Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sino Techfibre - Fraudulent Fire?

Last Thursday, Sino Techfibre announced that a fire broke out at an office which did not affect any staff, but unfortunately destroyed books and financial records (see$file/Sino_Techfibre_Announcement_210411.pdf?openelement).

How convenient. The company's stock was halted for trading on 13 April, after auditors raised issues over the legitimacy of invoices. Now, the financial records to "verify" those invoices (likely to be "receivables" on the company's books) will most probably be lost in the fire, rendering an audit impossible.

This latest incident only serves to highlight the poor quality of S-Chips listed on the Singapore Exchange, something which has kept us from investing in the sector despite having bombed-out valuations. When balance sheets cannot be trusted, it is impossible to ascertain the true value of a company, and the track record of the sector in terms of corporate governance has been attrocious. In academic terms, the "risk premium" attributed to an investment in the S-Chip sector should be extremely high, which goes a long way in explaining the ridiculously-low valuations of most companies in the sector. We sympathise with investors who have fallen prey to these poorly managed companies and will continue to seek value opportunities outside of the S-Chip sector.

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