Three Market-Beating Shares That Are Still Being Led By Their Founders

There are likely many people who would be inspired by rags-to-riches stories of successful entrepreneurs – the romanticism embedded in such stories is just too good to ignore. These entrepreneurs would also often end up as aspirational role models.

However, there’s another angle to these entrepreneurs that – based on my anecdotal experience – often slip past the notice of many Singaporeans: The stock market in Singapore (and elsewhere around the world) can often present a great opportunity for anyone to be ‘silent partners’ of successful entrepreneurs and business people in their quest to build great businesses and generate wealth along the way.

In light of that, here’s a quick highlight of three market-beating publicly-listed companies whose founders are still very much involved with the evolution of the company.

1. Breadtalk Group (SGX: 5DA)

The company behind the ubiquitous Breadtalk bakery that sells unique buns and pastries was founded in 2000 by Geroge Quek. Today, Breadtalk has established food & beverage brands like Din Tai Fung and Food Republic under its banner as well. All told, the company now has 836 food & beverage outlets located mainly in Asia with a focus on China and Singapore.

Quek controls around 53% of the company (inclusive of his wife Katherine Lee Lih Heng’s stake in Breadtalk) and currently assumes the role of Chairman within the company.

Over the past decade since the end of March 2004, Breadtalk’s shares have gained some 413% in price from S$0.24 per share to S$1.24 while the overall market, as represented by the Straits Times Index (SGX: ^STI), has only been sitting on a 72% return at its current level of 3,191 points.

Breadtalk’s share price returns were accompanied by some strong corporate growth as well as sales jumped from S$41 million in 2003 to S$536.6 million in 2013 while profits spiked from S$0.7 million to S$13.1 million. The company has no plans to rest on its laurels either: It has its sights set on having S$1 billion in sales by 2016 and 2,000 F&B outlets by 2018.

2. Raffles Medical Group (SGX: R01)

It’s been some 36 years since Raffles Medical Group was founded as a two-clinic operation in Singapore in 1976. Today, the company has a network of 78 multi-disciplinary clinics across Singapore and a total of four medical centres in Hong Kong and Shanghai. In addition, the company also runs its flagship healthcare facility, the tertiary Raffles Hospital, located at North Bridge Road in Singapore.

Helmed by its co-founder Dr. Loo Choon Yong in his current position as Executive Chairman (a position held since 1997), Raffles Medical Group has had stellar results over the past decade. As revenue increased by more than three-fold from S$99.1 million in 2003 to S$341 million in 2013, profits grew at an even faster pace, rocketing from S$8.1 million to S$84.9 million in the same period.

Along the way, such corporate performance could hardly be ignored by the market and Raffles Medical Group’s share price has increased by 731% from a split-adjusted S$0.39 a share in 31 March 2004 to S$3.21 currently. As mentioned earlier, the Straits Times Index’s price gains in that similar timeframe has been a relatively paltry 72%.

In a bid to fuel future growth, Raffles Medical Group had recently sought to expand the premises of Raffles Hospital in addition to redeveloping a property at Holland Village in Singapore for conversion into a retail mall with space dedicated for healthcare purposes. The company is also in discussions for a venture into China that will see it establishing one hospital each in Shanghai and Shenzhen, if successful.

3. Neo Group (SGX: 5UJ)

Neo Kah Kiat wasn’t born with a silver spoon but that did not stop him from establishing Neo Group in 1992; till date, Neo remains the company’s leader in his role of Chairman and CEO with the company now a successful food caterer and food & beverage retail outlet operator.

At last count, Neo Group recorded S$52.4 million in annual turnover and S$6.4 million in profit for its financial year ended 31 Jan 2014 (FY 2014). That’s some strong growth, considering that Neo Group brought in only S$22.7 million in sales and S$2.2 million in profits for FY 2010.

With its floatation back in July 2012 at a price of S$0.30 per share, Neo Group has been a solid market-beater with its shares jumping some 203% to its current price of S$0.91. In contrast, the Straits Times Index has only moved up by 6.7% to 3,191 points in the same period.

Currently, the company’s the “largest catering group with leading market share” in Singapore with three brands: Neo Garden Catering; Orange Clove Catering and; Deli Hub Catering. These brands aim to serve different segments of the catering market, from high-end buffets for corporate events to “value-for-money” buffets.  In addition, it has 23 Umisushi outlets in total in Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia, serving low-cost Japanese fare.

Neo Group has a target to hit 30 retail outlets by 2016 and has recently established its fourth catering brand, Best Catering, to meet the demands of the mass market with “economical” buffets.

Foolish Bottom Line

George Quek, Dr. Loo Chon Yong, and Neo Kah Kiat are just three examples of many successful entrepreneurs who are still running publicly-listed companies that they’ve founded.

If you ever come across other admirable entrepreneurs who’ve built great businesses, check out the stock market. For all you know, there might be an opportunity for you in the stock market, as a retail investor, to tap onto the entrepreneurial zeal and skill of successful business founders as they continue to lead their companies onto greater heights.

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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 writer Chong Ser Jing owns shares of Raffles Medical Group.