Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Semiconductor sector showing sign of turnaround. Which stock to pick?

Year 2012 has been a challenging year for semiconductor industry, with Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) Book-to-Bill ratio sunk below 1.00 and bottomed at the 3rd quarter.

The SEMI Book-to-Bill Report provides a first look at the book-to-bill ratio for North American Headquartered Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturers. The 3-month average global bookings and billings are a strong indicator for trends in the worldwide semiconductor industry. A book-to-bill ratio above 1.00 indicates strong demand, while a ratio below 1.00 implies weaker demand.

The chart above shows the SEMI book-to-bill ratio has been continuously improved for 8 months, and managed to stay above 1.00 since January 2013. It is predicted that this year will be much better for semiconductor sector than 2012.

Currently there are 6 public companies in this sector listed in Bursa Malaysia which have a market capital of above RM100 million. They are Globetronics Technology Bhd (GTRONIC, 7022), GUH Holdings Bhd (GUH, 3247), Inari Bhd (INARI, 0166), D&O Green Technologies Bhd (D&O, 7204), Malaysian Pacific Industries (MPI, 3867) and UNISEM (M) Bhd (UNISEM, 5005).

Let's see how they are performing over the last 6 quarters.

The big players MPI and UNISEM are not doing well, with lost-making quarter results. The 3rd biggest player GTRONIC is doing pretty well, and reported the highest net profit among 6 of them for the last 2 quarters.

Among the smaller players, D&O is not doing well, GUH and INARI are doing well.

The 3 counters that didn't make any lost during the past 6 quarters are GTRONIC, GUH and INARI.

Digging into more detail, GTRONIC and GUH are the winners for having much stronger financial position than INARI.

Note that GUH has diversified into other non-semiconductor related businesses, including property development, electrical trading, oil palm plantation, water/waste water and power generation.

The chart below is extracted from GUH FY2012 Annual Report. It seems that GUH does not show a growth pattern in profit making over the last 5 years.

As a result, we can see that the stock price for GUH is also side-lining.

Meanwhile, GTRONIC has also ventured into several new businesses within the industry. Currently, their business is running on 4 key drivers:
  • Integrated circuits
  • Timing and quartz crystal devices
  • LED components
  • Sensor manufacturing
In FY2012, they have spent RM37.7million on CAPEX, including RM30million strategic investments in sensors products for the smart phones and tablets markets.

Their existing sensor products are single-port sensors, i.e. power management devices that ensure power efficiency in smartphones and tablets. They are co-developing with their clients a new generation of multi-port proximity sensors that support multiple functions, which are expected to materialize by 4Q13 or 1Q14.
Their LED components are mainly found in automotive applications, general lighting and household electrical applications. The LED business has been challenging as more and more players are jumping into the bandwagon, squeezing out the profit margin. To counter this competition, GTRONIC keeps moving on with latest technology and innovation.

They now using innovative US LED technology to produce HB LED modules with single bin or single group of white light that could be fully utilised in the general lighting market. They are also working with a multi-national corporation to produce multi-colour programmable LEDs for the stage and display lighting markets in Europe. They are also venturing into the LED components for smartphones and tablets.

GTRONIC has a pretty solid financial track record. The table below is extracted from their FY2012 Annual Report. They show continuous growth in profit making since 2009.

As a result, the stock price of GTRONIC also steadily growing, and hit 100% gain in 2 years time.

Between GTRONIC and GUH, GTRONIC also has the upper hand in dividend yield. Its DY is even higher than most of the REIT counters listed in Bursa Malaysia. They mentioned in their FY2012 Annual Report that they are among the top 50 dividend yielding stocks in Bursa Malaysia.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for sharing of point of view only. It is not an advice or recommendation to buy or sell any of the mentioned stock counters. You should do your own homework before trading in Bursa Malaysia.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A visit to Farm In The City (FITC) @ Seri Kembangan

Last weekend, my family visited a themed petting zoo called Farm In The City (FITC, 城の农场) located at Seri Kembangan.

This petting zoo was just opened in 2012, and has been gaining publicity with its family-friendly attractions. I think one of its main objective is to let urban children in Klang Valley to have a place to experience kampong-style nature. You can find quite a lot of bloggers already shared their visit and photos to FITC.

The location of FITC is near Giant Seri Kembangan and Pasar Borong Seri Kembangan. It is nearby the LDP highway and beside it is a new business area with newly developed shoplots (still under final stage of construction), making it more prominent with its name.

We took a family package at the price of RM99 for entrance of 2 adults and 2 children. The package includes the entrance wristbands for the day, 2 packs of soya milk, 2 bottles of vitagen, a calendar, 2 certificates of visit for the children, and a RM10 food voucher redeemable at the restaurant near its entrance (same day, on family set meals only).

We also bought 2 tickets for pony ride (RM5 each). Pony ride is for children only, and the ride is only for one small circle (less than 2 minutes). You can take photo while the kid is on the ride.

FITC has a number of animals which we can have close encounter with them, including some exotic animals such as big land tortoises, river turtles, small crocodiles, etc. Animal foods are provided without additional charge for us to feed some of the animals, including rabbits, horses, fishes, tortoises, birds, goats, deers, etc. Children can also experience kampong-style small fish catching activity with net and small bucket outside the rabbit feeding area. There are 2 ponds at its center with fishes, ducks, gooses, swans and other water habitats.

There is also a small little farm with some crops, a well, a cow and a dog.

Our visit in FITC took around 3 hours. It is a fun and joyful half-day family activity.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Switched my Astro package to the new RM75 Wah Package (Value Pack 3)

Astro has just launched 3 Value Pack packages, all with monthly subscription fee of RM75 (+6% service tax) respectively.


  • Value Pack 1 (Nilai Pack) = Family + Mustika + Indo Pek + Tayangan Hebat + HD Service
  • Value Pack 2 (Namma Pack) = Family + Maharaja + Chakravarthy + Thangathirai + HD Service
  • Value Pack 3 (Wah Pack 哗!配套) = Family + New Emperor + HD Service
The comparison of various Astro Chinese packages and their respective package price is as below:

It is obvious that the new Wah Package is the cheapest among the Chinese packages available. Compared with Super Pack 3 which is more than double its price, the Wah Package does not include Astro On Demand and 4 not so popular Chinese channels. It is value for money.

If you also want to switch to this new Wah Package, you can go to Channel 200 of your Astro and follow the instruction on the screen. You can also call their customer service to do the switch.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Garmin releases MalFreeMaps 2013.10. Now able to show upcoming highway exit junctions info.

Garmin has made available MalFreeMaps (MFM) NT 2013.10 map update now.

You will be excited to find out that this version of MalFreeMaps NT 2013.10 is able to show the upcoming highway exit junctions info.


The upcoming exit junctions info in Garmin's highway mode is a standard feature of the GPS, and you should have seen it in the NAVTEQ City Navigator map or MalSingMaps released by Garmin. However, this feature was not available in previous version of MalFreeMaps.

Thanks to the great work of the MalFreeMaps community and Garmin engineers, now this feature is also made available to MalFreeMaps.

One other lacking feature in MalFreeMaps is Lane Assist. The MalFreeMaps community is currently working hard on it, and you can also contribute to the Lane Assist of MalFreeMaps development as well. Click here to find out how you can assist in developing MapFreeMaps Land Assist.

Click here to download the installation file of MalFreeMaps 2013.10 from Garmin server. Besides, the new MalSingMaps 2013.10 is also released. You can also download it at the same place.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

How to choose a good USB data and charging cable for your mobile phone

Most of us will have a few USB data and charging cables for our mobile phone, i.e. one at home, one in office, one carrying together with our laptop, etc.

Do you encounter the problem of slow charging, or worst still, unable to charge with the additional USB cable that you bought? Perhaps you can find the solution after reading this.

First of all, although most of the USB cables look alike from their external appearance, they might be different inside the cable, and probably that is the ready why certain USB cable unable to charge your mobile phone, certain can charge but at a very slow rate, certain just work as fine as the original USB cable that come with your phone, and certain even can charge faster than the original cable.

There are 5 wires inside the USB 1 and USB 2 cables, and there are more inside USB 3.0 cable. Since most of the mobile phones nowadays are using USB 2.0 connector, so USB 3.0 is out of our topic here.

The 5 wires are:
  • 2x 28 AWG data lines
  • 2x 20-28 AWG power conductors
  • 1x drain wire
and those 5 wires are connected to the 5 pins in your micro-USB connector.

In fact, there are two kinds of USB cable: fully-rated and sub-channel. The main difference between them is that fully-rated cable can be used for typical peripherals operating at the rate of 480 Mbps (high speed) signalling, while the sub-channel one at the rate of 1.5 Mbps (standard speed) signalling. The construction inside the cable fully-rated and sub-channel cable is different.

As you can see from the diagram above, the fully-rated USB cable is shielded by braid and aluminium foil.

You can probably see some printed codes on the good quality USB cable, including something like this: "28AWG/2C and 24AWG/2C" or "28AWG/1P + 24AWG/2C".

The first code is normally the specification of the data signal pair, which is normally 28AWG. "2C" means 2 conductors, and "1P" or "1Pr" means 1 pair. "2C" and "1P" are basically the same.

The important part is the second code, which is the specification of the power distribution pair. The minimum requirement is 28AWG, and the lower the AWG number the better. This is because lower AWG wire is thinker, and therefore the electrical resistant is lower.

Therefore, charging with a "28AWG/1P + 28AWG/2C" USB cable is normally slower than a "28AWG/1P + 24AWG/2C" cable.

Certain USB cable comes with a ferrite bead at one end, which function is to filter high frequency noise to improve signal transfer.

As a conclusion, when you buy additional USB cable to charge your mobile phone, you should look for:
  • USB 2.0 support
  • High speed 480 Mbps data transfer rate
  • The packaging mentions it is a "charging" cable and not only a "data" cable
  • Power conductors of 24AWG/2C or better (for faster charging speed)
  • (optionally) the ferrite bead
Remember not to only look for the information on the packaging of the cable. Sometimes you will find the specification printed on the cable is different from that mentioned on the packaging.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.