TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 11th November 2015
ARMISTICE DAY – 1918
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
John McCrae – Canadian Soldier & Poet – 1872-1918
63 years is no age for a celebrated sportsman to die. Thus it was for Pat Eddery, who so sadly passed away yesterday. He rode for all the great trainers – Peter Walwyn, Henry Cecil, Vincent O’Brien, Guy Harwood, Sir Michael Stoute and Clive Britten. Such horses as Grundy, Dancing Brave, El Gran Senor and Bosra Sham were great champions ridden by Eddery, who was probably the greatest judge of pace of his generation. Who will ever forget the ride he gave Dancing Brave in the ‘Arc’ having replaced Greville Starkey, who had a nightmare in being beaten in the Derby by Sharastani, owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Sir Michael Stoute. Dancing Brave must rank as one of the all-time great ‘Arc’ winners. Pat will have had the odd nightmare when he was ‘mugged’ on the line by Charles O’Brien’s Secreto in the 1984 Derby! RIP
I think it might have been preferable to have been ‘pulling teeth’ than trading equities in London yesterday. It was slow and uninteresting. There are nearly 7 weeks to go until Christmas, but traders seem to want to batten down the hatches until the New Year, such was the level of inertia. As I said yesterday, markets feel very heavy and fully valued. The mining sector and its mate, oil, seem to want to spoil the party with monotonous regularity. Markets continue to blame China for their reluctance to engage and so we seem to be in the ‘drift’ mode. I am less than convinced that life is as good in Europe and the politicians and economists would have us believe. Portugal looks ugly with the largest party looking unable to form a government. To add insult to injury, there stands the undemocratically appointed EU ‘holding a gun to Portugal’s head’ in regards to bail-out facilities being maintained. I also don’t fancy Greece as a textbook major recovery story. However whilst “QE” remains ‘King Kiddy’ on the block, the threat of any measurable ‘downturn’ looks very limited. The FTSE lost 19 points yesterday to 6275.
Vodafone’s Vittorio Colao turned his guns on BT and EE (from Deutsche Telekom), which it is in the process of acquiring for £12 billion for recreating the kind of monopolies that existed 30 years ago, with arguments over broadband very much on the agenda. Vodafone’s results were good resulting in the shares rallying by nearly 4%. However Colao needs a better business plan in terms of Vodafone’s future involvement with media, having turned the possibility of an association with Liberty Global. Vodafone needs to spend some of the $45 billion it received from its sale of Verizon Communications and not just pay off debt, if it wants to inspire its shareholders.
It is interesting to note that Asda has decided not to take part in Black Friday this year – 27th November 2015. Asda, owned by Walmart helped to bring Black Friday to the UK in 2013 but now believes that “shopper fatigue” has set in non-essential items at Christmas”. Thanksgiving in the US starts on Thursday 26th November and that weekend is the biggest shopping-spree-bonanza in the US calendar. I suspect that Amazon will more than do well on Black Friday in the UK. It will be a far better barometer of retail activity than the average retailer will report. Just look what happened in China today with Alibaba! In the first hour of ‘SINGLES DAY’ trading – China’s answer to presents at Valentine’s Day,
Alibaba sold $5 billion of a variety of goods and an hour ago it had topped $9.5 billion – astonishing the power of the internet. 72% of the trades had been done on the mobile phone and the Chinese Postal Authorities will be sending out 760,000 packages today! Alibaba CEO Jack Ma will be delighted as since the IPO 18 months ago when the company was valued at $250 billion. Shares started trading at $93, then hit $120 and since then have fallen back to $81 and change. There are still issues with US authorities and other regulators on allegations that some merchandise is false such as Gucci bags etc.
Sainsbury’s posted a 17.9% drop in profits for the last 6 months to £308 million – rather better than expected. Some thought the loss might have been about 24%. Like-for- like sales were down 1.6% – again better than expected. The dividend was increased by 20% – another 4p per shares. This supermarket feels it is out performing many of its peers with the exception of Aldi, Lidl and Ocado? It was slightly surprising that the money spent on the increased dividend rather than arranging better deals for consumers. The clothes see business has been very encouraging and Sainsbury is optimistic towards Christmas. Staff were offered a 4% increase in wages following 3% the year before.
UK companies posting results – Wednesday – FENNER, SSE, SAINSBURY, TALKTALK, eSURE, ICAP, BARRATT, WORKSPACE, G4S Thursday – PUNCH TAVERNS, SAB MILLER, HALFORDS, PREMIER OIL, REXAM, BURBERRY, 3iii, ROLLS ROYCE, RESTAURANT GROUP, CARD FACTORY, MAN UTD, INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY, Friday – AUTOTRADER
US companies posting interim results – Thursday – NORDSTROM, Friday – JC PENNEY
ECONOMIC DATA – Wednesday – UK unemployment, Thursday – UK Treasury Budget Statement, Friday – EU GDP.
Panmure Gordon & Co