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Investment Talk We're now living in a world of challenging global economy where changes take place at a rapid pace. Investment Talk offers concerned Malaysians the opportunity to express their opinion on the performance of our country's economy in various sectors -- market watch, property talk, money market and others like unit trusts, bonds, bonus, dividends etc.

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  #1  
Old 28-04-2006, 11:39 PM
kanden kanden is offline
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Post Asian equities outlook

28 Apr 2006
Should We Stay Invested In Asia?
Asian equities have doubled over the past three years. Find out if the growth drivers support a continued rally. by Mah Ching Cheng


Should We Stay Invested
In The Asian Bull Market?
Did you know that Asian markets doubled over the past 3 years? In the past three years, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index returned 111% (in SGD terms on a year to date basis as at end March 2006). That makes an annualized return of 28.2% in SGD terms. Chart 1 shows the strong performance of the index. What were some of the factors underlying the strong market rally?

Before the strong performance in the Asian regional bourse in the past three years, the Asia ex-Japan market as a whole went through a depressed period from 2000 to 2002. Since the bursting of the technology bubble led by the NASDAQ, which happened in early 2000, the growth of electronic exports (which made up quite a large part of total exports in countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan at that point of time) slowed down drastically. This generally affected companies in Asia, which were heavily reliant on revenues from exporting electronic goods and components. In 2001, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was down 33.6%. The pessimism continued in 2002 and the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was down 15.6%.
In the early to mid part of 2003, sentiment did not improve much either. In the March 2003 to April 2003 period, investors where concerned about the impact on the war in Iraq on the global economy, including the effect it would have on oil prices. About the same period, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) dampened overall economic sentiment since a prolonged continuation in the spread of the virus would be detrimental to the overall well being of Asia’s economy as a whole.
The Asia ex-Japan performance started to improve in the second half of 2003. The rally was backed by a strong economic recovery in many Asian countries. Asian economies grew at an average rate of 6.6% for the past three years (2003, 2004 and 2005), according to figures from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Economic growth is expected to continue to remain strong this year. From a report written by ADB in April, the bank upped the economic growth estimate for Asia ex-Japan from 6.6% to 7.2%. The reason stated for the stronger forecast includes a continued boost in global electronic demand.
Growth in India & China
India and China led in terms of economic growth for the region and were strong propellers of growth for the region. China grew 9.9% in 2005 and is expected to grow 9.5% in 2006 and 9% in 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In an IMF report issued recently in April, it was mentioned that growth in China remains very strong, with investment growth running at a high rate and net exports increasing significantly. As for India, the economy grew 8.1% in the fiscal year ended March 2006 and India is expected to grow at 7.3% for March 2007. The IMF report also mentioned that strong momentum in India’s growth should come from the manufacturing and service sector. Due to the strong growth in export revenues for both emerging giants, foreign reserves have also been rising.
In fact, in the first quarter this year, China overtook Japan as the country with the largest foreign reserve assets in the world. China has about 20.2% of the total world reserves and saw a year-on-year increase of 32.8% in March 2006. India’s foreign reserves also grew at a healthy rate of 9.7% year-on-year. This shows that Asian economies have been accumulating quite a lot of their revenues and that by itself bodes well for the future economic well being of these economies. An economy with steadily growing reserves is not only earning good revenues, but also prudent in their spending as well.
Table 1: International Reserve Assets (Top 5 Asian Economies)
Country
Billions USD
% of World
YoY Change
China
875.07
20.23%
32.80%
Japan
832.65
19.25%
1.70%
Taiwan
257.05
5.94%
2.40%
South Korea
217.34
5.03%
5.80%
India
148.68
3.44%
9.70%
Total World Reserves
4325.26


Source: Bloomberg; Reserve figures as at end March 2006, except for India, which is as at 14 April 2006
Strong economic revenue for many of these Asian economies is a result of strong exports growth and this trend is unlikely to reverse in the medium term. Chart 2 shows the 3-month average exports growth on a year-on-year basis. There was an acceleration in growth of exports for all of these economies since a year ago (March 2005). Among these countries, South Korea and China were the two Asian economies that showed the strongest exports growth. From March 2005 to March 2006, China’s exports grew at a monthly rate of 28.1% and South Korea’s exports grew at a monthly rate of 11.6% (year-on-year). We expect growth in exports to continue to propel most of the Asian economies going forward. Aside from the continued economic growth in the US, there has been a growing trend of inter-Asian exports stemming from an improvement in domestic spending in Asia. This brings us to the next driving factor behind the growth in the Asia region – strong growth in Asia’s domestic consumption.

Domestic Demand Remaining Strong
Unlike during the early part of Asia’s economic recovery in 2003 to 2004 when exports were the more obvious propeller of growth, Asia has begun to show a more balanced economic growth. Both external and domestic factors are contributing to the health of the region’s economy. As shown in chart 3, retail spending for South Korea and China has been growing at a steady pace since the beginning of 2005. This is especially true in the case for China, which saw a monthly average growth of 12.9% in 2005. In South Korea, the country’s leading department stores – Lotte, Hyundai and Shinsegae – reported an average monthly year-on-year growth of 6.8% in sales for the period spanning March 2005 to March 2006. That is a strong improvement compared to an average decline of 2.5% in retail sales for 2004.
In a recent report on domestic spending on Visa cards by Visa Asia Pacific, spending through Visa card grew by 15% year-on-year in the last quarter of 2005. According to the study, which comes from data collected from eight key Asia Pacific markets ( India, Hong Kong, South Korea etc.), India was the fastest growing country for domestic spending on Visa cards with a growth of 49% during the same period. This recent report from Visa shows a stark improvement in the spending power of the Asian consumers.

As we have shown earlier on, it is likely that exports and domestic demand will continue to be two important drivers of growth for Asia. But with Asian equities having already doubled in the past three years, is there further upside?
Does It Make Sense To Stay Invested In The Asia Region?
The most commonly asked question recently by investors seems to be: ‘Asia is in a bull run, what’s next?’ In order to answer this question, we need to go through some of the main factors that we typically use to assess whether if a market is too expensive or still attractive. The first factor would be valuation, namely estimated price-earnings (PE ratio). If valuation increases to well beyond historical average or gets to levels that are much higher than that of other regions, there is a need to be more careful about investing in that particular market. In the situation where current PE ratios are too high, there is a higher probability that the market might turn down. Chart 4 shows that the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index estimated PE is in the lower of the 7-year range of 11X to 37X. In addition to that, table 2 shows that Asia ex-Japan still has the lowest market PE ratio in comparison to the other regions. The estimated PE for Asia ex-Japan for 2006 and 2007 is at 13.8X and 12.6X, which is the cheapest among the four regions featured. Thus, it gives us a good idea that despite the strong market rally, the Asia regional market still appears attractive.

Table 2: Estimated PE & Earnings Growth of Regional Markets (as at end March 2006)
Market
PE 2005
PE 2006
PE 2007
Earnings Growth 2006 (%)
Earnings Growth 2007 (%)
Excess Earnings Yield (%)*
US (S&P 500)
17.8
15.9
14.9
12.0
7.3
1.5
Europe (DJ Stoxx 50)
16.5
15.0
14.2
9.8
6.2
2.8
Japan (Nikkei 225)
28.3
27.4
24.4
3.3
12.1
2.4
Asia ex-Japan
15.7
13.8
12.6
13.3
11.7
2.3
Source: Fundsupermart.com, Bloomberg; *Excess earnings yield is the difference between the 5-year bond yield and the earnings yield (1/PE) of the market.
But why are valuations low even when markets are rallying? This would relate to the second factor that we would be looking at which is earnings growth. Price Earnings ratio is essentially the price of the market divided by estimated earnings. If earnings are on an upward trend, PE can still remain at attractive levels. In addition, earnings growth for the market gives us a feel of the growth potential of the market going forward. Earnings growth for the Asia ex-Japan region is estimated to be 13.3% for 2006 and 11.7% for 2007. The earnings growth potential of a particular market gives investors confidence that the underlying companies are able to produce a steady income stream in the coming years. It generally reduces downside risks for these companies. In comparison to the regions featured in Table 2, Asia spots one of the strongest earnings growth estimates for 2006 and 2007.
Another measure to assess the attractiveness of equities would be excess earnings yield. Excess earnings yield compares the bond yield at a given point of time in comparison to earnings yield (amount of earnings an investor get for every dollar worth of a stock market). It gives an estimate of how attractive equities are in comparison to sovereign bonds in a particular market. The higher the excess earnings yield, the more attractive the equity market vis-*-vis the sovereign bond for the domestic market. Table 2 shows that excess earnings yield for Asia ex-Japan is not the highest, but is at an acceptable range of 2.3% (not far from Europe’s excess earnings yield of 2.8%). Thus, it shows that Asian equities are still generally more attractive than Asian sovereign bonds.
From these factors, it shows that despite the rally in the recent three years, Asian markets are still appealing in terms of valuations and earnings.
Conclusion
There are two main factors in determining the attractiveness of a particular region. One would be the overall health of the underlying economies and the other would be whether the market is over-valued or expensive. As we looked at the region’s economic health, we find that factors including export growth and domestic spending for the region are likely to continue to be on an uptrend. China, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore are leading the pack in terms of exports growth while China, India and South Korea are enjoying strong domestic spending as the people in these economies get more affluent. As for valuations and earnings, we have shown that Asia ex-Japan’s valuations remain appealing in comparison to other regional markets and earnings growth is one of the highest. With these positive factors continuing to drive the Asia ex-Japan market going forward, we think that there is still a likelihood for the Asia regional market to enjoy further upside for the rest of this year. Our recommended funds for Asia ex-Japan include the Aberdeen Pacific Equity Fund and the Franklin Templeton F-Asian Equity Fund.
Despite the optimism, as always, we would like to remind clients to stay diversified in their investments. Our neutral weightage for Asia ex-Japan is 30%. If you wish to invest a bit more due to the current optimism, you can choose to have a greater weightage than this neutral weightage, say 35%. But if the portion of Asian equity funds in your portfolio grows to say, 50% of your portfolio, it is time to do some rebalancing (refer to a recent article on rebalancing here).

Mah Ching Cheng (Senior Analyst, AFP & Investment Representative) is part of the Research and Editorial team at Fundsupermart, a division of iFAST Financial Pte Ltd. This article is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the subscription, purchase or sale of any fund. No investment decision should be taken without first viewing a fund's prospectus. Any advice herein is made on a general basis and does not take into account the specific investment objectives of the specific person or group of persons. Past performance and any forecast is not necessarily indicative of the future or likely performance of the fund. The value of units and the income from them may fall as well as rise. Opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Please read our disclaimer
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  #2  
Old 29-04-2006, 12:40 AM
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Yugi Yugi is offline
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hi, Kanden,

Good job on this report! How about a post on your personal analysis and opinion ler? hehehe... good to show yourself now, makcik wishes to know other sides of yours.
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Old 29-04-2006, 12:52 AM
kanden kanden is offline
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Yugi,

My bet for the rest of the year is Korea. Here's a good article on y.

*****************************************


05 Apr 2006
Top Markets For 1st Quarter 2006
Find out which markets performed the best in 1Q06, and why markets like South Korea and Taiwan underperformed. by Mah Ching Cheng

TOP MARKETS FOR 1st Quarter 2006
Equity markets performed well year-to-date as investor optimism in 2005 spilled over to 2006. The MSCI World Index rose 3.5% in the first quarter . But stronger returns came from emerging market equities and Asia ex-Japan. The MSCI Emerging Market index was up 13.8%, while the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was up 5.7%. Despite political uncertainty in Thailand and Taiwan, Asian markets in general, did well. Markets such as Indonesia, India and China emerged as the strongest performers, while Taiwan and South Korea lagged. Table 1: Market Performance Scoreboard
Market
Index
2005
1st Qtr 2006
Indonesia
JCI
12.1%
19.2%
India
SENSEX
39.8%
17.8%
China
HSMLCI*
21.9%
13.8%
Emerging Markets
MSCI Emerging Markets
32.7%
8.4%
Singapore
STI
13.6%
7.9%
Europe
MSCI Europe
9.3%
7.2%
Asia ex-Japan
MSCI Asia ex-Japan
21.5%
5.7%
Thailand
SET
3.3%
5.4%
Japan
Nikkei 225
24.4%
3.3%
Hong Kong
HIS
6.7%
3.2%
Malaysia
KLCI
1.5%
2.7%
US
S&P 500
4.9%
0.8%
Technology
NASDAQ 100
3.3%
0.6%
South Korea
KOSPI
61.6%
-0.6%
Taiwan
TWSE
5.2%
-0.7%
Source: Bloomberg
All returns are expressed in SGD terms without dividends reinvested *HSMLCI stands for Hang Seng Mainland Composite Index
Indonesia as represented by the Jakarta Composite Index, was the best performing market in 1Q 2006. The Indonesian bourse returned 19.2% in the first quarter of the year. A close second in terms of performance would be the Indian equity market, represented by the Mumbai Sensitive Index or SENSEX. The Indian bourse delivered a performance of 17.8% over the 1 st quarter. China came in as the third best performing market with a return of 13.8%. One similarity in these three top performing markets is that economic growth and infrastructure development have driven market sentiment.
In this update, we shall examine the reasons behind the strong performance of the top three best performing markets. We will also highlight our outlook for these markets for the next three years, as well as explain why South Korea and Taiwan, two of our favourite markets over the next 3 years, did not do as well. We shall discuss at the end of this story whether this view still holds.
Indonesia (JCI up 19.2%)
Economic and corporate news created had a positive impact on the Indonesian bourse. Firstly, the Indonesian government forecasts growth of 12% in 2006 for overseas investments. According to Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board, the government expects to attract US$10 billion of overseas investments this year. This is part of the plan set by the government to attract foreign funds amounting to US$426 billion by 2009 to create new jobs and reduce unemployment. Another piece of positive news is that the Indonesian government said in late February that it may be possible to lower benchmark interest rates to 9.5% in 2006 if inflationary pressures dampen. Since July 2005, Bank Indonesia (the nation’s central bank) has increased the benchmark rate five times from 8.5% to 12.75% mainly to curb inflationary pressures. Consumer inflation averaged 10.4% in 2005 and 16.9% for the first three months of 2006. High oil prices have been singled out as the culprit causing inflation to accelerate. In a recent announcement, Bank Indonesia forecasted inflation rates to slow to 7%-9% by the end of the year. This is based on oil prices having retreated from levels of US$70 per barrel in August 2005 to the current levels of over US$65 per barrel. Thus, talks of an expected fall in inflation have brought new hope to investors that the benchmark interest rates will be reduced in the future. A lower interest rate is positive for businesses and consumers as it makes domestic loans less expensive.
Along with the projection of rising foreign investments and a potential for interest rate cuts, the government expects that economic growth for the country is likely to accelerate from 5.6% in 2005 to 6.4% in 2006. Stock returns for larger Indonesian companies including Telekomunikasi Indonesia, Bank Central Asia and Bank Rakyat Indonesia were strong. These companies reported some positive news on revenue and earnings expectations. For example, Telekomunikasi Indonesia projects sales to rise as much as 25% in 2006. Shares of the company gained 22.5% on a year-to-date basis (in SGD terms). Bank Central Asia said it expects to maintain earnings growth at a healthy rate of 13% in 2006, while Bank Rakyat expects growth of about 10% for the year. These were some of the reasons that could have induced a strong rally in the first quarter.
India (SENSEX up 17.8%)
The Indian market enjoyed strong interest from both foreign and domestic based investment funds. Net foreign fund inflows (FIIs) totaled more than US$10 billion in 2005 and exceeded US$3 billion in the first quarter of 2006. Aside from foreign funds, sentiment from the local investment community remained strong. A major launch of the Reliance Equity Fund, a fund investing into Indian equities, was well received by Indian investors. The fund raised US$1.3 billion from more than a million local investors, according to the issuer of the fund (Reliance Capital Asset Management). It is expected that domestic investments are going to continue seeing growth in the near term. The reason is that local investors in India face difficulty in investing out of India. Thus, for those investors who wish to be exposed to equities, they would be pumping monies largely into Indian equities.
Economy-wise, GDP growth for India is expected to be in the range of 7% to 8%. Expansion is expected to be led by trade, manufacturing and financial sectors. On the corporate end, there have been some earning upgrades, especially for the larger companies in the index such as Wipro Systems (one of the largest info-tech companies in India) and Dr Reddy’s (one of the most prominent pharmaceutical companies in India). After the upgrades, Wipro is expected to grow at 33% and 24% in 2006 and 2007 respectively. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is estimated to see earnings growth of 47% and 45% for 2006 and 2007. These are based on information obtained from I/B/E/S estimates as at end March 2006. Overall market earnings growth for the SENSEX is estimated to be at 21.8% and 14.9% for 2006 and 2007 (as at fiscal year ending March 2007 and March 2008). However, despite the upturn in earnings growth, we have found that valuations for these two companies were at the higher range. Based on 2006 earnings, Wipro is trading at 38X and Dr Reddy’s is trading at 51X.
After the strong market upturn, the PE (valuations) for SENSEX was trading at 19.1X and 16.6X for fiscal year ending March 2007 and March 2008 respectively. The estimated PE is at the higher range of its historical average of 11X to 23X. Thus, we have given the market 2.5 stars (a neutral rating based on Fundsupermart’s research methodology). As the market is trading at a premium, we recommend investors who have substantial holdings in Indian funds to shift part of their monies into markets that are more attractively valued. However, if clients are interested to stay invested in India, we would advise them to take a longer-term view of, say, more than 5 years.
China (HSMLCI up 13.8%)
The Chinese economy continued to report strong economic data early this year. After the un-pegging of the Chinese Yuan (RMB) to the USD, the RMB has appreciated by 3.2% from July 2005 to March 2006. Despite the appreciation, exports still grew at a healthy pace of 27.7% per month year-on-year for the past 12 months ended February 2006. Industrial production grew at 16% for the same period. In 2005, the Chinese economy grew by 9.9% and is expected to grow at about 9% in 2006.
One concern for the economy has been the problem of overcapacity in certain sectors. According to the Ministry of Commerce, production-related goods and consumer goods (including clothing, mobile phones etc.) have been facing a state of oversupply. However, there is a positive side to the problem. With the market facing over-capacity, prices of raw materials such as steel and aluminum have been trending down. Producer prices of steel rods, for example, fell 8.4% and 9.7% year-on-year in January and February 2006. The producer price index (PPI) decelerated from an average year-on-year growth of 4.9% in 2005 to a growth that averaged 3% in the first two months of 2006. As inflation slows down due to overcapacity, the pressure on Chinese producers to pass on higher raw material costs to customers, will ease.
As for company news, one of the largest companies in China, Petrochina, reported a rise in net profit of 28.4% in 2005. Revenues for the company increased by 47.5% in the same period as the company benefited from higher oil prices. Earnings growth for Chinese companies is expected to be strong. That is especially so for the mining, insurance and commercial services sector in China. Market earnings growth for China is expected to be at 9.1% and 13.8% for 2006 and 2007 respectively. Estimated PE for the market is at 14.3X and 12.5X for 2006 and 2007 respectively. Despite the rally in the first quarter of 2006, we remain optimistic on the market due to the strong economic growth, which is likely to translate to a gradual growth in revenues for China-based companies. This is at the back of a continued improvement in domestic and foreign demand for China-made products. Thus, we remain optimistic on China and we have given the market 4 stars for a 3-year investment horizon.
Singapore (STI up 7.9%)
Aside from India, China and Indonesia, another strong performer worth mentioning is our very own Singapore bourse (represented by Straits Times Index or STI). On a year-to-date basis, the market was up 7.9%. Singapore was one of the best performing Southeast Asian markets in the first quarter. Economy-wise, Singapore benefited from a number of factors, which include rising travel demand, improved job market, high pharmaceutical production and a recovery in demand for consumer electronic products. In 2005, Singapore enjoyed a robust economic growth of 6.4%, and according to government estimates, the economy is expected to grow by 4% to 6% for this year. For a more detailed report on the Singapore market, read our article on Straits Times Index at 3,000 points?
Worst Performing Markets
The two worst performing bourses year-to-date on our scorecard are South Korea and Taiwan. The South Korea market, represented by KOSPI, was down 0.6% and the Taiwan market, represented by TWSE, lost 0.7%. Incidentally, these were the two markets, which we find attractive. We have given both markets a four star rating. What were the reasons behind the lackluster performance?
For the South Korean bourse, there is a strong possibility that investors were taking profits after sitting on strong gains in 2005. The market was the best performing market in 2005, delivering a return of over 60% in SGD terms in 2005. We think that we are now seeing a healthy market consolidation rather than the start of a prolonged market downturn. There are certain indicators that continue to support market and economic fundamentals. Economic growth in 2006 is expected to continue to be strong at 4.8%, propelled by strong export growth and domestic consumption. Benefiting from the robust economic growth, private consumption grew 4.2% in the quarter ended December 2005. Other than that, consumer sentiment remains positive, with the consumer confidence index above 100 points (meaning that optimists outnumber pessimists) since October last year. Business sentiment in the nation also remained strong. Earnings growth for the Korean market is estimated to be at 15.1% and 15% for 2006 and 2007. Going forward, we think that Korea is likely to continue to benefit from the uptrend in electronics demand and that would likely benefit the tech-heavy Korean market. As at end March 2006, estimated PE is at 10.2X and 8.9X for 2006 and 2007, which makes it attractive in comparison to its peers. On the back of these strong fundamental factors, we maintain our rating of 4 stars for the Korean market.
For Taiwan, market performance was largely plagued by pessimistic market sentiment as investors reacted negatively to the scrapping of the NUC and NUG, which led to worsening cross-Straits tensions. Another piece of news that caused a bit of a stir in the market would be the decision by the Taiwanese government to impose tighter restrictions on economic exchanges with China. Taiwanese firms that plan to invest in China will have to undergo tighter government scrutiny. After these restrictions, it will be harder for Taiwanese firms to move their operations to China to reduce production and operation costs. These factors weighed down on market sentiment in Taiwan. However, despite these negative factors, Taiwan is still seeing strong growth. Export orders, which reflect the demand for technology products, have been growing at a rate of over 20% year-on-year since August 2005. Growth in export orders was led by stronger demand for consumer electronics and semiconductors. Going forward, we think that despite the political noise affecting market sentiment, there is a strong potential for Taiwan to perform well in the next three years. Expected earnings growth for Taiwan is the strongest among the Asian markets, at 27.5% and 13.1% for 2006 and 2007 respectively. Estimated PE is at attractive levels of 10.7X and 9.5X for 2006 and 2007 respectively. Similar to Korea, we think that there are still compelling reasons to remain positive on the Taiwan bourse for the next three years. Thus, we maintain our rating of 4 stars on the market.
Conclusion
Indonesia, India, and China stood out as the best performing markets in the 1 st quarter of 2006. These top performers delivered returns of 19.2%, 17.8% and 13.8% respectively in a short span of three months. At the bottom of the list are the Taiwan and Korean bourses. Incidentally, these markets were two of our favourite Asian single country markets for the next three years. Based on our assessment, despite the flat performances from these two markets, we still see strong potential from them as valuations remain attractive and earnings growth is either reasonable or strong. We continue to think that both markets are attractive. There was a marked rise in volatility for a number of the Asian markets, but we still think the region is very attractive. For the rest of the year, we expect equities to outperform bonds, and we continue to be bullish on Asia ex-Japan equities.


Mah Ching Cheng (Senior Analyst, Investment Representative) is part of the Research and Editorial team at Fundsupermart, a division of iFAST Financial Pte Ltd. This article is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the subscription, purchase or sale of any fund. No investment decision should be taken without first viewing a fund's prospectus. Any advice herein is made on a general basis and does not take into account the specific investment objectives of the specific person or group of persons. Past performance and any forecast is not necessarily indicative of the future or likely performance of the fund. The value of units and the income from them may fall as well as rise. Opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Please read our disclaimer
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Old 29-04-2006, 01:06 AM
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thanks, Kanden, I will read later, i forgot I have to attend a lunch meeting with the speaker. Dr. Berlinder. In a group of students... free lunch mar... hehehe... see you tomorrow morning maybe. I will post some activities in college life thread. Be sure to be there. OK! thanks.
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