Archive for July, 2007

So you want to be a female celebrity?

In the past couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many female “celebrities.” (I put that word in quotes because whether or not someone can truly be a celebrity in a place as small as Singapore is up for debate). I’ve witnessed some common behavior that I think will be useful for any female that would like to pursue the dream of being a Singapore star. A dream I also like to dub, “How to be worshipped while being broke.”

I proudly present…

So you want to be a female celebrity? Here are some guidelines that you must follow to project true celebrity status.

  1. Never be seen taking public transport. Riding a bus or subway train is for everyone else who isn’t you.
  2. When people ask what you’re working on, you’re either filming, in post-production, or about to start a new project. If you tell them the truth that you’re not working, your career is as good as dead.
  3. You must bring a stylist, assistant, manager, and friend to any photo shoots or filming. Important people travel with an entourage. So what if they don’t actually do anything. You pay them for their company, not for services.
  4. When you talk to the press, you tell them you don’t have a boyfriend because guys are scared to approach you and you’re hopelessly waiting for Mr. Right. If your current boyfriend ever wants to be seen in public with you, dump him; he will make you lose fans.
  5. Choose your media personality: either a wholesome girl-next-door or a misunderstood bad girl / tomboy who is secretly a wholesome girl-next-door. In real life you’re most likely just boring.
  6. Only go to a party where you’re getting paid to attend or getting something free. And leave as soon as possible, even if it’s fun. It’s not cool to stand there and be seen having a good time.
  7. Emphasize how busy and stressful your life is. You deserve sympathy – after all for 20 minutes of acting you spend 4 hours sitting around doing nothing while they get the camera and scene ready.
  8. You know all those people operating the camera and sound equipment? Don’t talk to them – not glam! You’re only supposed to talk to your co-stars and director.
  9. Always give the illusion of wealth. You live at home because you are a filial daughter, not because you can’t afford to move out.
  10. Sunglasses are not a fashion accessory; they are a permanent attachment on your face. After all, if you didn’t wear sunglasses people might actually be able to look you in the eye. Gasp!

Singapore rentals lower than in many major cities

From Straits Times – July 22, 2007

“By Zakir Hussain

THE current surge in rentals will not impede Singapore’s bid to attract global talent, Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

Responding to questions from reporters, he noted that rates here were lower than those in many other international cities: ‘The numbers suggest that rentals as an overall percentage of cost may not be prohibitive at this level.

‘The truth is, in absolute numbers we are still less than many other city states. We want to make sure we are reasonable and where we can, we’ll help.’

In the second quarter of this year, average prime rents in Raffles Place, for instance, hit $13.10 per sq ft.

This compares with $17.80 psf for rents in Hong Kong’s Central district.

In a speech earlier to some 400 Singaporeans studying overseas, he said rising property prices were a proxy ofinvestors’ confidence in Singapore over the long term.

Home and office rentals, particularly in the central area, have hit an all-time high in recent weeks, prompting the Government to roll out steps to cool the property sector, including releasing more land.

These include a plot of land next to Newton MRT station, which will be developed as temporary office space, he noted.

‘More of these particular projects will come on,’ he said, adding that there should be no lack of supply in the long term, especially when the Marina Bay Financial Centre is ready in 2010.

Earlier this month, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew cautioned that rising property prices and rents had to be kept in check, as Singapore would otherwise lose its competitiveness.

Dr Ng said yesterday that high housing rentals were confined to prime areas: ‘In terms of overall supply across Singapore, there isn’t a shortage. The shortage is in certain areas – whether you want to live in (districts) 9, 10, 11 or certain other areas. That must be true for Singaporeans too.

‘We have to let some market forces dictate. But I also think there are opportunities, near MRT stations or where transport is more amenable, or certain nicer areas you haven’t looked at.’

Overall, Singapore remained competitive. And referring to rentals, he said the Government will ‘keep a close eye on that’.

Agreeing with Dr Ng’s point about competitiveness, shipbroker Adrian Chong, 24, said: ‘Singapore still has an edge as it’s the most developed city in this part of the world, and rentals are not as high as those in New York, London or Tokyo.'”

What I find amusing is the quote at the end.  Shipbroker Adrian Chong, all of 24 years old, telling us that Singapore is competitive because rentals are not as high as those in New York, London or Tokyo.  Why is this guy being quoted and what the heck does he know about property?  Let’s ask him whether he thinks Microsoft is a fair buy at 31 dollars while we’re at it.

WordPress Facebook application

Very cool – there is a Facebook application that integrates with your WordPress blog.  It will display the latest 5 entries on your profile along with recent comments.

Quite handy.

I don’t know how Friendster and Myspace are going to survive against Facebook.

Starting position in SIRF Technologies

On July 16 I purchased 215 shares of SIRF at 23.27.

“SiRF Technology Holdings, Inc. (SiRF) is a supplier of global positioning system (GPS) semiconductor solutions designed to provide location awareness capabilities in high-volume mobile consumer and commercial applications. SiRF offers a range of GPS chip sets and software products for high-volume GPS markets.”

Basically they make the GPS chips that will fit in small handheld devices such as mobile phones.  And that sounds like a market that will go up, up, up!

At least I hope… their stock price has been rather volatile.

I also made my first stock option purchase (also with SIRF).  Call options costing 1.60 expiring on September 22 at 25.  Thought it was time to get my feet wet in the options sea.

On a sidenote, Microsoft Money is demonstrating some weird glitch where stocks that are at a gain are showing a loss on the portfolio.  What a terrible bug!

Rise in value of office space in Singapore is highest in the world

From Straits Times – July 20, 2007:

By Fiona Chan, Property Reporter

SINGAPORE’S office buildings have shot up in value by more than anywhere else in the world over the past year.

These soaring values, as well as a rush of investment capital into Singapore, have made the property market here the world’s hottest.

This was revealed by property firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) earlier this week, ahead of a fuller report on global real estate investment due out next month. It will track property deals above US$5 million (S$6.5 million) worldwide, most of which involve commercial real estate, such as offices and shops.

JLL’s head of Asia capital markets, Mr Stuart Crow, elaborated on the preliminary findings yesterday.

He told The Straits Times that capital values of property in Singapore, particularly offices, have risen the most in the world in terms of a straight monetary increase rather than a percentage rise.

In the prime Raffles Place area, office values rose by US$804 per sq ft (psf) in the last 12 months, boosted by a supply crunch and soaring rentals. This is more than double the increase in Hong Kong’s central district, where offices rose about US$280 psf in value on average, he said.

In percentage terms, Singapore’s office values jumped a staggering 105 per cent in a year to reach $1,568.50 psf last month.

In Hong Kong, values rose only 16.7 per cent in the same period to hit US$1,958.60 psf. But Mumbai’s growth beat Singapore’s in percentage terms – up 123 per cent to US$1,166.20 psf.

Office values in Singapore have been driven up by an acute supply crunch as well as soaring demand from expanding businesses. But some experts have warned that rising office prices and rent could hurt the Republic’s competiveness.

The surge in real estate values here has also been boosted by buzzing investor interest in Singapore, said Mr Crow.

In the first half of this year, US$3.7 billion worth of real estate changed hands here – a 40 per cent jump from a year earlier and the fourth highest figure in the Asia-Pacific region, behind Japan, Australia and China.

Mr Crow believes property investments here will double in the next six months to reach about US$8 billion for the whole year. ‘We’re still in the early stages. Next year, investment flows may strengthen even further.’

He said many new foreign players have arrived in Singapore’s real estate market, adding that it has been transformed from an ‘opportunistic’ destination to a ‘core market’.

Of the last 18 major office transactions in Singapore, 16 have involved foreign buyers, noted Mr Crow. About 11 of these were making their first acquisition in Singapore; for some, their first in Asia.

British-based property fund Develica, for one, bought its first Asian building last month, 1 Finlayson Green, for $231 million.

fiochan@sph.com.sg

Started position in Baxter International (BAX)

And boy do I wish I hadn’t.

Back on July 14 I bought 100 shares of BAX at 58.49.  They are a medical products and services company that target a range of diseases (hemophilia, kidney disease, cancer, etc.)

Their fundamentals looked solid, stock price was on the up and up…

And then today they announced earnings.  Where they surpassed the estimates and raised their guidance for the full year.  Second quarter profit grew by 39%.

Sounds rosy.

Alas, late Wednesday the FDA classified a recall on one of Baxter’s pump devices.  A “Class 1 recall” which is apparently for dangerous or defective products that could cause serious health problems or death.  Baxter’s CEO (Robert L. Parkinson) says that the recall will have no material effect on the finances.

It looks like the stock market disagrees.

And now Baxter is trading at 56.00.  Ouch.  I’ll keep holding… for now…

Cheap-ass packaging

I hate programs where during install they try to sneakily add another piece of software to your install.

For example – Adobe’s Flash Player:

AdobeFlash

There are programs that are much worse than this (RealPlayer is one that used to be rife with additional software), but I think it detracts from a company’s reputation when they try to bundle someone else’s software in with their own.  And they’re not straightforward about it.

What the heck does Adobe Flash Player have to do with the Google Toolbar?

I feel like I’m at the supermarket and just purchased apples only to find out they slipped toilet cleaner in my bag which then spills all over the apples and I only discover it after lugging the bag all the way back home.

The iPhone is a piece of…

The iPhone is a piece of shit, and so is your face

Maddox’s write-up comparing the iPhone to the Nokia E70.  He does make some pretty good (and amusing) points.

Excerpt:

First of all, the E70 has a full keyboard, not some shitty stripped down, tap-and-pray smudgy piece of shit. Nokia uses a technology that’s even more advanced than the iPhone’s tap screen, allowing you to actually feel the keys you press as you’re pressing them! The technology is called “tactile response,” and it allows you to do things like dial a phone number without staring at your screen like a shit-chucking ape. In fact, every other cellphone ever made has this technology, sometimes called “buttons.”

Pope Benedict XVI = Darth Sidious

Kazim has the photos to prove it.

No wonder a cloak of darkness falls around us.

Sub-sales of private homes hit 10 year high

From July 14, 2007 Straits Times

“Consultants say numbers are surprising, but they are not worried about Govt intervention yet

By Fiona Chan, Property Reporter

THEY have not even been built yet, but apartments at popular new projects like The Sail @ Marina Bay are changing hands at a rate not seen in almost a decade.

Sales of these uncompleted homes, known in the industry as sub-sales, almost doubled to 1,184 between April and last month for private non-landed homes, according to new figures released by property firm Savills Singapore yesterday.

Such transactions comprised 13.9 per cent of all private home sales in the June quarter – up from 6.3 per cent in the first three months of this year and the highest level in almost 10 years.

Sub-sales are often used to measure speculative activity in the private home market and as such are closely watched – now more than ever, as the Government tries to gauge how far it should go to calm the red-hot property market.

The latest figures show that more buyers are quickly reselling recently-bought homes, adding to the growing property frenzy.

But while the numbers are rising fast, property consultants are not too concerned yet.

‘It’s surprising that sub-sales have doubled in three months, but they still haven’t reached the same levels as in 1996, which triggered government intervention,’ said Mr Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank.

At the height of the property boom in 1996, sub-sales reached 28.4 per cent of all home sales.

But Mr Mak warned: ‘If it keeps going at this rate, the authorities may step in.’

At projects such as the uncompleted Sail, sub-sales have been roaring along. There were 61 Sail units resold three times each in the last two years, according to investment bank JP Morgan.

Six more units changed hands four times, and one unit found new buyers five times.

Most of these sellers made big bucks, thanks to escalating prices – some units have tripled in price since their 2004 launch.

One buyer paid $750,000 for a unit in early 2005 and resold it for $1.8 million recently, said Savills.

But not all sub-sales turn profits.

At Icon in Tanjong Pagar, one seller made more than $314,000 in three months, while another resold his unit at a $348,000 loss after two months.

Savills, whose estimates were taken from the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s caveat database ahead of official Government figures due on July 27, pointed out that more sub-sales do not necessarily imply more speculation.

‘These sellers may not have bought their units with the intention to speculate,’ said Mr Ku Swee Yong, Savills’ director of marketing and business development.

‘But prices have risen so quickly that they are tempted to cash in.’

Indeed, projects in the prime districts – where home prices have shot up the fastest – made up the bulk of the sub-sales in April to June, said Savills.

More than half the sub-sales in the period took place in Districts 1 to 4 and 9 to 11, which cover Orchard, River Valley, Bukit Timah, Newton, Shenton Way, Marina Bay and Tanjong Pagar.

Sub-sales accounted for about one in five of all home sales in these areas. But some districts saw higher figures of up to 80 per cent.

In District 2, where Icon is located, four out of every five sales were sub-sales. In District 1, where The Sail is, the figure was 64 per cent.

The proportion of sub-sales was a lower 25 per cent in District 9 and only 11 per cent in District 10.

The Sail and Icon topped the sub-sale list in the quarter, with 81 and 71 deals, respectively. Sky@Eleven in Thomson Road was third with 51, while City Square Residences and Citylights in the Jalan Besar area saw 40 deals each.

With most of these projects due to be completed soon, Mr Ku added that the spike in sub-sales could backed by genuine buying demand from displaced collective sale sellers.

This may be a balm to the Government, which has periodically referred to low levels of sub-sales as a sign that rising property prices are fuelled by genuine home demand.

Last year, there were just 989 sub-sale deals, accounting for a mere 4.1 per cent of total private home sales.

fiochan@sph.com.sg