Between Christmas Day and January 2nd we shall be publishing more than 20 share tips of the year – buys and sells. Seventh up is the second one from Chris "Three Brains" Bailey of Financial Orbit.
Tesco (TSCO) shares are little changed today and progress or not over the next few weeks will be highly dependent on the infamous Christmas trading update of early January. I have no great tactical insights on this but I am hopeful it will be part of the strategic improvement and opportunity in the stock I noted a couple of months or so ago HERE. Certainly the share has shown a bit of form recently and this has been driven by improving sales metrics, hopes for the generation of enhanced margin and cashflows, lower debt...and the potential from the Booker (BOK) takeover. It is the latter which is in the news today.
Back in October I talked about how you could profitably play at being a hedge fund manager via buying some shares in media giant Sky (SKY) - see HERE. From then to now this call has worked out well and the discount to the proposed takeover price has narrowed sharply. Sounds like a building need to make a decision whether to hold on or cash out...except a lot of other stuff has changed.
'Twas a week before Christmas...and it is apparently time to spot the stock exchange poseur as I read in today's press that the London Stock Exchange has helped float a cool 98 companies so far this year...and naturally is hoping for a couple of tiddlers to take it over the century level before close of business on Friday 29th December. Well...bully for it...
There are two things I know about 2017. The first is that I had not one but two inaugural trips to a Sports Direct (SPD) store (and survived) and the second is that the omnipresent but embattled retailer should have been my tip of the year the thick end of a year ago. However in this world we must look forward and that brings me to today's first half profits at Mike Ashley's emporium.
I have had the horn about Ashtead (AHT) shares for a while now, as noted during my write-up a quarter ago. Another quarter, another update...and boy has it continued to clean up with profits ahead of hopes, assisted by the post hurricane-related spend that tends to benefit the construction equipment and related rental business that the company specialises in.
I have something to confess. I perused the online Guardian newspaper over the weekend...and I did particularly enjoy one article. Fortunately, it was not anything political (I have not completely lost my marbles) but it did involve a fascinating business case study over time of the humble sandwich. Or as one contributor to the article observed 'we are light years ahead of the rest of the world'. Clearly the Earl of Sandwich has a lot to be thanked for. At the front of the queue in terms of British sandwich production is Greencore (GNC), whose heritage is in sugar beet but is now the top supplier of choice to all but one of the major supermarkets.
It is going to be a week filled with economic rhetoric - as every UK Government Budget epoch tends to be. As an aside - and something to remember for this Wednesday - the way to spot a better than average budget is if it is generally slammed in the press the day after. Someone told me this rule too many years ago to recall and I have to say it has been pretty accurate since. Anyhow, back to stocks and specifically another bout of economic common sense from Centrica (CNA) today on the issues of why price caps do not work.
You do not have to be active in the stock markets for long to realise that FTSE-100 companies have the propensity to deliver incompetence and intrigue just like their smaller cap brethren. Today's shocker is centred on automotive and aerospace sector giant GKN (GKN) which has made a bit of a habit over the last few months in bogging things up.
The most boring company in the FTSE-100 by far is in my opinion SSE plc (SSE, Scottish & Southern Energy). Admittedly utility companies are not meant to be sexy but SSE with its lack of growth and grinding up dividend payment (which encompasses pretty much all of its free cash flow) is the ultimate tortoise. Don't worry I know the hare and tortoise fable and my own investment style is hardly rabid but shoot me now if I make this one a top ten portfolio position at any time before the age of 85. However...
Back in mid-September I told you to take your trading profits on Next (NXT) at around fifty quid a share. Today's update highlights again that currently the only way to play even UK retail names with good market shares, decent balance sheets and a propensity to chuck out dividends and undertake share buybacks is with a trader's hat on.
A busy corporate update Tuesday and three sets of comments stand out for me.
Putting a portfolio together involves making decisions by comparing and contrasting one company against many others and wrapping it all up in some overriding sector/macro strategy. Simples, right?! For reasons too obvious to state, the financial sector had a shocker during the global financial crisis and which, in due course, led to the creation of a new competitive grouping - the 'challenger banks'. As one traditional name (Lloyds Bank - LLOY) and one new challenger name (Metro Bank - MTRO) have both reported today, let's compare and contrast and see if either pass muster. Prepare the cage...
Whitbread (WTB) has had an up-and-down year since my last update on the stock - HERE. The Costa and Premier Inn operator unsurprisingly has been impacted by the changes in perception towards the strength (or not) of the UK consumer and this has pushed the shares between a £36 and £42 range this year. Today's interim results have again pushed the shares towards the lower end of this range despite the company reiterating its hopes for the full year.
I cannot get used to calling the company formerly known as Regus the new comedy name of International Workplace Group (IWG). Perhaps David Brent had something to do with the change of name... Anyhow the newish name has not provided much luck today with a 30%+ dumping in the shares.
I have never written about Merlin Entertainment (MERL) before but i have certainly visited one of its leisure facilities religiously at least once a year for the last five years or so. Yes, I can attest that Legoland is actually damn good, clean family fun and due to the fifty minutes I spent in the queue for the new Ninjago ride the other month I have changed my specialist subject for any future Mastermind appearance.
After the omnishables that was Theresa May’s big cough-rence speech, mumblings from the Brexit transition Queen about the need for a price cap on the easy targets of the electricity and gas utilities spanked the shares of Centrica (CNA) and Scottish & Southern (SSE), with the former falling to a 14 year share price low. Whilst the latter bores me, the former does grab my attention as the current management team does have a sensible plan involving selling us energy efficiency related technology and services to complement our core gas and electricity bills.
The fine office of Wikipedia informs me that: 'Ferguson is a Scottish surname and given name. The surname is a patronynic form of the personal name Fergus. The name Fergus is derived from the Proto-Celtic elements *wiros ("man") and *gustus ("vigour", "force", or "choice"). Well...you learn something new everyday. Additionally as of a few weeks ago it is the new name of the old Wolseley (WOS, now FERG), the FTSE-100 plumbing and heating kit stalwart.
I have never smoked and have no plans ever to but I am enough of a libertarian to take the view that if individuals want to light up after knowing everything that medical science has discovered about tobacco over the last couple of generations then that is their business. And so I do periodically invest in the tobacco sector.
A cool two years and two months ago (almost to the day) I observed you had the opportunity to make some money on the shares of precious metal refiner and clever catalytic converter technology company Johnson Matthey (JMAT) with the natty headline of '19th Century heritage with 21st Century appeal'. After briefly getting to the area of my £35 target price a few months after the original call, they are back there again now after a stupendous end of last week bounce.
One of the great pleasures of a Sunday morning is reading the Sunday press or - because i am not completely antediluvian - reading various bits and bobs online without the threat of newsprint getting everywhere. Pacing through the Sunday Times business section on my laptop i almost spat out my morning coffee when I read:
If I told you that UK clothing retail behemoth Next (NXT) mentioned this morning that earnings per share for the current financial year were now estimated to be down between 3.1% and 10.9% you would probably not want to buy the share after muttering about the downbeat UK consumer, nobbled by a lack of real wage growth and a slumped Pound. Well you would be quite correct in not wanting to buy Next shares today...because with the stock up a cool 11% it is once again pushing close to the 50 quid a share level I hoped for as a share price target in my writings on the stock earlier in the year (for example HERE).
Has the weather been bad since the second half of July with you? It seems to have been alright in the locality of Bailey Towers but as I spend my time inside slaving over copy for ShareProphets among other akin matters, rather than sitting in a pub garden, I cannot really tell you if Greene King (GNK) is talking reality or not with its expectations-chopping update today observing: 'since the second half of July, when the weather worsened, trading weakened'.
In a world of omnipresent instant communication and next day delivery options, I am not really sure there is that much difference between the first and second class letter service - and I am certain that many of you reading this in rural communities can barely distinguish between the two. Anyhow, Royal Mail (RMG) has itself been downgraded this morning with the news it is out of the FTSE-100 and into the mid-cap melee known as the FTSE-250.
I have not written about Dixons Carphone (DC.) before but, whilst Darren counts the profits from his short sell tip on the share of early January, I have to say today's share price dump has rather piqued my interest.
It was around a year ago that I wrote an article about one of my then tips of the year BHP Billiton (BLT) observing that the world's largest mining company had just made billions of dollars of losses...but correctly the share price was going up. Billiton was a nice solid pick for 2016 but so far this year the share has been more volatile than remunerative.
Who remembers the infamous zero pence share price target established by one 'teenage scribbler' broker on Glencore (GLEN) the thick end of a couple of years ago? Funnily enough, via a decent commodity marketing/trading business, a cute money raising and some decent tier 1 mining assets, Glencore shares did not trouble the scorers below even 50p and over the last 20 months have recovered back to levels seen four or five years back. Today's first half numbers continue that renaissance.
I really do commend to you the search capability on the ShareProphets website because it provides a great short-cut to who-said-what-when. It was last August when I last mentioned Easyjet (EZJ) and since then the stock has been volatile but positive. Ok, it certainly did take a bit longer than I thought AND there were a couple of sub 1000p/share diversions...but you know what it is like with these low-cost airlines: take-off is not always precisely on time...but you get there eventually.
The macro news today showed a glimmer of hope for retailers with the UK British Retail Consortium (BRC) data showing a 1.2% rise in June like-for-like retail sales compared to a year ago. All hail the hot weather and the Eid celebrations which apparently - according to the experts - helped out.
Fans of The Graduate will recognise the form, if not the precise wording of the title. Life has thankfully moved on from the 1960s and in today’s world of internet delivery and crowded consumer choice, packaging matters from both a practical and differentiating perspective.
Is the UK consumer completely shot? For the last year we have had a waxing and waning in views from 'the experts' on this. The reality is that it depends who you talk to but, biggest picture, what is needed is a great product, attractive marketing and a base underlying need. I last chatted through the Whitbread (WTB) investment case in late January, where I concluded that the stock was still worth a punt...
I last mused about industrial plant and tool hire company Ashtead (AHT) fourteen months ago, since when the shares have basically doubled. Happy days...but no resting on the laurels because correctly you should be asking the question of 'so what do we do right here and right now?' Fortunately, the company puckered up its full year results today so all the latest information is to hand.
As the part of rural Wales I was staying in during a good chunk of the Bank Holiday weekend apparently is intermittently covered by the leading mobile network recently purchased by BT Group (BT.A), I had to return to England to surprisingly wax lyrical about the telecoms giant, as the dearth of WIFI forced me to buy an antiquated media device called a newspaper. Within its grubby pages I read that shock-style headline that 'BT threatens fatal blow to final salary pensions'.
Near the top of the FTSE-100 leaderboard today is the telecoms behemoth Vodafone (VOD), which proudly said earlier today that it had enjoyed a ‘good year, gaining share’. Of course the headline profit numbers were full of the negative impact of a non-cash impairment of €5 billion relating to its Indian business. But don’t worry about this! ‘Organic adjusted EBITDA growth of 4%-8%’ is expected and, with €5 billion of free cash flow and a 2% hike in the dividend, the yield munchers will be bought off. Right here, right now though, I would sell Vodafone shares.
The seasons may have evolved a little but the message from FTSE-100 clothing behemoth Next (NXT) is basically unchanged. Life is still tough in a market where, in its words, ‘the UK consumer environment remains challenging’...
In this video from the storming success that was the 2017 UK Investor Show, Chris Bailey of Financial Orbit and Johnny Hon of Global Group discuss: Is China a Fraud-ridden bubble? And make sure that you keep April 21 2018 free for next year's UK Investor Show.
I start by explaining why Chris Bailey of Financial Orbit is a freak!. it is all to do with Star Wars. Then it is onto TrakM8 (TRAK) following my kerboom article of earlier. I make specific points about Paul Scott's favourite dog but then general points about why company's acquire and why that turns me off.
Best FTSE-100 short for 2017? After musing about the property stocks I chanced upon Wolseley’s (WOS) epic push towards a 50 quid share price. First congratulations to anyone who picked up shares in the plumbing and building industry supplier at the time of the Brexit referendum vote for around 36 quid. My advice though for 2017 is to sell the shares.
If you are interested in retail shares then one of the more sensible uses of your research time would be to become familiar with the output of Kantar. Even for cheapskates like me there is a reasonable flow of free insights from the business research consultancy to provide a bit of colour.
After Saracens European triumph on Saturday I imagine that Nigel Wray will be a happy man. He was at the centre of the value investing panel at UK Investor Show with Chris Bailey of Financial Orbit, Paul Jourdan of Amati and myself, Tom Winnifrith. Enjoy
What characteristics do you like to see in an equity? How about revenue and profit growth, free cash flow generation, relatively modest debt levels, an experienced and sensible management team, taking market share against peers and a good capability this could continue over the next few years? And how about for the icing on the cake: a low valuation and increasing dividend capability?
I don’t need to write another love-up article on Randgold Resources (RRS) because with the shares up 50% odd year-to-date you should be looking elsewhere for a bit of relative value. Extending this line of thinking today’s announcement from Polymetal (POLY) is another common sense corporate update from the Russia-focused gold play. Yes I have used the words ‘Russia-focused’ and ‘common sense’ in the same sentence.
Spooked by the market sell-off last week, starting to think it will be a Santa sleigh crash in the City? Fear not, Chris Bailey of Financial Oribit discusses the myriad current challenges in the global economy, a hoped for Christmas wish list and why now is not a time for panic selling.
Let me know if you can find a sector more opaque than the insurance sector. In too many years of pacing through corporate reports I cannot think of a sector that consistently bamboozles even experienced analysts with all sorts of anachronistic terminology.
In this week's Financial Orbit podcast I discuss Mario "The Grinch" Draghi of the ECB, the implications of higher bond yields, the need to be stock picking focused, the source of higher productivity and the wane in office Christmas parties.
Why are macroeconomic investors going to be busy in December? Find out with this week’s Financial Orbit. We also discuss the impacts of the strong US dollar, where options and opportunities exist for investors and finally a confirmation that Space Invaders is the best ever computer game.
Six months ago after rhapsodising about the 4.5%+ dividend yield I described the Royal Mail (RMG) as:
‘…a brand that has persisted for hundreds of years and it is not going away. As a balance to your blood, guts and violence capital gain stocks it works’
And in that sense the outperformance versus the broader FTSE-100 index since then has been pleasing to note albeit still down a handful of percent since the call was made versus 10% for the UK’s large cap index. Of course you can’t eat relative performance…but that’s where that dividend comes in.
Back in September I confessed to the ShareProphets readers that I had been making some semi-regular visits to my local 99p Store. I also called a sell/avoid/short on Poundland (PLND) shares and it is the latter which has to interest us today following a litany of disasters in the company’s interim results statement today.
A month ago almost to the day (link here) I wrote on the luxury retailer Burberry (BRBY) that:
‘The direction of Burberry shares over the next six months does largely depend on how Chinese performance is perceived. I think they surprise these low expectations and extrapolations…And this makes Burberry shares (still) a buy today’.
Today’s formal six month numbers to the end of September released today reiterate this view.
With Santa apparently due to make his big arrival at my local garden centre next Saturday the starting gun has been fired for the rundown to the end of the year. And for the medium-term investor in me this only means one thing: which sectors, themes and stocks are looking interesting for 2016?
In this week's global investment enhanced podcast, Chris Bailey the Founder of Financial Orbit discusses the strong October performance in financial markets, the challenges to Federal Reserve policy, why China is making correct policy changes, a full update on the quarterly corporate earnings round and presents a chart that perfectly explains the investment industry.
Today's podcast finds me in a panic as Oakley and I need to do frantic tidying before the Mrs returns to cover our respective sins. Meanwhile Tara the cat is also misbehaving. On the agenda - the great unravels at LGO Energy (LGO) but more especially Tribal Group (TRB) - the latter getting a thorough analysis. Then it is onto JQW (JQW), Alba Minerals (ALba) and the Horse Hill/Horse Shite prospect and Michelmersh Brick (MBH) which leaves me confused, perhaps Chris Bailey of Financial Orbit is geekish enough to assist?
Allegedly the best things come in small packages…well not today if you are a Vodafone (VOD) shareholder. Below – in its entirety – is a regulatory news service update from the company that hit the wires at just after 7am today:
Dear readers…time for another confession. I may have over the last few months enjoyed shopping at my local 99p Store snaffling a bargain or ten (£9.91 worth!) of relatively near-date cereal, biscuits and chocolate not to mention various household goods.
Bit of a Swiss surprise today with the news that Zurich Insurance is ending its 550p bid for Royal & Sun Alliance (RSA). Normally when a proposed deal falls apart it is because the bidder has found something dodgy in its detailed due diligence – and let’s face it insurance accounting is opaque at best. However this time the issue is all with the seemingly not-so-prudent Swiss with the management at Zurich noting ‘the deterioration in profitability in certain parts of the(ir) General Insurance business’ which it has to sort out first before it could even consider completing a bid on another insurance company like RSA.
Let’s review recent events at the self-styled mining giant Glencore (GLEN). A month or so ago Glencore management gave a pretty clear view in its post results conference call that the balance sheet was strong enough not to raise money. Nine days ago bullied by panicky ‘key stakeholders’ (i.e. big institutional shareholders) the company announced a surprise range of initiatives as I noted here to strengthen their balance sheet. On the accompanying conference call the management noted cost cuts, mine mothballing and disposals were all way preferable to an equity money raising but that – once again – they would be sounding out the company’s ‘key stakeholders’ to gauge their views.
The latest Financial Orbit Speaks enhanced podcast by Chris Bailey, focuses on the week's key macroeconomic news and why the key remains specific theme and individual stock selection in the current market backdrop. This edition focuses on current market challenges, reasons to be both optimistic and pessimistic, plus also why cheap breakfasts and inexperienced CEOs provide insight.
In the latest edition of Financial Orbit Speaks, Chris Bailey looks at continuing challenges in Europe despite the likelihood of a third Greek bailout, interpretations around the Chinese yuan movement, issues in the US and why individual corporate equity analysis remains the key.
Greece may only be a handful of percent of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling’s (CCH) sales and profits but the malaise from the Eurozone’s most indebted member has overhung the share with its Greek heritage and shareholder base.
Well hello again a 225p Tesco (TSCO) share price. Friday’s trading update still has plenty of grim headline news contained within it (-1.3% UK like-for-like sales performance and a general food retail market that is ‘still challenging and volatility is likely to remain a feature of short-term performance’) but Tesco shares had a better day.
Chris Bailey of Financial Orbit is on my mind for three reasons and I explain why. One of them is APR Energy which I discuss and Chris will post on later. I also look at two China POS stocks, the fraud Sorbic and Auhua Clean Energy. Then at Thor Mining, Trap Oil and Mosman Oil & Gas. Then it is onto the boiler room stocks: Inspirit, Sabien and Flowgroup. Warning: this podcast contains both bad language and also a lot of racist generalisations about folks from Australia and New Zealand with the exception of Kylie Minogue (pictured) who can, of course, do no wrong.
UK Investor Show attendees will know from the presentation I made there that I am a fan of Telecity (TCY) and its exposure, via its range of data centres, to the phenomenal growth in corporate data management requirements. Today was the beginning of the end of the Telecity journey as it was confirmed that its large US peer Equinix will be making a takeover offer half in cash and half in Equinix shares.
If there is one event that should fill investors with glee it is a spin-off. Here’s the theory: a big, complex company decides to allow part of their business to separately list which in turn allows investors to appraise and the market to value the now two separated businesses independently. And guess what? Sometimes 2+2 =5 and sometimes 2+2=3. In my experience it rarely leaves the combined market cap unchanged. This is because either the spin-off is an underappreciated diamond or it is a piece of relative rubbish that investors should run a mile from and dump in the first few weeks of spun-out ownership.
Forget austerity, economic malaise, grinding political angst and the magnitude of Greece’s debt the most important influence on the Greek-tinged but London listed Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH)'s solid trading update today was… strong Coke Zero sales.
Chris Bailey, the founder of Financial Orbit always finds the quirkiest data - this week it concerns ripe bananas. The bad news starts in China and ends up with some sage words from George Soros. Those who expect the equities surge to continue ad infinitum should spare a few minutes to listen to this podcast.
I am not sure if we should all be thinking about the General Election today or not but hopefully I will be able to squeeze in some time to vote given the newsfest frenzy on shares I am interested in around the world. Last month at the epic UK Investor Show I mentioned four UK stocks to the assembled audience (as you can watch here). Three of them usefully gave interesting updates today.
Also at the bloggers cafe at UK Investor Show 2015 was Chris Bailey, City whizz kid turned editor of Financial Orbit
In my youth I used to come back from overseas investment research trips brimming with new ideas and insights. Having spent much of the period since the superlative UK Investor Show in the US of A I would hope to be able to say that opportunities are a-plenty. But they are not. Here’s a few of my notes from speaking with global investors far cleverer / richer than me at a conference in California a few days ago:
It might be a heavy corporate earnings results day around the world but for tomorrow’s business pages the lead story is already obvious following the disclosure earlier by Tesco (TSCO) that it lost a cool £6.4 billion in the last full financial year.
Dissatisfied with your chocolate haul at Easter? Well if you are a BG Group (BG.) shareholder than industry behemoth Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) has been kind enough to offer you a late Easter present. Today’s bid may only value BG shares back to a level seen in the middle of last year but at a theoretical near 50% premium to the previously prevailing share price.
If I said ‘Kingfisher plc’ (KGF) to you what would be your first response? Of course many of you are super smart and would immediately tell me that it owns B&Q, Screwfix and the more exotically named Castorama and Brico Depot, which collectively supply us with a range of DIY and home improvement materials across multiple geographies.
I was on an EasyJet (EZJ) plane yesterday and a generally fairly pleasant experience it was too. Admittedly there were not free drinks or nibbles, I had to print out my own boarding card (in a personal technological first I actually downloaded it to my phone – who said you cannot teach an old dog new tricks!) and there were attempts to cross-sell me all sorts of things I did not want but as an overall A-to-B travel experience it was absolutely fine and did what it said on the tin without being too minimalist or crude.
Just look at how slow earnings growth is in the S&P 500 and then ask yourself how can equity valuations stack up. Amazingly it is the Greek Finance Mininister who seems to understand this best. This is a theme followed in the Financial Orbit this week.
One of the biggest fallacies of this whole investment game is that a sensible individual investor cannot beat the professionals expensively employed in the City of London. As – I guess – a previous member of this latter club let me tell you a little secret: you can…and even in the trading in the largest of large companies out there. Believe me the debate on Tesco (TSCO) on this website was far better than in most ‘professional’ circles.
I admit it: I’m a car insurance price tart. When that time of the year comes around again I am more than happy to dump one car insurer for enough at the merest hint of a lower price for my simple cover requirements. I’m pretty sure I have used esure (ESUR) before but frankly I might be wrong – they all blur into one after a while.
If you spot attractive investment themes early enough then profits should follow. Much more of a challenges is working out what to do when a good structural theme has tactical challenges. Take the temporary power world. Demand by the emerging world for power far outstrips the ability of central governments to provide it and so temporary power providers like Aggreko (AGK) and APR Energy (APR) have a ready market for their services even before you consider opportunities at major sporting events or music festivals. Over the last few years both have cleaned up and today stand proudly as key players in the global industry.
So - apparently - there is some element of a deal for Greece although the more I read about it the more I think that it is nothing really more than kicking the can down the road for four months at most. The trouble is that it does not get to the heart of the problem: debts that still need to be serviced or refinanced. Given the only viable solution is a restructuring (which will have other repercussions) I really struggle to see how ultimately this is nothing more than a sticking plaster. And that is not all that is wrong with the world.
It is always worth taking a look when there is a big fall in a well-owned FTSE-100 stock. Today’s performance dog is Centrica (CNA) which probably supplies many of you via its British Gas brand with gas and electricity and which has blamed a combination of energy price moves, the weather and utility market competition for a 30% fall in earnings per share in 2014…and most strikingly a 30% fall in the dividend it is going to pay.
There are a few candidates for the most interesting UK company update over the last week but high on my list are a couple of updates from the premium carrier neutral data centre operator Telecity (TCY). Regular readers will know it is a share that I have written positively about a number of times over the last year or so, most recently back in December when I noted that while ‘there has been a bit of huffing and puffing on the site about the old CEO’s exit but my view remains this is a business benefiting from the unbelievable growth in data need and usage with pretty reasonable barriers to entry. I’ve bought it three times in 2014 with a ‘6’ in front of it and I would certainly recommend embracing any volatility because ultimately we are going back to the 1000p+ level…’
That is not the official title of this week’s Financial Orbit but my pal Chris Bailey should have used it. This is a most excellent edition covering the insanities of negative bond yields in Europe, the alarming disparity between earnings revisions and equity re-ratings on the S&P, data on new brokerage account openings in China and much else. To my friend Mr Bailey, I say “this is your best issue yet!”
A very pleasing set of numbers from Randgold Resources (RRS) earlier this week confirmed that it is clearly the best larger cap gold company in the world. The Q4/FY update reinforced its consistent achievement of the gold sector’s holy trinity of rising production/grade, all in cost control way under spot gold prices and a solid balance sheet (in its case now with net cash on it).
In the glow of the US jobs number on Friday (don't hold your breath for a quick interest rate rise in my view)...let's get back to some realities: the S&P 500 index is struggling to decisively break the 2,000 index point level. Looking longer term, I look back to 1500 for charting evidence that inflation – and thus rate rises – will come back before that long.
If you want to make money in large cap shares then you have to spot the big changes. Deals can be such transforming events…and updates from two big FTSE-100 heavyweights over the last day or so are noteworthy.
The first Highlights since mid-January due to travel finds the global financial markets at a similar point to which we left it: troubled and hence volatile. Still opportunistic too of course but you need to be brave, skilled or lucky (or maybe all three…).
Tom W has already mentioned a certain Mr Rose earlier today but it is another one of his chairmanship that particularly interests me today and that is at AO World (AO.). I looked at the self-styled ‘leading European online retailer of electrical products’ a few weeks ago and concluded that it would ultimately prove to be a car crash for investors based on an excitable valuation today in a sector with growth but ultimately wafer-thin margins and a high level of competition.
How many share tickers can you remember? Of the hundreds that are floating around my head one of my favourites used to be ‘EEEK’ which stood for the eastern / central European focused soft drinks beverage producer/distributor Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling on the Greek stock market. I have to say ‘used to be’ because in a rare display of austerity the ticker today is a truncated ‘EEE’ which is much less memorable.
Hopefully I don’t need to elaborate on the observation that the global economy has a few problems otherwise at this stage of the economic ‘rebound’ from the dark days of 2007-9 interest rates would be going up. This warped environment favours a different sort of share and – sorry to say for any current employees who will be impacted – but Aviva’s (AV.) cost cutting heavy takeover of Friends Life (FLG) is just the sort of story that has a strong chance of working next year.
A year ago I tipped Randgold Resources (RRS) as my ‘FTSE-100 tip of the year’ and despite the volatility in the underlying gold price and desperate performance of the average gold miner the tip has done well and has nicely outperformed the UK’s leading share index.
Whilst part 1 was a romp through a few larger cap stories with cost cutting as a core theme, part 2 is a bit more edgy. Looking at 2015 it seems to me that there are two themes that really make investors nervous. The first is growth and the second is underperformance.
No wonder investors are so bullish, we are now officially into the third longst bull market in history. But will it last? In this week's edition of Financial Orbit I flag up a number of worrying indicators. And just for Tom W one of the flashing warning signs is coming for the country where he now seems to live most of the time, Greece.
When we look back on 2014 the market share gains by discounters in the retail sector will be one of the investment themes that will be remembered. There is therefore a certain correctness in the timing of the Poundland (PLND) IPO earlier this year. Unsurprisingly if you were lucky enough to buy some shares early on in its life as a public company you are currently at a capital loss but let’s not be too critical at least the business has shown a bit of form over the last few quarters. It is not easy to generate a 4.7% like-for-like sales growth as Poundland did over the last six months.
A month ago global equity markets were in a state of complete panic. Four weeks later markets are substantially up, sentiment has hugely recovered and investors are generally looking forward again to 2015…especially in the US. Despite the market recovery of recent weeks the world remains clearly imbalanced. That’s not to say there are now things to be doing and the technology, food retail and gold sectors were of particular interest to me this week.
There’s a lot going on at the moment. The impact of the US mid-term elections, implications from the monthly ECB meeting in Europe, changes in Russian, Japanese and Chinese policy-making plus volatility in foreign exchange rates and commodities and the ongoing Q3 earnings season (of course). If you pull it all together a casual observer would conclude that the differentials and challenges are building. Funny how not much of this is reflected in investor sentiment or volatility measures. Maybe that’s the dulling impact of expanding global QE. It feels to me much more of a specific world than that.
The end of a particularly brutal and volatile October. Despite the exhausting nature of such financial markets now is not a time to relaxing. I note below the potential for more volatility across multi-asset classes as the combination of US optimism, Japanese policy shifts and European challenges meet with emerging market inherent growth of influence. It is a time of volatility, an importance of putting the work in but also – as far as I can see it – of opportunity too. This remains a stock pickers world and in that context Europe surely offers the greatest opportunities as I explain in this week's Financial Orbit
That was a volatile week! As Fast FT noted though due to the bounce back on Friday it was not a wipe out week for index trackers: “The gains, though, weren't enough to erase losses for the week, with both the S&P 500 and Dow 1 per cent lower over the past five days – the fourth consecutive week of declines”. So what next?
Well what a week and if you are a Rolls Royce (RR/) shareholder what an end to the week…but more on the perils of owning one of the favoured holdings of institutional professional fund managers in a minute.
Stockmarkets were exciting this week. In this issue of Financial Orbit I look at the looming deflation threat in Germany and the EuroZone but flag up the posdsibility of QE 4 in the US. But amid the cranage there is value. The US earnings season has started and I look at a couple of value plays which reported - this is still a stock picker's market.
I should have thought of the phrase myself but Christine Lagarde’s observation that the clear risk for the global economy is of an extended ‘new mediocre’ era fits with many of my observations about the world. Investment life, however, is not about extended pessimism and the most important observation has to be that it will mean individual investment opportunities – namely stock picking – become more important. Starting with the UK:
Afer two weeks of globe-trotting Financial Orbit is back and a scan of the macro signals from around the world should give bears, rather than bulls cause for celebration. There is the odd bull opportunity but on balance it does not look so good.
This week's Financial Orbit starts with the FT celebrating the FTSE 100 hitting a 14 year high despite the Ukraine, ISIS, etc, etc. However back in the real world...
This is not a compelling bear case but the anecdotal reasons for overall market caution are clear. Excessive investor confidence, sky high PEs, Chinese steel output. These themes and more are discussed in this week's Financial Orbit.
Change is good for all of us but in financial market terms it can causes those difficult transition points which investors –extrapolating the past into the future – can dislike. What strikes me most about today’s financial markets is the fusion between change and sentiment.
‘Another interesting week…not a dull summer at all’Moving towards mid-August, corporate results season peak behind us and most of the thoughts from the global central banks until September uttered it is easy to conclude that some time away from the markets awaits. Perhaps accentuated by holiday absences market volatility remains high and sentiment continues to wane. It feels to me as if the autumn will bring more policy-making surprises including a clear growth in global QE. That will transitorily bring some relief to markets but at the cost of more general volatility across all asset classes. Keep flexible with your investments. 2014 has a few more surprises left in it.
So what have been my highlights of the last week?
It was just a week ago that I was reading in the pages of one of the world’s leading financial newspapers that 'Investors are switching out of cash and pouring money into passive equity funds, bonds and relatively new assets that combine shares and fixed income in a show of confidence in the global economic recovery'.
A week ago I published a review of the status of some of my tips I originally made a few months ago (here ). So how about some of the more recent names I have mentioned? I am happy to say that on balance I am, well ahead!
This week's edition of Financial Orbit looks at what the Dutch and the IMF are telling us and flags up just how grotesque is the scale of corporate profitability that will be haced away in coming years. And it makes grim reading for the bulls.
According to the excellent ShareProphets website search functionality it is over 140 days since I wrote a piece titled ‘Update on 8 share tips’. In the spirit of continued openness and accountability, how are these eight tips looking and what would be my view now?
Financial Orbit is one year old - congratulatons to Chris Bailey. This week's edition makes fascinating reading - the 2014/2000 comparisons and clear signals for the world economy from Sweden (yes really) are fascinating. And make grim reading for the bulls.
At the start of the year a Morrisons’ (MRW) share was worth about 270p, whereas today you can own a stake in the UK’s fourth largest supermarket chain at a share price in the 170s. So much for supermarkets being defensive businesses, but is there any hope for this chain?
This week’s issue of Financial Orbit by Chris Bailey explians the Portugal issue and looks at consumer debt and then finds a few more reasons why the bulls should be scared.
Even Bill Gates has not been immune to a few bad headlines in his wildly successful corporate life. His point is well made, however, and is deeply applicable to the stock market. One of the hardest aspects for anyone – beginner or experienced investor – to fully appreciate is the role of expectations or to put it more simply: what is factored in already. One of the best ways to gauge what is factored into a share price currently is to look at the reaction to what – at first glance – is a good or bad news headline. And this brings us to Serco (SRP).
This has important implications of for equity markets. Whatever the headlines tell you in the papers consumer confidence across the world seems to be waning rather.
With events in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine continuing to rumble on, you would have thought that a defence company would be an ideal investment – especially one with strong global market positions in pyrotechnics and countermeasures plus developing exposure in the growing sensors/electronics areas. Chemring (CHG) has been a volatile investment, however, and at the time of writing is once again below 200p a share having been at 285p as recent as March. I noted an opportunity in Chemring shares back in January and enjoyed the sharp rise, but now the shares are back to the multi-year low levels of last November.
Was it really 187 days ago when I wrote about Croda International (CRDA) and Vedanta (VED) exiting the FTSE-100 and maybe providing a buying opportunity? Vedanta has worked well enough (and I have been taking some profits but, of course, do your own work and come to your own conclusions) but Croda has returned to the c. £22 share price level today it was in mid-December after a short Q2 pre-close statement.
Time really does just fly past. It has been about a couple of months since my last Highlights publication – apologies for that – but the ever expanding range of activities under the Financial Orbit banner has kept me very busy. The good news is that new articles have been appearing on www.financialorbit.com every day despite the busy schedule…and the even better news is that I am looking to augment this with a restyled highlights piece each Saturday of four or five pages in length (of which this is the first one).
Despite the inevitable national torpor following events in Brazil yesterday it is time to pull yourself out of the depths of misery and think about shares. Well today one share in particular: the Royal Mail (RMG). Now you probably remember trading this one late last year (or early this year) and selling your IPO allocation somewhere either side of the 6 quid level if you were clever, lucky or both. Have you checked the share price recently? No longer a ‘6’ in front of it. Not even a ‘5’…but a ‘4’. The low 480s to be precise at the time of writing.
In part 1 of these articles I talked about the need to avoid index funds and the importance of stock picking focusing on growth or ‘proper returns to shareholders’. Now, in part 2, I focus on the second of these two investment themes.
It is probably a good thing that England’s World Cup games are in a completely different time zone; otherwise already poor trading volumes are likely to become worse than negligible. With the FTSE100 putting a little bit more clear air between itself and the 6,800 point resistance level the easy conclusion for the stock market watcher is to catch a few of the intermittent sun rays and a lot of the ‘summer of sport’.
‘It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth’ – unknown author on bargaining
It is all about rotation I am told. Telecity (TCY) shares remain above where I talked positively about them in early December and early March, but frustratingly they are only a few percentage points to the good. Even so, as I explain below, this is still a stock I am happy to hold.
I got two regulatory disclosure news alerts in my inbox this morning from BSkyB. The first was the regular share buyback announcement and the second concerned some of the rumours that appeared in the weekend press. As the statement by the company to the market today notes: