Jul 4, 2016

Cory Diary : Preference Shares Viability

Preference Shares investment only make senses if the company payment is sustainable. This is an important logic. And the compensation amount varies within this defined scope of risk.

For Bank Preference Shares, dividend payment to common share holder is a norm especially in our local situation and where bank stability is utmost important. Therefore PS holder has much less risk to accept non-cumulative condition. For others, cumulative criteria will be required. Nevertheless we need to understand the risk in both.

In the uneventful situation of corporate bankruptcy, even though PS holders rank higher than common shares, in reality i am doubtful it will be much better off. In such restructure, most likely debts, and bonds if any, would have taken most of the piles in the new entity leaving little or nothing to the rest.

Therefore when we invest in PS, the rationale of why companies issue as such is important. In bank situation they need to meet regulatory requirements. PS to them is a cost.

For some companies that value cashflow due to market dynamic, they like to avoid situation of technical default. Therefore PS instrument will be ideal. I will be wary if is not cumulative for such cases. The company will still be able to pay up later. So a good record of dividend payments to common share holders are important. Even then it will not exceed 5% of my portfolio.

If there is risk in payment in the future, PS price would likely be adjusted along the way to detrimental of PS holders who attempt to get out if listed in SGX for trade. Therefore the only recourse is to cutloss provided there is liquidity or hope uneventful will not happen.

Another situation that i can think of is in REITs due to regulatory debt ratio requirement. Therefore issuing PS may help to bypass it to allow larger profit for distribution. We need to understand in detail why not through placements or rights. In CMT case ( correction: actually a retail bond), the company background can command cheaper cost without facing dilution I believe. Is an exception rather than a norm in my opinion.

Beyond such risk level, I will not easily accept as logicially it does not make sense. The litmus test will be ... is the issuer desperate. If it is, i would avoid. I will need strong justification to part my money where the potential to earn a lot more from common stocks are so much higher and at lower risk relatively.


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