective expansion. As such, the upcoming new airport may draw passenger traffic from ISG once it begins operations.

“We believe that both the new airport and ISG have two different markets to serve, especially considering that ISG is ideally located on the Asian side of Istanbul,” MAHB told The Edge Financial Daily. “It is strategically positioned not only as the airport serving the Asian side of Istanbul, but also as a de facto city airport, serving the whole of Istanbul. “Aside from that, ISG’s resilience compared to Istanbul Ataturk Airport during the geopolitical tensions in 2016 proved that travellers had a strong preference for our airport,” the airport group added.

It may also help MAHB reduce its exposure to lingering risks in Turkey while returning to its original intention of being a partner of ISG instead of fully owning it.


Scicom to expand digital space presence

“If you talk to anybody who has a proposition, it’s going to be an online proposition. We have all the infrastructure [for that], from building the application to doing the mobile apps to the payment gateways. So there is a huge market there [as] the future will be all e-commerce and because we have this unique set of skills where we understand customer relationship management, customer fulfilment, technical support, payment gateways, mobile apps, [and] application development — this makes all the difference. We can’t just be a call centre anymore, it doesn’t pay.”

“The strategy is to make e-government solutions a major contributor down the line, primarily as the margins are better, contract terms are longer and typically every year business increases as the population increases, so you would always have natural growth.”

“The trick is to get one new big business every year; that’s how you maintain your growth momentum. I wouldn’t necessarily agree there would be an impact; I think we have lots and lots of business in the pipeline; it’s just a matter of time to conversion.”


Mikro MSC to tap IoT to keep earnings growth momentum

“When we talk about new products, it is related to existing offerings. It’s more like an upgrade with new features, maybe with some elements of IoT. Rather than a stand-alone system, it will be an integrated system … everybody wants to have all these features but the pricing must be at a level that is right for businesses and our customers.”

Presently, the group commands about 50% of the local market share and has seen its business in Vietnam gain traction. Yim said Asean’s and Malaysia’s infrastructure growth stories are positive for Mikro MSC since its digital meters, relays and power factor regulators are used in high rises, as well as in mass rail transport systems being developed in the region.

In FY18, the group expects to complete its move to its new factory in Shah Alam — which it bought for RM11.7 million. The move is expected to cost it another RM5 million, including for the purchase of new equipment and machinery. “It gives us the opportunity to introduce new automation and other capacity that we could not do in the past as we have a larger space now,” Yim added.

Property market will be badly hit in 2018, says expert

Cheong pointed out that the RM12.26 billion is only from the primary market, which includes launches by developers. It does not include the secondary market, which is house owners seeking to sell their homes.

Cheong said this “generous payment mode” exists because developers are finding it hard to sell off their new properties. He said they are in danger of losing their bridging finance from banks if they fail to sell at least 40% of the total units. The bridging finance is used by developers to support their construction.

“This is where the danger starts. I predict if this continues, markets will crash within 24 to 30 months because consumers do not have the financial capacity to buy properties any more. Furthermore, developers who started building two years ago are expected to flood the market further with their units…So about RM16 billion of properties are waiting for buyers. But there is no demand. The reason is that people don’t have the money.”


Industrial property set to gain

The rapid growth of e-commerce, especially in Asia-Pacific, is creating new high-value assets that are now coming on stream. The industrial segment is a highly under-invested sector, as stock availability remained tight while rental rates had been on the rise over the past two years (over 30%).

The e-commerce boom will be a looming threat to retail malls, while the rapidly-growing office supply will continue to put rents under pressure. To tackle the challenges faced by the retail REITs, malls are shifting towards providing more lifestyle and food and beverage offerings, as opposed to just brick and mortar.


Will AIA, Great Eastern, Prudential list on Bursa?

There are 23 general insurers and 14 life insurers in Malaysia. Market share is more evenly distributed in the general insurance segment in terms of 2016 annualised gross earned premium, with local players comprising 52.1% and foreign players accounting for 47.9%. However, foreign names dominate the life insurance sector, with total market share of 81.7% in 2016 vs. the 18.3% of local insurers. AIA, Great Eastern and Prudential have a combined market share of 66.7% (in terms of gross earned premium).

Curated Insights 2017.11.12

(Guardian: Apple secretly moved parts of empire to Jersey after row over tax affairs)
(BBC: Paradise Papers: Apple’s secret tax bolthole revealed)
(Apple: The facts about Apple’s tax payments)

“US multinational firms are the global grandmasters of tax avoidance schemes that deplete not just US tax collection, but the tax collection of almost every large economy in the world.”

“Apple claims to be the largest US corporate taxpayer, but by sheer size and scale it is also among America’s largest tax avoiders … [It] should not be shifting its profits overseas to avoid the payment of US tax, purposefully depriving the American people of revenue.”

One theory is that AOE “bought” the rights owned by ASI taking advantage of an incentive called capital allowance. This means that if a multinational buys its own intellectual property through an Irish subsidiary, the cost of that purchase will generate many years of tax write-offs in Ireland.


This is how Amazon could invade the pharmacy business

Drug delivery would also add to the value of Amazon Prime membership. Customers who pay the $99-per-year price for Prime membership are its most loyal customers, and Amazon is constantly looking for ways to increase the value of membership to keep shoppers from using competitors.

In generics especially, there are numerous markups along the way that Amazon could eliminate or pare back to capture market share.

Amazon already owns wholesale distribution licenses in at least 13 states and could build its own pharmacy business from scratch, restructuring the drug supply chain in the process. For now, these wholesale licenses may be part of Amazon’s business-to-business sales effort, which would focus on hospitals, doctors’ offices and dentists. In the longer term, however, the drug-distribution licenses could be the first step in building a hub-and-spoke model for drugs that could eventually serve consumers.

There are thousands of different drugs and dosages with prices that vary widely among drugstores and insurance plans. This makes it hard for patients to know when they are getting the best deal.


Tesla hits bumps in pursuit of mass market

Potential problems uncovered include workers in its Fremont plant manually operating robots that should be automated, several cost overruns and delays from suppliers because of late changes to design specifications, and difficulties sequencing parts once they arrive at the plant leading to a large number of unfinished vehicles coming off the line.

 

In multiple instances, the company shipped cars from the factory that lacked key parts such as computer modules, digital displays, or even seats. These parts were flown to Tesla-owned dealers, who then assembled them into the vehicle before completing the shipments to customers, according to several people familiar with the practice.


 

Apple acquired InVisage with well over 100 patents on quantum dot technology for advanced cameras and beyond

Apple’s acquisition of InVisage is very exciting as iPhone cameras are becoming a key feature to keep their smartphones ahead of the pack. Advancing video will be very exciting to see come to the iPhone and beyond. Between the advances in Quantum Dot technology and depth cameras, they have expertise in many markets that Apple could tap into over time.

Why AI is the ‘new electricity’

The U.S. and China lead the world in investments in AI, according to James Manyika, chairman and director of the McKinsey Global Institute. Last year, AI investment in North America ranged from $15 billion to $23 billion, Asia (mainly China) was $8 billion to $12 billion, and Europe lagged at $3 billion to $4 billion. Tech giants are the primary investors in AI, pouring in between $20 billion and $30 billion, with another $6 billion to $9 billion from others, such as venture capitalists and private equity firms.

Where did they put their money? Machine learning took 56% of the investments with computer vision second at 28%. Natural language garnered 7%, autonomous vehicles was at 6% and virtual assistants made up the rest. But despite the level of investment, actual business adoption of AI remains limited, even among firms that know its capabilities, Manyika said. Around 40% of firms are thinking about it, 40% experiment with it and only 20% actually adopt AI in a few areas.

The reason for such reticence is that 41% of companies surveyed are not convinced they can see a return on their investment, 30% said the business case isn’t quite there and the rest said they don’t have the skills to handle AI. However, McKinsey believes that AI can more than double the impact of other analytics and has the potential to materially raise corporate performance.


Why multi-cloud is the next big thing in technology

Why has cloud become so indispensable to so many companies? Because pretty much every company has become a software company, and they all need to deliver their software faster and to more people than ever before.

Avoiding lock-in and saving cost; Differentiation; responding to cloud vendor pressure; resiliency, redundancy, performance and data sovereignty; M&A and consolidation; access to resources.

A recent survey by RightScale found that 85% of enterprises now have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 82% in 2016. This creates immense opportunities for startups that can help companies work seamlessly across various different cloud providers. Startups that promise cloud neutrality – not being locked into one particular vendor – will have significant advantage in this new battlefield.


A decade after DARPA: Our view on the state of the art in self-driving cars

Developing a system that can be manufactured and deployed at scale with cost-effective, maintainable hardware is even more challenging. We are innovating across the sensing hardware and software stack to lower costs, reduce sensor count, and improve range and resolution. There remains significant work to be done to accomplish these conflicting objectives and get the technology to reliably scale.

Testing stochastic systems requires a significant number of repetitions generated by real-world data for it to be representative. That means we must gather millions of miles of road experience to teach the software to drive with confidence. (Imagine needing to drive millions of miles to get your driver’s license!) But not all miles are created equal, so “accumulated miles” is not an expressive enough metric to track progress. Think of it this way: The skills you acquired learning to drive in a quiet Midwestern town will not translate should you find yourself driving in the heart of Manhattan.

We’re still very much in the early days of making self-driving cars a reality. Those who think fully self-driving vehicles will be ubiquitous on city streets months from now or even in a few years are not well connected to the state of the art or committed to the safe deployment of the technology. For those of us who have been working on the technology for a long time, we’re going to tell you the issue is still really hard, as the systems are as complex as ever.


How many robots does it take to fill a grocery order?

The U.K.’s biggest online grocer hit a milestone this year: Ocado Group Plc put together an order of 50 items, including produce, meat and dairy, in five minutes. Fulfilling a similar order at one of the company’s older facilities takes an average of about two hours. The secret: a fleet of 1,000 robots that scurry about a warehouse snatching up products and delivering them to human packers.


Thanks to Wall St., there may be too many restaurants

There are now more than 620,000 eating and drinking places in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the number of restaurants is growing at about twice the rate of the population.

“Everybody thinks their brand has what it takes to succeed in the marketplace. You look at a location that looks good, but everybody is looking at the same place and they all come in, and the result is you get oversaturation.”

Sales at individual chain restaurants, compared with a year earlier, began dropping in early 2016, analysts reported. A majority of restaurants reported sales growth in just four of the last 22 monthly surveys from the National Restaurant Association. Before that, most restaurants had reported growth for 20 consecutive months, from March 2014 through October 2015, the survey found. As Americans work longer hours and confront an ever-growing array of food options, they are spending a growing share of their food budget — about 44 cents per dollar — on restaurants.

The shuttering of restaurants could have a major impact on the labor market. Since 2010, restaurants have accounted for one out of every seven new jobs, and many restaurateurs complain that it has become increasingly difficult to hire and retain workers.


Menu prices will tell the future of inflation

Take a company like the Cheesecake Factory. In its third-quarter earnings report back in 2013, when the labor market was looser, labor costs represented 32.1 percent of revenue. Operating margins were 8.2 percent. Fast forward to the third-quarter earnings report this year. Labor costs had risen to 34.9 percent of revenue, and operating margins had shrunk to 6.2 percent. In its conference call, the company guided wage growth in 2018 to 5 percent, in line with many of its peers. As labor pressures have eaten into margins and profits, perhaps not surprisingly, the company’s stock is flat over the past four years.

Lucky for the restaurant industry, even while labor costs have been rising, food costs have been falling. Cheesecake Factory’s cost of sales as a percentage of revenue has fallen to 22.9 percent, from 24.0 percent in the third quarter of 2013. Without this, margins would be even lower.

The cost of eating out has been going up at a rate of only 2.4 percent per year, less than wage growth in the industry.

Jeff Bezos’s guide to life

On raising kids: Jeff and his wife let their kids use sharp knives since they were four and soon had them wielding power tools, because if they hurt themselves, they’d learn. Jeff says his wife’s perspective is “I’d much rather have a kid with nine fingers than a resourceless kid.”

…decided “the best way to think about it was to project my life forward to age 80” and make the decision that “minimized my regrets. You don’t want to be cataloguing your regrets.” And while you might feel remorse for things you did wrong, he said more often regrets stem from the “path not taken” like loving someone but never telling them. “Then it was immediately obvious” that he should leave to start Amazon. “If it failed, I would be very proud when I was 80 that I tried.”

On space entrepreneurship: The key to opening the opportunities of space is reducing the price of getting objects out of Earth’s gravity. “We have to lower the cost of admission so thousands of entrepreneurs can have startups in space, like we saw with the Internet”, noting how web companies exploded in popularity as infrastructure costs came down.


Peak farmland, peak timber, peak car travel, peak child

About 1970 a great reversal began in America’s use of resources. Contrary to the expectations of many professors and preachers, America began to spare more resources for the rest of nature, first in relative and more recently in absolute amounts. A series of decouplings is occurring, so that our economy no longer advances in tandem with exploitation of land, forests, water, and minerals. American use of almost everything except information seems to be peaking, not because the resources are exhausted, but because consumers changed consumption and producers changed production. Changes in behavior and technology liberate the environment. – Nature Rebounds, Jesse Ausubel

Company Notes 2017.11.10

PIE Industrial Q3 FY2017 Results

One major customer of our EMS segment changed its receiving system in March 2017. As there was a major technical glitch discovered in their new system, the customer is unable to process their payments to the Group. Based on our Group’s policy on credit control, we are required to provide impairment for doubtful debts which are overdue over a certain period, therefore a provision of RM11.243 million is made during this quarter. Management estimates that these debts will be able to collect by the fourth quarter and maintaining such provision during this quarter is necessary in accordance with our Group’s policy.

The major source of revenue and earning of the Group comes from its manufacturing segment (98%). For EMS activities (77%), orders are expected to increase steadily from existing customers and potential customers through its fully built-up vertical integrated manufacturing facilities which have been in operation for the past 5 years.

Revenue derived from the manufacturing activity of raw wire & cable (18%) will continue to grow, with consistent profit margin for the rest of the financial year. The cost of its two main raw material i.e copper and PVC are expected to increase in the near future, enhancing its selling price and securing more orders from its customers.


Hartalega Q2 FY2018 Results

Prospects for the rubber glove manufacturing sector remain strong with increasing demand arising from switching trends towards nitrile glove. Nitrile glove now accounts for 61% of Malaysian rubber glove export. Hartalega NGC is on-schedule to meet this rising demand with progressive commissioning of Plant 4 and started the construction of Plant 5. The increasing contribution of NGC to Group sales revenues would help to consolidate margins and contribute further to Group earnings.


Tasek Q3 FY2017 Results

The Board expect the prospects for the rest of the financial year to remain challenging due to the weak prices of cement caused by the intense pricing competition and over capacity. Infrastructure roll-outs may be insufficient to make up for the present lull in demand for cement primarily caused by the soft property market.


Shangri-La Hotels Malaysia Q3 FY2017 Results

In particular, Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur is expected to achieve improved operating results for 2017 as it continues to reap the benefits of its newly renovated banqueting facilities and all-day dining restaurant. In addition, Hotel Jen Penang should continue to grow well, after the completion of its major renovation programme in June 2017. The hotel’s enhanced room product and facilities should support further increases in occupancy and room rates.


Petronas Dagangan Q3 FY2017 Results

In the current quarter ended 30 September 2017, the Group has disposed 100% equity interest in a subsidiary, PETRONAS Energy Philippines, Inc (“PEPI”) and 40% equity interest in an associated company, Duta Inc to P-H-O-E-N-I-X Petroleum Philippines, Inc., an external party of the Group for a fair value consideration of RM560.5 million resulting in a gain on disposal of RM424.6 million.

Malaysian CAB’s Indonesian venture to start

While the construction of the entire farm will take up to five years, it is hoped that by the second year of construction, the Indonesian operations will have the capacity to produce some four million broilers per month and three million eggs per day.

“According to an Orissa International report, global poultry consumption is predicted to grow by 27% to 28 million tonnes by 2023 – with 40% of that growth in Asia. In South-East Asia, the growth of incomes, population, urbanisation has translated into a growth of demand for animal products. The surge in demand for animal protein resulted in a significant increase of meat – mainly poultry and pork. Poultry is the largest livestock sector in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Malaysia’s poultry meat per capita consumption is among the highest in the world, consumed 1.8 million chickens and 2.8 million chicken eggs daily.”

“Indonesian poultry production is estimated at €10bil (RM49bil) in 2015 with broiler meat accounting for three-quarters of the total. The poultry meat sector is projected to grow 70%-90% by 2020 if GDP increases by 6% per annum. The layer industry is also projected to grow at 50%-60% of the broiler sector.”


Not your typical manufacturer

Being a Tier-1 manufacturer, with research and development (R&D) and engineering capabilities that match that of a design house’s, Lim said Salutica co-develops products with brand owners instead of just manufacturing based on specifications given by clients.

However, maintaining that Tier-1 manufacture’s standard comes with a high cost, Lim admitted. Unlike many second- or third-tier manufacturers, Salutica is Responsible Business Alliance (RBA)-compliant, a code of conduct that Lim said the top 100 technology companies in the world — including many of its customers — subscribe to and impose on their Tier 1 suppliers.

“Fobo Ultra for commercial vehicles was more complicated than we initially thought. Negotiations with fleets and logistics firms took longer than expected because most fleet owners were sceptical about a product that was made in Malaysia. But [sales] have picked up slightly at home,” said Lim. All MRT (mass rapid transit) feeder buses in Malaysia under the Volvo brand, according to him, have been equipped with Fobo Ultra since the end of last year.


Kronologi to enlarge footprint through Quantum

“With this development, we could leverage on the collective experience of the enlarged team for best practices for vertical solutions and provide additional analytics, which include artificial intelligence. Currently, we’re collaborating with some other technology players to provide these additional solutions. We’re anticipating some form of AI solutions by next year but it’s an ongoing process for us.”

“Moving forward, once the acquisition is completed, Hong Kong will play an important role. Similarly, earnings growth should be quite evenly distributed among Singapore, India, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (excluding Singapore).”


Hexza’s bottom-line to take a hit from RM28.5mil provision

This is not the first time Hexza has made an impairment loss of finance lease receivable due to the Tembusu Industries Pte Ltd’s payment default. In FY17, the Ipoh-based company made an impairment loss amounting to RM6.95mil, being the amount due but not paid by the lessee.

To recap, on Jan 30, 2015, Hexza inked an agreement with Tembusu to buy part of the equipment for a 8MW heavy fuel oil power generation system located in Myanmar from Tembusu for US$6mil (RM25.3mil), after which Tembusu would lease back the equipment from Hexza at a monthly rental of US$130.205 (RM549,937) for 10 years.


F&N poised for stronger FY18 after restructuring

“Now we want to build exports as our third pillar on top of our existing markets in Malaysia and Thailand,” said Lim. The company is looking to achieve stronger top and bottom lines — at levels seen in FY16 — next year, he added. “We have set a target for annual exports to hit RM500 million by FY20,” said Lim. The company is not looking to export excess capacity, he said, but will instead increase its output for the segment.

F&N is undergoing a three-year RM500 million capacity expansion plan which it initiated in FY17. It has completed four milestones with five more upgrades to go, which Lim said are on track to be completed separately in FY18 and FY19.

“We are also de-bottlenecking some facilities. These require much smaller capex (capital expenditure) at around RM5 million per project,” said Lim. “While the value is smaller, a simple upgrade can increase the annual output of our dairy product manufacturing plant in Pulau lndah by one million crates, for example,” he added.

F&N foresees the bulk of its exports to revolve around dairy products, said Lim, which provide higher margin — at between 10% and 12% — compared with other products such as packed beverages.

Over-regulation a hurdle for free zone operators

The PKFZ was initially modelled after Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone, which is such a success that it contributed over 20% of Dubai’s gross domestic product. More than 30 other free zones have been set up in the United Arab Emirates, which were modelled after it.

The GST Act is deemed to have superseded the Free Zone Act 1990, taking away some advantages available under the Free Zone Act for free trade zones such as the PKFZ.

“So today, as far as free zones are concerned, the supply of goods is not an issue, but [the] supply of services is — as tax is applicable. They (customs) say it can be claimed back. But do you understand how business is done in the free [trade] zone? There are foreigners there. If you tell them that in order for them to claim back the tax, you have to employ an agent and other requirements, they will say ‘Why is it so difficult? In Singapore, there is no such issue’.”

Malaysia signals shift to tightening stance on growth view

Southeast Asian policy makers face rising pressure to start preparing for rate increases in the face of higher U.S. borrowing costs. Bank Negara Malaysia is forecast by economists as among the first to move. The economy is stronger with the government predicting growth of at least 5 percent until 2018 as it boosts infrastructure.

Inflation quickened to a five-month high of 4.3 percent in September, but is projected by the government to average between 3 percent and 4 percent this year. A general election due to be held by August 2018 is among reasons the central bank may hold off from raising borrowing costs just yet.


Focus on affordable housing may hurt private developers

“Over the past three years, government agencies’ participation filled the gaps nicely as private developers went through a gestation period to move towards the smaller-margin affordable housing segment. But moving forward, when supply keeps up with demand, government agencies and private developers will begin to compete on an unlevel playing field.”


Malaysia’s giving working moms a better maternity deal than U.S.

In a country where women are likely to drop out of the labor force when they have children, Najib is making a push to reverse that. He’s giving women a one-year tax exemption if they return to work after a break of two years or more, offering longer paid maternity leave for some and reducing working hours for others. In the U.S., there’s no national requirement for paid maternity leave.

Malaysia is losing out to low-cost and low-end manufacturing newcomers like Vietnam, but lacks the kind of skills and innovation that’s propelled Singapore and South Korea to more advanced status. Najib’s target is to make Malaysia a high-income country in the next three years, a feat that would require boosting per-capita income to $12,476 — which is the level the World Bank uses to define a high-income nation — from about $10,000 now.

Curated Insights 2017.11.05

This company’s robots are making everything and reshaping the world

Earlier this year, during one of Fanuc’s rare open houses, Vice President Kenji Yamaguchi told investors that about 80 percent of the company’s assembly work is automated. “Only the wiring is done by engineers,” he said. And when you have lots of efficient robots making your other robots, you can sell those robots more cheaply—about $25,500 for a new Robodrill. (You can find a well-used older model on EBay for $8,500.) Volkswagen Group, for instance, pays about 10 percent less for Fanuc robots than it paid for ones it previously purchased from Kuka AG, a German company.

Fanuc manages to offer these savings while maintaining 40 percent operating profit margins, a success that Yamaguchi also traced to the company’s centralized production in Japan, which is made possible, even though most of its products are sold outside the country, by the 243 global service centers that keep its robots operational. The company even profits from its competitors’ sales, because more than half of all industrial robots are directed by its numerical-control software. Between the almost 4 million CNC systems and half-million or so industrial robots it has installed around the world, Fanuc has captured about one-quarter of the global market, making it the industry leader over competitors such as Yaskawa Motoman and ABB Robotics in Germany, each of which has about 300,000 industrial robots installed globally. Fanuc’s Robodrills now command an 80 percent share of the market for smartphone manufacturing robots.

Orders from the U.S., though, are dwarfed by those from China—some 90,000 units, almost a third of the world’s total industrial robot orders last year. Sales to China amounted to about 55 percent of the $5 billion Fanuc’s automation unit generated in the fiscal year ended March 2017. The International Federation of Robotics estimates that, by 2019, China’s annual industrial robot orders will rise to 160,000 units, suggesting Fanuc will be insulated from any slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. Yoshiharu told investors at his most recent Q&A session in April that the company expects demand in China to outstrip supply even after Fanuc opens a factory next August in Japan’s Ibaraki prefecture. The facility will be dedicated solely to keeping up with Chinese demand.

The result of Nishikawa’s insight was the Fanuc Intelligent Edge Link and Drive, or Field. The system, introduced in 2016, is an open, cloud-based platform that allows Fanuc to collect global manufacturing data in real time on a previously unimaginable scale and funnel it to self-teaching robots.


Apple should shrink its finance arm before it goes bananas

Apple does not organise its financial activities into one subsidiary, but Schumpeter has lumped them together. The result—call it “Apple Capital”—has $262bn of assets, $108bn of debt, and has traded $1.6trn of securities since 2011.

Since Jobs died, its assets have risen by 221%, twice as fast as the company’s sales, reflecting Apple’s huge build-up of profits. Its investments are worth 32% of Apple’s market value, and its profits (investment income, plus gains on derivatives, less interest costs) have been 7% of Apple’s pre-tax profits so far this year. It is also sizeable compared with other financial firms. Consider four measures: assets, debt, credit exposure and profits.

In 2011 a majority of its assets were “risk-free”: cash or government bonds. Today 68% are invested in other kinds of securities, mainly corporate bonds, which Apple says are generally investment grade. The shift may explain why Apple’s annual interest rate earned on its portfolio (2%) is now higher than that of the four other Silicon Valley firms with money mountains, Microsoft, Alphabet, Cisco and Oracle. In total, they still have 66% of their portfolios squirrelled away in risk-free assets.

Its foreign operation swims in cash while its domestic one drowns in debt. Profits made abroad are kept in foreign subsidiaries. That way Apple does not pay the 35% levy America charges when earnings are repatriated. Some 94% of Apple Capital’s assets are “offshore” and cannot be tapped for ordinary purposes. The domestic business must do the hard work of paying for dividends and buy-backs. Its profits are not big enough to cover these, so it borrows. Domestic net debts have risen to $92bn, or five times domestic gross operating profits. Each year Apple must issue $30bn of bonds (including refinancing), similar to the average of Wall Street’s five largest firms.


To understand the benefits of tax reform, start by understanding Apple’s taxes

Now we have the numbers that answer the basic question: What accounts for the difference between what Apple pays and the official 35% rate? Page 56 of its 10K shows the numbers. Once again, if Apple had faced the full 35% rate, it would have paid $21.46 billion in federal taxes (as well as another $990 million to the states). Instead, it paid $10.444 billion in cash, and accrued $5.241 billion in U.S. tax owed on foreign profits, but deferred to be paid later. That’s the total of $15.685 billion that it booked in tax expense on its income statement. The difference between that number and the approximately $21.5 billion it would have paid at the 35% rate is the almost $5.6 billion exclusion for “indefinitely invested foreign earnings.”

Surprisingly, companies such as Apple with an extremely large proportion of foreign sales, could actually pay more U.S. taxes in cash each year under the current proposals. That’s because elimination of deferrals and the exception for reinvested earnings would sent more money to the Treasury even at the far lower minimum rate.

 

Google’s profits are exploding because the web is massive

The bigger the web grows, the more valuable Google becomes. And, with more than one billion websites in the world and more than 4 billion people with regular access to the Internet, finding your needle in that haystack is the fundamental problem of Internet use. As the tech writer Ben Thompson wrote, “Google is the king of aggregators because, when information shifted from scarcity to abundance, discovery became the point of leverage, and Google was better at discovery than anyone.”

Second, the migration of attention from print and television to the internet—both desktop and mobile—has created a advertising duopoly for Google and Facebook. As these slides from the last Kleiner Perkins internet presentation show clearly, mobile is the future of media attention and Facebook and Google’s share of digital ad revenue is growing faster than the rest of the industry combined.


How Google’s quantum computer could change the world

Early next year, Google’s quantum computer will face its acid test in the form of an obscure computational problem that would take a classical computer billions of years to complete. Success would mark “quantum supremacy,” the tipping point where a quantum computer accomplishes something previously impossible. It’s a milestone computer scientists say will mark a new era of computing, and the end of what you might call the classical age.

That potential is a result of exponential growth. Adding one bit negligibly increases a classical chip’s computing power, but adding one qubit doubles the power of a quantum chip. A 300-bit classical chip could power (roughly) a basic calculator, but a 300-qubit chip has the computing power of two novemvigintillion bits—a two followed by 90 zeros—a number that exceeds the atoms in the universe.

Volkswagen AG is testing quantum computers made by Canadian firm D-Wave Systems Inc. In March, the companies said that, using GPS data from 10,000 taxis in Beijing, they created an algorithm to calculate the fastest routes to the airport while also minimizing traffic. A classical computer would have taken 45 minutes to complete that task, D-Wave said, but its quantum computer did it in a fraction of a second.

Such a complex and expensive setup means that Google and its peers will likely sell quantum computing via the cloud, possibly charging by the second.


Google has a new plan for China (and it’s not about search)

Rather than another splashy product launch, Google’s latest China strategy is a grassroots effort focused on getting developers in the country trained and hooked on its AI building blocks. It’s similar to the way business software startups get employees using their services before corporate IT departments notice. Once the tools become popular, companies often accept the technology and sign up for full service.

It’s hard to find a place as fertile for AI as China. The country has one of the fastest growing TensorFlow developer communities in Asia, despite the fact that Google’s cloud services are unavailable there. The Chinese government has made AI a national priority. Scores of Chinese companies are deploying machine-learning systems — AI software that automatically adjusts to data — to update banking services, identify faces in crowds and control drones.

Beijing-based Wang Xiaoyu said TensorFlow was a vital tool for her podcast startup CastBox.FM. Developing her own tools would’ve required a team of 20 expensive machine-learning specialists. Instead, she turned to TensorFlow and hired a single Chinese PhD graduate with TensorFlow experience capable of producing the same results. Her company is now worth about $60 million with more than 8 million users downloading her app.

Ricky Wong, an investor who often works in China, analyzed the location of the first 5,000 developers to access the tools and found more came from Beijing than all of Silicon Valley.


Tech goes to Washington

I still believe that, on balance, blaming tech companies for the last election is, more than anything, a convenient way to avoid larger questions about what drove the outcome. And, as I noted, the fact is that tech companies remain popular with the broader public.

What this hearing highlighted, though, is the degree to which the position of Facebook in particular has become more tenuous. The fact of the matter is that Facebook (and Google) is more powerful than any entity we have seen before. Magnifying the problem is that, over the last year, Facebook has decided to “take responsibility”, and what is that but a commitment to exercise their control over what people see?

More broadly, it is hard to escape the conclusion that tech companies have been unable to resist the ring of power: the end game of aggregation is unprecedented control over what people see; the only way to handle that power without risking the abuse of it is a commitment to true neutrality. That Facebook, Twitter, and Google — which, by the way, holds just as much if not more power than Facebook, but without the attendant media scrutiny — have committed to fixing the Russian problem is itself more problematic than those urging they do just that may realize.

Inside Fort Botox, where a deadly toxin yields $2.8 billion drug

Scientists differ over how much of the toxin would be required to inflict massive damage. Data on the topic is scarce, and that may be intentional. But a study published in 2001 in the Journal of the American Medical Association said that a single gram in crystallized form, “evenly dispersed and inhaled, would kill more than 1 million people.” Experts are divided over what it would take to effectively weaponize the toxin, but the mere possibility of a botulism bomb has the U.S. government on edge. That puts Allergan in a remarkable position. The government’s vigilance enhances the company’s own secrecy, and together they give Botox a near-monopoly that is almost unassailable. Allergan says Botox has more than 90 percent of the market for medical uses of neurotoxins and 75 percent of the market for cosmetic uses.


Gene therapy helped these children see. Can it transform medicine?

Spark’s product, named Luxturna, is designed to help a subset of LCA sufferers with a mutation in a gene known as RPE65 — who number about 6,000 in northern America, Europe and the other developed markets the company hopes to enter. But its approval would have much broader implications for the way we fight sickness and disease. 

Drugs are designed to fight illnesses by cajoling the body, opening up one biological pathway or closing down another. Gene therapy takes a different approach, replacing the faulty or missing DNA that is causing the disease in the first place and helping the body fix itself. Because it tackles the illness at its biological root, it could offer a one-time treatment for an array of genetically driven conditions that have either had poor options or none at all, from haemophilia and Parkinson’s to Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis and myriad rare diseases. It opens up the possibility of that thing still so elusive in modern medicine: a cure. 


Patient deaths show darker side of modernized Chinese medicine

Having struggled for decades to rein in the sector, regulators have recently begun pushing for an overhaul of Chinese medicine injections, seeking to weed out unsafe and ineffective products. But the process could take up to a decade, given the complexity of these intravenous pharmaceuticals.

Still, due to the history of lax regulation, many injectables based on Chinese medicine haven’t been evaluated in strict scientific clinical trials. That means the reactions they set off in the body aren’t fully known. Chinese medicine is based on centuries of practical experience. But it is traditionally taken orally, which gives the digestive system a chance to shield patients from harmful chemicals. Injecting the concoctions into the bloodstream can heighten side effects.


This budget airline is buying seaplanes to reach areas others can’t

SpiceJet Ltd. is in talks with Japan’s Setouchi Holdings Inc. to buy about 100 amphibious Kodiak planes that can land anywhere, including on water, gravel or in an open field. The deal, valued at about $400 million, would help SpiceJet capitalize on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious plan to connect the vast nation by air without waiting for billions of dollars in upgrades to colonial-era infrastructure.

India’s airlines handled 100 million domestic passengers last year, making it the No. 3 market behind China and the U.S. To handle growth, India will need at least 2,100 new planes worth $290 billion in the next 20 years, Boeing Co. estimates.

“The basic logic for this is that in India, we need last-mile connectivity,” Singh said. “The amphibian plane opens up a lot of areas, creates a lot of flexibility.”

“High-end tourists use amphibious aircraft at exotic locations all over the world,” said Amber Dubey, a New Delhi-based partner and India head of aerospace and defense at KPMG. “There’s no reason why it can’t be successful in India.”


This doctor turned $15,000 into a $1.6 billion beauty empire

“We focus on mid-end customers because they’re the biggest group of people,” said Suwin, who trained as a doctor before becoming an entrepreneur. “The high-end segment is small and very competitive.”

In mainland China, Beauty Community sells through online channels including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall platform. The country’s beauty market is forecast to grow at an average of 9 percent a year until 2020, outpacing the 5 percent expansion expected in Thailand, according to Euromonitor.

Beauty Community is the ninth biggest company in Thailand’s cosmetics industry, with a 3.1 percent share of a fragmented market, according to Euromonitor. L’Oreal leads, with 12 percent, followed by direct sales company Better Way (Thailand) Co. and Estee Lauder Cos. The firm aims to have 450 shops domestically in the next three years, under brands such as Beauty Cottage and Beauty Buffet.


Debating where tech is going to take finance

The point of most innovations in consumer finance has been precisely to reduce its presence in our lives: Instead of talking to a bank teller to get money, you use an ATM. Instead of physically walking into a broker’s office to talk about which stocks to buy, you buy index funds through a web page. Or, now, you click to enroll in an app and it does all of your asset-allocating and stock-picking and tax-harvesting and so forth for you. I think that a lot of financial technology is heading in the direction of perfecting that vanishing act, so that in 20 years you’ll just think about financial things less than you do now.

The EU’s definitive defeat: digital tax plans and a declaration of surrender to Silicon Valley

The EU has a huge competitiveness issue already, and due to the eurozone’s lack of innovation, especially in its Mediterranean member states, the sovereign-debt crisis is never going to be resolved. The European Central Bank is, in some ways unlawfully, keeping Europe’s south afloat and will do so for some more time, but at some point there will be a crisis of unprecedented proportions–either an acute and dramatic crisis or an extended depression from which the eurozone as an economic area won’t really recover.

By now the EU appears to have given up on its ambitions for the digital economy. Instead, its focus is on a new tax that could lead to a full-blown trade war with the U.S. and would definitely harm European companies and consumers in the end.

There are structural reasons for which the EU not only lacks major players like Apple and Google but why it’s highly unlikely that any of its startups will, as an independent company, ever reach that level.

Unfortunately, the Commission’s tax initiative has drawn support even from normally libertarian, free-market and fiscally conservative parties such as Germany’s FDP, whose secretary-general said last week that she wants to impose higher taxes on the likes of “Apple, Google, and Facebook.”


China’s critical role in technology and geopolitics

There are 214 private companies in the world valued at $1 billion or more, known as unicorns. Slightly more than half (108) are,as you would expect, based in the United States, but 55 are in China, with the remaining 51 located in other countries throughout the world. Of the top ten unicorns, China has four (including numbers two and three) and the U.S. has six. China’s innovation has been engineering-based rather than science-based and it is consumer-focused and efficiency-driven. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent together represent 16% of world net digital advertising revenue and 20% of world net mobile Internet ad revenue. Google and Facebook are the leaders with a combined 43% of net digital and 51% net mobile ad revenue.

China’s investment in research goes beyond information technology. Prior to 2010, the country committed almost $10 billion to research with biotechnology a focal point. The Chinese biotech industry has been growing at 30% and is valued at over $10 billion today. There are more than 580 biopharma companies. Chinese scientists have transformed normal adult cells into embryonic stem cells and produced live mice from these lab-produced cells. There are two major state funding sources – the State High-Tech Development Program and the Basic Research Program. China is the third largest filer of patents, after the United States and Japan.

An issue of concern for many investors is the level of Chinese debt, which has risen from 149% to 269% of GDP over the past decade. Increasing debt has accounted for two percentage points of China’s 7.25% growth from 2012 to 2016. There is also the worry that there are a number of non-performing loans on the books of the banks and “shadow” banks, but the adverse effects of these has been deferred by the country’s growth.


The conventional view of China’s problems may be all wrong: Q&A

If migrants are allowed to live and settle in cities and they spend as much as normal Chinese, the savings rate would fall. Consumption would increase by 2 or 3 percentage points of GDP, which is the entirety of the trade surplus.

What’s unique in China and doesn’t happen anywhere else is this migrant worker phenomenon. In any other country, you don’t have a hukou policy. Hukou is a link to savings, and then links to global trade surpluses. That’s a real strange link. This never would have been a logical way of thinking about it in any other country.

If you liberalize hukou, it reduces pressure to save. It increases your incentive or opportunity to consume. This increases demand for resources. It doesn’t require credit expansion or generation or stimulus. Therefore, you have GDP growth without debt buildup, which is exactly what you need. It’s a simple reform with tremendous impact. Allow people to live in Beijing and Shanghai where jobs pay more, and productivity will be higher.


Backlash against Chinese products ramps up in India

Two-way trade statistics tell the tale. India’s deficit with China has ballooned nine-fold over a decade to $49 billion in 2016 as China’s manufacturing edge stacks the odds against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-year-old ‘Make-in-India’ program. The result: India’s current account deficit is worsening again, threatening the outlook for an economy already straining under the fallout of a snap ban on high-value notes a year ago and a new sales tax.

“The imbalanced trade relationship reflects the fact that India’s manufacturing sector remains strongly underdeveloped. Unless it is able to develop its manufacturing sector so that it can produce a large share of the growing demand for goods in its economy, India’s economic growth will be constrained by rising current account deficits and/or inflation and their consequences.”

“No one is capable of competing with the Chinese.”


Abandoned land in Japan will be the size of Austria by 2040

A private research group headed by a former government minister today warned that the area (link in Japanese) of vacant land and homes could by 2040 be as big as Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido—about 83,000 sq km (32,000 sq miles), or the size of Austria. The area is currently about 41,000 sq km, slightly bigger than Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.

Hiroya Masuda, the former minister who chaired the group, warned in a 2014 book that about 900 cities, towns, and villages in Japan would be extinct by 2040.

Singapore is finding it harder to grow, literally

By filling the sea along its coasts with imported sand, the tiny island nation has expanded its physical size by about 24 percent since 1960, according to data from the Singapore Land Authority.

The government has plans to continue expanding its land size and said in a 2013 proposal that it expects to increase its land size to 296 square miles by 2030 to further support economic and population growth.

Supersized family farms are gobbling up American agriculture

Farms with $1 million or more in annual sales—only 4% of the total—now produce two-thirds of the country’s agricultural output, the largest portion since the U.S. Agriculture Department’s census began tracking the statistic in the ’80s.

Three-quarters of America’s farmed cropland is controlled by 12% of farms, USDA data show. The number of million-dollar-plus revenue farms more than doubled between 1992 and 2015, while the ranks of smaller farms, with revenue between $350,000 and $999,999, fell by 5%, as farmers get older and have a hard time making consistent profits. USDA researchers, in a December report, said consolidation is likely to continue.

An average farm household in the Colby area needs income of at least $50,000 annually to get by, said Mr. Wood, the agricultural economist, which has become harder to generate from a smaller farm. “The big guys can cover their costs and have money left over to grow,” Mr. Wood said. Smaller farms, he said, “are going to struggle.”

Company Notes 2017.11.03

Globetronics Technology Q3 FY2017 Results

The Group expects to see significant improvement in business and volume loadings for all our major product portfolios for the rest of the year 2017. This will enable the Group to register a stronger financial performance for the rest of the FY.

The Group will continue to focus on escalating up the value chain and riding on the R&D initiatives in new products design and development with our key customers. This initiative is expected to result in the manufacturing of additional new products in the year 2018.


SWS Capital Q4 FY2017 Results

The acquisition of ELE enabled the Group to diversify into the manufacturing and trading of plastic wares, utensils, and goods. In view of the favorable prospects of the plastic wares division, the Board believes that the ELE Acquisition is an attractive business venture. The Group is exploring business complementation between dining sets division and plastic wares division for enlargement of products base.


DKSH Malaysia Q3 FY2017 Results

The client and customer portfolio remains well diversified and supported by strong sales, marketing and distribution infrastructure with a capillary reach. With a scalable business model, the Group offers a comprehensive portfolio of services along the entire value chain, customized and tailor-made to clients’ specific needs. Furthermore, operational risk management processes and controls, supported by an industry leading IT system, continue to support the existing businesses as well as new clients.

Two market trends additionally support a positive medium-to-long-term outlook for the Group. Firstly, the growing middle class in Malaysia supports the demand for consumer goods and healthcare products. Secondly, manufacturers increasingly focus on core competencies and seek specialized service providers in order to grow the market for and with them.


Sasbadi Q4 FY2017 Results

The PBT for the preceding FY’s corresponding quarter included a bargain purchase gain of RM4.315 million arising from the acquisition of 100% equity interest in United Publishing in August 2016. In addition, the LBT for the current financial quarter was mainly attributed to the drop in revenue, coupled with higher operating costs recorded by the Group mainly due to the consolidation of the United Publishing Group’s full quarter’s results, impairment loss on trade receivables, and increased interest expense arising from higher gearing.


Kronologi Asia Q3 FY2017 Results

By product category, the Enterprise Data Management (“EDM”) infrastructure technology segment continued to dominate the Group’s revenue, amounting to RM97.230 million or 95.67% of total revenue, with Managed Services making up the balance.

The Group’s performance for the nine (9) month ended 30 September 2017 (“9M 17”) has already exceeded that of the whole of the financial year ended 31 December 2016 (“FY2016”) both in terms of revenue and net profit. A major factor behind the increase has been the full consolidation since 4 October 2016 of Quantum Storage (India) Pte Ltd [QSI] (previously a 20%-held associate). The contribution from QSI is expected to contribute steadily to the Group for the rest of the year. In view of these factors, the Group expects its financial performance in FY2017 to be better than that of FY2016.

Subsequent to the quarter under review, the Group announced on 9 October 2017 that it has proposed to acquire the entire share capital of Quantum Storage (Hong Kong) Limited. The acquisition could expand the Group’s market presence in North Asia, namely Hong Kong and Taiwan, which potentially serve as gateways to Greater China. The Group believes that upon regulatory and shareholder approval, this acquisition will contribute to revenue and profit, especially from FY2018.


SLP Resources Q3 FY2017 Results

Towards year end, we expect to receive more orders from customers to cater the festive spending habits. Going forward, with our on-going capacity expansion plans, engaging and finalising with brand-owners on new projects, we expect to see further positive growth in revenue.

Drones, clones and chocolate could be the answer for palm oil planter

A lack of plantation workers means fruit can’t be harvested on time, lowering extraction rates and oil quality. United Malacca uses mechanical grabbers to collect fruit bunches, a typically laborious task in hot and humid conditions. It’s also mechanized fertilizer and herbicide application while drones are used for aerial surveillance.

United Malacca plans to diversify into crops including cocoa, coffee, coconut and stevia in Indonesia, Benjamin said, as it seeks to mitigate risks from being an upstream business and capture rising demand for those commodities. The company acquired a 60 percent stake in PT Wana Rindang Lestari to help widen its earnings base and reduce its dependency on palm oil.

United Malacca is also betting that its young trees will boost profits into 2019, according to Benjamin. Oil palms typically start producing fruit at the age of three, with yields peaking when trees are between 10 years and 18 years old then gradually declining, he said. Most of United Malacca’s trees are about nine to ten years of age, he said.


Econpile all ready for big infra jobs

“It’s a cycle. Transportation infrastructure is the market focus right now. When all these infrastructures are in place, it may again encourage property developments, particularly in areas surrounding the facilities.”

The company is slowly moving away from smaller-scale substructure contracts, having accumulated better capacity and experience to undertake larger-scale ones. It allocates an average RM20 million per year for capital expenditure to size up its fleet of machinery — together with research and development efforts — to improve their processes and equipment, and to provide training for employees.

Econpile has some of the largest and most advanced piling equipment in the country. They are kept in a seven-acre (2.83ha) workshop in Bukit Beruntung, Selangor, and are manned by some 120 mechanics — that’s to a quarter of Econpile’s 500-strong workforce.

“We have constantly improved our fleet size and technical capabilities to take on bigger jobs. This year, we broke the record for the deepest pile works in Malaysia, 110m deep with 3m diameter at a high-rise site in Jalan Ampang. We also own one of the biggest drilling rigs in Asia by capacity, and there are just five [such] units in the world. But with such a size, it means its fleet does better if it concentrates on one location without having to be moved too often, like it will have to be for small contracts. That will save on logistics costs.”


Pelangi mildly affected by new textbook policy

On Oct 5, the education ministry announced that it would be using imported English textbooks in schools from next year onwards as part of the ministry’s move to implement the new Common European Framework of Reference for Languages-aligned curriculum.

“In terms of [the] impact on Pelangi, it would be a loss of opportunity that we would not be able to go into English textbooks, but in terms of open market sales, we are still not so much affected.”

The group’s main revenue driver is its publishing segment in Malaysia, with a 74% contribution, while its printing business contributes 11% and other segments 3%. Publishing revenue from its overseas markets, such as Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, contribute 12% to the group’s overall revenue.


Rising cost of packaging materials to impact F&B firms

“Rising paper price is a concern to F&B players as this will contribute to a higher cost for packaging. Our channel check with an industry player confirms that as of this year, there were already two rounds of price increases by suppliers of packaging materials of about 2% to 3% increases each time.”

“Despite the rising raw material prices as well as packaging cost, on average product prices only increase marginally about 0.5% y-o-y starting from June this year. From this observation, we conclude that while F&B players need to increase product prices, the rising input costs were mostly absorbed for now as it is necessary to maintain market share in the current environment.”

Malaysia, Australia probe data breaches as millions exposed

As the scale and frequency of major hacking attacks increases, companies and governments have come under intense pressure to shore up their cybersecurity. Only about 2 percent of corporate data is encrypted today, International Business Machines Corp. said in July.

Malaysia, with a population of 32 million, has a mobile penetration rate of 134 percent as of March this year, according to government statistics. Almost 80 percent of the 42.8 million subscriptions as of the first quarter are pre-paid accounts.


Malaysia ranks seventh in number of family-owned businesses, says Credit Suisse

“Our research seems to suggest that investors are not too concerned about the level of ownership but rather how involved the family owners are in the daily running of the business. This seems to be at the core of the success of family-owned companies in our view,” Klerk added.

The report also revealed that the financial performance of family-owned companies is superior to that of non-family-owned businesses. Revenue and Ebitda growth is stronger, Ebitda margins are higher, cash flow returns are better and momentum in gearing is more moderate. The report finds that family-owned companies in Asia Pacific ex-Japan have traded at a premium relative to non-family-owned companies since 2006, recording a 10-year average of 8%.

“Malaysia’s Press Metal is among the top 50 family-owned companies globally with market capitalisation above US$2 billion in terms of average revenue growth since 2014,” said Credit Suisse.


Budget 2018: EPF panelist warns of rising expenditure and shrinking tax revenue

“The allocation for the health ministry this year is about RM27bil and this is going to increase in double digit rates over the next 30 years. We need to pay for that if we want to maintain the healthcare system that we currently have. Being Asian, we think that families will take care of the aged, but the family support system is disappearing, and eventually, this situation will entail support from the government.”

“I think as far as load on government finances is concerned, pension is going to be the number one issue over the coming years. Even if we reform the pension system today, there would be a transition period of about 50 to 60 years. We will still be paying pensions for today’s civil service, 60 years from now.”


Tax officials to knock on more doors

“[In a nutshell,] the application of the tax regime is going to be tougher in order to raise the revenues. I think it will be a rigorous implementation of the existing laws by both the IRB and customs [and] there will be greater scrutiny of taxpayers by both authorities.”


Young Muslims catch a $100 billion travel bug

Millennial Muslims — those aged between 18 and 36 — are projected to spend more than $100 billion annually on traveling by 2025, almost double last year’s figure, according to a report from Mastercard and Muslim travel website HalalTrip. All age groups belonging to the religion are expected to spend around three times that much.

The next popular holiday spots are Japan, Thailand and Australia, non-Muslim countries where tourism is a key engine of economic growth. Some are starting to recognize the opportunities.

The number of Muslim international travelers is expected to grow to 156 million by 2020, partly due to the growth of the religion’s population: it’s expected to reach nearly 3 billion worldwide by 2060, a 70 percent jump from 2015, according to the report. Come 2030, almost a third of the world’s population aged 15-29 is forecast to be Muslims.

Earnings Call Digest 2017.10

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

10-nanometer process technology contributed 10% of total wafer revenue during the third quarter, up from only 1% in the second quarter. The combined revenue from 16 and 20-nanometer accounted for 24% and 28-nanometer was 23%. Advanced technologies, defined as 28-nanometer and more advanced, accounted for 57% of total wafer revenue, up from 54% in the second quarter.

New advanced technologies such as voice recognition, on-device AI, AR, VR, 4G to 5G, et cetera, are driving silicon content for smartphone to continue to increase. We also see those high-end features continuously proliferate to mid, low-end smartphones.

The AI will be a fast growth, because in the datacenter it is a closed ecosystem. Once it goes to the client edge, it’s an open system. So innovators will come in easily, so has higher growth potential.


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

On the FCA, BMW, Intel, et cetera partnership, we’re contributing both capital, resources. We’re a full participant in the venture. So it’s going to cost us some money, it’s built into our R&D plan. But it’s the safest bet, the safest way for us to get into that market. We’re doing it with a reputable organization and there are reputable suppliers at the table too. So, I think we’ve put that issue to bed.

And there was a big issue. I’ve read a couple of the comments that people continue to make which I think probably reflect a very poor understanding of the state of the industry. But we’re not laggards here, we had just chosen our spots very carefully before we started playing, because I think that you can destroy a lot of value by chasing your tail in autonomous driving. We wanted to make sure that we did it with the right people.

And I don’t want to start chasing rainbows here, because if you chase rainbows, you’re going to fall off the cliff. And I’ve seen enough ridings now, I’ve seen enough sort of accusations of being behind in this rat race. The reality is that this is going to require a lot of discipline and a lot technical knowhow, which will take time and it will take dedication and perfect execution to get to an answer. Don’t believe the fluff, let’s just stick to the knitting and deliver an outcome, there is no shortcut to this.

Certainly in the case of Alfa Romeo the question of getting distribution because we have very little on the ground. So I think there’s a huge amount of work that needs to go on to get coverage, geographical coverage in China. And that started, it’s underway, and I think it is going to require – certainly it’s a multi-year project as it is here in the United States because this thing is starting from nothing. We haven’t had sort of the ability to work ahead of the curve in the U.S. The China is behind in that development, but I think we will – it will quickly catch up.

There is – the question that you’ve asked about whether demand is matching our expectations in China. The answer is fundamentally, yes. We need to be very, very careful that this distribution exercise, that we don’t end up creating either perceived or actual oversupply in the market that will depress pricing. That is something that we cannot afford to do.


Amazon.com (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

I think over time, you’ll see more cooperation and working together between AmazonFresh, Prime Now, and Whole Foods as we can explore different ways to serve the customer.

The head count grew 77% year-over-year in the quarter. That includes the impact of the Whole Foods and Souq acquisitions. Without those, without that head count, the base Amazon grew 47%, which is still up from 42% in Q2. So a lot of the additional pickup in Q3 was tied to our ramp for the holidays. We continued to hire a lot of software engineers. We continued to hire a lot of sales reps and it’s tied directly to our major investment areas of AWS, Prime Video and devices.


Alphabet (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

YouTube now has over 1.5 billion users. On average, these users spend 60 minutes a day on mobile. But this growth isn’t just happening on desktop and mobile. YouTube now gets over 100 million hours of watch time in the living room every day, and that’s up 70% in the past year alone. YouTube Red, our first foray into the subscription market, is on track to release over 40 original shows this year and YouTube TV, our live TV subscription service, continues to expand into new markets. It now covers two-thirds of U.S. households and is available in 15 metro areas.

While mobile has given rise to an unprecedented amount of data and complexity for advertisers, we think that machine learning will help it make – will help make it easier for advertisers to reach consumers. But even as we give advertisers incredible scale and reach across our ad platforms, we know consumer attention is scarce. That’s why we are pleased YouTube ads continue to deliver the highest viewability rates in the industry. YouTube now has a 95% ad viewability rate, which is significantly higher than the average 66% viewability rate of other video ads. We continue to see the industry shift to six second bumper ads and so greater adoption this quarter.


Intel (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

Early in the quarter, we closed the Mobileye transaction a full four months ahead of schedule. So far this year, Mobileye has won 14 ADAS [Advanced Driver Assistance Systems] designs across 14 automakers, a pace well ahead of the 12 wins they recorded all of last year. These designs provide for typical features like automated emergency braking, lane keeping, and adaptive cruise control. But several also include next-step functionality like highway autonomous driving. We’re also winning marquee designs for Level 3 and higher levels of autonomy, including our strategic partnership with BMW and Fiat Chrysler.

Most recently, we announced that Waymo’s newest vehicles, the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, feature Intel-based technologies for sensor processing, general compute, and connectivity. With 3 million miles of real-world driving, Waymo cars with Intel technology inside have already processed more self-driving car miles than any other autonomous fleet on the U.S. roads.

Intel and Mobileye provide the auto industry with unmatched product breadth, the architectural flexibility to support open and closed implementations, and technology leadership. Our progress in just a few short months illustrates the benefits of our combination. And together, we can deliver the promise of autonomous driving in a safer, collision-free future.

In Q3, Microsoft announced that it would use our 14-nanometer Stratix 10 FPGAs for its accelerated deep learning platform that’s code named Project Brainwave. And as part of a broadening engagement between our companies, Alibaba is using Intel FPGAs to power the acceleration of the service of Alibaba Cloud. We’ve made tremendous progress in AI and advanced computing technologies over the last few months. In addition to our FPGAs and autonomous driving wins, we launched the Movidius Myriad X, the world’s first vision processing unit with a dedicated neural compute engine to deliver artificial intelligence capabilities to the edge in a low-power, high-performance package.


Microsoft (Q1 2018 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

We now have 120 million monthly active users of Office 365 Commercial. We have more than 530 million LinkedIn members. Dynamics 365 customers grew 40% year over year. Azure Compute usage more than doubled this quarter and revenue grew 90%, and Windows 10 Commercial monthly active devices grew 90% year over year.

Microsoft 365 is our core offering to address this $500 billion-plus market. We are bringing together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security as a complete integrated solution for organizations of all sizes. It represents a profound shift in the way we design, build and deliver our productivity solutions, moving to a people-centered approach, spanning all their devices to unlock creativity and inspire teamwork while simplifying security and management.

We’re seeing record levels of engagement. LinkedIn is on target to surpass 21 billion sessions this calendar year and has seen its fourth consecutive quarter of 20%-plus sessions growth. Engagement across the platform is strong, with 65% year-over-year growth in jobs, visitors across mobile and desktop, 60% growth in feed update views and nearly 40% growth in messages sent, driven by more ubiquitous messaging.

Azure Cosmos DB is the first globally distributed multimodal database that enables developers to write apps for IoT and other event-based serverless applications. We’re accelerating our innovation to help every developer be an AI developer with approachable new tools from Azure Machine Learning Studio for creating simple ML models to powerful Azure Machine Learning Workbench for the most advanced AI modeling and data science.

Our ongoing data center expansion brings Azure to 42 regions globally, more than any other cloud provider and 69 compliance offerings and the most comprehensive compliance coverage in the industry. And new Azure availability zones provide new levels of resiliency for high-availability apps within a region and across regions.


Oaktree Capital (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

I think Howard Marks describes it best in his recent cautionary memo There They Go Again, Again, which portrays the current investment environment as excessive and ripe for a correction due to the following reasons. It’s an environment where the uncertainties are unusual in terms of number, scale and insolubility, where prospective returns are just about the lowest they have ever been, where asset prices are high across the board and where pro-risk behavior is commonplace. It’s impossible for us to predict what will catalyze the market’s correction, how severe it might be and when it will occur. We are not however waiting around for fat pitches and we continue to look for attractive investment opportunities in select areas including industries experiencing stress or competitive issues.

Management fees in the third quarter declined by $8 million or 4% from the same period a year ago and were down 6% year-to-date. As was the case in the first two quarters of the year, these declines were driven by our closed-end funds where we have been a net seller of assets given the current investment climate. In this environment, our management fees have been pressured by realizations reducing the cost basis and therefore management fee basis of funds in liquidation, and slower deployment impacting the management fees of funds that charge on drawn capital and delaying the start of the investment period for funds that charge on committed capital. However, this same environment provides an attractive backdrop for growing the value of our net accrued incentives and our balance sheet investments, which bodes well for future distributable earnings.