TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 19th May 2016
“I once was a Pirate what sailed the ‘igh seas –
But now I’ve retired as a com-mission-aire:
And that’s how you find me a-taking’ my ease
And keepin’ the door in a Bloomsbury Square.
I’m partial to partridges, likewise to grouse,
And I favour that Devonshire cream in a bowl;
But I’m allus content with a drink on the ‘ouse
And a bit o’ cold fish when I done me patrol.
I ain’t got much polish, me manners is gruff,
But I’ve got a good coat, and I keep meself smart;
And everyone says, and I guess that’s enough:
`You can’t but like Morgan, ‘e’s got a kind ‘art.’
I got knocked about on the Barbary Coast,
And me voice it ain’t no sich melliferous horgan;
But yet I can state, and I’m not one to boast,
That some of the gals is dead keen on old Morgan.
So if you ‘ave business with Faber – or Faber –
I’ll give you this tip, and it’s worth a lot more:
You’ll save yourself itme, and you’ll spare yourself labour
If jist you make friends with the Cat at the door.”
TS Eliot – poet & author – 1888-1965
EGYPTIAN AIRLINE MISSING ON FLIGHT FROM PARIS TO CAIRO! NOT AGAIN? DARE WE THINK THE WORST?
The Euston Road may not be in the most salubrious or accessible part of London, but Marcus Wareing’s restaurant – The Gilbert Scott in St Pancras Station – is well worth a visit. I had an utterly superb lunch there yesterday. The food was exquisite – wonderful service and the fixed menu was very much priced at a working man’s level of £29.00. It was as good a lunch as I have experienced in many a moon.
I was delighted to see that the Evening Standard is helping with James Taylor’s rehabilitation, now that he can no longer play first class cricket. He has joined the Standard as a summariser for the test series against Sri Lanka and hopefully Pakistan later in the summer.
I went to Nottingham to participate in a debate at the Nottingham Trent University building. What a fantastic city, which has grown unrecognisably in stature. I enjoyed my wander around enormously. The city has recently introduced a state of the ark tramway system – brand spanking new, clean, comfortable, efficient and FREE!
After Sturridge’s brilliant goal, one of such precision, using the outside of his left boot to curl the ball around Sevilla’s keeper Soria for the lead in the Europa Cup Final in Basel, Liverpool sadly lost focus and collapsed to lose the game comprehensively 1-3!
So it looks as though the appointment of Ed Chamberlin to head up ITV’S Horse Racing team was not rumour! Snatching him from Sky’s football punditry was inspirational! Ed is TOP, TOP Drawer!
The FTSE 100 never stood a prayer right from the opening yesterday against a background of perky inflation data in the US, which was always going to ignite the smouldering embers of a FED rate increase, which was near enough endorsed by the FOMC’S hawkish minutes posted yesterday afternoon. The FTSE did well to close almost flat – -2 points at 6165. In fairness the FTSE probably looks fully valued at present and there has been some evidence of fund managers lightening up their portfolios of FTSE 100 stocks. It is possible that the mining sector’s part recovery has run out of steam and the banking sector, another key component part of this index looks a little moribund.
The Street of Dreams was no place for the faint-hearted yesterday. The FOMC’S minutes invited the futures markets to raise the possibility of a rate hike from 19% to 34%. Comments made by FED members implying that inflation was heading towards 2% and accompanied by positive labour data was consistent with the FED’s policy of measured rate increases. Messrs Dudley & Fischer will no doubt add their two cents worth in terms of the debate today. External issues such as China’s ability to manage its exchange rate, is also of major consideration for the FED. US markets shed quite decent gains to close the session just about flat, apart from the NASDAQ, with Apple adding 1.14% – DOW -0.02%, S&P 500 +0.02% and the NASDAQ +0.50%. Cisco posted numbers that in the circumstances were satisfactory which saw its shares close up 0.26%. However Target, Walmart’s greatest competitor, initially did not please its acolytes losing 7.6% in value before the close. After hours the shares rallied to close down 0.04%. Urban Outfitters suffered similar ‘slings & arrows of outrageous fortune’ – shares were subjected to reverse volatility, falling by 3.34% after its results, but after hours closed up 7.16%! There were strong rumours that Germany’s chemical titan Bayer would be making a bid for Monsanto.
London suffered another of those sepulchral sessions and one of the few areas to spark interest were food and restaurants – SSP Group posted decent numbers that sparked a rush into UK food/pub restaurants. Restaurant Group after a torrid few months was up 1.5 % on big volume. Whitbread rallied by 2.1 % on similar theme. Marstons up 2.5 % post there update tomorrow as do Mitchells & Butler and Young’s
Marshalls ere down 7.7 % on subdued update. Meggitt was sharply down 4 % on big downgrade by our own Sanjay Jha recommendation. It was interesting to observe that Qatar has increased its stake in IAG to 15%.
Applications to buy the beleaguered BHS Empire had to be in by yesterday. Though the Parliamentary Select Hearings with Messrs, Green, Chappell and pension trustees will need to be completed before any deal can be announced in early July, it transpires that Hilco Capital has been named as one of the bidders for BHS. Hilco bought 141 HMV shops, stopping that household brand from falling in to ignominy. BHS went into administration last month, and the company had reportedly attracted the interest of five suitors hoping to buy the whole of the high street retailer ahead of last week’s bid deadline.
Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, Swedish furniture giant Ikea, discount retailer B&M and Edinburgh Woollen Mills have been reported as interested in some or all of the retailer, as have Matalan founder John Hargreaves, and Select Retail owner Cafer Mahiroglu. The last two named are rumoured to have tabled an £85 million bid for 160 shops. Creditors are thought to be owed £124 million. BHS’ most recent boss Dominic Chappell is also said to be interested in bidding too. Personally I would be quite surprised if he was considered a suitable candidate. Chappell is to appear in front of the MPs on 8 June, alongside BHS management and the board of Retail Acquisitions, the vehicle through which BHS was bought.
Employment data posted yesterday was steady if not spectacular with some blaming the threat of BREXIT for the slowdown. 44k jobs were created in the last 3 months. There are 409k people more in work than this time last year. Of course Mark Carney and others warning about a possible recession does not help the cause or the mood of the country. Household finances are supposedly at their weakest point for nearly 2 years. Having read the content of the CMA’s banking recommendations, I thought I might just point out that the big 4 have 77% if retail clients and 85% of corporate clients. It will be tough for challengers to break through, however aggressive and innovative they are.
Merlin Entertainment posted a satisfactory ‘in-line’ trading statement. The development of new accommodation is progressing well, with the expansion of the Legoland Deutschland Holiday Village already open, and further offerings at Gardaland, Chessington World of Adventures and Warwick Castle on schedule to open over the coming weeks. Hopefully the dark days of Alton Towers are behind them.
Royal Mail Group’s Moya Greene said of its performance – “We have delivered a resilient performance in challenging markets. Group revenue was up one per cent and our strategic focus on costs resulted in a one per cent decline in our UK underlying costs. We continue to invest in our transformation and initiatives to support growth.” That looks quite neutral to me! This company must be a takeover target for someone like FEDEX or Deutsche Post.
UK companies posting results – Thursday – THOS COOK, ROYAL MAIL, BOOKER, HARGREAVES LANSDOWN, MITCHELLS & BUTLER, 3iii, MERLIN ENTERTAINMENT, NATIONAL GRID
US companies posting interim results – Thursday – APOLLO, WAL-MART, APPLIED MATERIALS, ROSS STORES, GAP, Friday – FOOT LOCKER
Economic Data – Thursday – UK RETAIL SALES, US INITIAL JOBLESS CLAIMS, Friday – US EXISTING HOME SALES
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