We are only a third of the way through 2013 and the Straits Times Index (SGX: ^STI) is already up some 6%. We shouldn’t be too surprised, though.
Thanks to US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and a band of merry central bankers, developed economies have printed so much money that it would be more of a surprise if asset prices hadn’t risen. While the benchmark index has done well, some Singapore blue chips have done even better by soundly beating the market. Here are three of the best performers in the Straits Times index since 1 January 2013.
Thai Beverage Public Company (SGX: Y92)
The once little-known beer maker launched itself onto the world stage following a major tussle to gain control of food, brewer and property company Fraser & Neave (F&N). Its shares are up 53% this year. Thai Beverage wrong-footed just about everyone in the market who thought that it was simply out to gain control of the drinks and food conglomerate’s prized Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) assets. As it turned out Thai Bev was onto a win-win whatever the outcome. Had it bought F&N on the cheap it could have added Tiger beer to its portfolio of brands. But instead it agreed to sell its stake in APB to Heineken and in return gained control of F&N’s distribution network and property assets. The question now is where next for Thai Bev.
StarHub (SGX: CC3)
Shares in StarHub are up some 25% this year as investors look for above-average yields in a low interest rate environment. Since its listing on the Singapore market in 2004, StarHub has consistently rewarded shareholders with generous payout. The 9 cents dividend in 2005 rose to 20 cents last year, which equates to a 12% increase every year for the last seven years. Interestingly, the payout ratio – the percentage of earnings paid out as dividends – has increased from 60% to around 100%. In other words StarHub is paying out almost all of its profits to shareholders, which is jaw-droppingly generous.
Singapore Telecommunications (SGX: Z74)
They say that elephants don’t gallop but Singapore’s biggest company, SingTel, has shown many Straits Times index constituents a clear pair of heels this year. The performance of the shares since 1 January can best be described as steady. However, they have recently kicked into overdrive. They are up 19% this year. This might have something to do with a report that the telecom giant has the potential to pay a special dividend. The company’s payout ratio has, thus far, been a conservative 60%, which is lower than rivals StarHub and M1 (SGX: B2F). So, there might be room for the SingTel to reward shareholders, especially the one million or so Singaporeans who bought shares in the 1993 flotation.
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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore Director David Kuo doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.