TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 23rd July 2014
“Twice or thrice had I lov’d thee,
Before I knew thy face or name;
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame
Angels affect us oft, and worshipp’d be;
Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing I did see.
But since my soul, whose child love is,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too;
And therefore what thou wert, and who,
I bid Love ask, and now
That it assume thy body, I allow,
And fix itself in thy lip, eye, and brow.
Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,
And so more steadily to have gone,
With wares which would sink admiration,
I saw I had love’s pinnace overfraught;
Ev’ry thy hair for love to work upon
Is much too much, some fitter must be sought;
For, nor in nothing, nor in things
Extreme, and scatt’ring bright, can love inhere;
Then, as an angel, face, and wings
Of air, not pure as it, yet pure, doth wear,
So thy love may be my love’s sphere;
Just such disparity
As is ‘twixt air and angels’ purity,
‘Twixt women’s love, and men’s, will ever be.”
John Donne – poet – 1571-1632
Richard Fletcher, the Business Editor of the Times generously hosted a lively debate on the 22nd floor of the Shard yesterday – “IN” or “OUT” of Europe – with Finsbury’s CEO Roland Rudd and yours truly setting down their diametrically opposed stalls.
It is fair to say Roland Rudd won the debate by a country mile. However I am very disturbed that the audience and voters at large do not accept what a parlous state the EU’s economy is in. Also if nothing else at least those present are now aware that the Foreign Office has no contingency plans for an orderly withdrawal, in the event of a referendum voting against continued membership. This is a dangerous and irresponsible predicament to leave the country in.
Finally the EU, on a diplomacy platform, remains a toothless tiger! It has failed dismally to take strong unambiguous decisions to impose tough sanctions on Russia for sub-human behavior. If ever there was a time for resolve, it’s now!
There seemed to be some sort of haze of calm that hovered over most international bourses yesterday. Indulgence in ‘Putin bating’ was very limited. Like many others I am deeply underwhelmed by the EU’s pathetic effort to bring influence to bear on Ukraine/MH17. So it was all about earnings yesterday across the pond. On the whole they were good. Coca-Cola, CIT, Verizon and Comcast all passed muster. Harley-Davidson and McDonald’s were slightly short on shareholder joy and after hours Apple excelled and Microsoft produced mitigating circumstances why investors should hang in there after profits fell thanks to the acquisition of Nokia, which should come onside by the end of the year. 18,000 employees will bite the dust. Microsoft posted revenues of $23.4 billion and a profit for the quarter of $6.48 billion. Since Satya Nadella took over from Steve Ballmer as CEO Microsoft’s shares are up 20%. The Street of Dreams closed in fine fettle – DOW +0.4%, S&P 500 +0.5% and the NASDAQ +0.7%. The improved atmosphere was also down to benign inflation data in the US.
As for Apple this may be Tim Cook’s year, with Apple having struggled post Steve Job’s demise, with the shares falling out of bed from $705 in September 2012 to circa $450! – now $95, having been split at $75 each. Apple’s shares have rallied in recent weeks and yesterday’s interim results were not unimpressive. Apple’s profits were up 12% to $7.75 billion. 35.2 million iphones (+13%) were sold in the last quarter and 4.4 million Macs (+18%). Ipad sales were down 9%, though sales to China were up 51%. We have iPhone 6 and TVs to come towards the end of the year as well!
Asia was hardly pumped up this morning but the mood was cautiously optimistic with the Shanghai Composite adding 0.23%, the Hang Seng 0.77%, though the NIKKEI ended the session a smidgen below the Plimsoll line. This morning in London there was another slew of earnings. Provident Financial, Talktalk, BHP Biliton and Capita all posted upbeat numbers. Sage and Johnson Matthey were just a touch less exhilarating than had been expected. We await news from Glaxo SmithKline at 11.00am. At 9.15am the FTSE 100 was up 1 point at 6796
It is regrettable that RBS again attracted more adverse publicity yesterday. The Treasury Select Committee are persuaded that RBS’S management, with Chris Sullivan’s name in the frame, had been economical with the truth about the treatment of some small businesses as to whether the bank had closed any companies down or seized their assets. I suspect we have not heard the last of this issue. The Committee believed that management had been willfully obtuse.
These are David Buik personal views
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