TODAY’S FAYRE – SCOTLAND, BANKS & ALIBABA

TODAY’S FAYRE – Monday, 8th September 2014

“I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:

I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;

Nor, what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth
But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson – poet – 1809-1892

‘Strictly Come Dancing’ is back! I suspect that it may have run its race. However all the glitz and dazzling lights were there in abundance for all to see! Of the 15 contestants, apart from Tom Evans, Gregg Wallace, Judy Murray and Max from ‘Eastenders’ I have never heard of any of them! Celebrities? The BBC must have dug quite deep in to their card index to find this lot!

The Henri Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern featured his ‘cut-out’ period, which manifested itself as a result of his deteriorating health between 1945 and his death in 1954. Matisse used scissors to cut out shapes and designs from colourful paper, illustrating his artistic expressions from both the world of sculpture and painting. Today these paintings would probably be considered infantile as well as strange. However in those days Matisse’s change of style was considered revolutionary and these works are spread globally and are priceless. Colours were symbolically vital to Matisse – ‘white’ for man & woman; ‘yellow’ for wickedness; ‘blue’ for nature; ‘red’ for materialism and ‘black’ for violence. I enjoyed seeing over 100 of his works of art enormously.

The shock YouGov poll posted on Saturday night that put Scotland’s ‘YES!” campaign in the vanguard – 51-49% just crystallises the ineptness of the ‘Better Together’ campaign. Much as I admire Alistair Darling, his team have failed to get their message across in the manner that Alex Salmond’s loquacious hollow and perceived insincere promises, which few believe he can deliver, has achieved.

If Salmond’s quest for independence is successful, years of wrangling and negotiation will damage economic sentiment and more to the point, the visceral atmosphere between the UK and Scotland which is bound to manifest itself. This state of affairs will create an environment of uncertainty with our trading partners, who could easily look for other options/partners to do their business, rather than rely on a ‘wing and a prayer’ which could result from the destabilisation of the Union. What happens to Scotland’s £120 billion share of the national debt? What about pensions and the cost of NHS? Energy policy is non-existent. Yes oil is there in some capacity. However 70% of power still comes from coal. The UK imports 41% of its coal from Russia. The decarbonisation of the UK’s energy policy has never been audited properly. Alex Salmond has never explained how Scotland is going to pay for its glorious future!

Sadly, in order to save the Union all the government and all the other political parties are going to bend over backwards and accommodate Scotland’s devolution requirements disproportionately. Superficially it looks like weak politics! What a sad state of affairs. Alex Salmond is in a no lose situation. He could not have wishes for a better outcome. Anyway this morning Sterling has taken a good slapping – down 2 cents to $1.6175. Gilt yields may be forced up through uncertainty and equities will hold fire pro-tem. SADLY THIS CAMPAIGN HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ECONOMIC REALITY, AS IT SHOULD BE! IT IS ALL ABOUT EMOTIVE HYSTERICAL NATIONALISM DRIVEN BY THE SNP! TOTAL TWADDLE

There was some very poor publicity over the weekend about banks attempting to use debt collection brands to coerce payments from the customers. There was some tacit admittance of this malpractice from some of these banks – HSBC, Santander, RBS, Nat West and Barclays. Antony Jenkins, Barclays CEO actually acknowledged intimidation. Until these banks stop cutting management staff to save costs, the return of trust is going to take until perpetuity to happen. How many people actually know the name of their bank manager? On-line banking has exacerbated the problem. Each customers should have two one on one meetings with the bank manger per year.

Alibaba’s road show start today. It has conservatively values the company at $167 billion instead of $200-250 billion by issuing 320 million shares (about 15% of the company) at between $60 and $66 a share with the possibility of another 48 million shares being issued if the demand is there. Goldman Sachs is taking this show all around the world and the IPO is expected to take place next week. Jack Ma the CEO will become a multi-millionaire. SoftBank of Japan owns 34.4% and will not be selling any shares and Yahoo! 24% of the company. Alibaba made $3.2 billion profit with margins of 46%. These margins are likely to fall. However against Amazon, which has never made any profits, this looks a decent effort and augurs very well. Alibaba’s advisors are determined not to have a repetition of Facebook’s IPO debacle.

This morning China announced that exports had increased 9.5% though imports fell thanks to less demand for coal, iron and other metals. The response from Asian stock markets was slightly muted. In Germany its trade surplus increased to E21.7 billion with exports up 8.5% and imports only up 1%. GE agreed to sell its appliances business to Electrolux for $3.3 billion. AB Foods posted a decent trading statement with Primark catching the eye with sales for the year likely to grow by 17% and like for like sales by 4.5%.

Later this week the following UK companies post results or trading updates – Tuesday – HILTON FOODS, WHITBREAD, DIXONS CARPHONE, Wednesday – BARRATT DEVELOPMENT, MANCHESTER UNITED, THORNTON’S, KINGFISHER, ALLIANCE PHARMA, Thursday – ASHMORE, DUNELM, WM MORRISON, OCADO, HOME RETAIL, Friday – JD WETHERSPOON.

In the US monthly company retail sales number are posted on Wednesday. US results – Monday – CAMPBELL SOUPS, Tuesday – BARNES & NOBLE, KRISPY KREME, Friday – DARDEN RESTAURANTS.

These are David Buik personal views

Twitter – @truemagic68

David Buik

Market Commentator

D +44 (0)20 7886 2775
Panmure Gordon & Co
One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF | United Kingdom
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