Hock Leng Seng (HLS) vs UMS? Why compare them? How are they related? 
Nothing except that both are listed on Singapore Exchange and I bought them recently in September as dividend counters.  

What do they do?
Hock Lian Seng is a leading civil engineering group that is established for 45 years. It is listed on SGX mainboard in December 2009. At any one period, the group does not have many projects but they have big projects with revenue that is recognized over a few years. Some recent completed projects include Marina Bay Station, Marina Coastal Expressway. On-going projects include CAG airport runway and Maxell Station. Upon listed, they forayed into property development and had developed industry building such as ARK@Gambas and ARK@KB and collaborated to developed the Skywoods condominium. The remaining project that the group is doing now is Shine@Tuas South. The other segment is investment properties which contributed negligibly in the latest financial year.

As seen from the segment value, the group seems to have gone a full circle with tapering civil engineering projects to an increase in it after a few years in experimenting properties development and investment. Going forward, it seems that they will be focusing on civil engineering business.

UMS is a is a one-stop strategic integration partner providing equipment manufacturing and engineering services to Original Equipment Manufacturers of semiconductors and related products. It is formed with the merger of Norelco Centreline (listed on SESDAQ in 2001 and upgraded to mainboard in 2003) with UMS Semiconductor in 2004. The key change in their product occurred in 2010/2011 when they acquired Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Pte Ltd and Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Inc. Since then, their revenue is mainly from Applied Materials.

Recent development, results and price movement
Hock Lian Seng proposed a special dividend of 10 cents in the latest financial year. Wow, a big windfall for investors who have invested in the company before that. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. 20171H performance has been muted as there is no contribution from property development. Revenue from Civil Engineering segment was flat from previous year. The bright spot since the beginning of the year is the record order book which stands at a high of 890 million. Also, it has about 27 cents of cash per share which means I am just paying about 18 cents for its solid order book. Share had drifted to $0.4+ in August/September when I made my purchase. It was moving up over the past week and is now at $0.51.

UMS renewed its integrated system contract with Applied Material for 3 years (and has the option of extending it for another 3 years). It is also attempting to diversify its customer base by subscribing to 51% of the enlarged share capital of Kalf. Recently, it has also gone XB for its 1-for-4 bonus. Its price has dropped from its high of $1.2+ (pre-bonus) in May/June to $0.9 (pre-bonus) when I made my purchase. It has gone ballistic after XB recently and is now at $0.99 (post-bonus).

Dividend and Sustainability?

Year         HLS         UMS
2016 12.5 c 4.8 c (adj)
2015 2.5 c 4.8 c (adj)
2014 4.0 c 4.2 c (adj)
2013 1.8 c 3.8 c (adj)
2012 1.8 c 3.8 c (adj)

As seen from the above table, both companies have been quite consistent in giving out dividends with HLS giving out special dividend periodically and UMS has increased its dividend.

Dividend payout for HLS around mid 30%, while UMS ranges from 70+% to 100+% if based on net profit. Based on free cash flow, UMS is around low 80%. Also, as mentioned earlier, HLS has about 27 cents in cash; while UMS cash holding is around 14 cents.

Based on the above, I am quite confident that both companies will sustain their pay out in the coming year (HLS – 2.5c, UMS – 6c) and this will translate to a yield of about 4.9% for HLS and 6.1% for UMS.

I first purchased both when their price has slid downwards in August/September. I was quite impressed by Hock Leng Seng as it has a strong net profit margin and return of equity. The property development has probably masked the NPM and ROE figures and I have not spent time drilling down on its AR. However, if I based it on 2009, 2010 figures when property development has not started NPM is around 10% and ROE is high 20%. Impressive numbers. 

Based on these numbers, order book and cash per share, I have added slightly more this month, bringing my average price to $0.45. I would like to see how things unfold in the coming quarters before deciding if I would accumulate more.

With the contract renewal, there is more certainty of  UMS for at least the next few years. I have not added to UMS since my purchase at an average price of $0.76 (adj) in August, as the price has ran up and I was waiting to see if it would correct to below $0.80 after XB. The run up after XB was totally unexpected. I would be waiting for its Q3 results and the price then before making further decision.