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An Important Reminder for Investors

What a difference 8 months can make. Back in 23 July 2013, I had written about Yoma Strategic (SGX: Z59) in an article titled An Easy Reference for Yoma Strategic’s Future Share Price. This is a short snippet:

[The company] has been a high-flyer in the local share market. Over the past 12 months, it has risen by 141%, soundly trumping the Straits Times Index’s (SGX: ^STI) relatively anaemic 7.7% return.”

At that time, the company was worth S$0.915 a share with the Straits Times Index at 3,254 points. Today, it’s some 23% lower at a price of S$0.70 while the index has inched up ever so slightly to its current level of 3,258 points.

Yoma Strategic, back then, was already betting heavily on Myanmar’s growth with the bulk of its business based in the country’s real estate, agriculture, and automobile sectors. The Myanmar story was a seductive one as the country had then recently started opening up its doors to attract foreign investment. And like my colleague David Kuo mentioned, Myanmar has some tremendous room for growth given how its economy is roughly one-twentieth the size of South Korea’s despite the two nations having the same population (roughly 50 million).

Given such a backdrop, shares of Yoma Strategic were elevated to exuberant levels for those chasing growth. The company carried a PE ratio of 63 with the Straits Times Index being valued at only around 13 times earnings. Even though it was fun while the ride lasted as investors pushed Yoma Strategic’s price and valuations upwards, the high valuation actually signified sky-high expectations by the market and was something that could end up hurting investors who bought near the peak the price of S$0.915 should the company’s corporate growth fall short.

Turns out, even as earnings at the company had increased by 13.5% from S$14.4 million back then to S$16.4 million currently, investors at Yoma Strategic are still sitting on a rather painful 23% loss – the company’s decent growth rate hadn’t been enough to satisfy the appetite of the market.

It’s certainly still early innings for both Myanmar and Yoma Strategic and the company might yet turn out to be a huge winner over the long-term even for those who bought shares at the peak around S$0.915 or higher. But, there are plenty of unknowns currently with one of the biggest risks being that Myanmar’s path to riches is treacherous at best.

Over the past eight months, we’ve already gotten a glimpse of what it might be like for a richly-valued share to hand in relatively-disappointing results. At Yoma Strategic’s current price of S$0.70, it’s still selling for 50 times its trailing earnings. So, the market’s still feeling pretty rosy about the company’s future. Investors wanting to do well with the company’s shares would need to be confident about not just Myanmar’s growth, but Yoma Strategic’s place in the country as well.

More importantly, Yoma Strategic’s experience thus far is a reminder to investors that richly valued shares can be a strong recipe for losses if those sky-high expectations by the market are never met.

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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 doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.