Dairy Compounders Ignore Macro Noises: Bega Cheese +130%, PT Ultrajaya Milk +230% YTD (Bamboo Innovator Insight)

The following article is extracted from the Bamboo Innovator Insight weekly column blog related to the context and thought leadership behind the stock idea generation process of Asian wide-moat businesses that are featured in the monthly entitled The Moat Report Asia. Fellow value investors get to go behind the scene to learn thought-provoking timely insights on key macro and industry trends in Asia, as well as benefit from the occasional discussion of potential red flags, misgovernance or fraud-detection trails ahead of time to enhance the critical-thinking skill about the myriad pitfalls of investing in Asia at the microstructure- and firm-level.

The weekly Bamboo Innovator Insight series brings to you:

Cheese

Dear Friends and All,

Dairy Compounders Ignore Macro QE Noises: Bega Cheese +130%, PT Ultrajaya Milk +230% YTD

At the Singapore Cricket Club last Thursday, the Bamboo Innovator had lunch with one of our subscribers, Mr Hemant Amin, a highly accomplished and astute Indian value investor who runs a global industrial raw material procurement house and his own multi-million family office with concentrated bets in stocks such as Infosys which delivered over 60 times in handsome returns. Hemant also heads a value investor group called BRKets (www.brkets.com) with 11 other members. The name BRKets (pronounced as ‘brickets’) is a fusion of Berkshire Hathaway’s ticker code BRK and the Cricket Club where they meet. 6 of the BRKets members joined us for an interesting lunch discussion on value investing in Asia where we share our investment outlook, wide-moat business model analysis and stock ideas.

When Hemant ordered cheese platter for his desert, it triggered me to think about the inspiring stories of another outstanding Indian entrepreneur Devendra Shah and Barry Irvin of Bega Cheese. Shah turned the smallish Pune-based Parag Milk Foods into a high value dairy powerhouse with his bold decision in early 2008 to invest in the untapped opportunity in processed cheese in India, doubling by end 2008 the entire country’s cheese-making capacity from 40 tonnes to 80 tonnes. Interestingly, while the world is fixated on the QE tapering macro challenges, Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory (ASX: WCB AU, MV A$467m) is up 90% in less than three months since Sept. This was despite WCB posting its lowest profit since 2009 with FY13 (year end Jun) net profit down over 50% as it was the subject of a three-way bidding war by Canadian giant Saputo (TSX: SAP, MV C$9.6bn), Japan’s Kirin, and Bega Cheese (ASX: BGA AU, MV A$704m). Bega is a wide-moat company in our Bamboo Innovator Index since its listing in Aug 2011 with a market value of A$240m. NZ dairy giant Fonterra (FCG NZ, MV NZ$10.9bn), after its own contamination scare in Aug, joined in the industry consolidation battle by acquiring a 6% stake in Bega on Nov 2, adding on to Bega’s spectacular share price returns of 130% year-to-date. Ongoing competition in the raw milk market with supply affected by droughts in NZ and Australia and unseasonably cold weather conditions in Europe has kept upward pressure in prices paid to milk suppliers; the surge in the GDT (global dairy trade) price index from 800 to over 1,400 in the last year-and-a-half has hurt the profitability of processor such as WCB. Yet, despite both WCB and Bega being cheese processor companies, Bega has been able to achieve FY13 EBITDA and net profit growth of 13% and 25% respectively as compared to the FY13 decline of 28% and 51% for WCB. Meanwhile, the share price performance of dairy giants Saputo and Fonterra are flat YTD.

So why are Parag and Bega outperforming Bamboo Innovators in a cyclical commodity industry, especially when they are supposedly price-taking minnows in the midst of oligopolistic giants Fonterra, Murray Goulburn, Saputo, Amul (India), Royal Friesland Campina, Arla etc? What are the lessons for value investors when investing in companies related to the volatile commodities cycle? I admit that I was also surprised by the sharp jump in share price of well-managed boring consumer food companies such as Bega. But it once again proves the wisdom of one of our subscribers, Mr K, an intelligent value investor who has nearly doubled his returns from his investment since Mar this year in DKSH Malaysia (DKSH MK) after it was highlighted as a Bamboo Innovator; his thoughtful comments:

“I’d love money making ideas, but I also very excited about education, and understanding/ navigating Asian markets. If I can avoid stupid (frauds) mistakes, I think the upside will work out.”

By avoiding the “set-up” fraudulent companies which are promoted with that alluring sexy growth theme by a whole gamut of syndicates, insiders and brokers/dealmakers, and by staying long-term in undervalued wide-moat businesses – even if they are boring like cheese! – the short-term returns may be unexciting or even frustrating but the longer-term upside will eventually work out for the value investor.

How did Barry Irvin grow Bega Cheese from a single-site regional dairy processor in southern New South Wales (NSW) town of Bega, with 80 employees and selling only into the domestic market, to its position today as the southern hemisphere’s largest cheese-packing and processing business, with sales nudging to over A$1 billion a year, exporting to more than 40 countries and employing over 1,600 people? What caught the Bamboo Innovator’s attention in Bega before its Aug 2011 listing was an article in May 2011 in Sydney Morning Herald about how Irvin was the parent and caregiver of his autistic child Matthew, now 22. For two decades, the 51-year-old Irvin has juggled the responsibilities of caring for a disabled child, running the family farm and steering the ambitious former dairy co-operative through deregulation, acquisition, a public float..

helpLead-420x0Barry Irvin pictured with his son Matthew.

The role of a caregiver is special: they need to have that intangible quality of inner courage at its “core” to give strength to its “periphery”, much like the empty hollow center of a bamboo in which the nutrients and moisture that would have been exhausted making and maintaining this empty center can be utilized for growth of the periphery bamboo culm/stem. The architecture of the bamboo culm presents a powerful configuration: fibers of greatest strength occur in increasing concentration toward the periphery of the plant. With Irvin helming Bega, it is likely that the company will invest in the intangibles, in people and building long-term relationships..

Also, what are the lessons for value investors from the story of Indonesia’s PT Ultrajaya Milk (+230% YTD), controlled by the family of the late Ahmad Prawirawidjaja who established the business in 1958 from his house in Bandung? What are the 4 key Bamboo Innovator takeaways?

Google Has Designed A Throat Tattoo That Is Also A Lie Detector

Google Has Designed A Throat Tattoo That Is Also A Lie Detector

JIM EDWARDS 58 MINUTES AGO 994 1

Google has filed a patent for an electronic skin tattoo that connects to a mobile device, and can be used as a lie detector. The tattoo isn’t permanent — it’s applied to a sticky substance on the skin. The intent of the device is to allow someone to wear a communications device on their throat, keeping a mobile phone or similar device in their pocket. The tattoo communicates with the device, transmitting conversation. Such a device might make things easier for someone who wants to transmit a conversation but cannot use their hands. Google’s application suggests it might be used by security personnel, perhaps working undercover in noisy environments like sports stadiums or at political demonstrations: Mobile communication devices are often operated in noisy environments. For example, large stadiums, busy streets, restaurants, and emergency situations can be extremely loud and include varying frequencies of acoustic noise. Communication can reasonably be improved and even enhanced with a method and system for reducing the acoustic noise in such environments and contexts. The tattoo has a darker side too, according to the application. It can be hooked up to a lie detector: Optionally, the electronic skin tattoo 200 can further include a galvanic skin response detector to detect skin resistance of a user. It is contemplated that a user that may be nervous or engaging in speaking falsehoods may exhibit different galvanic skin response than a more confident, truth telling individual. It’s not clear from the application why someone might want to operate a lie detector at a remote distance from the person they were testing. But again, undercover operations — in which authorities send in stooges to deal with bad guys — spring to mind. Or perhaps Google envisions a situation in which the person wearing the tattoo doesn’t know they have one? We first saw this on The Register. Here’s a closeup of the Google neck tattoo:

screen_shot_2013-11-11_at_8.33.02_am 2

Why Focusing Too Narrowly in College Could Backfire; Students are told learn the subjects that will best land them a job when they graduate. But that could be the worst thing they could do

Why Focusing Too Narrowly in College Could Backfire

Students are told learn the subjects that will best land them a job when they graduate. But that could be the worst thing they could do.

PETER CAPPELLI

Updated Nov. 10, 2013 4:19 p.m. ET

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A job after graduation. It’s what all parents want for their kids. So, what’s the smartest way to invest tuition dollars to make that happen? The question is more complicated, and more pressing, than ever. The economy is still shaky, and many graduating students are unable to find jobs that pay well, if they can find jobs at all. The result is that parents guiding their children through the college-application process—and college itself—have to be something like venture capitalists. They have to think through the potential returns from different paths, and pick the one that has the best chance of paying off. For many parents and students, the most-lucrative path seems obvious: be practical. The public and private sectors are urging kids to abandon the liberal arts, and study fields where the job market is hot right now. Schools, in turn, are responding with new, specialized courses that promise to teach skills that students will need on the job. A degree in hospital financing? Casino management? Pharmaceutical marketing? Little wonder that business majors outnumber liberal-arts majors in the U.S. by two-to-one, and the trend is for even more focused programs targeted to niches in the labor market.

Read more of this post

35 Years After Inventing The CD, Philips Is Doing Everything Right

35 Years After Inventing The CD, Philips Is Doing Everything Right

JAN HENNOPAGENCE FRANCE PRESSE NOV. 10, 2013, 6:02 AM 9,504 7

Back in 1978 in a boardroom near Lake Geneva, a bunch of nervous Philips inventors demonstrated a device that was to revolutionise the entertainment industry for the next three decades. Called the “Pinkeltje” after a small Dutch gnome in a children’s story, the device performed flawlessly — and so the world’s first Compact Disc (CD) player was born. Thirty-five years later the Netherlands’ Philips, once one of Europe’s best-known brands for radios and televisions, is ditching the consumer electronics business that used to be its bread and butter, and is thriving. The Philips story is a business case of how a leading global industrial group, with leading technology, went through several rocky years of restructuring, and found a successful strategy to re-invent itself in time. Read more of this post

Should a non-technical founder hedge against failure?

Should a non-technical founder hedge against failure?

BY HAYDEN WILLIAMS 
ON NOVEMBER 10, 2013

Recently I grabbed coffee with a founder whose startup is in a similar stage to mine. I reached out to him after he signed up for our networking platform. Because he had also started his career in finance I was interested to speak with him. We shared the challenges we were dealing with, our product roadmap and plans to monetize our products. Towards the end of our conversation, we veered into the personal dilemmas early-stage founders face. He asked me, “What’s your plan if, worst case scenario, Treatings fails? Would you go back to finance, start another company or join an existing startup?” Read more of this post

Why it is very clever to pretend to be stupid; Disarm others, make them forget you are scarily powerful and lull them into liking you

November 10, 2013 1:48 pm

Why it is very clever to pretend to be stupid

By Lucy Kellaway

Disarm others, make them forget you are scarily powerful and lull them into liking you

Last week I had a drink with a woman who has just landed one of the biggest jobs in her industry. Over a couple of grapefruit negronis she told me she had no idea why she had been promoted and that she was not even sure if she wanted the job. In return I told her that I was bumbling along more or less OK, though keeping the show on the road was getting increasingly tricky. Read more of this post

It’s Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary’s biggest PR gaffe – he wants us to like him

It’s Michael O’Leary’s biggest PR gaffe – he wants us to like him

The self-loathing British public respond more to companies that show them disdain than those who suck up to them

David Mitchell

The Observer, Sunday 10 November 2013

As a big fan of Ryanair‘s marketing strategy, I was shocked to hear that it’s being abandoned. The villainous airline is trying to change its image. It’s going to spend money improving its website, it’s slashing charges for not printing your boarding card, it’s even allowing people to reserve seats. As chief executive Michael O’Learyput it: “I want to be loved by my customers as much as I love them… Boy, are we listening and responding.” It was as if JR Ewing was making the case for renewable energy – I was devastated. Read more of this post

B-school remorse: When the degree is just not worth it

B-school remorse: When the degree is just not worth it

November 8, 2013: 12:13 PM ET

It took Marianna Zanetti a full year after graduation before landing a job at exactly the same salary she was earning three years earlier without an MBA.

By John A. Byrne

(Poets&Quants) — Mariana Zanetti had been working as a product manager for Shell (RDSA) in Buenos Aires when her husband got a promotion to a new job in Madrid. One of her colleagues, a Harvard Business School graduate, suggested that the Argentina native go to business school for her MBA while in Spain. She took his advice, enrolling in the one-year MBA program at Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School In Madrid. Zanetti borrowed money from her family to pay for the degree. And when she graduated in 2003, it took her a full year to land a job as a product manager at a Spanish version of Home Depot, at exactly the same salary she was earning three years earlier, without the MBA. Read more of this post

Economics lecturers accused of clinging to pre-crash fallacies; Academic says courses changed little since 2008 and students taught ‘theories now known to be untrue’

Economics lecturers accused of clinging to pre-crash fallacies

Academic says courses changed little since 2008 and students taught ‘theories now known to be untrue’

Phillip Inman, economics correspondent

The Guardian, Sunday 10 November 2013 22.28 GMT

Economics teaching at Britain’s universities has come under fire from a leading academic who accused lecturers of presenting “things that are known to be untrue” to preserve theories that claim to show how the economy works. The Treasury is hosting a conference in London on Monday to discuss the crisis in economics teaching, which critics say has remained largely unchanged since the 2008 financial crash despite the failure of many in the profession to spot the looming credit crunch and worst recession for 100 years. Read more of this post

Big Finance’s hyper-focus on frequency creates a blindspot on magnitude; It doesn’t matter if your forecast is right 99 times if on the 100th time you are not only wrong, but catastrophically wrong

Big Finance’s hyper-focus on frequency creates a blindspot on magnitude

And what can be done to change that

By Shane Parrish | November 7, 2013

My main takeaway from Alan Greenspan’s latest book, The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting: Forecasters (and all those who rely on them) fail to realize that over the long run, even frequently accurate predictions mean little without taking into account the magnitude of relatively infrequent mistakes. Read more of this post

Ancient wisdom and new thinking on integrity … how to avoid financial crises

Ancient wisdom and new thinking on integrity … how to avoid financial crises

An inability to see actions and their consequences in the context of a broader system led to the financial crisis. Being-centred leadership can address this blindness, writes Ram Nidumolu

Ram Nidumolu

Guardian Professional, Monday 11 November 2013 00.07 GMT

The likely $13 bn (£8.9bn) fine imposed on JP Morgan by the US government has created a lot of buzz recently. The company was accused of passing off loans underlying mortgage-backed securities as low risk to one set of investors, while simultaneously betting with other investors that they were highly risky. Many other banks are also likely to be implicated in a system so complex that individual actors could not comprehend the global impacts of their risky actions. As a recent Guardian Sustainable Business article points out, the resulting loss of credibility for banks is so severe that trust has now become a vital but scarce capital for modern banking. Read more of this post

What Israel’s uncrowned king of medical cosmetics is planning next; Serial entrepreneur Shimon Eckhouse has founded close to 20 companies in 20 years. Now he is consolidating his efforts into a medical technology incubator

What Israel’s uncrowned king of medical cosmetics is planning next

Serial entrepreneur Shimon Eckhouse has founded close to 20 companies in 20 years. Now he is consolidating his efforts into a medical technology incubator

By Amir Teig and Inbal Orpaz | Nov. 11, 2013 | 2:48 AM

Looking your best is one of the safest drugs there is, with zero side effects, says Shimon Eckhouse, whose two decades as a serial entrepreneur in the field of medical aesthetics and equipment makes him Israel’s uncrowned king of high-tech beauty. “What can make us feel better than waking up in the morning and being pleased with what we see in the mirror? This is one of the most important things in terms of health. The overall feeling makes us healthier.” Read more of this post

Fiat Capitalism

FIAT CAPITALISM

ARTICLE | 6 NOVEMBER, 2013 04:23 PM | BY DAVID BAIN

John Elkann is on a mission. The fifth-generation owner and manager of one of the biggest industrial groups in the world wants capitalism to change. With his boyish face, soft voice, reserved – even diffident – style he might make an unlikely evangelist, but he is deadly serious. In a nutshell, what he wants to do is to move capitalism’s emphasis away from shareholder value and reduce the role financial markets play in propping up the whole system of shareholder value, or at least the more extreme version of it. It’s a radical vision – especially from a man in his position. Read more of this post

Of chess and men: Why human contests still beat those with computers

November 8, 2013 6:43 pm

Of chess and men

Why human contests still beat those with computers

The world chess championship begins this weekend in the Indian city of Chennai, pitting veteran title-holder Viswanathan Anand against Norwegian wunderkindMagnus Carlsen. Their duel is the most anticipated chess match for a decade, yet it hides an oddity. Neither man is the world’s best player. That title belongs to a computer programme. Read more of this post

Atheist Mega Churches Are Taking Root All Over The World

Atheist Mega Churches Are Taking Root All Over The World

GILLIAN FLACCUSASSOCIATED PRESS
NOV. 10, 2013, 5:14 PM 4,945 47

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Hundreds packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational sermon, a reading and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God. Dozens of gatherings dubbed “atheist mega-churches” by supporters and detractors are springing up around the U.S. after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fueled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke. Read more of this post

Loki Is The Only Good Villain In Marvel Movies—And That’s A Big Problem

Loki Is The Only Good Villain In Marvel Movies—And That’s A Big Problem

KATEY RICHCINEMABLEND
NOV. 10, 2013, 7:19 PM 4,749 5

At San Diego Comic Con this summer, there was no Q&A panel with the cast of Thor: The Dark World. There was only Loki, as Tom Hiddleston took the stage in full costume, demanded that the crowd “Say my name” and earn the kind of screams we associate with rock concerts that devolve into riots. It wasn’t that they were trying to hide the Thor cast or shrug off the Comic Con crowd; it was that no combination of director Alan Taylor, star Chris Hemsworth or new footage could match the electric jolt of Loki on a rhetorical tear.  Read more of this post

Capital Group questions how indices are used; Mismeasurement of performance worries originator of MSCI

November 11, 2013 12:01 am

Capital Group questions how indices are used

By James Mackintosh

Mismeasurement of performance worries originator of MSCI

The rise of the multinational has transformed the corporate landscape in the past half-century. Now, the inventor of the most widely-used global stock market indices thinks the measurement of equity performance needs to change too – and with it the dynamics of investing. Capital Group – which, as Capital International, was the originator of the MSCI index range – is concerned that the standard national, or even regional, benchmarks used by fund managers no longer measure what they set out to measure. This problem has been evident in the FTSE 100 index for a decade or more, as less than a quarter of the revenues of companies in the Footsie come from the UK, and many of their dividends are paid in dollars or euros. Read more of this post

Sobering Up: China Cracks Down on Binge Drinking

November 11, 2013, 5:20 PM

Sobering Up: China Cracks Down on Binge Drinking

China’s culture of binge drinking at official functions has long been accepted as a ritualized part of doing business in the Middle Kingdom, but a backlash may now be brewing. The government over the weekend demoted a provincial official in northeastern Heilongjiang province and suspended his Communist Party membership for a year after state agents in charge of internal discipline accused him of causing the death of a person who died due to excessive drinking after accompanying him to a banquet,state media reported. Neither the official nor the deceased was named in the reports and the Heilongjiang provincial government didn’t respond to a call for comment. Read more of this post

Gold Vault Opens in China as Bullion Goes From West to East

Gold Vault Opens in China as Bullion Goes From West to East

A gold vault that can store 2,000 metric tons, double China’s projected consumption this year, opened in Shanghai this month as owner Malca-Amit Global Ltd. seeks to benefit from rising demand in Asia’s largest economy. The facility is the biggest for the Hong Kong-based company, and it can also store diamonds, jewelry and art, Joshua Rotbart, precious metals general manager, said in an interview. The site could hold bullion worth about $82.7 billion at today’s price, Bloomberg calculations show. China’s total demand may reach 1,000 tons in 2013, the World Gold Council forecasts. Read more of this post

China reform puts executives on defensive as plenum begins

November 10, 2013 7:06 am

China reform puts executives on defensive as plenum begins

By Tom Mitchell and Jamil Anderlini in Beijing

The men and women who command the heights of China’s economy are on the defensive at a meeting that will set the direction and tone of the country’s new leadership for the next decade. Senior executives from large state-owned enterprises joined governors, generals and ministers as the 376 full and alternate members of the Chinese Communist party’s 18th Central Committee gathered in Beijing at the weekend. Of these four constituencies, it is China’s SOE managers who have attracted the most scrutiny in the run-up to the committee’s “third plenum”, which opened on Saturday. Read more of this post

Carlsberg Seen Thirsting for Tsingtao in Asia : Real M&A

Carlsberg Seen Thirsting for Tsingtao in Asia : Real M&A

Carlsberg A/S (CARLB)’s pursuit of faster growth in Asia may make takeover targets out of Tsingtao Brewery Co. (168) and Beijing Yanjing Brewery Co. (000729) The Danish brewer’s controlling shareholder signaled last month that it will give Carlsberg more leeway to pursue deals. The $15 billion company is eyeing about a half-dozen potential candidates, especially in Asia, including Tsingtao and Yanjing, for a possible purchase, said a person with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified as the discussions are private. The Chinese companies each produce some of the most popular beer brands in China, the world’s biggest beer market. Read more of this post

Why Australia’s bank profits defy hard times; ”It is no wonder so many Australians see the big four as vampires”

Why Australia’s bank profits defy hard times

November 11, 2013

Clancy Yeates

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Ever wondered how the banks manage to churn out ever-higher profits when the economy’s weak and credit growth is near record lows? To the casual observer it may seem puzzling, to say the least. Despite constant talk of a soft economy, the big four racked up $27.4 billion in cash earnings between them this year, an average yearly increase of 9.5 per cent. Bank chiefs repeatedly trotted out phrases such as ”subdued”. And yet their earnings seemed to defy gravity. So what’s going on? If the economy is weakening and banks are highly exposed to the country’s ups and downs, how do earnings keep growing so strongly? Greens MP Adam Bandt summed up the suspicions many of us have that we are being gouged. ”It is no wonder so many Australians see the big four as vampires,” he said after ANZ’s $6.5 billion full-year profit. Read more of this post

Singapore, Malaysia tough rivals to Thailand’s quest to be medical hub

Singapore, Malaysia tough rivals to Thailand’s quest to be medical hub

Monday, Nov 11, 2013
The Nation/Asia News Network
By Bamrung Amnatcharoenrit

THAILAND – Thailand should prove itself more if it wants to become a regional hub for medical tourism in the long term, competing with arch-rivals Singapore and Malaysia. One major barrier to this quest is politics. If political demonstrations become chaotic to the point of closing airports, this will undermine patients’ confidence, and they might decide to go elsewhere, said Pongsakorn Chindawatana, a professional doctor and also senior director of communication at Bangkok Dusit Medical Services. Read more of this post

South Koreans Are Stuck With Internet Explorer Thanks To An Outdated Security Law

South Koreans Are Stuck With Internet Explorer Thanks To An Outdated Security Law

PAUL SZOLDRA NOV. 9, 2013, 4:51 PM 5,723 4

South Korea is a technology powerhouse with nationwide broadband and electronics companies pumping out tons of cool products, but some lawmakers are trying to change a 14-year-old law that has them hanging on to Internet Explorer as the web browser of choice, The Washington Post reported earlier this week. In the name of security, a law was passed in 1999 requiring citizens to use IE exclusively for shopping and banking. The government created “digital certificates” for citizens with their personal information shared with stores using ActiveX — a plugin created by Microsoft. If they can make the change in the law, users may finally be able to use Firefox or Chrome more frequently. Read more of this post

Korea’s state firms: Poorly managed, heavily indebted

2013-11-10 11:11

State firms: Poorly managed, heavily indebted

Parliamentary audit finds countless irregularities at land ministry-affiliated companies
By Kim Bo-eun

Koreans often refer to state-run corporations as the ultimate workplace because these jobs not only pay well, but also guarantee work until retirement age. Plus, many of these companies offer additional perks like high performance-based bonuses, severance pay and expensive retirement gifts. Based on these extravagant benefits, you might expect these firms to post excellent profits, but annual parliamentary audits show that they are plagued with debt and corruption. This year’s audit was no exception. The recent National Assembly audit exposed poor management, especially at state-run firms under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport headed by Suh Seoung-hwan. While the audit showed mounting debts at public corporations as a whole, firms under the land ministry accounted for 42 percent of the debt accumulated by all state-owned enterprises. Meanwhile, the audit showed these corporations have low levels of integrity, undue benefits for employees, and little willingness to change. Read more of this post

Dongbu and Hanjin groups will be under tighter scrutiny from financial authorities as the two conglomerates show possibilities of financial troubles

2013-11-11 16:10

Dongbu, Hanjin on watch list

Regulator detects signs of financial distress at firms
By Kim Rahn
Dongbu and Hanjin groups will be under tighter scrutiny from financial authorities as the two conglomerates show possibilities of financial troubles, officials said Monday. Although the groups have struggled to solve liquidity shortages, the authorities plan to spur them on in joint efforts with creditor banks. According to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) Monday, Dongbu and Hanjin agreed with their creditor banks this year to improve their financial structure. Read more of this post

Cash-strapped Korean local gov’ts seek to offload property

Cash-strapped local gov’ts seek to offload property

Cho Han-phil, Ji Hong-gu, Woo Sung-duk

2013.11.11 18:07:18

South Korea’s local authorities in financial woes have decided to put their property holdings up for sale. The move seems inevitable for local governments grappling with tax revenue shortfall and difficulties in raising capital for next year’s budget. Local governments plan to sell their property worth a total of around 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion, an estimate), according to the Maeil Business Newspaper’s analysis on the 2014 budget plans of city and province municipalities Monday.  Read more of this post

Cookers, chips and consoles: high-tech Japan’s odd parts

Last updated: November 10, 2013 1:30 pm

Cookers, chips and consoles: high-tech Japan’s odd parts

By Jennifer Thompson in Tokyo

Nostalgic portfolios highlight reluctance to restructure

Decades before the PlayStation and the Walkman saw the light of day, engineers at Sony flirted with the mundane rather than the high-tech. A primitive wooden rice cooker and electrically heated cushions were among the roll of household products manufactured by the Japanese electronics maker. Rivals such as PanasonicToshibaHitachi and Sharpfollowed suit, regarding their ability to offer a broad range of products and components as a source of strength. Read more of this post

U.S. popcorn makers could face long, expensive road to lose trans fats

U.S. popcorn makers could face long, expensive road to lose trans fats

Fri, Nov 8 2013

By Curtis Skinner

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Microwave popcorn makers could face a long and difficult task ridding their snacks of trans fats, if a U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposal to ban the additives goes into effect. Just ask Orville Redenbacher. Redenbacher’s, a division of ConAgra Foods Inc, spent six years changing its leading line of popcorn, company scientists said on Friday, a day after the FDA made its proposal, which the government said would save 7,000 lives a year. Read more of this post

China’s Online Shopping Marathon Zooms Off the Blocks

November 11, 2013

Online Shopping Marathon Zooms Off the Blocks

By SHANSHAN WANG and ERIC PFANNER

HANGZHOU, China — After moving into a new apartment in this city near Shanghai in August, Yuan Keru, a postgraduate student, and her boyfriend waited several months to buy furnishings for their new home. Finally, on Monday, they splurged. At midnight, Ms. Yuan logged on to her laptop, clicked on the website of Tmall, an e-commerce site, and began shopping. She selected a floor lamp, a carpet and some wallpaper. Her boyfriend picked out a set of earphones. Finally, they added a cozy touch: his and hers cotton slippers for the winter. Read more of this post

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