TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 23rd February 2017
“Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
John Keats – poet – 1795-1821
Apple’s war with the EU over the €13 billion tax demand will shortly reach new levels of controversy, despite the Irish government’s assistance in supporting their objection. I venture to suggest until there is a water-tight tax policy for all EU members, Apple should be allowed to exploit its benefits. Morally it is probably not right, but we have been down this road and it’s up to global legislators to sort the situation out or there will be hell to pay, resulting in Apple spreading its pleasure elsewhere.
This whole commercial rating system needs sorting out. It is archaic. How can it be possible be right to rate businesses entirely on the value of their property in a digital age, where technology will continue to be more rampant by the day? Surely Sajid Javid, his Civil Service advisors and the government know this? The whole system needs revamping and hauling in to the modern age.
I must say I am very surprised that ‘Snap’s’ entourage are coming over to London for a road show. Not that many moons ago, I think Facebook offered Evan Spiegel, the founder, $3 billion for SnapChat. I would describe myself as anything approaching the fountain of all knowledge on technology, but raising money at between $14-16 a share puts a valuation of $20-$25 billion for an app that has yet to make money. That price tag seems to have a very rich valuation attached to it. With the quality of advisors – Goldman and Morgan Stanley – One ventures to suggest there is mileage in this company. Let’s hope there is a sense of realism, a lack of avarice and the required luck needed that market conditions will be conducive for punters to enter the fray.
Having supported Kraft Heinz in an abortive attempt to buy Unilever, it might just be that the Warren Buffett/3G Capital juggernaut, which has a $15 billion war chest at its disposal, may sortie again in to the food market, with perhaps an appetite for the likes of Kellogg, Campbell Soups or General Mills. They are also invested in Burger King and AB InBev. It is also felt that Kraft Heinz may go back for Mondolez to whom they sold Cadbury.
I was highly amused to hear that French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron wants to lure bankers from London to Paris in the aftermath of Brexit. In his dreams! There are a few incontrovertible issues – language, taxation and lack of infrastructure for a start. If bankers are going to leave in droves from London, they ain’t going to Paris or Frankfurt, they are off to New York or Hong Kong!
Having enjoyed the President’s Day public holiday on Monday, US stock market luminaries returned to the Street of Dreams in a positive frame of mind without too many Trump tweets and the appointment of a new head of National Security – Lieut Gen McMaster. Retail captured most of the headline with Wal-Mart posting its best results for four years. Shares rose by 3%. There were also good efforts from Home Depot (+1.41%) and Macy’s (unch). Wal-Mart’s profit was $3.76 billion, or $1.22 per share in the three months ended Jan. 31. That compares with $4.57 billion, or $1.43 per share, a year ago. Sales totalled $129.75 billion.
I was beginning to wonder if the US had a Treasury Secretary as the silence has been deafening. Low and behold yesterday Steven Mnuchin rose from his slumber and urged the IMF to use its surveillance powers to police the exchange-rate policies of its members, part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to challenge some of America’s biggest trading partners. It’s good to know he’s alive and on the case. I think it is also imperative that we hear something very positive about infrastructure spending and corporate tax cuts before too long. Otherwise investors could take flight. These stock markets have come a long way since 8th November 2016. The US markets closed with year to date gains as follows – DOW: 20,743 +0.58% +4.96%, S&P: 2,365 +0.60% +5.65% NASDAQ: 5,350 +0.49% +10.01%.
As we all know yesterday’s session in London was dispiriting thanks to a poor effort from HSBC, which saw the FTSE 100 lose 25 points to 7274. This morning we had a far better effort from Lloyds Banking Group, which posted a profit of £4.2 billion – up 158% – net £2.41 billion. Tier One capital came in at a healthy 13.8%. MBNA have bedded down nicely and synergistically. Lending margins are at 2.7%. SME lending grew by 3% and by 30% in the last 6 years. The bonus pool was 4.9% of profits and came in at £392.9 million across all staff. Antonio Horta Osario’s salary will be increased by 8% to £1.22 million. That seems very reasonable by modern day standards.
Mark Carney indicated to a Treasury Select Committee that a smooth Brexit process would lead to a faster rate of interest rate increases. He also said that if Britain achieves a “bold, ambitious trade deal” without significant obstacles “that is a scenario that is consistent with faster growth relative to forecast, higher inflationary pressure relative to forecast and tighter monetary policy relative to forecast. Bank’s chief economist Andy Haldane was also present and added that Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for Brexit are not expected to affect growth over the next three years.
UK companies posting interim results this week – Wednesday –Lloyds Banking Group, Barratt Development, Weir, Serco, Hays, McBride, Metro Bank, Thursday – Barclays, Intu, Rathbones, Monetise, Howden Joinery, BAE Systems, BATS, Glencore, National Express, Centrica, RSA, Kaz Minerals, Friday – Standard Life, Pearson, Wm Hill, Standard Chartered Bank, RBS, Jupiter Fund Management, Rightmove
US companies posting interim results – Wednesday – Toll Bros, TJX, L-Brands, Tesla, Thursday – Kohl’s, BJ Restaurants, Dynergy, Nordstrom, Friday – JC Penney, Foot Locker,
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