Probably confused by the picture of a snail, but read on and I guess it will make more sense. May comprised the 2nd half of our 8-week lockdown in Singapore, and we started a phased re-opening from June 2nd. The re-opening is being handled rather strangely in my view, but as a non-voter, what does my opinion really matter. The good news is that some businesses, and life in general, is slowly being allowed to restart.

As usual I’ll break down my article into work, investment and personal life.

Work Life

May was the second full month of lockdown in Singapore, and probably the period where most companies felt the pain of the Circuit Breaker the most. On my side, I kept myself pretty busy with SAP and various side projects.

In SAP, everyone is fully focused on SAPPHIRE NOW. This is the SAP flagship event of the year and typically sees around 30,000+ attendees from around the world heading to the US. If I remember rightly, in 2019 they had Lady Gaga doing a private gig. Its a big deal, a big event….SAP is a master at organising and executing these things.

Obviously, with COVID-19, all of our offline events were canceled in 2020, so we’ll shortly see the very first ‘fully digital’ SAPPHIRE NOW event in June. A great reduction in our carbon footprint, and also likely to see attendee levels shoot up with the removal of travel and ticket costs.

Did I mention we also have STING dropping for a virtual gig? I’d rather listen to him than Lady Gaga to be honest.

“I don’t drink coffee I take tea my dear. I like my toast done on one side” – Englishman in New York

The Mighty Sting

FrameIT had a pretty positive performance in May

Despite the fact the workshop was completely shut in May due to the Circuit Breaker, my business FrameIT managed to have its 2nd best month in terms of revenue, with many customers happy to deposit their funds and wait till June for delivery. I’m pleased to say that orders have continued flowing in through the early part of this month, so hopefully, the pent up demand through the Circuit Breaker will provide a record month in June.

I can’t thank those customers enough who ordered even in April and were happy to just wait till now. It effectively ensured that the company remained entirely cash positive throughout two months of lockdown. Not bad considering we only started taking orders in October 2019.

I also worked on a few marketing angles to help acquire links, and increase the search rankings in Google. This has helped us gain a strong foothold now, and whilst there is much opportunity left to chase, we have a number of solid page 1 rankings now, including:

  • Custom frames – 1st
  • Custom poster frames – 2nd
  • Custom frame Singapore – 5th
  • Frame maker – 7th
  • Customised photo frame Singapore – 7th

Latest Google update created a mixed bag of results

For those working in the digital space, you’d have probably heard about a substantial Google algorithm update in May. For many of my clients, we either saw no real change or improvements, but for IRB Law, we took a noticeable hit, which was very disappointing given the effort and investment in building content and following Google guidelines.

Despite those ranking drops, the firm still retains a strong leadership position overall, but it felt like a very unjust gut-punch nonetheless. On the flip side, FrameIT did benefit quite substantially, as did clients such as Pan Pacific Van & Truck Leasing, so it’s not all bad.

Latest side project coming along nicely

As I mentioned in last month’s update, I started working on another side project, which is best described as a classified style site for a niche market in Singapore. When I originally started researching the market, I couldn’t find any competitors, but since then I’ve come across 2 which seem to have only just launched. In both cases, they are VC backed, and they’re entering Singapore as an expansion from other home markets, so hopefully, their lack of a strong local presence will dent their chances of success.

Whilst our investment will be around $4-5k, I read that one of the competitors I recently stumbled across has received $11.5M in funding up to now. I think that’s truly insane frankly.

It reminds me of when I was also building FrameIT and stumbled across a US-based company called Frame Bridge, which offers much the same sort of service. I think they’re considerably more mature than FrameIT, but nevertheless, the core product is really quite similar, and yet they’ve raised $82.5m as of today. WOW!

Investment Life

The markets continued their climb in May despite a pretty insane set of circumstances unfolding around the world, but I kept pretty active throughout the month to optimise my positions. Due to a big recovery in early June, I am including the first week of June to make the update a bit more interesting.

Please note that I am not a professional trader – and I am bound to make mistakes now and then. None of the information expressed below should be deemed as advice.

I sold some shares off

  • Gilead Sciences – possibly my first real error I’d say. Bought at a premium, spotted my error, sold at a small loss.
  • Livongo Health – bought at $44, rose to $62, but my stop loss kicked in at $53 and I sold my holding. This is a good company, I would actively buy-in again if the price drops a little lower.

Recovery Shares – stuff I own, but not for the long term

  • Boeing – I bought blocks of shares in Boeing as the price rose rapidly in early June. Overall, 12% up so far.
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines – I’ve been holding this from around $12 and further topped up at $17. Currently around 70% up overall.
  • Carnival Corp – I have a small position in this company, but its currently 28% up.
  • JD Sports – have been regularly topping this up since it was in 290 GBX territory. It broke past 700 GBX last week before dropping back to around 690. I am currently up just over 50% with a target price of 750 GBX as my exit point.
  • Heineken – close to reaching my target price of 90 euro, currently sits at around 86. If we can crack to 90 that’ll be a 30% gain and I’ll exit my position from this temporary holding.

I did also take a stake in Alibaba – currently up, but this is a harder one to call in the short to mid-term given US/China relations. I am currently planning to hold long term. In this market though, who knows!

May Portfolio Update

Personal Life

All good basically. We are now roughly 22 days away from the due date of our 2nd kid, so who knows – maybe I won’t even have time to write a June update in early July. When its the second one though, I can absolutely confirm that you’re much more relaxed and prepared, so we’re just ticking down the days.

We bought a little bike with a kids seat on the back, so I’ve been trying to take the kid out every couple of days for a ride to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. It’s a puke yellow and way too small for me, but it’s been a nice distraction and a good way to find a visual means of educating my daughter on various things as we peddle by landmarks, and spot various bugs and plants. We also found a HUGE snail – exciting times.

Giant Snail

I also finally sorted out my bike and went out for a couple of rides on the roads [just as the traffic is returning – aggghh gimme those fumes!]. I’m going to try to keep this up to break the monotony of training on the indoor trainer every day.

Listened to many hours of books on Audible this month as well. I really enjoyed a collection of books by Ian Ross that follows a Roman soldier called Aurelius Castus as he rises through the ranks. I’ve always loved history, and this series excellently navigates itself around various parts of the Roman empire during the 4th century AD, which covers the rise and eventual death of Constantine The Great. I highly recommend the series –  although the ending was a touch abrupt for my liking.

I’ve now moved onto listening to The Winter King by one of my favorite authors Bernard Cornwell, the same author of the Last Kingdom series that has been made into a popular TV series on Netflix. I felt obligated to listen to this next as I originally started reading it about 2 years ago and got distracted and never went back.

Alas, its nearly 10 pm here so I better close it off. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

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