Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The strength of a public company? Case study: Convergys, PLDT

Quote of the Day: Why is the grass greener on the other side? Because sometimes there's more manure.

So recently someone asked me how to measure the strength of a public company. Is it when they have assets like large buildings? Is it by the number of people?

The short answer: none of the above. It's the stock the price.

The long answer: The health of a public company isn't based on how large something is (ie: Enron), but rather its stock price and shareholder wealth. Case and point, as we have seen with Bear Stearns, one of the largest brokerage firms in the world, it lost most of its value within a couple of weeks once investors started doubting them.

At the end of the day, no matter what scandal, no matter whatever bad news occurs, if the shareholders are fine with your company and are loyal -- your company will always stay afloat. However, if shareholders are starting to doubt your company's ability to have sustainable growth, your stock price will take a toll.

CASE STUDY 1: Convergys (NYSE: CVG)

Here's a U.S. based firm I looked at for investment purposes a number of years ago. After running the numbers, I ultimately didn't invest. Today I ran and looked at their margins -- I still wouldn't invest.

I have strong interest in multi-national BPO firms. These are the ones that are usually able to weather economic recessions, they bring much needed jobs overseas, they bring savings and they lower cost of living for U.S. consumers.

Convergys hit the headlines this year -- spent sums on marketing, promos, etc. But at the end of the day (or to be more precise, at the end of a decade), shareholder wealth has been flat and costs continue to go up. Their net income is roughly 5.9% of their gross revenue (169 mil / 2844 mil).

At the last annual shareholder meeting -- the conversations were less than friendly. As one prominent newspaper in the area bluntly put it, "Convergys faces investors' doubts".

In my mind if a company does not continue to have good solid performance over a 10 year period and does not capitalize on shareholder wealth, it will not survive.

"Stock price plunged 42 percent in 6 months..."

"But despite the positive moves, the company's stock price plunged 42 percent in a six-month period, dropping from $24 per share in July 2007 to $13.66 in March 2008. It now sits just 7 percent higher than its price at the company's initial public offering in 1998. Convergys stock price dropped more than 3 percent in afternoon trading Tuesday, to $15.76 per share."

Source: BizJournals

"We would have done better in Treasury bonds"

"I think the issue here is, it's been 10 years," since Convergys was taken public, he said. In that time, the company's share price has climbed 7.5 percent. "We would have done better in Treasury bonds," Taxin said. Convergys shares closed down nearly 3 percent on Tuesday, at $15.84. The stock is down 3.77 percent year-to-date.



The Philippines Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) company is one of my favorite companies in Asia. Traded as "PHI" in the New York Stock Exchange, it has performed well in the past 10 years. They pay dividends to their shareholders and because of their continued revenue growth and consistent net returns -- they have solidified themselves as the market leader in Southeast Asia. Their net income is roughly 27.2% of their gross revenue (34 bil / 125 bil).

The bottom line with PLDT: they have higher margins and better shareholder wealth. That means they can outlast market volatility and if you are working for these guys, you can feel safe that your job is secure because the investors have confidence in their ability to perform.


At the end of the day, when you look for a company to invest in (or work in), look for the company that is managed well. Some companies act like young adults with new credit cards -- they spend money that they do not have and at the end of the day, they go bust. While other companies spend moderately and invest over long term goals versus short term.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Invited to Iloilo

I'm having a sermon at Iloilo this coming April 19th. You are invited to come if you are able to. If you need directions, email me.

Venue: Iloilo Central Church
Date: 4/19/2008, Saturday, 10AM MNL
Location: Iloilo City

Friday, April 04, 2008

Reflection - Who are you?

I recently listened to one of my favorite bands Barlow Girl. One of their songs, Mirror, made me reflect on a few questions about how we all seem to be defined by the standards and judgments of others. See the lyrics below:


Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Have I got it?
'Cause Mirror you've always told me who I am
I'm finding it's not easy to be perfect
So sorry you won't define me
Sorry you don't own me

Who are you to tell me
That I'm less than what I should be?
Who are you? Who are you?
I don't need to listen
To the list of things I should do
I won't try, I won't try

Mirror I am seeing a new reflection
I'm looking into the eyes of He who made me
And to Him I have beauty beyond compare
I know He defines me

You don't define me, you don't define me

Who are you?
The answer to this question seems to fluctuate over time in your life. When you grew up, you were known mainly by your parents reputation, and as you grew into adulthood, you were identified by your career, your intelligence, your position, your ethics, your morality, your hobbies, or whatever perception others had on you.

But does the judgment of others, or the position that we hold in life really answer the question of who we are? When you pass the layers of our work identity, of our day to day activities -- deep down in the core of our soul -- who are we?

Can He have a say?
I know that I'm affected by the world around me. And so are you. We are affected by what people say, how they criticize us or how they compliment us. Sometimes it plays over and over again in our heads. But no matter how smart you are, or no matter how stupid you think your life has been -- no one has the right to tell you who you are.

It doesn't matter if you have killed people (like Moses and David), or have lied and cheated (like the thief on the Cross) -- we still do not have the right to define who you are. My opinions about people are swayed like the waves of the ocean by the winds, but there is one opinion that matters the most and that comes from the God that made you and the God that makes your every breath possible.

So stop being depressed about the things that have brought you down in the past because none of my opinions or anyone else's for that matter actually means anything when it comes to who you are. The betrayals, the hurts, the sense of loneliness that we all have come to experience, our God has gone through them as well.

He has a clear idea of who you are and it is written in these passages:

1 John 3:1-10 (New Living Translation)

1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.

Psalm 139:13-16 (New Living Translation)
New Living Translation (NLT)

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

You are a child of God and there is nothing that anyone can say or do to take that away from you. Imagine the original feeling that you had when you were a child and you were embraced by your parents, and you knew deep inside no matter what they loved you unconditionally.

This is the very life, the very type of fulfillment that God has been longing to bring to your life. So stop living to the standards of your surroundings and to the restrictions that the world places on you, move on to a life that God has wanted you to set out in the first place: a place of fulfillment, a sense of belonging, and contentment that you are a unique and special person.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

So I'm looking through the news...

So I was looking through the news, looking for updates about the economy, the current Asian rice crisis, Sadr's ceasefire in Iraq, etc. Instead, Reuters, one of the main news wire services in the world, gives us this...