A Christmas Wish-List

Dear Santa….

I know you get lots of letters around this time of the year. But they can get lost in the post, sometimes. It shouldn’t happen, but it does.

There are a few from shareholders in Singapore, which I think are quite important.

To make sure that you have got them safely, I have taken the liberty to condense their collective thoughts and requests into a quick message.

Perhaps you can give it the once over, when you are less busy. There’s no rush – we Foolish investors are patient people.

Long-suffering shareholders in banks would like you to make it possible for a couple or three interest-rate rises next year. Singapore banks have been under a cloud, ever since former Fed chief, Ben Bernanke, slashed interest rates to near zero.

How on earth are the likes of DBS Group (SGX: D05), OCBC (SGX: O39) and UOB (SGX: U11) supposed to make a crust, when the difference between the interest rates they charge borrowers and the interest rate they pay savers is thinner than a sheet of Christmas wrapping paper?

Loyal shareholders in telecom companies can’t figure out why Singapore needs four telecom operators. After all, mobile penetration in Singapore is already more than 100%. It’s true – some people here in Singapore have more than one mobile phone.

Right now, Singtel (SGX: Z74) investors are, perhaps, some of the least worried. But those with a dollar or two in StarHub (SGX: CC3) and M1 (SGX: B2F) would like to know if their dividends are safe.

Those with investments in ComfortDelGro (SGX: C52) are concerned by the advent of private car-hailing services such as Uber. They would like to be assured that Singapore’s ubiquitous blue and yellow liveried taxis will be allowed to compete on a level playing field.

Of course, they are not excessively worried, since ComfortDelGro earns as much abroad as it does in its home market.

Quite a few people in Singapore have money in Real Estate Investment Trusts. These include CapitaLand Commercial Trust (SGX: C61U) and Suntec REIT (SGX: T82U). These have been quite steady revenue generators.

Can you please assure them that their dividends are safe, given that, in general, these companies have not borrowed excessively to fund their businesses? They can’t anyway, given the cap on the amount of money they can borrow.

Some people with money in the oil and gas sector are noticeably concerned. And who can blame them. Ever since Saudi Arabia stepped up oil production in the face of slowing global demand, oil prices have tumbled.

But can you please let them know that companies such as Keppel Corporation (SGXL BN4) and Sembcorp Marine (SGX: S51) operate in cyclical industries. As such, they will enjoy both good times and terrible moments. That is the nature of cycles.

And finally, I am sure you will have your hands full keeping an eye on the next President of the United States of America. We don’t yet know if he will he be naughty or nice. But we do know there could be lots of volatility in the market.

Right now, investors are hoping that a pro-business, pro-trade Donald Trump will take sit behind the big desk in the Oval Office. I think they are right. Do you?

Have great Christmas everyone from all of us here at Motley Fool Singapore!

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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. Motley Fool Singapore has recommended United Overseas Bank.