Monday, 28 December 2020

PEL’S NEW YEAR FREE BOOKS GIVEAWAY IS UPON US ! (CONTEST ENDS AT 6PM, 02/01/2021)


*narrator’s voice : “this is not strictly true

Let me just cut straight to the chase. You want free books. I want to give them to you.

This will be the third free book giveaway since the blog (and its social media channels) began. We have grown by leaps and bounds, and these occasional giveaways are my personal thanks to you, the person reading this. 

Your support ensures that we will remain out of TikTok or OnlyFans at least for another year. We have much to be grateful for your continuing interest in our content, wherever you may find them.

Now, you may be wondering why we keep giving away books. 

It’s simply because I hope you can benefit from these books the way I did. Knowledge is power, and reading broadens the mind. 

I owe much of my personal and professional successes from an insatiable reading habit. So these books (as were the previous ones) were personally selected by me for their quality content. 

I can shamelessly sign them for you if you want, or write a personalised romantic note that you can subsequently share with your spouse/significant other. 

To invoke the spirit of (notable billionaire and book club chief) Oprah Winfrey : if it were possible, everybody would get a free book from me. 

But for now, we will see two lucky winners each getting a free book. Go try it; you have nothing to lose.

BOOK I : TALKING TO STRANGERS BY MALCOLM GLADWELL


"Talking to Strangers is a must-read...I love this book... Reading it will actually change not just how you see strangers, but how you look at yourself, the news--the world...Reading this book changed me."―Oprah Winfrey, O, The Oprah Magazine


BOOK II : MASTERING THE MARKET CYCLE BY HOWARD MARKS


“Howard Marks, among the world’s most successful investment managers as well as an intellectual leader of the profession [has written a new book].  Mastering the Market Cycle is…wise…A careful reading can make us better investors and protect us from the all too frequent errors that ruin investment results.” someone who is NOT Oprah Winfrey 


BEATING THE ODDS TO WIN THEM BOOKS

I’ve thought long and hard about this to ensure that you stand a good chance to win. 

If you qualify by virtue of being our Twitter follower, you stand a 1 in 16,200 chance of winning. Or 1 in 16,199 for the next fella trying to get the second book.

If you qualify by virtue of being our public Telegram channel follower, you stand a 1 in 9,000 chance of winning.

Based on the above, DSAI probably has better odds of becoming PM than you would in winning the book(s). So let us shave the odds a bit.

 
HOW TO QUALIFY

Just do these three things and you will qualify to win.

We will pick two winners simultaneously by 6PM on 2nd January, 2021.

1) You need to have Telegram and join our Pelham Blue Public Chat Group. It’s an offshoot of the main trading channel where all the weirdos and geniuses come to talk stocks 24/7. 

You can access the public chat group via this link or via QR code as follows:

2) Like our Facebook Page. Access via this link.

3) Share this Facebook post on your Facebook page. 



And that’s it !

Only those who have done all three will qualify to win. 

If your Telegram handle is anonymous or via pseudonym, we will ask for identity confirmation via private correspondence. 

CONTEST PERIOD, T&C

- The contest starts from 28 December 2020 and ends at 6PM on 2 January 2021.

- The contest is only open to residents in Malaysia.

- Postage costs is fully borne by us, although delivery time may vary on whether there are EMCO/CMCO-related restrictions at your location.

- Two individual winners will be chosen.

- We will determine who gets which book.

- Our decisions are final.

All the best, and Happy New Year!

Sunday, 22 November 2020

WHY TOPGLOV IS DOING A RM1 BILLION SHARE BUYBACK

On 17 November 2020, I got an invitation to buy one of the most valuable stocks in the world. That invitation came from panicky uncles. 


While we - as a team - had dabbled in glove-related plays before, sometimes in the warrants, sometimes in second-tier players, I had specifically waited for the best moment to buy into what is comfortably the safest, and most profitable glove stock. Ever.

And the best time to buy into a stock is when everybody wants to sell. In my years of trading and investing, I know when the absolute best time is : at the bottom of a downtrend, exacerbated by unreasonable panic.

 

That selling panic was due to news of a COVID-19 infection at the company's worker dorms in Klang. 

 

In a somewhat perverse way, sensing that market panic gave me further encouragement to make a fairly substantial commitment to my portfolio.

 

I get panicky when I run out of chili sauce at home. I get panicky when the Lazada parcel does not arrive at the expected time.

 

But I do not panic when the stock market goes nuts, or when a stock falls 10% in mere minutes as TOPGLOV did on the 17th. So I bought some.

 

Conviction in timing, conviction in pricing, and conviction in sizing. 

 

That's the key to making above-average profits.

 

As of market close on November 2020, TOPGLOV closed at RM7.29. And like any other human being, I get anxious and unsure about my portfolio from time to time. Sell or hold? Dump or buy more, even?

 

What I've decided to do is.... nothing. I'll keep this position under lock and key for a while, and commit to an exit only if the stock falls back to a certain price. 

 

At that point I'll still lock in a nice gain; on an annualised basis, it's pretty good. 

 

But behind the recent price movements, there's an interesting angle that I've been contemplating for a while. 

  TOPGLOV's daily price chart in November, up until the 20th

 

It's all these bloody bonkers buybacks. About a billion ringgit worth, to be precise.

 

To be even more precise, RM984.13 million shares bought back since September 2020. It's been buying RM69.9 million worth of shares for many consecutive days in November. Sometimes I lost count.

 

Here are some more fascinating figures. TOPGLOV currently has about 135 million shares held in treasury. That block is worth RM984.66 million based on the last closing price.

So what's going on?

 

THE BUYBACK CLEARLY HAS AN ENDGAME


For the unitiated, the questions are obvious.

 

Why waste money like that lor? So easy spend all that cash like that? Why not go invest in something?

 

These are valid concerns, but we need to scratch below the surface. And for that, we should first know why share buybacks happen. 

 

As of 20 November 2020, TOPGLOV has 135.07 million shares in treasury. It has the authority to buy back up to 10% of its current shares outstanding.

 
If it wants to go nuts and really make an outlandish statement, TOPGLOV can buy back exactly 684,298,533 more shares.


This will cost RM5 billion at current market prices, so OK la, we rule this out at the moment...


   TOPGLOV Share Buyback Statement, Bursa Malaysia filing on 12 November 2020

 

While it is accurate that massive share buybacks can be seen as a bit of virtue signaling by the company, whereby the perception is that the shares are undervalued at current prices, I'd avoid this thinking completely.

 

Companies can do all the buybacks in the world, but if the market sets a different expectation, the shares will still fall.

 

I never buy shares simply because the company is doing share buybacks. That's lazy analysis.

 

I buy shares because I see value, be it from a fundamentals standpoint (which is not very hard with a stock like TOPGLOV) or based on a set of circumstances which may end up being favourable for the stock (call it a sentiment premium, if you want).

 

There are a few things TOPGLOV can do with treasury shares:

 
1) Cancel them, which will improve financial and performance metrics on a per share basis, which also technically make the shares more desirable to purchase (ceteris paribus).

 

2) Resell them at higher prices. Of course this also means they can resell them at lower prices, if the market turns against glovemakers. 


3) Redistribute them to shareholders via a dividend in specie (share dividend, not cash). Shareholders get more equity as a reward, no need to put up a single sen.

 

4) Reward employees via ESOS.

 

5) Re-utilise them in an offer-for-sale, such as in a new listing.

 


It is clear that TOPGLOV is buying back shares at an unheard of rate, and it will likely hit the RM1 billion threshold of shares purchase on Monday, 23 November 2020.

 

It only took them three months. The things you can do when you don't have to pay windfall tax is enviable...


In the list above, 1-4 is par for the course. They are to be expected in any share buyback-type situation.


But No.5 is special, and it's peculiar. My view is simple:

 


As TOPGLOV is buying back shares intensively, at an unheard of rate...

 

The more shares it buys back, the higher likelihood that it will list in Hong Kong

 


This is just an educated guess. But my point is - as a totally biased shareholder - this third listing will be beneficial for existing shareholders. 

 

And just like buying shares at artificially depressed, panic induced prices, timing is important.  

 

Its next quarterly results will be on 9 December 2020. Likely the HK listing question will come up again. 

 

TOPGLOV's next AGM is on 6 January 2021. If the company doesn't clarify beforehand, the buyback explanation will surely come up by this date. It will be seeking a renewed mandate from shareholders for share buybacks, of course. 


In another bit of virtue signaling, the listing plans have been promoted earlier. Management wants this to happen.

Link to article

 
'Diversifying the investor base and provide a larger fundraising platform to support growth' is great. 


'Being present in a more active, more liquid stock exchange' is also good. 


Since the company is cash flow super-rich and is super profitable - and has enough committed for its current expansion plans - the main intent of the new listing should be to raise visibility and to permit the entry of new institutional holders. 

 

Some retail mania in HK would even be beneficial to the SG and MY listed shares, if you understand how sentiment works. 

 

One risk cited by the pundits is that Malaysian entities going for a HK listing have done poorly on a historical basis. This is true, but never have we seen a Malaysian company of TOPGLOV's scale and profile there.


As the biggest glovemaker in the world, the likelihood of a successful listing in Hong Kong is quite high.

Back to the treasury shares.


New share issuances would be dilutive, and  fundraising is not really a priority for the company - did you know they just spent RM1 billion to buy their own shares?

 

TOPGLOV is insanely profitable, and it will be this way for a while. The company has enough funds committed for its expansion plans. It does not need equity markets fundraising, which would be share dilutive. Funds have already been raised from the Sukuk

 

My view is the same as others : should this HK listing go ahead, it will  be an offer-for-sale of existing shares

 

This can come from the treasury holdings as well as a partial stake sale by the major shareholders, including from Lim Wee Chai himself.

Earlier disclosure when TOPGLOV did a secondary listing in Singapore. The third listing could be something like this....

 

Even if it doesn't work out and TOPGLOV decides to cancel the shares, redistribute via share dividend, or resell at higher prices, shareholders still win. It's the kind of asymmetrical trade that I go for.


And if the plans are further ahead of schedule than anybody expected, the listing may happen as soon as Q1 or Q2 next year. 

 

There is no better time to promote and do a third listing when you're currently imputing at least 3-4 more quarters of supernormal profits.

 

There was also no better time than on 17 November to buy (and hold) the shares and see how all this plays out. 

 

Like I said, timing is everything.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

COULD MR DIY HIT RM2.50?

 


In our previous writeups on MRDIY highlighting its challenges and opportunities, we had cited reasons why the IPO is overpriced. Now, we will look at reasons why the IPO is (plausibly) underpriced.

We are not wedded to our pre-existing biases. Given that future outcomes are such fickle things, we always think in probabilities, never absolutes.

Hopefully you won’t be surprised if the stock keeps going up, for the same reasons you won’t be surprised if it suddenly collapses. Considering all probabilities simply provides a better understanding of a stock. It's how we approach everything, from trading strategy to fundamental anaysis. 

At the end of the day,  the market is always right upon closing time, and there is no denying that the current price action has been overwhelmingly positive. 

MRDIY is now the 33rd most valuable company on Bursa Malaysia with a RM12.8 billion market capitalisation as of 7 November 2020. It's firmly in the big leagues, and last Friday it rallied to record highs just after posting solid quarterly earnings growth amid a pandemic. Impressive stuff.

After a 28% gain from the IPO price in just two weeks, it’s worth exploring why it can stay up, since we’ve already explained the reasons why it can go down.

It's very intriguing that two research houses currently have vastly differing views on the stock.

Here's Affin Hwang's rating, which is largely aligned with our own views on saturation and declining same store sales growth:


And then there's UOBKayHian:

To be honest, we have not been so preoccupied with the upside potential before this, owing to our very human biases. So let's look at the glass half full, super-bullish theory.  

A MASSIVELY SUCCESFUL LISTING

As far as we can remember, MRDIY is already the most successful multibillion ringgit Main Market listing since IHH, and that was waaayyyy back in 2012. 

The other major listings, as if they're in a league of their own in utter mediocrity, have faltered, and some have crashed and burned since going public. Among those in this list are FGV, AAX, LCTITAN, and ASTRO. 

So if there’s a once-in-a-decade chance to snag an actual newly-listed blue chip with further growth opportunities in Malaysia, it could be MRDIY. 

Note that IHH was notorious for carrying a ridiculously high  price-to-earning (P/E) ratio for years – the premium was a reflection of their growth aspirations. All things considered, they succeeded in realising that growth.

IHH's financial performance, FY2015-2019, sourced from the 2019 Annual Report


GROWTH + CASH + DIVERSE + RESILIENCE = FAT PREMIUM

For MRDIY, the comparison with another successful growth story – QL Resources – may be warranted. QL attained blue chip status over a span of 4-5 years as its stock more than tripled. It has an intact growth proposition as well as an immensely cash -generative business. 
 
Partly due to these factors, the market continues to assign a large premium on the stock. It has consistently traded at a very high P/E (currently at close to 50 times 2021 earnings based on one estimate). 
 
QL's finely tuned cash machine. From the 2020 Annual Report.

It has these in common with MRDIY, if you really dig the blue sky scenario:

- a growth story

- cash-rich business / fantastic operating cash flows growth

- diversification of business

- resilient/fairly inelastic demand for its products

From MRDIY's 3QFY2020 earnings disclosure

If there's one thing investors go nuts over, it's a blue-chip stock with credible growth avenues. A value stock with growth attached may sound contradictory, but we prefer to look at blue chip status as a reflection of market capitalisation, not so much the stage of the business cycle.

The question essentially boils down to this : how much of a premium is the market willing to assign for a unique, resilient, cash-rich stock during these trying times?


At 50 times FY2019 earnings, MRDIY’s stock would fetch a valuation above RM2.50. 

And if we use UOB’s forward earnings estimates:


As part of this superbull narrative, consider this : the market has been assigning stupid premiums to undeserving companies all year long. It could be due to excess liquidity, excess speculation, the work-from-home boost, and the everything bubble, just to name a few possible reasons.

So how would the market value deserving companies? 


THE LIQUIDITY FACTOR

This is something we had deeply thought about since listing day. The stock is fairly ‘scarce’ in the sense that it is not bogged down by fear-driven selling, except for the first 30 seconds of trading on the day of its debut when it plunged to RM1.50. Buyers at those levels have not stopped smiling since.
 
The 15% free float special allowance is one key reason behind this current scarcity, and sometimes, scarcity brings desirability in ownership. So as shares go up, more buyers come in. The resulting demand then pushes prices higher in a virtuous cycle. 

This relative lack of liquidity in the shares is further exacerbated by locked-in shares held by controlling investors, none of whom would be keen to sell anytime soon. Not only are they riding the current gains, they just recently cashed out, remember? 

For clarity, Bee Family Ltd’s share sale moratorium is six months, Hyptis/Creador is six months (or earlier provided there’s written consent by the joint bookrunners), and Premium Alphabet is three months (or earlier if the same condition was met). 
 
From MRDIY's prospectus

In simple terms, look at this as a liquidity timebomb, in the implausible case that a flood of selling hits the market by these fellas once the share sale moratorium is lifted. That’s about three to six months from now. 

For the hero uncles and Bursa's eternal optimists, there is ample time for upside fluctuations. 
 
At present, as evidenced by the buy-sell queues comprising just a few thousand lots at a time, the stock has appealing liquidity characteristics, in our view. 
 
Look at it this way : 

Scarcity due to low-free float + market chasing the stock  = shares already up 40%

If sentiment remains positive, it could rally further. In an upside scenario, the next feasible target price is anywhere between 2.10 and 2.50, if you really want to stretch it. 

POST-PANDEMIC UPSIDE GOODNESS?

Timing-wise, it can be argued that MRDIY has not reached market saturation upon listing. Perhaps there are several more years until it’s no longer plausible to open DIY stores (by which time they would have a large stable of MR Dollar stores). 

Perhaps’s not listing at saturation point; it’s got that growth story going on, and the company is betting its future on this. As we have already argued, MR Dollar is the real growth driver going forward.
 
This particular point is of course what the promoters wanted people to believe. But as a public-listed entity, there may be some fuel left in the tank.

And lastly, consider this : if the business is doing well to cope with pandemic pressure, imagine how it will do when things normalise eventually?

This future expectation will dictate and determine the valuation of MRDIY's stock. At the moment it's too early to tell whether it will enjoy this scarcity premium indefinitely, but as evidenced by the post-listing rally, some have already plunged in.
 

MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND

Always analyse all available information before considering a stock. Keep scrutinising the company's fundamentals; they will of course shift in time. 

Consider the stock itself, whether it's technicals interpretation in the chart how it looks from a price-volume analysis standpoint (our specialty).

And just as importantly, consider how the stock would be perceived in the current kind of market environment. 

Between the blue sky and six-feet-under scenarios, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. So be open about changing your mind.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

MR DIY'S GROWING PAINS : HOW TO CHANGE THE FUTURE (PART II)


In Part I we had discussed the overvaluation of Mr DIY's IPO and its hypergrowth-related problems. 

Now let's look at the actual growth prospects, and where the exciting opportunities actually lie. 

Mr DIY's long term challenge as a business is straightforward : deliver on the promise of more growth somehow, and maintain consistent earnings growth in unprecedented times for retail operators.

In other words, the strategy needs to evolve to cope with the times. There needs to be greater efficiency, and a serious rethink when it comes to product strategy, store placement, and store size, amongst others.




Profitability is not a constant. While recouping the initial investment is great, this is not a machine that will begin paying for itself with no added capital commitments.

One key metric is Same Stores Sales Growth (SSSG), which should be self-explanatory : it's the year-on-year increase in revenues for a retail chain's existing locations. How much the store sold this year versus the last.

Even before COVID times, Mr DIY's SSSG had been decelerating fast. 


We'd take the 2020 figure as an anomaly, but it leaves a huge question as to what's next. 

Like a nation's GDP, we need incremental but sustainable growth. What's important here is not for Mr DIY to get back to achieving 6% SSSG every year - that was back in 2017 when there were much fewer stores. 

What it needs to do now is maintain positive SSSG annually, which is going to be a tall task. History is replete with instances of retailers showing massive earnings volatility as they were at the mercy of the economy as well as the shift in consumer trends.

I have little doubt on the management's team capability to do all the right things to drive SSSG. Whether it's inventory management, aggressive promos, or customer data utilisation, they know their market and customers. They are already reaping the rewards from this major listing - hopefully they still have an economic incentive to continue what they have been doing. 

If you're going to be a shareholder, throw the question back to them, the industry experts. Go ask this at the next AGM.

Given the rate of store openings and the promise of further growth, what are your SSSG targets between now and 2025? 

See if they can answer this. I'm asking the SSSG question because in the prospectus I couldn't find an elaboration on what to expect.

Having a benchmark to refer to is always useful. If the company is being promoted as a growth story,  shareholders should be able to see concrete targets. Some KPI visibility is a start, and it's not optional; it's mandatory. 

The disconnect between what is aspirational (what we want to do) and something concrete (how we want to get there) is apparent. Are we looking at 1,200 stores within two years? RM3 billion in revenues? Is the company planning to capture 70% of the home improvement retail market?

And more importantly : what is the future here? Surely it can't be simply more Mr DIY stores selling the stuff they already sell. That market is saturating quickly.

Malaysia (and Brunei) can only take in so many new Mr DIYs. But what about the new flagship brands?



MEET MR TOY





I have vastly different thoughts between Mr Toy and Mr Dollar. One of them is the key to the future, the other I think is an unnecessary distraction.

The intent behind these two brands is for Mr DIY to capture new markets. Below is the Mr DIY product mix, where the 'Others' section comprises toys and food and beverage items, and other things. 


It wouldn't be fair for me to comment on the footfalls or visitor figures to the Mr Toy outlets I've been at because of the current COVID anxieties. But the outlets clearly do not move products as fast as a Mr DIY outlet would.

As a brand in itself, Mr Toy can do decent business. Its only natural competition are either the malls or the auntie and uncle toy stores like the one you can find along the Jalan Raja Laut/Chow Kit area (if you're a KLite of a certain age and a certain lower-middle class background, as a child, this road would be your toy heaven).

In fact, a lot of the toys in Mr Toy can also be found in the auntie and uncle stores. They are predominantly imported from China.




The main issue with Mr Toy is that while cheapness is a strength, it's also a weakness.

With everything already cheap, promotional discounts may be a redundant or futile exercise. The average spend per customer may be on the high side, but toy stores do not receive as much recurring business as would a Mr DIY. 

For example, the Mr Toy branch in AEON Mall Taman Maluri, Cheras is almost as big as the Mr DIY that occupies the same floor. Is it necessary to stock so many items?

In fact, most Mr DIYs have a small but reasonably well-stocked toys section. In multiple instances, I found the same toys in both the Mr Toy and Mr DIY outlets that occupy the same mall. While that shouldn't come as a surprise, it's the duplication of resources that I'm more concerned with.

This shelf of toys is actually in a Mr DIY....

As a humble potentially would-be shareholder, here's my down-to-earth, totally unspectacular or hypergrowth-related suggestion : why can't every Mr DIY in the 'large store' category (square footage of between 12,000 to 20,000) simply have a dedicated Mr Toy section with the distinct branding? 

For starters, they currently have 125 large stores, or one in every five Mr DIYs currently operating. There's enough space there; why not try that out?

They can save on rental, drive footfalls from Mr DIY customers (call it a store-within-a-store-within-a-store, if you must), and keep the customers' kids occupied and happy. All in the same location. 

To drive sustainable growth, greater efficiency is a must. I'm simply thinking out loud solutions that don't involve the need (or urge) to open a 10,000 square-foot plus toy bazaar in every mall that exists in Malaysia. 


Mr DIY's store breakdown, by size

I can outline multiple reasons why toys is actually an extremely challenging business to be in. Just ask how the auntie uncle stores are doing, or - God forbid - go walk into any Toys R' Us branch in the Klang Valley and ask the salespeople how many customers they entertain per day.

To be fair, I don't have access to the research and I've only heard anecdotal accounts about the struggles of local toy retailers. The Mr DIY prospectus also did not go deep into the prospects of the toy industry, other than a line that said "the willingness and propensity of households in Malaysia to spend on products for babies and children provide us with an opportunity for growth" on page 86. 

I did not find a shiny Frost & Sullivan report about how rosy the toy sales trend is in Malaysia. 

To my lizard brain, declining birth rates means lower expenditure on toys in the future. It's a demographic and generational shift. It expedited the demise of the US operations of Toys R' Us. 

And if lower priced toys can feasibly drive more sales, these toys can't get any cheaper, really. I'm not knocking on them, by the way; the toys are actually pretty good. 



A quick list of the challenges:

- Cheap toys make for a low(er) margins business.

- Cheap toys hinder the potential of discounts or promotional activities (usually retailers would opt for a membership program to get repeat business).

- There is intense competition, sometimes by the same anchor malls that house these Mr Toy outlets.

- The lower quality of products is understandable, but there is a real risk of these stores (Mr Toy and the malls) carrying made-in-China toys that look and feel essentially the same. There is little differentiation.

- Inventory overload and too big a space may mean that hard-to-move products will stay in shelves for a long time, which makes for a stale product offering (in contrast, a department store's toys section is much smaller).

- Establishing a brand identity is difficult. Rather than Mr Toy being the premier 'toys at reasonable prices' store,  it may be labeled as 'just another toy store selling cheap Made-in-China products' if its offerings are indistinguishable from the auntie-uncle/department stores.

Of course Mr Toy can make tons of money if the company plays its cards right. But shareholders need to understand the overall strategy and the growth prospects in this segment, if there is one.

I'M A DOLLAR BULL


When it comes to Mr Dollar, I can immediately understand the appeal. It's simple, it's beautiful, and it's the real growth driver for a company chasing the next big growth story. But it comes with a catch.

The dollar store concept hardly needs refinement : cheap sells, and the fast moving consumer goods sell fastest when it's cheapest.

The brand identity is immediately apparent in the slogan. For Mr Dollar it's 'Always RM2 or RM5'; slightly clunky but let's not be the least fun person to talk to at parties, yes?


Impulse buying driven by the sheer cheapness of the items can lead to higher spend per transaction; without realising it, your purchases of RM2 or RM5 items can lead to a surprisingly hefty bill. 

After picking out some interesting snacks and drinks, my own basket came to RM60 in total. Yet I have no qualms about coming back soon.

Now imagine a family of five coming in to get their supply, and then imagine them coming back every week. 

The average spend per transaction is going to be far higher than RM25.20 at a Mr DIY (as of the first half of 2020), and very lucrative for the business. In a growth context, this meets my expectations. It's the kind of business I would invest in. Opening 50 new stores in 2021 is not a ridiculous target to set, in this instance.  

So here's the catch : Mr Dollar will be a welterweight up against a heavyweight.



There's Eco Shop, which already has 154 stores in Malaysia. They can do big sizes or small, shoplots or malls. 

It was even mentioned in the prospectus due to a common shareholder in both Mr DIY and Eco Shop. Yes, you read that right.

But the prospectus ingeniously omitted mention of Eco Shop being a direct competitor - or as I like to call it, an existential threat - to Mr Dollar. But ya lor, this prospectus was about Mr DIY only kan.... :)


Their promise of 'Always RM2.10' is a formidable one, and their stores tend to be crowded, especially on weekdays after work hours and on weekends (anecdotal observation again, but I have been to Eco Shop branches in KL, Melaka, and Negeri Sembilan, multiple times).

They dominate this space, and Mr Dollar wants to gatecrash this party. By 2021 they want to get to at least one third of Eco Shop's total store network. 

In order to succeed, Mr Dollar will need to be aggressive, not just with their expansion, but also product strategy. 

I do not rule out a scenario where it's literally a battle of the brands. They may end up in the same neighbourhoods, within spitting distance of each other, enticing customers to dump one store for the other. 

They will fight in the malls. They will fight in the suburbs. Winner takes all. 

But if anyone has the resources and expertise to pull this off, it would be the biggest retail home improvement chain in Malaysia. And in my view, to truly stand out, it's going to be all about the products.

To really stand out, they can champion quality Malaysian made products and snacks, and it does not necessarily have to be the cheapest confectionery available to humankind. 

They can do deals with manufacturers to repackage exclusively for Mr Dollar to make sense in an 'always RM5' context, for example. They can do placements for hip local F&B brands whose current presence is predominantly online. 

It would be a win-win : actual, cool products at a dollar store, and an exposure to physical retail for online sellers. 

While a lot of the products at Mr Dollar is quite similar to Eco Shop, there were some real standouts. Some are brands of snacks and drinks that can rarely found in other supermarkets. 

For dollar stores, cheapness will remain an emphasis, but quality can be cheap too. And differentiation matters.


By highlighting all these issues over this two-part series, I do not mean to excoriate Mr DIY or their listing aspirations. Using the rotan is not a good way to start a thoughtful conversation.

I want them to do well, and I see their potential in serving a purpose far beyond just being a cheap home improvement retailer. They do, and can do much more, to promote local products and local manufacturers. 

You want to catalyse local businesses and help boost their livelihoods and the economy? Damn, I'm in. Go for it.   

In fact, it would be quite a statement if one day Mr DIY becomes known for having a high concentration of local products that consumers are happy to buy and use. I would in turn be a happy shareholder, because their hearts are in the right place. Mr Dollar may well be that avenue.

It's a great brand but an overpriced IPO, so it's a shame. But I will still keep coming back to the stores. 

More Tales By The Pelham Blue Fund