Make money 'without actual work'

PHOTO: Make money 'without actual work'

SINGAPORE - Some people avoid checking the stock market every day to save themselves from minor heart attacks while others, like student Yeo Sui Chuan, monitor it closely.

"People check Facebook; I check the stock market. It's one of the things you do every day... It's enjoyable," says the first-year business administration student at the National University of Singapore.

Mr Yeo, 22, monitors the market two to three times a day but that's an improvement on his early days: When Mr Yeo made his first trade, he called up stock prices "obsessively".

"I checked it a few times in an hour and that lasted for a few weeks."

He had spent a year studying the market and learning about investing before finally taking the plunge in 2010 and buying four lots of ComfortDelGro.

It involved nearly $6,000 of his savings so he was eager to know whether he had made the right choice.

"I have friends who are into technical analysis so they have to pay close attention to the market. I don't fancy that kind of lifestyle... Mine is more 'chill'.

"If I don't have time, I don't check the market. During the school holidays, I can go for a few days without checking it. It doesn't bother me." If Mr Yeo makes it sound easy, it is because he is not your typical college student.

He already boasts a portfolio of five stocks - one he has built up on his own, acquiring enough knowledge and interest to speak at length about his investing style in the process.

It is rather impressive for someone who started investing around two years ago.

Overhearing his father talk about the stock market with his friends and how much money he made piqued his curiosity.

"I found it quite amazing that you can make money by just buying and selling shares, and not doing actual work. I am interested in the idea of earning money this way," says Mr Yeo.

"So, I read up on investing and Warren Buffett in Wikipedia, and went to the books that he recommended."

It helped that he had worked part-time during school holidays and hates shopping. By 19, he had accumulated about $20,000 in his kitty, which came in handy when he entered the market.

Before making his first trade, he had made a sell call and found that he was right.

His father, a project manager, had helped him buy seven lots of Genting shares at about 70 cents a share when he was 15.

But it was Mr Yeo who decided to sell them in mid-2010 at about $2 after doing his own research.

When it came time to part with his own savings, he decided that he wanted to keep about 25 per cent of his money in cash, leaving him $15,000 to play with.

As he did not want to put all his eggs in one basket, he initially bought four lots of ComfortDelGro and then five of Mapletree Industrial Trust.

"I saw that Comfort's valuation was cheaper than SMRT's and was comforted by that," he says.

"Transport is very personal. I felt that I know it as I take public transport. It also tends to be more stable. Plus it is a blue chip."

Mr Yeo is still holding his ComfortDelGro shares as the fundamentals of the company are unchanged. "I follow Warren Buffett and do not look at the market."

As a member of the NUS investment society, he meets like-minded peers each week to discuss trading strategies and their purchases and to swop ideas.

Mr Yeo reviews his portfolio quarterly and reads books on investing, his favourite being Security Analysis.

When picking stocks, he looks for companies with large asset holdings and strong cash flow. He also watches out for their interest expense to see if they can continue paying their debts.

His best stock has been Elite KSB Holdings, which he sold for a profit of close to 50 per cent after holding it for a few months. He picked it after finding out that it was selling its core meat-processing business. He then checked its annual report and worked out a value that was substantially higher than its price then.

That did not call for a celebration, though. "To me, money is like a game. I don't have an emotional attachment to it. It's just a medium. It's like doing well in a test."

Still, he does have plans for it.

"Sometimes, I think about the money that I make, about what I am going to do with the money. Otherwise, it feels a bit pointless making the money."

"My dream is to own a good-class bungalow. I have a relative who lives in a bungalow with a pool, and I think it would be nice to have that kind of lifestyle," says Mr Yeo, who lives with his parents in a semi-detached house.

"If I achieve that, I would look at other things. I want to run a charity foundation and not just donate money.

"It helps to have different goals. If not, you will keep chasing money and never be happy."

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