Feb 062013

After reaching another record high mark, the Philippine stock market’s performance seems to be for real, and not just a passing fancy that can be attributed to the inflow of “hot” money, meaning foreign investments in the local stock market by speculators.

In less than two months, the local bourse breached its high point 15 times, now less than 30 index points away from the 6,500-level. It seems that P-Noy will get his birthday wish this year, though not exactly on his birth date come February 8.

The push, according to my insider friend, is coming from the low interest rates accruing many financial instruments. And the Philippine equity market, being one of the most bullish in the region, is attracting solid capital.

The influx of new investors, many by retirees, in the stock market is also causing blue chips to rise in value. We’re seeing successive increases in the stock prices of group member and affiliated companies of SM, San Miguel, Ayala, and PLDT, as well as real estate firms.

With the Philippines just a hop away from getting its investment grade status from international credit rating agencies, expect the bullishness in our stock market to continue, and perhaps even cause the index to rise over the 7,000 mark within the year.

Consumer-led businesses as well as those involved in real estate are now crediting investor confidence as a primary reason for their upbeat view of 2013 and the medium-term. There’s money going into Philippine business ventures now, a marked change from five years ago.

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Of course, this rosy outlook is helped by the fact that foreign currency remittances by our hard-working overseas Filipinos has continued to grow despite the continuing uncertainly permeating the US and European economies.

With the continued strength of Filipino families’ spending power here assured, businessmen can only accept the reality that their best bet amidst a sea of instability is the Philippines. So let’s strike while the iron is hot.

Information campaign on Intramuros

We give way to one of our readers, Mario Garcia, in this column. He has a suggestion on how the Intramuros Administration (IA) may further bring the story and beauty of one of this country’s better cultural heritage to more people. I think it’s worth some attention. Here is Garcia’s letter.

“I am really glad I was able to read your article on Intramuros. I am very much excited about the plans of the IA to finally redevelop Manila ‘s tourism gem. With their new approach to involve the stakeholders (specially the informal settlers) even in the planning stages, I am confident that this time it will work.

“What I think is lacking, though, is a campaign for people to really appreciate the significance of Intramuros. If you ask people, even those living in Manila , on how they see Intramuros, a lot of them would sadly tell you that it is just an old place inhabited by a lot of ghosts who died in the war.

“The youth, on the other hand, find it irrelevant in their lives simply because they were not prodded to go beyond the idea of it being just a staple part of their field trip itineraries. That explains why they don’t treat it well. If only they realize how amazing it is to still have a historical district that can still be revived, they will respect it more and help in its renaissance.

“I think that Intramuros Administration should partner with advertisers or marketers to develop a campaign that can certainly make people realize the significance of the place. This should be done in parallel with their reconstruction efforts so that by the time they finish it, there will be a market ready to enjoy and fight for this great heritage.

“I am thinking that this campaign should be able to do what “It’s More Fun in the Philippines ” campaign did to Filipinos to Intramuros – providing them with the single best answer why Intramuros should be saved and cherished.”

Scam case

Terry O’Callaghan, another reader from Angeles City , sends an urgent plea for help. I hope this reaches the proper authorities so that other people who fell victim to the same mentioned company will be able to claim back what they lost. Or at least, know exactly what the real score is with regards their investment.

Terry writes: “I read your great article on the Aman futures scam on the 22nd of [January]. I now read that the Aman boss has been arrested in Malaysia , which brings me to the point of my e-mailing you.

“Back in 2002, I was scammed into investing in a group called “Lead Group of Companies,” headed by its president Gaudencio Maximo, which after a year went bust.

“Letters were sent out saying to fill out claim forms and your investment would be refunded by the company. This I did in March 2003 via LBC courier service, and until this date I have not had any response.

“Is there any light/help you could give me regarding that scam or has the use by date fully expired on that scam case?”

Importing palay

Like Bert Zuniga, another reader, I wonder if his idea outlined in his letter would be worth looking into. I hope the Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority will be able to respond to his suggestion. Here is what Zuniga is proposing:

“I was just reading your column on Philstar on our rice situation.

“I would like to suggest to whoever authorizes rice importation, to allow only importation of palay (in bulk) instead of milled rice (in sacks). Importing palay instead of rice offers the following advantages (although I am not sure if Vietnam or Thailand will export rice as palay):

“Price should be much lower since this is in an unmilled condition – no milling cost, no sacks, cheaper handling, lower shipping cost – loaded in large bulk carriers, which should be a lot cheaper since the shipment can be unloaded at the Mariveles Grain Terminal and then to barges or bulk land transports (like cement bulk carriers).

“Palay can be stored for more than a year without spoilage (no more rotting rice in NFA warehouses). NFA has large grain silos all over the country which can now be utilized.

“Palay will be milled locally giving additional work for local millers plus having valuable by-products. Rice bran is used by feed millers as ingredient for feeds. And rice husk is now in demand as fuel.”

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Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street , Salcedo Village , 1227 Makati City . Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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