Thursday, May 19, 2005

Undervalued stocks in SET and superstitious Thai

Now is the period of the year when holders of some good quality Thai stocks get their dividends. For the Stock Exchange of Thailand, there are hundreds of those dividend paying stocks, which served as good earning alternative than saving money in a bank account with the interest rate as low as 0.75 %, much lower than the annual inflation rate.

In the past 2 yr, however, to the dismay of thousands of long-term investors in Thailand, the SET has not performed well. For me, I have lost "book value" of my stock investment, much more than the divendend gain from them (and the dividend is also taxable). Were I in need of cash and need to dump those, I would really lose money. Foreigners might not know that a good proportion (I don't want to say most) of Thai people are superstitious. Few months ago, the Secretary of the Cabinet even came out to criticize a number of astrologers who predicted on this year's horoscope for the country. He later had a hot debate on TV with the Thai Astrology Association chairman about the guy's "prediction" on the country's economic outlook for this year.

Come to think of it, perhaps most of the Thai investors believe the "forecast" of the country's horoscope, that this year (2005) is going to be a bad year for stocks, so they keep their distance and withdrew money from the stock market. The result is the low market mood, or the bearish market : a self-fulfiling prophecy indeed. This leave a small investor like me helpless : I can not do anything except to comfort myself that at least I am a proud stockholder and fractional owner of some good Thai companies. Sigh !

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