TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 25th May 2017



“Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.


Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”


WB Yeats – poet & author – 1865-1939


You couldn’t have scripted a more gratifying result to the Europa Cup final in Stockholm, if you had tried to. After the appalling tragedy that swept through the great City of Manchester on Monday night, this was a real tonic of solidarity, which might just alleviate a tiny morsel of unimaginable pain. Well done Manchester United and hats off to the indomitable Joe Mourinho!


What on earth is going on with the press in US?  Even if the New York Times was leaked information about the Manchester bomber, has this newspaper no code of conduct?  It must know that sensitive information of this nature can not only cause unnecessary grief but it could also hamper the on-going investigation. Here’s hoping that PM May can provide further ammunition for President Trump’s crusade against the New York Times for perpetrating ‘fake’ or mischievous news.  One does not expect such shabby treatment on security issues from a member of the press of your closest ally.


UK stock markets continued to flirt with all-time records – FTSE 100 closing up 40 points at 7514 (7522) and the FTSE 250 up 30 points at 19950 (19970). BAE Systems on the back of Trump’s success in Saudi Arabia saw its shares reach record levels at 650p. easyJet +3.3% and Britvic shone through a rather lack-lustre session. More stuff has been written about M&S than one can imagine.  I suspect the ‘Archie Norman’ syndrome allowed the shares to rally 4% in the last week.  It certainly wasn’t the performance in the last quarter or the year end results which were very disappointing. Despite ambivalent comments by Glencore in regards to acquiring Bunge, the grain titan, the latter’s share price gain at 16.6%. We await developments.


US equity markets showed a smidgen of vitality, responding to the content of the FOMC minutes, which took all three indices to new record levels – DOW 21,012 +0.36% +6.324% S&P: 2,404 +0.25%+7.395% NASDAQ: 5,730 +0.47% +17.82%.  It looks as though the FED rate may go to 1.25% in June, though some of the economic data in the last month has looked a little soft. This was reflected in the views of ‘most participants’ (both covering voting and non-voting FOMC members). They think a rate hike will be appropriate ‘soon’. As mentioned in the statement, the FOMC members were not worried about the weak GDP growth in Q1, which they think is transitory and partly reflecting negative residual seasonality. The members also noted that the unemployment rate had dropped further below the Fed’s NAIRU estimate of 4.7% to 4.4% with inflation benign at 1.9%.


What was really interesting was the fact that the minutes stated quantitative tightening will be conducted ‘in a gradual and predictable manner’. The staff proposes that the FOMC announces a set of gradually increasing caps/limits on the dollar amounts of bonds that will be allowed to run off each month and only reinvest the amounts that exceeded the caps each month. The FED’S balance sheet is gargantuan and stands at $4.47 trillion.  I would very much like the BOE to adopt a similar policy.  QE is only £425 billion, but the UK still needs weaning from QE.


This morning  the FTSE started with a spring in its heal – up 15 points but since then it has surrendered a bit of ground and at 9.30am it was down 15 points at 7499. Halfords (+1.5%) and Card Factory (+1.5%) pleased their acolytes.  DMGT definitely did not and is down 6%.  There was also little joy from Tate & Lyle. The £2 billion merger between Wood Group and AMEC Foster Wheeler seems to have encountered some difficulties over Unoil, an associate of Wood, which is under investigation over fraud. This merger would value the joint operation at around £5 billion, employing 64k in this construction and energy service group. 1280 jobs would be cut at Wood in the event of a successful consummation to the deal.


Asian equity markets recovered from China’s downgrade yesterday and performed as follows plus YTD progress – NIKKEI: 19,826 +0.43% + 3.737% HANG SENG 25,623 +0.77% +16.484% CHINA 3,464 +1.19% +4.882% ASX: 5,779 +0.23% +1.982%. OPEC is likely to leave current production levels unchanged when it posts its findings in Vienna today.


UK companies posting numbers this week – Thursday – Tate& Lyle, Pets at Home, United Utilities, Halfords, DMGT, Inchcape, Card Factory, L&G, Friday – Intertek, Spectris, Restaurant Group


US companies posting numbers –Thursday – Hormel Foods, Best Buy


Economic data this week – Thursday – OPEC meeting, BBA Mortgage approvals, UK GDP 2nd Quarter estimate


 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF

TODAY’S FAYRE – Hardly known for my sartorial elegance, BUT…

TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday 24th May 2017


They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate.
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods. . . . 

But there is no road through the woods.”


Rudyard Kipling – author & poet – 1865 –1936


One can only admire the fortitude and stoical attitude of the people of Manchester after their ‘loved ones’ suffered the most barbaric attack by some religiously crazed British-born jihadi maniac, detonating his suicide bomb in the foyer of the Manchester Arena. This despicable coward caused carnage and unimaginable grief not only to the grieving families but also to all who live and work in that wonderful city! The whole country salutes you and stands four-square behind Manchester! It is, of course, also alarming to hear that that the security threat level has now been upgraded from severe to CRITICAL.


It proved very difficult for market practioners to raise much in the way of enthusiasm, post the fall-out from the heinous Manchester bombing.  I suppose investors should be grateful for small mercies that the level of volatility that prevailed at the time of ‘9/11’ and ‘7/7’ in 2005 had dissipated almost without trace.  In fact, despite the desperate news, the FTSE 100 briefly flirted with another infra-day record at 7515 (record 7522), before closing just below the Plimsoll line at 7485.  However the FTSE 250 did reach record levels at 19920, having at one point reached 19970. This index is a relatively accurate barometer of the UK economy and its rally like the ‘Phoenix from the ashes’ since 27th June 2016 (BREXIT), when it stood at 14967 is truly remarkable – up 33%!    Activity was marginally better than moribund with banks and oils leading the way. Homeserve, the emergency repairs service operator, definitely grabbed the yellow jersey – up 10.8% on a 20% increase in profits. Chancellor Hammond will have been dispirited by the fact that government borrowing rose to £10.4 billion – up £1.2 billion more than in April 2016 and up £1.6 billion above analysts’ expectations. Why? Rising inflation has eaten in to consumers’ appetite to spend money on the high street and on-line – hence lower VAT receipts. VAT raised £11.2 billion – only 0.2% above 2016’s achievements.


On the Street of Dreams dealers were in a reflective frame of mind and spent most of the day contemplating over the content of today’s FOMC minutes.  Though the data looks a bit softer, many believe the FED could well raise rates 25 basis points in June.  Tomorrow’s OPEC meeting is also eagerly awaited. OPEC players seem to be offering guidance of a potential extension to the November output cut agreement, which should keep oil prices above $50 a barrel. US MARKETS CLOSED as follows with YTD performances – DOW: 20,937 +0.21% +5.947% S&P: 2,398 +0.18% +7.128% NASDAQ: 5,703 +0.07% +17.265%.  Ford Motor Company fired its CEO Mark Field – well he retired!



China was downgraded by Moody’s to A! from Aa3.  This is a worry, though the world and his wife has been concerned about the size of local government debt and the humungous exposure of Chinese banks. This downgrade is no more than a realisation. As Asian markets head to the close, the main bourses have performed as follows – NIKKEI: 19,715 +0.52% +3.127% HANG SENG: 25,367 -0.14% +15.354% CHINA: 3,403 -0.61% +1.648% ASX: 5,758 +0.01% +1.648%.


So M&S posted their numbers – hugely disappointing. Profits were down from £689m last year to £630m. Gone are the days of £1 billion profit in 1997 and in 2007, when Lord Rose was at the helm. I suspect Sir Philip Green’s bid in 2004. Total merchandising down 5.9% – like for like sales for food -0.8% and clothing -3.4%. I am hardly known for my sartorial elegance – pear shaped.  However I know what a fine looking filly and a good looking bloke look like and these people will not be flocking in their droves into M&S emporiums, unless there is a realisation that M&S fashions are dowdy! Thank goodness Archie Norman will be there as the new chairman to kick backsides in the same manner he did at ASDA and ITV. Also welcome to Jill McDonald who hopefully will be marginally more inspiring about fashion. The share drifted down 1.57%, but the ‘NORMAN FACTOR’ has clearly been positive – shares at 9.00am +1.6% at 393p.


Kingfisher posted very mixed results – awful in France with sales down 5.5%, though the UK and Ireland were encouraging – +3.5%. Sales totalled £2.8 billion.  Investors were underwhelmed dragging their shares down by 6.77%. Dixons Carphone pleased their acolytes – shares up 2.3%.


Finally it never seems to rain but it pours on Barclays Bank.  Fresh from Jes Staley’s problems, the ‘bald eagle’ is now confronted by a £1.6 billion PPI lawsuit from credit card company, CCUK. 




UK companies posting numbers this week – Wednesday – M&S, Mediclinic, Babcock International, Vedanta Resources, Britvic, Kingfisher, Dixons Carphone, HSS Hire, Thursday – Tate& Lyle, Pets at Home, United Utilities, Halfords, DMGT, Inchcape, Card Factory, L&G, Friday – Intertek, Spectris, Restaurant Group


US companies posting numbers – Wednesday Tiffany’s, Thursday – Hormel Foods, Best Buy


Economic data this week – Wednesday – FOMC Minutes, Thursday OPEC meeting, BBA Mortgage approvals, UK GDP 2nd Quarter estimate


 David Buik

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

+44 (0)20 7886 2775
Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877
Panmure Gordon & Co
One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF​


Today my emotions have got the better of me – deep sorrow, tears, indignation, anger and resentment. However I am distressed beyond comprehension for the bereaved families. The reaction by equity markets to this barbaric annihilation is very different to what it might have experienced 15 years ago, when an act of barbarism of this nature such as ‘9/11’ or ‘7/7’ could have skimmed 5-10% off the valuation of the FTSE. Today, life goes on and traders and analysts deal with financial and economic facts rather than emotions. It sounds cynical but is not supposed to be. It’s just cold facts.  The FTSE 100 is up 10 points at 7505 at 3.10am having been up 20 points at midday – a record! Also the FTSE 250 is up 35 points at 19750 – also a record. The fact that the FTSE 250 is at an all-time record is more significant for me than the performance of the FTSE 250 – why?


The FTSE 250 is a proper barometer of economic activity from a broad range of sectors. Many will recall that post 23rd June last year the FTSE 250 fell out of bed due to unsubstantiated rumours about the damage BREXIT would do. This prognosis has proved to be wrong and ill-conceived. There is plenty of life in the UK economy, with stocks such as Homeserve +12% today, Cranswick +5%, Greencore, NMC, UDG and RPC performing with aplomb. There is plenty more left in the tank. Many senior market luminaries (about 37%) think equities in the senior global indices are over-priced. There is little evidence to support that view in the case of the FTSE 250.


The banks were in good order with RBS up 1% and Barclays and Lloyds both gaining 0.5%. Oil stocks responded to a perky crude oil price of $53 and change for Brent – BP and RD Shell were both up 0.5%. Topps Tiles never got close to pleasing their acolytes – down 4.5%. De La Rue’s show seems to be back on the road. Some analyst felt entertainment shares might suffer as a result of this heinous bombing. I’m not sure about that but Restaurant Group fell 4.5% and Merlin by 0.76%.


The DOW at 3.28pm was up 30 points and the DAX and CAC were 0.2% to the good. Everyone is reeling with sorrow and sadness – hence the rather moribund performance.


TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 23rd May 2017



“When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d

The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;

When sometime lofty towers I see down-ras’d

And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;

When I have seen the hungry ocean gain

Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,

And the firm soil win of the wat’ry main,

Increasing store with loss and loss with store;

When I have seen such interchange of state,

Or state itself confounded to decay;

Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,

That Time will come and take my love away.

This thought is as a death, which cannot choose

But weep to have that which it fears to lose.”



William Shakespeare – poet & playwright – 1564-1616



    Not since ‘9/11’ have I felt less like writing anything on markets than I do today.  It seems so trite and frivolous in the wake of barbaric behavior by a religious and fanatical suicide bomber, who in moment of irrational cruelty, took the lives of at least 22 people, whilst at the same time maiming or brutally injuring dozens of others – too many of them children – without a merciful thought in his head! God damn him! And those with similar terrorist antics!



I suppose I better write something…..



Yesterday really belonged to US markets which enjoyed the early summer sunshine, basking in a modicum of Trump glory post his visit to Saudi Arabia. US markets closed as follows with YTD achievements – DOW: 20,894 +0.43% +5.729% S&P: 2,394 +0.52% +6.932% NASDAQ: 5,699 +0.85% +17.184%. Most defense stocks had already benefitted from the possibility of $110 billion trade deals with Saudi. However some continued their rally once the ink was dry. Blackrock was up 0.75% on news that it will spend $100 million on infrastructure. Lockheed Martin was 1.5% to the good with General Dynamics adding 1%, plus modest gains by Honeywell +0.5% and United Technologies +0.4%. Tech stocks were not without their supporters – Apple +0.6%, Alphabet +0.84%, Microsoft +1.1%, Alibaba +1.24% and Amazon +01.1%.


Asia had little to bring to the party this morning. It was rather an anemic session with little obvious investment pegs to hang hats upon. We await news of sales by Tata’s Jaguar Rover. Since Tata paid £1.5 billion 9 years ago sales are up four fold from 200k vehicles to around 800k.


Back here in Old Blighty the FTSE 100 peddled on, in adding 25 points to 7496. It is also worth mentioning that the FTSE 250 reached record heights again – up 99 at 19912. Fifteen years ago markets would have reacted adversely to this kind of barbaric behavior. No, sadly, they take machinations of this nature in their stride – such is the price of experience! We have all become so cynical!


This morning the London based indices stood tall. At 9.01am the FTSE was up 10 points at 7505 – a record again and the FTSE 250 was up 0.3% to 19970 – again another record and a better barometer of UK economic activity. Homserve grabbed the yellow jersey with great numbers – up 10%. Topps Tiles did not please their acolytes – down 6%. De La Rue’s numbers were in line with expectations – +0.15%.


It looks as though RBS is attempting to avoid exposing Fred Goodwin and his four colleagues from giving evidence over the RBS shareholders rights issue claim. Despite incurring legal bills of £100 million +over the £12 billion rights issue of RBS in June 2008, CEO Ross McEwan seems determine to settle the £800 million lawsuit with the remaining retail and fund manager shareholders on the steps of the law courts, rather than expose the bank to toxic evidence. RBS has currently cost the taxpayer £43.5 billion in buying ABN AMRO for £47 billion. Losses total over £100 billion in the last 9 years. Shareholders are still under water without the prospect of getting their money back in the foreseeable future – breakeven 503p – share price – 264p (+0.96% today). Like many others I believe Goodwin, Cameron, Whittaker and McKillop owe us an explanation.


In closing I see that Amazon Prime will provide live pay-TV within a couple of weeks in Europe, as well as exposure to Discovery, Eurosport and ITV channels. Since its inception Amazon’s share price is up 57.4k% and this tech retailer is twice the size of Wal-Mart.


UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Home serve, De La Rue, Cranswick, Severn Trent, Shaftesbury, Paragon, Topps Tiles, Wednesday – M&S, Mediclinic, Babcock International, Vedanta Resources, Britvic, Kingfisher, Dixons Carphone, HSS Hire, Thursday – Tate& Lyle, Pets at Home, United Utilities, Halfords, DMGT, Inchcape, Card Factory, L&G, Friday – Intertek, Spectris, Restaurant Group


US companies posting numbers – Monday – Agilent, Target – Tuesday – Take Two, Wednesday Tiffany’s, Thursday – Hormel Foods, Best Buy


Economic data this week – Tuesday UK PSBR, Thursday BBA Mortgage approvals, UK GDP 2nd Quarter estimate


 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF ​


TODAY’S FAYRE – Monday 22nd May 2017


“Your lungs fill & spread themselves,
wings of pink blood, and your bones
empty themselves and become hollow.
When you breathe in you’ll lift like a balloon
and your heart is light too & huge,
beating with pure joy, pure helium.
The sun’s white winds blow through you,
there’s nothing above you,
you see the earth now as an oval jewel,
radiant & seablue with love.
It’s only in dreams you can do this.
Waking, your heart is a shaken fist,
a fine dust clogs the air you breathe in;
the sun’s a hot copper weight pressing straight
down on the think pink rind of your skull.
It’s always the moment just before gunshot.
You try & try to rise but you cannot.


Margaret Atwood – poet – 1939 –


President Donald J Trump seems to reel from one crisis to another. He tells us it’s all fake news, but there is a growing fear that the 45th President is not on top of his game with the ‘Comey Syndrome’ and the White House’s relationship with Russian providing very unsatisfactory explanations. However the start to his state visit to Saudi Arabia looks as though it has been an unqualified success with $350 billion of trade and defence ($110 billion) deals being signed between these two nations. President Obama’s stand-off with Saudi Arabia in favour of a nuclear deal with Iran seems to have been redressed by President Trump. This is potentially very good news for jobs and growth in the US. Trump’s speech on the fight against extremism in Saudi Arabia was rather more temperate than many expected.  Like Trump or not, this was a visionary speech, which many of the delegates would have had empathy with and will have done his international stock no harm.  


Also France’s President Macron seems to have attracted nothing but positive international press as he put together his Cabinet; one that M Macron hopes will unite cavernous political divisions that currently prevails in France. He has left a great impression as the person who seems more likely to re-ignite the EU’S appetite to be more expansive and almost certainly more Federal, as Chancellor Merkel’s government starts to look stale. However chickens very quickly came home to roost with Merkel and Schauble telling the ‘bouncy little corporal’ to get back in his box and keeps his grandiose ideas on saving the Euro to himself! President Macron should also remember that he would find his time better spent on domestic issues such as France’s deplorably intransigent labour laws, rather trying to be a hero in the eyes of Germany, which always puts itself before anyone else!


The intensity of the General Election is gathering pace in the wake of the publication of the party manifestos. Despite this Election, conceivably being the most important one since 1945, enthusiasm appears to be waning, as the electorate starts to drown in an amorphous of nebulous policies. My ‘Straight-off-the-bat’ thoughts suggest that Labour’s ambitious plans make no sense financially, though aesthetically, they seem to have attracted more than a little support. ‘Little Timmy’s’ party seems to be a ‘one trick pony.’ Destroy BREXIT at all costs. As for the Conservative party’s efforts, though its manifesto seems to be more tolerant and sympathetic to the less affluent, there are policies that will not sit well with their core supporters and by business. Stopping share-buy-backs and implementing protective restrictions on M&A activity as well as legislating for too much boardroom interference will not be met with euphoric acceptance by business. Nor will adjustments to the ‘triple-lock pension and contributions to care.  The will be rejected by many, though sensible for those who can afford it, in reality. Frankly these policies have been poorly presented.


Global equities were rather volatile within a fairly narrow range last week, though the FTSE 100, despite Sterling flirting with $1.30, ended the week up 0.48%. There was a measurable wobble mid-week, however the S&P 500 ended the five-day run just 0.17% below the Plimsoll line. The wobble was caused by an increasing number of market protagonist being of the opinion that Trump would be bogged down with political controversies and allegations of scandal, which would prevent the government delivering on its election promises to deliver $1 trillion of infrastructure spending.  The NASDAQ was hit even harder but regained some poise at the end of the week. We were also told that 37% of fund managers and analysts, recently polled, felt global equities were over-valued. However the deals agreed with Saudi are likely to benefit companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Pratt & Witney, Honeywell and Caterpillar. As we come towards the end of the earnings season, it was interesting to note that Wal-Mart posted better than expected results, resulting in shares adding 1.59% on Friday.  Target added 0.29% ahead on Monday morning’s earnings presentation. The Dollar fell 2% last week against most major currencies thanks to alarms raised against Trump’s Presidency and Brent crude was up 2.2%. Markets may open better today post Trump’s success in Saudi Arabia. The minutes of the FOMC will be posted on Wednesday and their tone may be more dovish than of late.


Despite concerns expressed about US markets, which were still close to record levels, the FTSE was splendidly resilient and briefly attained similar dizzy heights. European bourses eased by just over 1% on the week and Japan’s Nikkei by 1.47% (strength of the Yen). Vodafone’s numbers were encouraging despite a £4 billion loss (mainly incurred in India.) Glaxo has agreed in principle to buy back the 36% of GSK Healthcare from Novartis. BT’s pension black hole has increased to £14 billion, making me and other very nervous. ASDA’s sales did not reflect Wal-Mart’s performance – sales posted Wednesday down 2.8% in last quarter but CEO Sean Clarke insists that progress is being made. It is interesting to note that Amazon has increased in value by 57.4k% at $460 billion – twice the size of Wal-Mart. I was fairly ambivalent to news posted by JP Morgan Chase that provision is being made to post 1000 to Dublin in concert with HSBC posting 1000 people to Paris in the not too distant future.


On the UK economic front inflation rose to 2.7% with wages only rising by 2.4%, which may put pressure on retail sales with less disposable income to go round though last month’s retail sales rallied by 2.3% in comparison to 4% in April 2016. The best news of the week was Lloyds Banking Group finally selling its final 0.89% taxpayer’s stake. The original bail-0ut was £23.4 billion. When Antonio Horta-Osorio arrived 6 years ago he inherited a balance sheet with £200 billion of toxic assets of which HBOS’s share totalled £100 billion. PPI repayments totalled £17 billion – half the entire banking market’s liabilities. Lloyds Banking Group required £100 billion short-term money from the Bank of England.  Hats off to Antonio Horta-Osorio and the team for making the taxpayer a £900 million profit and to Morgan Stanley for slowly and efficiently dribbling out the taxpayer’s stake. Lord Norman Blackwell tells us that the CEO will be staying. Sad to report that 12k redundancies have been made – 7% of the work force.


M&S has floundered in recent years.  It posts numbers on Wednesday. Though food is universally respected it accounts for 55% of turnover – 80% of the profits come from clothing – Hence CEO Steve Rowe must start to turn the business around, aided and abetted by the appointment of Archie Norman as chairman and Jill McDonald from Halfords to help with fashion. However M&S’s clothing and homewares sales are expected to have tumbled more than 3% in the first three months of 2017. Its food business is also expected to post a small decline in underlying sales. Autumn fashions have been presented and the market holds its breath to see if they catch on. Paul Geddes, CEO of Direct Line has had his name submitted to succeed Adam Crozier at ITV.



UK companies posting numbers this week – Monday – Carillion, Tuesday – Home serve, De La Rue, Cranswick, Severn Trent, Shaftesbury, Paragon, Topps Tiles, Wednesday – M&S, Mediclinic, Babcock International, Vedanta Resources, Britvic, Kingfisher, Dixons Carphone, HSS Hire, Thursday – Tate& Lyle, Pets at Home, United Utilities, Halfords, DMGT, Inchcape, Card Factory, L&G, Friday – Intertek, Spectris, Restaurant Group


US companies posting numbers – Monday – Agilent, Target – Tuesday – Take Two, Wednesday Tiffany’s, Thursday – Hormel Foods, Best Buy


Economic data this week – Tuesday UK PSBR, Thursday BBA Mortgage approvals, UK GDP 2nd Quarter estimate


 David Buik

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

+44 (0)20 7886 2775
Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877
Panmure Gordon & Co
One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF​




President Macron and his ‘first Lady’ take up residency in the Elysee Palace today (Sunday). The debonair reincarnation of ‘The Little Corporal’ has it all to do, even more so than his illustrious forefather Napoleon Bonaparte, who at same age all but ruled much of Europe.

President Macron has the unimaginatively difficult task of juggling his reputation as Chancellor Merkel’s main ‘bag-carrier’ and standard bearer for the EU with the unenviable task of dealing with an ailing domestic economy. France’s labour laws and immigration problems are in severe need of reform and remedial action. Despite Macron’s ‘rebel-rousing’ rhetoric, his matinee idol good looks and his heart-felt promises to provide hope and dreams to the ‘Cinquieme Republique’, few think he has much chance of changing France’s reputation of abhorring change! He’s going to struggle to get a working majority in the June legislator elections. He is already struggling over nominations for his party for legislative elections with alleged broken promises to those who supported him.

His visit to the UK last February, as a handicapper in horse racing parlance, looking to run in ‘group’ company as an outsider for the Presidency or in betting terms, M Macron was very much the ‘rag!’ He came to London with the express intention of enticing as many as 20,000 bankers, financial and fin-tech experts back to the Seizieme arrondissement or thereabouts in Paris, as the battle lines are drawn up for BREXIT, were laudable and understandable. The same applies to his recent comments about ‘demanding’ the repatriation of Euro-clearing.


Most people have been appalled at the jingoistic behaviour of a few important leading political lights on both sides ‘La Manche.’ Some of the rhetoric chosen by J-C Juncker, his bag carrier – he’s so unimportant I cannot remember his name nor can I be bothered to look it up – and Guy Verhofstadt is not what is required to make for sensible negotiations. Mr Verhofstadt, for a man with his supposed distinguished diplomatic career, should know better than to refer to the UK as ‘human excrement’ – the word he is purported to have used in jest in a tweet; not at any time denied by him – was rather more succinct and colourful. Juncker seems to reel from one banana skin to another, in a first-class performance of ‘Widow Twanky on ice!’ This kind of aggressive behaviour will only damage the residue of goodwill between the EU and the UK.  Many cynics will say why should the EU care as it only does 10% of its trade whereas the UK does 40% with the EU? It’s a fair point, but if the relationship deteriorates to a point, when there is limited cooperation on defence and security, perhaps it might start caring. Talk of this nature is crazy, but emotions are running high.  Representatives at the top table need to calm down. To be honest I am much more interested in what business luminaries – industrial and financial – think rather than ‘hot-headed’ politicians.


I believe the EU’S indomitable resolve to damage the UK may have been exacerbated by Emmanuel Macron’s landslide victory in the French Presidential election.  Having looked decidedly weak three months ago, the EU now feels strong and resolute with Chancellor Merkel, who frankly, but all in name, is the President of Europe has found a new enthusiastic and totally committed standard bearer. Merkel is also starting to look a warm order to win the German election in October. Growth in the EU has been better of late and the fact that Italy and Greece next year could upset the apple cart is tomorrow’s story.


The Macron bubble will burst before too long.  His domestic problems could leave his time devoted to the EU in the in-tray for longer than he would like. Macron has real live issues as discussed above. Much as HSBC’S Gulliver, Goldman’s Blankfein, UBS’S Ermotti have huffed and puffed with heir contingency plans post BREXIT, by making plans to move a few thousand people in total as a contingency plan; its good house-keeping, I suspect they all know that Paris will NEVER compete with London as a financial centre! Why? Hopeless labour laws, taxation issues, lack of infrastructure, language and above all else London is the place to get business done with the very best legal and accountancy services on ‘Mother Earth.’  All this cannot be replicated in my humble opinion. Also on the subject of clearing, I was delighted that the US sent out a stark warning to the EU as to the damage that could be done by breaking up London’s hugely important clearing operations, which is unquestionably the largest insurance company in the world guaranteeing counterparty transactions. Though the EU is entitled to Euro based cleating, fragmenting the whole framework could have very dangerous connotations and ramifications.  M Macron, you have been warned.  Attend to your flock before attempting to assume the role of international empire builder.  You would achieve more by cooperating with the UK rather than bashing it! Finally may I commend an excellent article by Maggie Pagano in the Independent about Daniel Hodson, who is doing a brilliant in bringing ‘remainers’ and ‘leavers’ to the table with a view to having them sing from the same hymn sheet.




Even Governor Mark Carney, decked out in that classic ‘salt & pepper’ tie couldn’t schmooze us or galvanise the market in to action.  We sort of knew that the quarterly Inflation Report would clip a pip or two off GDP for 2017 to 1.9% down from 2% and to 1.8% in 2018 and that there would be no change in rates as the new found strength in Sterling would probably stop inflation breaching through 2.7% by the end of the year.  Equities were comfortable in their own skin. Hence there is no prospect of a hike in rates in the foreseeable future.  The FTSE was down just 10 points at 7375 at 3.30pm, despite dividend payments accounting for 15 points. Again conditions were not suited to resolute momentum trading. In fact it was all desperately dull.

Commodities and oil stocks were marginally under the cosh with banks and drugs enjoying a smidgen of success from the watery spring sunshine. Diageo, Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser also had their supporters. Of those companies that posted results – BT was down 4% – market needs to see some improvement from Openreach’s operations and broadband and less profligacy from sport. Mondi was down 2%. SuperGroup did not pass muster and eased by 5%, though the share are up 23%. Wall Street saw the DOW ease by 130 points.


TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday 11th May 2017


“You’re sad because you’re sad. It’s psychic.

It’s the age. It’s chemical.

Go see a shrink or take a pill, or hug your sadness l

Like an eyeless doll you need to sleep.


Well, all children are sad but some get over it.

Count your blessings. Better than that, buy a hat.

Buy a coat or pet.

Take up dancing to forget. Forget what? 


Your sadness, your shadow, whatever it was

that was done to you the day of the lawn party

when you came inside flushed with the sun,

your mouth sulky with sugar, in your new dress


with the ribbon and the ice-cream smear,

and said to yourself in the bathroom,

I am not the favorite child.


My darling, when it comes right down to it

and the light fails and the fog rolls

in and you’re trapped in your overturned

body under a blanket or burning car,


and the red flame is seeping out of you

and igniting the tarmac beside your head or else the floor,

or else the pillow, none of us is; 

or else we all are.” 


Margaret Atwood – poet – 1939 –


Even allowing for my advancing years, I really do understand that enormous cities like London generate huge amounts of poisonous fumes and congestion. Of course everything must be done to combat this situation. Yes, I also ‘get it’ from a practical perspective that cycling should be encouraged. However there is no point gridlocking London, when your road system resembles a builder’s yard and the public transport on offer is marginally less than a joke. Also, without offending my good friend, Jim Moore of the Independent, a former cycling aficionado, something has to be done about the behaviour of a minority number of cyclists, who believe they have a divine right to aim their machines like missiles rather than ride them. For fitness and transport purposes cycling is great, but it should not be used as an opportunity to behave like a mad dervish! Cyclists have no right to be selfish and to act in an inconsiderate manner towards motorists and pedestrians alike – yes pedestrians, certainly in SW London – it’s your life in their hands! I think it’s time for readable registration plates and a £50 annual levy for cyclist above 18 years of age, with a view to enforcing the law against persistent transgressors. It will be hard to implement, but the current flagrant abuse is hard to put up with. Cyclists in Amsterdam behave properly, why can’t they in London? Yes, I know London is 10-times bigger. However we just have a bad culture of excessive aggression – cars and cyclists alike!

Boris Johnson may have given his assent to the cycle road – NOT path – on the Embankment; but whoever designed it and approved it must be brain dead. Cyclists don’t even stay in that lane. Too many of them don’t go fast enough to prevent a fair few using the hopelessly narrow road/lane as an alternative. London remains the most brilliant city, but it teeters on the brink of inefficiency. Mayor Khan – you have a 4 year mandate – do something practical about transport and our road system that will receive the accolade of the public, regardless of political persuasion, rather than swan around in photo shoots or constantly carping at Mrs May.


Yesterday equity acolytes on the Street of Dreams did not know whether to laugh or cry. FBI’S James Comey was summarily dismissed by President Trump – “He was not doing a good job!” Cover-up was being muttered under the breath of several of the eastern seaboard intelligentsia. The Dollar hit an eight day high against the Yen and oil prices started firming again. The earnings season continued to dribble on satisfactorily, with the NASDAQ hitting yet another record, until after hours when Evan Spiegel of Snap Inc posted its first set of earnings since its IPO in February, which valued the company at $24 billion.


Snap’s shares, originally issued at $17, rallied to over $25 until yesterday evening when disenchanted punters took the stock down 23% to $17.68 almost at the stroke of a pen. Revenue came in short at $149m for the last quarter against estimations of $159m, despite daily active users increasing 36% to from 122m to 166 million. The loss for the quarter was $2.2 billion. I was horrified from a social perspective that many active users spend 30 minutes a day on this app! 3 billion messages were sent every day up from 2.5 billion in the previous quarter. There was always a feeling that this social media giant was hopelessly over-valued. Advertising revenues will need to increase substantially. New York closed relatively flat – DOW: 20943 -0.16% +5.973%, S&P: 2,398 +0.08% +7.145%  NASDAQ: 5,681 +0.06% +16.82% (New record highs).


As for Asia, the Yen remained weak and oil prices continued with its modest rally in a market that was lacking in interest. NIKKEI: 19,962 +0.31% +4.487%, HANG SENG: 25,062 +0.19% +13.923%, CHINA: 3,316 -0.667 +0.197%, ASX: 5,875 unch +3.712%


Yesterday session in Europe apart from the FTSE 100, which gained 43 points to 7385, was a moribund affair with limited activity. Mining stocks had their moment and ITV and Barratt Development had modest issues going forward – both shares were down a short 2% on the day. AB Foods was upgraded by Citibank and added 2.4%. This morning BT posted its quarterly numbers. This company has fallen slightly from grace in the last year. The share price has fallen 30% from 440p a year ago to 307p. Why? CEO Gavin Paterson is perceived to have too much of a love affair with sport, with spending on football almost profligate. Openreach has been severely criticised and agreement has been reached on separate governance for this business. BT has been fined £42m and £300 million has been returned to suppliers as compensation. Then there was the Italian loss of circa £530 million over many years and it may eventually be a great deal more. Consequently profits were down 19% for the year and 48% for the quarter. It seems as though Mr Paterson may be forced to waive his bonus this year. About 4000 jobs will be dispensed with in the next 2 years.


Finally let’s consider the possible content of today’s ‘Inflation Report’ and the MPC meeting. The BOE is likely to ease GDP from 2% to 1.8% for 2017. Inflation is expected to taper off towards the end of the year to 2.7%. The recent strength of the Pound will have contributed to the easing of inflation by December. The MPC will have no stomach to raise rates this year unless inflation reaches 3%. Kirsten Forbes will probably remain alone as the one member of the MPC committee to seek a hike, though maybe Michael Saunders will have given the idea due consideration.


UK companies posting numbers this week – Thursday – BT, SuperGroup, Amec Foster Wheeler, Mondi, Coca-Cola HBC, Vedanta Resources, Beazley, Aldermore


US companies posting numbers – Snap Inc, Thursday – Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Friday – JC Penney


Economic data this week – Thursday – BOE Inflation Report, RICS Housing, UK Manufacturing, Friday – US Retail Sales


 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF



TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday 10th May 2017


“The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.”


Margaret Atwood – poet – 1939 –



Ever since the general election was announced, I felt that the notice given by the PM was far too long and would almost certainly attract many more banana skins to skid on than is ideal. Though I doubt Mrs May will lose this election there are one or two policies which are simply not natural Tory policies or are just plain wrong. The idea that energy costs could be capped for a protracted period is crazy.  Oil and gas prices move!  They are not like door numbers! If the Government wants price constraint then legislate for the energy companies to bid for consumers on an annual basis for their custom – say first week in June. That auction would create a high degree of competition. And as for immigration to be kept to tens of thousands from 2019 is totally unrealistic.  Surely there was no need for the May government to stick its neck out unnecessarily. In closing on this subject I think Sir Lynton Crosby’s influence on this General Election has been very clever and inspired – a personal contest – May v Corbyn! There can only be one winner, I suspect.  


US stock markets had the wind taken out of their sails with news of a 6th, I am right in saying, nuclear test imminent from North Korea and the firing of FBI chief James Coney by President Trump.  I wonder if he might regret this action.  US markets closed as follows – DOW -0.17%, S&P -0.10%, NASDAQ +0.29% (another record level).


As the earning season draws to a close yesterday’s fayre was mainly focused on entertainment when Walt Disney and Liberty Media posted their results, though Apple +0.64% and Amazon +0.40% continued to make grounds in a tricky market overshadowed by geo-political events. Disney posted an 11% profit of $2.4 billion on a 3% increase in revenue of $13.3 billion, despite ESPN seeing a 3% dip in business.  The EPS came in at $1.0 against estimations of $1.41. As for John Malone’s Liberty Media which seems to be mulling over an investment in ITV, the numbers were rather more complex with two rather large one-off charges. A loss of $21 million was posted against a profit of $364 million last year thanks in the main to $49 million loss by Liberty Braves Group and a $96 billion charge taken against F1.


As for Asia this morning there is a school of thought that believes that the record levels attained by the S&P and the NASDAQ has had a very positive effect on many Far East bourses.  Tough taxation in Australia has almost certainly blighted progress of the ASX. At the time of writing these are the Asian market performances and YTD efforts – NIKKEI: 19,888 +0.23% +4.047%, HANG SENG: 25,113 +0.88% +14.035%, CHINA: 3,368 +0.48% +1.079, ASX: 5,875 +0.61% +3.579%



Yesterday European markets got it into their heads that European equity markets, boosted by a Macron victory, should crack on.  They did so cautiously with the FTSE adding 41 points to 7342, with mining stocks recently under duress recovering some poise.  Centrica’s shares were very volatile thanks to the spat over capping with the government, which CEO Ian Conn bitterly rejects – down 1.2% on the day. Poor Micro-Focus had a shocker.  It fell initially by 12% but closed down 5.6%, wiping about £500k in value off the shares. M-F is paying about £7 billion for Hewlett-Packard’s HPE Software and M-F announced that sales had recently dropped by 10%.  Many will remember that HWP bought Autonomy for $10 billion and after an unpleasant legal battle with CEO Mike Lynch had to write-off 75% of its value. With news that Standard Life’s merger in a £11 billion merger, which employs 9,000 staff, it has become apparent that the professional fees earned have been far from shabby – about £100 million with JP Morgan and Credit Suisse to the fore. PR has cost £500k and accountants £400k. Micro-Focus is a multinational software and information technology business. The firm provides software and consultancy services for clients updating legacy systems to more modern platforms. The DAX added 0.4% and the CAC 0.28%.


The introduction of the minimum wage cost John Lewis £36 million last year.  Profits were up from £289.9m to £452.2 million.  However the 86,700 partners saw their bonus down to 6% down from 15% 4 years ago.  Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield has kindly waved his bonus of £66k but has had a 4.9% increase in his salary to £1.1 million.  ITV posted its numbers this morning in the wake of CEO Adam Crozier’s imminent departure after 7 years at the helm. Shareholders are displeased that he may receive £2m bonus and Chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette’s re-election has yet to be confirmed. ITV trading statement made solid if unspectacular reading with on-line sales up 32% catching the eye and viewing numbers up 4%.  It is worth mentioning that the quality of ITV’s programming and drama production has improved beyond all recognition. Finally since just before Adam Crozier took over ITV’s share price has rallied from 18p in 2009 to 203p today.



UK companies posting numbers this week – Wednesday – TalkTalk, Vertu, Compass, Barratt Development, ITV, National Express, Thursday – BT, SuperGroup, Amex Foster Wheeler,  Mondi, Coca-Cola HBC, Vedanta Resources, Beazley, Aldermore


US companies posting numbers – Tuesday – Wednesday – Snap Inc, Dean Foods, Wendy’s, Thursday – Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Friday – JC Penney


Economic data this week – Wednesday – NIESR GDP estimate, US FED budget balance, Thursday – BOE Inflation Report, RICS Housing, UK Manufacturing, Friday – US Retail Sales


 David Buik

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

+44 (0)20 7886 2775
Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877
Panmure Gordon & Co


TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday 9th May 2017


“Sweet and low, sweet and low,

Wind of the western sea,

Low, low, breathe and blow,

Wind of the western sea!

Over the rolling waters go,

Come from the dying moon, and blow,

Blow him again to me;

While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.


Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,

Father will come to thee soon;

Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,

Father will come to thee soon;

Father will come to his babe in the best,

Silver sails all out of the west,

Under the silver moon:

Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.”


Alfred, Lord Tennyson – poet – 1809-1892


 London Mayor Sadiq Khan was right up to snuff into slagging off Theresa May as the worst Tory PM for London since Mrs Thatcher – er? Mayor, she was made a Baroness! – But no matter! Then he was seen, totally out of his depth, being interviewed last February with the aspiring French ‘matinee idol’ – Emmanuel Macron – eat your heart out dependent on your age, Clark Gable, Paul Newman or Ryan Gosling!

Thank goodness Mayor Khan knows nothing about the machinations of the City of London! Despite all President Macron’s sweet talk last February and a couple of days ago, in attempting to persuade 20k people to relocate to Paris including most of the global clearing business, frankly he has no chance for a number of reasons – infrastructure (Paris is not a great financial centre), taxation, culture, labour laws, lack of prowess; the list is endless! So, President Macron, back in your box! Enjoy your ‘love-in’ with Chancellor Merkel and the EU. I am sure you don’t need me to tell you your real problems are domestic and not your spat with the UK. France may attract a few hundred people – mainly junior, but that will be purely good housekeeping and a contingency plan, in case bad blood emanates from the negotiations.

I do agree with Mayor Khan that London is the best City in the world, but if he and City Hall do not bring influence to bear over London’s sub-standard transport (tube) and the desperately inadequate roads, people and visitors will quickly change their minds. So please deal with these crises and keep the photo shoots to a bare minimum – there’s a good chap!

Last night Chelsea all but sealed the Premiership with a clinical 3-0 victory over the ‘Boro’. Yours very truly is getting very excited about Fulham’s ‘play-off’ game at the Cottage against Reading on Saturday. Fulham are 15/8 favourites to be promoted – hardly a working man’s price to attract my money! Others may also be getting very excited that Man Utd’s Zlatan Ibahimovic is earning £367k a week with his agent bagging £41 million last year. Talk about investment banking!


What a damp squib yesterday’s machinations were, but they were always going to be. However frothed up the hype for this new fella on the block was – and let’s not get fired up too much about his prowess as an investment banker – the fundamental issues facing Macron are there large as life – 9.6% unemployment, appalling labour laws, understandably truculent trade unions with huge political divisions. Forget the superficially renewed vows with Merkel and Juncker. When the bunting has been taken down on Les Champs Elysee, reality will stare the ‘Little Corporate’ in the face just as the market told him yesterday. Nothing has changed. Yesterday equities jumped enthusiastically out of the traps and spent the rest of the day surrendering value – the DAX finishes down 0.2%, the CAC 40 down 0.9% and the FTSE up 0.05%. The Euro was virtually unchanged. It is interesting to note that though Sterling is 7 cents firmer than a few weeks ago, the FTSE 100 remains ebullient despite concern over commodity prices, which have fallen due to dropping demand in China. It just goes to show there is resilience in other sectors apart from Dollar related ones.


Just in passing too much has been made of Macron success as a banker. He may have made a great deal of money but Rothschild & Cie, though a much respected bank is no Goldman Sachs!


Yesterday the FTSE closed up 3 points just above the 7300 threshold. The DAX finished down 0.2% and ironically the DAX closed nearly 1% down. The DAX has rallied 8% in the last 2 weeks and the CAC by 6.5% in expectation and we need to head back across the waves to reality – so yesterday’s sigh of relief was duly recorded. In London Centrica grabbed most of the headlines. CEO Ian Conn posted his objection to an energy price cap. Centrica has lost 600k users out of 14 million as consumers move around. Shares were up 2% yesterday but fell back 3.5% this morning, as utilities digested Mrs May’s policy. Akzo Nobel, which bought ICI, which included Dulux for $16 billion in 2007, have rejected a third bid valued at $22.5 billion from PPG of the US, who have the support of Elliott Advisers and about 20 other main shareholders. This bid is likely to go hostile with 3,300 jobs in the UK looking vulnerable, if the deal goes through. Since the initial bid Akzo shares are up 18%. William Hill posted a decent trading statement, which initially saw their shares up 1.5% – now only 0.25%. Philip Bowcock seems to have put his feet firmly under the desk as the confirmed CEO. The FTSE 100 is amazingly up 25 points with miners bouncing after a poor run, by an average of 3%. Banks and oil are steady.

Yesterday US markets were sepulchral though the NASDAQ inched through to a new record – yesterday’s performance & YTD – DOW: 21,012 +0.03% +6.323% S&P: 2,399 unchanged +7.171% NASDAQ: 5,659 +0.23% +16.355% (New record highs). In Asia it was not much better in terms of activity than a ‘monk performing vigorously on morphine!’ – performance & YTD at 9.00am BST – NIKKEI 19,873 -0.11% +4.0%, HANG SENG 24,685 +0.43% +12.193%, CHINA 3,342 -0.49% +0.973%, ASX 5,837 -0.57% +3.034%.


UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – AON, William Hill, Hiscox, Wednesday – TalkTalk, Vertu, Compass, Barratt Development, ITV, National Express, Thursday – BT, SuperGroup, Amex Foster Wheeler,  Mondi, Coca-Cola HBC, Vedanta Resources, Beazley, Aldermore


US companies posting numbers – Tuesday – Allergan, Hertz, Marriott, Liberty Media, Walt Disney, NVidia, Wednesday – Snap Inc, Dean Foods, Wendy’s, Thursday – Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Friday – JC Penney


Economic data this week – Tuesday – BRC sales monitor, Wednesday – NIESR GDP estimate, US FED budget balance, Thursday – BOE Inflation Report, RICS Housing, UK Manufacturing, Friday – US Retail Sales


 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

 +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF