Warren Buffett

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 October, 2007, 12:00am

Unlike the market, baby boom reflects long-term focus

It is hard not to know anyone who says they are expecting a baby this season, if they are not already celebrating that new arrival now.

It is difficult to resist not being moved, either.

Let's look at some hard numbers.

The total number of pregnancies is expected to jump 11 per cent this year to 31,599, according to data from the Hospital Authority. Thanks to the lucky Year of the Pig, Hong Kong is about to step into its peak season for baby production, with an average of 1,000 babies landing next month.

Lai See can recall working on a news desk at which nearly all staff were born in November. Ten years later, he got the reason for this from a former commissioner of the Census and Statistics Department, who explained that most babies were born in October and November because their parents did not find anything better to do in the chilly Christmas and New Year period.

There is no better timing than having babies in a booming market like now. Since 2004, the number of new families has been on a steady rising trend.

That provides market demand for some 30,000 homes, assuming half of the newlyweds or parents are looking to find a bigger place to live. By observation, most demand is for 800-plus square foot units with three bedrooms.

The residential property market is a big beneficiary of the baby boom, but not other sectors. Most parents we spoke to said they spent less than before having babies, saying property and children were their top spending items.

It has been suggested it costs nearly HK$4 million to raise a child in Hong Kong.

It is a huge investment. But then, the pay-off can be immense, measured by the laughter after tears. As any parent would probably say: 'It is worth it.'

Sweet nothings from Buffett

A happy problem, as one can imagine, in being an investment guru is to hear more people asking for stock tips each day than giving morning greetings.

While tycoon Lee Shau-kee keeps an A4-size sheet of paper in his pocket for anyone asking for a number to bet on, Warren Buffett (above) has his own special way for handling this situation.

In a visit to the mainland this week, Mr Buffett was happy to pose for a picture with reporters and whisper to each of them afterwards, before signing off saying: 'So, you know what to buy ...'

We asked a reporter for an inside tip. 'No, he said nothing. He was just teasing us.'

Well, we suspect Mr Buffett does not have a local broker's licence for giving stock recommendations.

CMB says it with a kiss

China Motor Bus may not stand out against other corporates that spend millions to produce flashy annual reports, but it deserves a mention for what it does for environmental protection.

In a year when almost every listed company increased their coverage to meet corporate governance standards, CMB has managed to churn out the same 58-page annual report.

It has all the required statutory information, often with a sentence or two. The chairman's statement is a similar length to this column. The only picture in the annual report is on the front page.

Under the section 'future outlook', there is a two-line statement, one of which ran: 'The group intends to continue with its policy to seek investment opportunities, both locally and overseas, in its customary prudent way in the future.'

We give it a 'kiss' - keep it short and succinct.

Free daily comes at a cost

Sorry, Madam, it is the wrong company address.

An old subscriber of the Standard, which became a free daily on September 10, told Lai See that the paper said she would get her subscription money back within one month.

A month later, she was told that the refund cheque could be delayed to mid-November due to some 'technical problems with the bank'.

Good luck - but kindly let our subscription department know if we can be more helpful.