Monthly Archives: June 2017

21st Century/Sky Bid – I smell political skulduggery!

21st Century’s bid for SKY falters – I smell political skulduggery!

 

It would be wrong to play down the horrific anguish experienced by the Milly Dowler family and copious hacked celebrities at the hands of the News of The World and the insults levelled at the people of Liverpool by the Sun 23 years ago. In the same breath we must also remember that the perpetrators at the NOW have been brought to justice.  Also do NOT forget that even the Guardian and eventually the Police admitted that nobody from the News of the World deleted messages from Milly Dowler’s phone.

However I have to confess that I am hugely disappointed that Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has passed the buck, as to whether 21st Century should be allowed to purchase the remaining 61% for £11.7 billion, to the CMA for further investigation.  I know there has been a General Election, but OFCOM and the CMA have had donkey’s years to deliberate. Madam, may I rather vulgarly suggest, you grow a pair and make a decision and the right one, straight away. We have listened for years to the whingeing opposition to this deal, that the Murdoch Empire is too large and therefore it has too much influence.  We also have the Tom Watson battalion throwing its two cents worth in.  I wouldn’t be listening too closely to what he has to say on this subject.  You only have to remember the reprehensible manner he treated Lord Leon Brittan, when the former Home Secretary was accused of paedophilia. He all but choked when apologising under duress to Lady Diana Brittan. So spare me the moral story.

Let’s look at the commercial realities. Sky has been a magnificent employer in a market that is diminishing in players. SKY TV has been a truly innovative media machine and here in Europe it has expanded in Italy and Germany.  Let’s not forget that terrestrial and pay TV are diminishing in importance as the internet grows in stature as a broadcaster.  The same can be said for the written word.  Papers are dying all over the place as they are replaced by blogging and the internet. It is fair to say that The Times and Sun would be dead and buried without Murdoch’s steadfast loyalty.

I am a free market man.  I would have fought BT tooth and nail to prevent them being given Sky’s  ground.  Compete! Earn it! Charge what the traffic will bear.  

So frankly the postponement looks no more than political skulduggery. Provided there is no editorial influence from FOX, this deal should be allowed to go through unopposed.  Shares in Sky are up 3.35% to 988.5p – well below the 1o75p cash bid.

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TODAY’S FAYRE – Politics, Central Banks, Sky & Markets

TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 29th June 2017

 

And death shall have no dominion.

Dead man naked they shall be one

With the man in the wind and the west moon;

When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,

They shall have stars at elbow and foot;

Though they go mad they shall be sane,

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

 

And death shall have no dominion.

Under the windings of the sea

They lying long shall not die windily;

Twisting on racks when sinews give way,

Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;

Faith in their hands shall snap in two,

And the unicorn evils run them through;

Split all ends up they shan’t crack;

And death shall have no dominion.

 

And death shall have no dominion.

No more may gulls cry at their ears

Or waves break loud on the seashores;

Where blew a flower may a flower no more

Lift its head to the blows of the rain;

Though they be mad and dead as nails,

Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;

Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,

And death shall have no dominion.

 

Dyan Thomas – 1914-1953

 

Having had 24 hours to calm down and reflect on life, I have come to the very obvious conclusion that this country has fallen in to a vortex of dangerous social despair. The gap between ‘those that have’ and ‘those that do not’ has widened unacceptably.

 

 We have an acute housing problem – both owner/occupier, ‘buy-to-let’ and affordable housing plus private renting and council renting. Unemployment has gone down, but wages are stagnant and have been so for too long! The generational gap is also widening. Why should the 30-50 age group pay for the social care of the elderly, when they become infirmed or for that matter their health. I am not suggesting that those who have accumulated wealth over the years should not be able to pass on the lion’s share to their children/grandchildren, but some measurable contribution should be made to alleviate the burden of the young, in terms of taxation to pay for elderly social care that is fair. What a shame that parts of the Tory manifesto was presented in such a ham-fisted manner, without proper explanation. It was a truly awful exercise in incompetence that appeared cruel and uncaring.

 

It is hard to blame the young for supporting Jeremy Corbyn, when butter would not melt in his mouth and who keeps offering them succulent sweets they do not have to pay for. To them anything is better than Tory austerity, so why not try Labour’s sack-full of ‘terminological inexactitudes.’ They don’t feel any worse and even if they pay for it two years down the line, at least that will have satisfied their curiosity. The Government really has to work out a social policy that is fair to all, which also pays some attention to balancing the books.

 

Like thousands of others I am astonished that it has taken 28 years to bring criminal charges against six people, who are alleged to have been responsible for the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989. I suspect that those who have suffered from the Grenfell Tower disaster will give this government no more than six months to bring those alleged of wrong doing to book before the courts.

 

It would appear that rather as Unilever responded to Elliott Advisors rattled Paul Polson CEO of Unilever’s cage about failing to deliver shareholder value, Loeb has done the same with Nestle. He has taken a 1.3% stake in the Swiss food processing giant. Nestle have already responded by buying-back CHF 20 billion of shares. Nestle’s share price rallied by 1.3% today. We wait eagerly for further action.

 

Housing Doyen Henry Pryor tells us that HM Land Registry confirmed that just 481 £1m+ sales in England & Wales last month. 304 were in London.

 

The Street of Dreams enjoyed improved fortunes yesterday, with President Trump managing to stay away from a plethora of negative press. Financials were the best performing S&P sector, rising 1.6%. JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, both rose more than 2%. These stock also rose ahead of stress test results expected from the Federal Reserve that could pave the way for the banks to return more capital to shareholders. Technology shares gained 1.3%, surging back from their worst day in more than two weeks. Apple rose 1.5% and TripAdvisor jumped 4.5%. Energy companies rose as oil futures climbed for the fifth consecutive day.

Consumer-focused companies also enjoyed the warmth of the summer sun as stocks recovered the previous day’s losses. Staples jumped 8.5% on reports of a possible sale. Medical device company Spectranetics added 26% after Dutch electronics and health care technology company Philips agreed to buy the company for $38.50 a share, or $1.68 billion. General Mills shares rose 1.6% after the ‘Cheerios’ cereal maker reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Staples shares rose 8.4%. The company may announce its sale to private equity firm Sycamore Partners. US markets closed as follows & YTD performances – DOW: 21,454 +0.68% +8.562% S&P: 2,440 +0.88% +9.016% NASDAQ: 5,753 +1.44% +18.287%

 

Asian markets today rode on the back of New York’s coattails and Central bank clarification on policy & YTD – NIKKEI 20,206 +0.38% +5.669% HANG SENG 25,881 +0.79% +17.679% CHINA 3,655 +0.26% +10.455% ASX 5,808 +0.91% +2.566%.

 

 

Miscommunication by Central bankers Mario Draghi and Mark Carney not only led the currency market a merry dance yesterday, but they also threw equity markets in to confusion. The FTSE 100 behaved like the Grand old Duke of York, initially reacting to Draghi implying that he would start tapering stimulus and then in the next breath telling the market it misinterpreted his comments. QE was not finished. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Mark Carney, having stated unequivocally at the last MPC meeting, which voted 5-2 for no change, that it was not the time for a rate change, which Andy Haldane, BOE Chief Economist contradicted the next day, also appeared to change his mind? Why? – Inflation and BREXIT uncertainty. Consequently, confusion ruled in abundance. The Euro initially hit its highest level for a year but post these eminent central bankers’ comments, Sterling headed for the moon relatively speaking $1.2960.

 

Yesterday the FTSE 100 dropped 46 points to 7387, with Tesco announcing that 1200 jobs would be shed as part of a £1.5 billion savings plan. Dave Lewis and his troops are likely to focus more for ‘On-line business.’ This morning the FTSE was up 35 at 7415. It was up 60 points at the opening but Sterling is nudging $1.30, which has damaged Dollar earning related stocks. Banks are on a roll on the back of New York, with HSBC the pick of the bunch – up 4.3%. JD Sports disappointed -4.5%, so did Wood Group – energy stocks remain perilous – -5%. Greene King’s numbers were solid – unchanged.

 

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley should tell us within the next hour that 21st Century can buy the remaining 61% of Sky for £11.7 billion. Ofcom and the CMA, despite protestations from the media not owned by Sky objecting to Sky/Murdoch/News Corpn’s domination, should advise M/S Bradley to tick the acquiescent box without further delay. SKY has been a brilliant employer creating a tremendous network in the UK, Germany and Italy. Apart from jealousy, there is not a scrap of meaningful evidence to block the deal.

 

UK companies posting numbers this week Friday – Trinity Mirror, Serco

 

US Companies posting interim results this week Thursday Walgreen Boots Alliance, Constellation Brands, Micron Technology, Nike, American Outdoor Group

 

​​Economic data posted this week –Friday – UK Gfk Consumer Confidence, UK GDP estimate, UK Revised Business Investment.

 

 David Buik

 

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF

Market update – The Grand Ole Duke of York – he had 10k men…

Oh the Grand Old Duke of York, he had 10,000 men…. It is fascinating to think that corporate news and sentiment have had virtually no influence on stock market activity for weeks. It’s been all about foreign exchange, the volatile price of oil and political volatility. Today was a classic example of such a compendium of varied news.  The market opened slightly below the Plimsoll line in the wake of indifferent performances in New York and Asia in recent sessions. Many interpreted Draghi’s comments on the ECB and monetary policy as dovish.  He had to mark the market’s cards by saying stimulus packages were still needed – so the FTSE, DAX and CAC rallied just into positive territory – the FTSE 100 having been down 40 down.  Then BOE Governor Mark Carney was unambiguous in saying that the UK economy and rising inflation was indicative in stating that no more stimulus packages would be required.  Though Sterling bounced against the Euro and Dollar – cable $1.2950 – the FTSE took flight and surrendered 44 points to 7390 at 3.40pm.

 

Banks have been steady in London. Miners and oils rocked a bit after Carney’s comments. Dollar earning stocks such as Reed Elsevier and to a lesser degree Diageo surrendered some ground on a weaker Dollar. Of those companies posting numbers today Bunzl was a standout performer – +4%. Dixons Carphone, having been up 2.6% is now down 3.18% because of retail concern – low wage inflation. Stagecoach, after a bright start was down 5.94%. BT was impressive today on an upgrade from McQuarie. The DOW has bounced back today on a weak showing of the Dollar and is up 130 points.

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 28th June 2017

 

Thou who seest all thing below,

Grant that Thy servants may go slow,

That they may study to comply

With regulations till they die.

 

Teach us, O Lord, to reverence

Committees more than common sense;

To train our minds to make no plan

And pass the baby when we can.

 

So when the tempter seeks to give

Us feelings of initiative,

Or when alone we go too far,

Chastise us with a circular.

 

Mid war and tumult, fire and storms

Give strength  O Lord, to deal out forms.

Thus may Thy servants ever be

A flock of perfect sheep for Thee.”

 

Anonymous

 

 

There are no better months in the year than June and July here in Old Blighty, with a plethora of world class sport, with the sun more often than not high on the yard arm, the smell of cut grass, the taste of Pimm’s No:1 and strawberries to savour!  We will always have the horrendous terrorist attacks in Manchester and in London plus the Grenfell Tower tragedy on our minds in perpetuity. However, Let’s try and put the dire General Election campaign behind us as well as the acrid stench of fear and hatred surrounding the BREXIT negotiations to the side whilst we attempt to enjoy two rugby tests – New Zealand v British & Irish Lions, a Test match v South Africa, the Wimbledon Championships and the Open Golf Championship – all to relish and enjoy! 

 

Yesterday’s session on the Street of Dreams was not one to relish. President Trump failed to get his healthcare bill through Congress. That did not help the mood in beautiful downtown Manhattan. Though banks held their own, tech stocks were under the cosh for most of the session. The gargantuan fine of €2.4 imposed on Google by Brussels for abusing its dominance in search as well parallel sales, which has been on the cards for some time, took the wind out of the sails of this flag ship sector. Shares dropped 2.25% yesterday. Margarethe Vestager the EU’S Competition Competitor, claims that Google’s stance has denied other companies the chance to compete and has left consumers with inadequate genuine choices. I know it’s not PC, but I find protectionism disingenuous. I am a great believer in charge what the traffic will bear and tend to dislike government or bureaucratic interference. Obviously Google will appeal.  There are concerns permeating around Washington that Google and other US companies are being discriminated against. Apple is still appealing against the writ to pay €13 billion for taxes incurred in Ireland, despite the Irish being against this claim.  There are serious ramifications with the US Government likely to be less accommodating over any trade deal going forward. Also the floodgates may be open for future civil claims against Google. Perhaps the arrogance of the EU may need to be tapered in dealing with US authorities, unless of course, the EU just doesn’t care! The EU has of course a bit of ‘previous’ against the US, when Neelie Kroes, one of Vestager’s predecessors, fined Microsoft $732 million for web-browsing misdemeanours in 2013, having served notice in 2009.

 

So unsurprisingly other tech stocks took some hits – Netflix -4.1%, Facebook -2%, Microsoft -1% and Amazon -1.73% – a combination of the Google syndrome and valuations. General Motors has adjusted its sales targets to lower levels. All in all it was a dispiriting session. Set out below was how New York closed – US markets close & YTD – DOW: 21,310 -0.12 +7.833% S&P: 2,419 -0.81% +8.064% NASDAQ: 5,671 -1.83% +16.613%.

 

 

Asian markets were reflective of the US markets with tech stocks in South Korea taking enjoying a little rough treatment, as investors awaited on a speech to be made by Janet Yellen in London on the US economy.  Also included are ‘the year to date’ achievements – NIKKEI: 20,163 -0.31% +5.492%, HANG SENG: 25,732 -0.41 +16.949%, CHINA: 3,662 -0.32% +10.743%, ASX: 5,756 +0.74% +1.606%.

 

So after diagnosis the prescription! We had our cards marked yesterday that Household debt stood at £1.5 trillion in the UK with consumer credit standing at £200 billion – this debt has increased by 10% per annum to dangerous levels. Car debt currently stands at £58 billion.  So BOE Governor Mark Carney has told UK domestic banks that they must build a special buffer of extra capital totaling £11.4 billion to be raised by them to prevent and repetition of the 2008/9 banking crisis. The threat of inflation could easily mean that some consumers could fall behind with their payments.

 

Yesterday the FTSE 100 eased by 12 points to 7434.  It was a good day for Carpetright and a poor one for Debenhams – down 2.25% having been down 3.37%.  Like-for-like sales dipped by 0.9%.  Retail sector is under the cosh, as wages fail to keep track with inflation.  So expect the hedge funds to mass their troops and take out some short positions on the likes of Debenhams, M&S, Next and maybe even Morrison, which has had a terrific run in the last year. This morning the FTSE 100 is down 40 points at 7390 as I write at 9.18am. The mood is slightly negative following in the footsteps of New York and Asia. Bunzl pleaded its acolytes – up 4.1%, so did Dixons Carphone who like for like sales were up 4% on the year.  Profits were up to £291 million – shares up 2.7%.  Petra Diamonds faltered – down 4.32%.

 

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Wednesday – Dixons Carphone, Stagecoach, Bunzl, Tullow Oil, Kier Group, Thursday – Blur Group, Purple Bricks, Greene King, JD Sports, John Laing, Wood Group, Friday – Trinity Mirror, Serco

 

US Companies posting interim results this week – Wednesday – General Mills, HB Fuller, Thursday – Walgreen Boots Alliance, Constellation Brands, Micron Technology, Nike, American Outdoor Group

 

​​Economic data posted this week – Tuesday – BBA Mortgage Approvals, Wednesday – Nationwide HPI, Friday – UK Gfk Consumer Confidence, UK GDP estimate, UK Revised Business Investment.

 

 David Buik

 

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 26th June 2017

 

To be, or not to be, that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;

To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause—there’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns

That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pitch and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry

And lose the name of action.”

 

 

‘The tragedy of Hamlet – Prince of Denmark’

 

 

William Shakespeare – poet & playwright – 1564–1616

 

 

   As the years roll by I find myself having considerably more empathy with ‘left-of-centre’ political views.  There is nothing worse than excessive social inequality and urban deprivation. So of course there is a role for a strong Labour party, a robust official opposition and a government’ in waiting.’ However Labour needs to shake off its image as a party of envy, spite, hatred and mob-oratory that brooks no opposition and is just vicious in its outlook. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are not to be trifled with. They have stoked up the intellectual ‘angry brigade’ with measurable venom.  Labour’s acolytes are impressionable, gullible and susceptible to the empty and hollow promises of riches that lie ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ – with all of these promises financially unaccounted for.

 

   The visual media seem unhappy with the arrangements the Government has made with the DUP. ‘Hobson’s Choice’, when the mob are baying for PM May’s head on a charger! Even if it’s only for a few months, show us Mrs May, what can be done with strength of character, humanity and resolve! However the Conservative party should listen to the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson –  “If the Conservative party does not present a clear plan as to what their policies and core values are, sooner rather than later, Labour will rule from Downing Street for a decade!”  What a price to pay!  

 

    Though the performance of US equity indices looked superficially fairly unexciting, there were a few positives to take from the session.  The likes of JP Morgan (+0.44%) and Morgan Stanley (+0.70%) have underperformed the market in relative terms post the major rally after the Presidential election.  They took the opportunity of responding well to the E17 billion Italian bail out of Monti Dei Paschi and Intesa, encapsulating the winding up of Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, blighted by bad loans and a miss-selling scandal.  Make no mistake, despite this remedial action, Italian banks are creaking like dodgy floor boards! Confirmation of this news saw European equities respond well, including the FTSE 100 which added 22 points to 7446. Crude oil also rallied 0.6% yesterday.  Whirlpool, which owns Hotpoint, Indesit and Kitchen Aid amongst its brands, and whose capital value stands at $140 billion saw its share price add 2.2% yesterday. This was quite surprising considering it was a Hotpoint fridge which caught fire in Grenfell Tower. 60k of that model were manufactured between 2006/9. It was the tech sector that attempted to drag the NASDAQ down yesterday as Facebook lost 0.9%, Alphabet -1.4% and Apple -0.4%. The DOW closed +0.07%, the S&P was 0.03% to the good with the NASDAQ easier by 0.29%.

 

    I much look forward to talking about the 3rd quarter earnings, which start slowly next week, but gather momentum the week after.  Nonetheless there are little snippets of information and news worthy of comment.  It looks as though the Coop Bank – 80% controlled by US hedge funds since 2013, when a £1.5 billion black hole was found in the accounts, may not have to be sold.  Having recently repaid a loan of £700 million the Coop Bank felt that it was not in a position to meet the BOE’S capital requirements.  It seemed that the pension scheme liabilities was the main stumbling block. Agreement is close with the hedge funds having negotiated responsibility for just the bank’s Pension funds rather than the group. The Coop Group has about 90k pensions with 37k already drawing these pensions. So let’s hope it’s onwards and upwards, though the recovery will be tough and challenging.

 

    Concern is being expressed about the level of debt in this country. Household debt in this country stands at £1.5 trillion with consumer debt at £200 billion. The level of debt is increasing by 10% per annum.  Expect the Bank of England to re-impose greater capital requirements by about 0.5% to curb the level of debt explosion. There was evidence of a fat finger by a gold trader causing the price of gold to drop in New York by 1.6% yesterday to $1236 per ounce.  Not the first or last time this kind of mistake will manifest itself. Facebook will spend $3 billion setting up its own TV service in competition with Netflix and Amazon Prime. It will appeal to 14-30 year olds and CEO Mark Zuckerberg insists on no nudity or bad language!

 

    Today Debenhams posted an unambitious trading statement which did not please its acolytes and shares drifted lower by 3.37%.  Northgate’s efforts were poor – down 10% in early skirmishes. Carpetright for the first time in a long time posted really encouraging progress which met with the market’s approval – up 11%! The FTSE 100 was down 9 points at 7438 at 8.30am.  

 

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Debenhams, Northgate, Carpetright, Petrofac, Wednesday – Dixons Carphone, Stagecoach, Bunzl, Tullow Oil, Kier Group, Thursday – Blur Group, Purple Bricks, Greene King, JD Sports, John Laing, Wood Group, Friday – Trinity Mirror, Serco

 

US Companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday – Darden Restaurants, KB Homes, Wednesday – General Mills, HB Fuller, Thursday – Walgreen Boots Alliance, Constellation Brands, Micron Technology, Nike, American Outdoor Group

 

Economic data posted this week – Tuesday – BBA Mortgage Approvals, Wednesday – Nationwide HPI, Friday – UK Gfk Consumer Confidence, UK GDP estimate, UK Revised Business Investment.

 

 David Buik

 

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

 
+44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF​

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Sunday, 25th June 2017

 

“The charcoal -burner has tales to tell.

He lives in the Forest,

Alone in the Forest;

He sits in the Forest,

Alone in the Forest.

And the sun comes slanting between the trees,

And rabbits come up, and they give him good-morning,

And rabbits come up and say, “Beautiful morning”…

And the moon swings clear of the tall black trees,

And owls fly over and wish him good-night,

Quietly over to wish him good night…

 

And he sits and thinks of the things they know,

He and the Forest, alone together-

The springs that come and the summers that go,

Autumn dew on bracken and heather,

The drip of the Forest beneath the snow…

All the things they have seen,

All the things they have heard:

An April sky swept clean as a bird…..

 

Oh, the charcoal-burner has tales to tell!

And he lives in the Forest and knows us well.”

Darkest days experienced

 

AA Milne – poet – 1882–1956

 

 Though the country will never get over the horrors of the Grenfell Tower fire and the barbaric the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London and nor should they, these crises seem to have provided a springboard for political hysteria and unnecessary hatred.  It needs to stop. Political turmoil is one thing but personal vilification such as that aimed at PM May in recent weeks, is unacceptable. Not even Gordon Brown, in his most desperate moments or days or perhaps even the darkest days experienced by Jeremy Corbyn, Ed Miliband, Michael Foot, William Hague and Michael Howard in recent years, have ever seen these leaders subjected to such personal humiliation by the media, as PM May has been in the past 2 weeks. Yes, her General Election campaign under the lamentable stewardship of Crosby, Timothy and Hill was woeful. However, it is a terrifying thought that, with these BREXIT negotiations now at a sensitive stage, the visual media seems hell-bent in baying for her blood.  Yes, television has to be objective and truthful, but I never thought I would see the day when our press would go in and bat for the EU against the UK.  I just pray that PM May has the strength of character to stand up to the barrage of visceral attacks until her time is up – whenever that may be. It was good to see David Davis talking to Marr with a degree of conciliatory stability and a bit of loyalty, sadly missing in recent times in the Tory party. Thank God, I am in the twilight zone of life! I do not like what I see unfolding before my eyes!  

 

    As if that was not sufficient for one week, but no, the British & Irish Lions were subjected to the harsh realities of New Zealand rugby – professionally drubbed at Eden Park 30-15. England also lost it T-20 game against South Africa at Taunton and HM the Queen’s ‘Dartmouth’ was nowhere in the Hardwicke Stakes and Andy Murray was ‘blown away’ in the first round at Queen’s.  It has been a week to forget! However I suspect, in terms of the domestic political scene, it is just the start of the castigation process, due to come under a wet sail.

 

Since the end of June 2016 the FTSE 100 has been a currency play, with 60% of constituent stocks posting profits in Dollars.  It opened the year at 6261 and fell to 5982 on 27th June.  It closed at 7424 on Friday – up 24% in the last year.  With growth for 2017 now dipping below 2%, how long can this ‘currency play’ be trusted, particularly as oil prices have fallen quite significantly this year (circa 20%), down to below $45 a barrel?  There is a shortage of tech stocks in the FTSE 100 and export stocks cannot always be reliant on BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Diageo. Governor Mark Carney has indicated that rates are unlikely to go up until after March 2019, despite the fact that the BOE’S Chief Economist, Andy Haldane has threatened to vote for an increase. This index is starting look a little fully valued, despite dropping below its record of 7547 achieved on 26th May 2017, two weeks before the disastrous election result. In the case of the FTSE 250, its recovery, based on the performance of the constituents companies is up 31% at 19639 in the same period, having breached the 20k threshold to 20024 on 26th May 2017. Recently there have been outstanding performances from Ferrexpo, Ocado, Capita, Coats, CLS, Melrose, Homeserve and Marshall – proper barometers of UK economic activity.

 

BREXIT could be tortuous in the next few months.  This will not be good for stability. Also the demographics of UK politics have changed – It’s now the young v the old. It social justice against disciplined economics and I know logic will go out of the window on a wave of understandable anger.  Investors must realise they could pay the price for mob oratory!

 

So with all this in mind your scribe remains astonished that UK equity markets, despite surrendering modest value in the last three weeks remains as resilient as they appears to be.  In the case of the US Donald Trump seems to have found the same defence mechanism as one of the previous incumbents in the White House – one William Jefferson Clinton – it’s called TEFLON.  Both were and are impervious to heat in the kitchen.  Despite the FED raising rates, US equities seem on an even keel, despite experiencing a bit of a wobble in energy and tech stocks recently, though the NASDAQ has largely rebounded. Last week the S&P 500 ended the week 0.24% in positive territory, though the FTSE 100 slipped 0.53% below the Plimsoll line. As for European stocks there was an air of inertia that prevailed – down 0.21%. The Nikkei enjoyed a tech rebound and added a short 1% in value on the week.  

 

In London, Whitbread produced an adequate trading statement.  Qatar served notice that it wanted a greater stake than 10% in American Airlines, presumably a start to rebuilding trust with the US post the Saudi spat. The Chinese banking system, not for the first time, came under close scrutiny. How robust is it?  Overseas Chinese investors saw their stocks savaged on Thursday, though there was a slight recovery on Friday, thanks to bad vibes from property investments abroad, the purchase of football clubs and other challenging assets. We have been here before and the problem will rear its ugly head again.  However the Chinese authorities seem to have the ability to politically paper over the cracks.  However, in recent years GDP has fallen from 12% to 6.7% officially, with many tower blocks in Chinese cities remaining empty – worrying! Also consumer credit is also all but off the scale. Thanks to the demolition job done by Apple on Imagination Technology, it is finally up for sale, having lost 60% of its value. Maybe Microsoft or Google might consider that this company might sit comfortably in their respective portfolios.

 

The big story of the week was the SFO’S decision to charge John Varley and four other former Barclays’ executives with fraud. I am cognoscenti of the threat and dangers of ‘perverting the court of justice’, but I would like to know WHAT FRAUD?  Could we know the nature of the charges please? This bank would have taken legal advice as what was required to consummate an injection of £8 billion of fresh capital by Qatar on both sides of the Pond. I fear that the Labour Government of the day was less than happy that Barclays refused to fall in to the nationalisation ‘in-tray.’ We wait with bated breath for the official charges. The public is not in command of the full facts or all the evidence; but there seems to be an air of desperation to get a conviction at all costs. At the same time the board of Barclays will be flat to the boards defending itself against the US Department of Justice over sub-prime lending activities. I suspect that the vivacious and ‘not to be tripled with’ Amanda Staveley is salivating at the prospect of Barclays having its pips squeezed in Court!  So it’s all go at No: 1 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf E14 5RD. Next week we should hear about any more adverse comment from its members on Sainsbury’s acquisition of Nisa.  The MOD wants to hear more news on Lockheed Martin delaying the delivery of parts for the Warrior tank. Finally keep an eye out for any interjection the BOE may make on credit-card-lending, which is threatening to over-heat!

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Monday – Sirius, HSS Hire, Tuesday – Debenhams, Northgate, Carpetright, Petrofac, Wednesday – Dixons Carphone, Stagecoach, Bunzl, Tullow Oil, Kier Group, Thursday – Blur Group, Purple Bricks, Greene King, JD Sports, John Laing, Wood Group, Friday – Trinity Mirror, Serco

 

US Companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday – Darden Restaurants, KB Homes, Wednesday – General Mills, HB Fuller, Thursday – Walgreen Boots Alliance, Constellation Brands, Micron Technology, Nike, American Outdoor Group

 

Economic data posted this week – Monday – US Durable Good, Germany IFO, Tuesday – BBA Mortgage Approvals, Wednesday – Nationwide HPI, Friday – UK Gfk Consumer Confidence, UK GDP estimate, UK Revised Business Investment.

 

 David Buik

 

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

 
+44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF​

TODAY’S FAYRE b- HAPPY ANNIVERSARY & MARKETS

TODAY’S FAYRE – Friday, 23rd June 2017

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Or close the wall up with our English dead.

In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility:

But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

Then imitate the action of the tiger;

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,

Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;

Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;

Let pry through the portage of the head

Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it

As fearfully as doth a galled rock

O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,

Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.

Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,

Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit

To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.

Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!

Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,

Have in these parts from morn till even fought

And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:

Dishonour not your mothers; now attest

That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.

Be copy now to men of grosser blood,

And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,

Whose limbs were made in England, show us here

The mettle of your pasture; let us swear

That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;

For there is none of you so mean and base,

That hath not noble lustre in your eyes. I

see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start.

The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge

Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

 

William Shakespeare – poet & Playwright– 1564 –1616

 

 

 Happy anniversary! It is exactly a year to the day since we woke up to the fact that the electorate democratically decided that the UK voted to leave the EU. Voters on both sides felt they had been duped by less than balanced campaigns. As usual the young failed to get out of bed to carry the day for the Cameron ‘REMAIN’ campaign. Had they bothered, a very unpleasant period of deep resentment to the result might have been avoided. The young certainly galvanised themselves on social media during the General Election campaign to huge effect, resulting in a wave of new voters turning to J Corbyn for solace and the guarantee of a pot of gold over the horizon. Political demographics have now changed – the old vote Tory and the Young are largely ‘Corbynistas.’ It is ‘social justice’ against disciplined economics and we all know logic will go out of the window on a wave of understandable anger.  Investors must realise they could pay a very serious price for vitriolic and vituperative mob oratory! ​ ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook are doing a cracking job of bringing the worst out of society. When I retire ‘twitter’ will no longer play any part of my communication armoury.

 

It was a sepulchral session on the Street of Dreams yesterday. Oil stopped falling and health care took on some nourishment and a little hope as Trump’s healthcare plans look as if they are heading for the bumper with 4 Republicans – Messrs Rand, Cruz. Lee and Johnson – feel ill-disposed to support the GOP on grounds that it is not draconian enough. Some serious work and time will need to be spent lobbying to the cause. President Trump’s success with Congress, where he has majority is indifferent at best and worrying! Wall Street closed as follows with YTD achievements – DOW: 21,397 -0.06%+8.272% S&P: 2,434-0.05%+8.74%, NASDAQ:5,779 0.04%+18.839%.

 

The FTSE 100 yesterday lost a parsimonious 8 points to 7439 and I think I am right in saying that this week looks like the 3rd week running that the FTSE has surrendered modest gains. Despite MSCI acquiescing to the inclusion of some Chinese stocks, oil and energy prices dipped presenting little opportunity for equities to make progress. This year oil is down over 20% to circa $45 a barrel. This considered bear territory. US fracking has seen the number of wells increase from circa 180 to over 900 in the last year. Saudi’s spat with Qatar is not helping as at present no one can be quite sure whether Iran is sticking to the agreed quotas. In passing it is interesting to note that Qatar is keen to take a 10% stake in US Airways. Perhaps that is Qatar offering an olive branch to the US Government. Asian markets looked like this as we headed to the close. NIKKEI: 20,129 +0.10% + 5.332%, HANG SENG: 25,666 -0.03% +16.655% CHINA: 3,583 -0.20%  +8.258%, ASX: 5,715  +0.16% +0.897%.

 

 

This morning the FTSE 100 remained in the Doldrums – down 33 points at 7403. Oils and drugs were generally weaker. The market feels very rich to me. How much longer can the FTSE 100 dine out on the currency trade? There comes a time when sentiment takes over. It may not be far away unless the next quarter’s earnings on both sides of the Pond look encouraging.

 

There was ‘system’ risk being talked about across Asia in regards to the robustness of Chinese banks. This is an on-going weeping sore. So much money has been lent by these gargantuan banks since the days of 12% growth (down to 6.7% this year) – many of these banks were IPO’d in the last decade. They have ladled out grillions – much of it against property or consumer consumption. Many skyscrapers remain somnolent and empty. The situation may have been exacerbated by Chinese overseas investors buying huge property holdings, football clubs, stakes in entertainment companies etc. Companies such as Dalian Wanda, Fosun International and HNA have seen sharp reverses to their share prices – some down yesterday by 9% yesterday. If it were US, EU or UK banks I would be very worried. However the Chinese government has a way of papering very successfully over the cracks of stress. Chickens will eventually come home to roost but the evil day may be some way off. Many of the companies I mentioned saw modest rallies today.

         

David Buik

 

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF ​

I’VE BEEN KNOWN TO HAVE A TILT AT THE RING. MY MONEY IS ON VARLEY & CO!

I’VE BEEN KNOWN TO HAVE A TILT AT THE RING. MY MONEY IS ON VARLEY & CO!

After 9 years of deliberations, with Amanda Staveley joyously stirring the pot with her gilded spoon, audaciously claiming of £1 billion for her role in the Qatar £8 billion fund raising activity for Barclays, orchestrated by Roger Jenkins and, I venture to suggest, her good self, the SFO have decided to proffer charges against four Barclays executives – John Varley, the former CEO Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris, a former chief executive of Barclays’ wealth division, and Richard Boath, the ex-European head of financial institutions, have all been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in the June 2008 capital raising.

 

Apparently the £8 million was never properly valuated and was shrouded in unorthodox loans made to Qatar by Barclays and commensurate fees.  I just cannot believe for ONE minute that Barclays was not very carefully advised by TOP lawyers both sides of the ‘Pond!’ It would have been insane to cobble together a complicated deal without high-class advice.

 

Frankly, apart from the fact that the law is the law, I am grateful that Barclays never fell to the taxpayer.  We should be grateful for that. Talk to anyone – John Varley was the pillar of society, a devout Catholic and a man of integrity. The fact that everyone at HBOS, Lloyds, and RBS has walked away ‘scott-free’ from the biggest financial scandal since the 1929 depression, is an outrage!  Over £80 billion had been lost as a result of poor management, lousy credit analysis and excessive greed of a few.  Yet no one has been brought to book.

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 20th June 2017

“Between the dusk of a summer night

And the dawn of a summer day,

We caught at a mood as it passed in flight,

And we bade it stoop and stay.

And what with the dawn of night began

With the dusk of day was done;

For that is the way of woman and man,

When a hazard has made them one.

Arc upon arc, from shade to shine,

The World went thundering free;

And what was his errand but hers and mine —

The lords of him, I and she?

O, it’s die we must, but it’s live we can,

And the marvel of earth and sun

Is all for the joy of woman and man

And the longing that makes them one.” 

 

William E Henley – poet – 1849 –1902

 

Last week was one of horrific tragedy and painful sorrow! It is fair to say that neither the government, nor the RBKC, nor the relevant property managers covered themselves in glory! Those closely associated with this tragedy have every right to be incandescent with rage, whilst spitting blood in the process.  Perhaps the Grenfell Tower disaster will prove to be a lightening conductor to what appears to be a tsunami styled wave of hatred that is currently engulfing the country! 

 

One issue that has become crystal clear since the election is the social divide that is clearly unacceptable, is becoming more acute as the days roll by. Social housing is a huge problem which no government has had a proper handle on for 50 years. It needs to be dealt with. My colleague, Simon French makes the following very salient point – ‘Any political party that has a practical handle on this acute housing crisis has a huge prize in their grasp!’

 

What is now desperately sad is the way politics has now deliberately stepped in the way of a tragedy. There should be a united approach with a common cause towards rehabilitating families who have lost loved ones or are displaced without even a shirt on their back. The public’s response has been fabulous. The community spirit has been glowing like a beacon! But oh no, the Labour Party could not resist the heaven-sent opportunity to make this disaster in to a game of political football, with Messrs Corbyn, Khan and Lammy to the fore, blaming this ghastly tragedy on austerity, when no one officially knows who is directly responsible.

 

Despite calming and sensible input from humanitarians such as the Bishop of a Kensington, this hatred and class warfare has been building up in to fever pitch – very dangerous. A calming influence is required from political leaders and it seems unlikely to come from Corbyn, who is in his element with his wooden spoon stirring up a mendacious fever of mistrust! Let’s face it; it’s a free hit in the current climate of unrest! The government needs to present a long term plan on housing in Wednesday’s Queen’s speech.

 

And so as if the Grenfell Tower tragedy wasn’t enough for any government to be getting on with; but no BREXIT finally appears larger than life on the horizon. This morning David Davis finally set off to meet Michel Barnier, the EU’S chief negotiator to start deliberations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in March 2019. It appears that the divorce settlement and the future domicile of 3.5 million EU/UK citizens are at the top of the agenda. Many people think the UK, in the wake of its government appearing to be in a fairly weak position, are far from in the ascendancy. I must confess I am happy having David Davis to go in to bat for us. A combination of charm coupled with the ability to eat nails for breakfast and spit rust out will do us very well. These deliberations would test the resolve of any skilled negotiator.  The fact that Chancellor Hammond, aided and abetted by half the Tory and Labour parties have thrown down the gauntlet to PM May, demanding a watered-down BREXIT, will make David Davis’s task even trickier. I think he was right to offer an olive branch in the form of leaving trade negotiations until some progress has been made over divorce settlement and citizens’ rights to remain where they are.

 

The level of unrest was of course exacerbated by the van attack on Muslims outside their mosque in Finsbury Park – a barbaric act islamophobia or was it just an action of a mentally deranged person?

 

BREXIT – what is on the table for the UK at present – a bad deal or no deal! I must say I’d be inclined to take the latter. Agree reasonable divorce terms and allow EU citizens to remain in UK and UK citizens in the EU. Then we should respectfully take our leave. There will be nothing on the table from Barnier that will look remotely attractive. So I think we should take our chance with WTO rules. Very little to lose!

 

TOP EFFORT! – Sir Andrew Murray to donate winnings from Aegon Tennis Championship to Grenfell Tower Disaster

 

There has been plenty of political volatility to rattle equity market cages on both sides of the Atlantic. Considering what’s happened here in Old Blighty – The Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Finsbury Park terrorist attack and Mrs May’s Government under the cosh from the start of the week until now, for the FTSE 100 to be up 0.14%, in the past week including a 60 point rally yesterday is astonishing, particularly if you add the facts that house prices fell for the first time this June since 2009, inflation reached 2.9% and the MPC kept rates on hold voting 5-2. There is an outside chance that the base rate could go to 0.5% from 0.25% in August; but Panmure’s house view promulgated by our Chief Economist, Simon French suggests that there is unlikely to be any further increase until after March 2019 (BREXIT DAY!) In the US despite employment data remaining benign (NFP), the FED’S Janet Yellen and her troops, more often than not so cautious, hiked rates another 0.25% with another similar hike on the cards in September.  However President Trump popularity is on the decline with the possibility of legal action over conversations which are alleged to have taken place with Russia pre the elections.

 

There was only one measurable deal in the US – Amazon stepping in to the food retail ring and buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.  That move rattled the cage of US supermarkets causing Tesco to ease by 4%, Sainsbury by 3% and Morrison by 1.9%. It was interesting to see that Ocado jumped 11% in value. Many believe that this delivery service could become a takeover target. Lord Rose the chairman is not averse to making speculative waves when it suits – done a brilliant job! Last week the S&P 500 added 0.86%, the DAX added 0.56% and the Nikkei 0.8%.

 

In my absence last week, news was plentiful. Rolls Royce may have saved £400m in trading as a result of the fall in the Pound. The success of Jaguar Land Rover has resulted in 5000 jobs being created in the next two years. As the merger between Aberdeen Asset Management comes to fruition, it seems likely that Scottish Widows will find its way in to bed with Standard Life, once Lloyds Banking Group disposes of it 9.9% for circa £1 billion.

 

Yesterday the US markets had a decent run at it with tech leading the charge. Apple jumped 2.9% in its biggest one-day advance since February, while Facebook gained 1.5% and Amazon added 0.8%.  Health care also was strong, highlighted by biotechs which were led by Biogen’s 3.5% surge, along with financials and consumer discretionary. US markets & YTD achievements were as follows – DOW: 21,528 +0.68% +8.938% S&P: 2,453 +0.83% +9.587% NASDAQ: 5,772 +1.60% +18.682%. Asian markets were reflective awaiting the MSCI’S treatment of Chinese stocks – NIKKEI: 20,293 +1.13% + 6.161% HANG SENG: 25,881 -0.16% +17.637% CHINA: 3,549 -0.12% +7.217% ASX: 5,769 -0.61% +1.878%.

 

After 9 years of deliberations with Amanda Staveley joyously stirring the pot with her audacious claim of £1 billion for her role in the Qatar £8 billion fund raising activity for Barclays, orchestrated by Roger Jenkins and her good self, the SFO have decided to proffer charges against for Barclays executives – John Varley, the former CEO Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris, a former chief executive of Barclays’ wealth division, and Richard Boath, the ex-European head of financial institutions, have all been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in the June 2008 capital raising. Apparently the £8 million was never properly valuated and was shrouded in unorthodox loans and fees. Frankly, apart from the fact that the law is the law, I am grateful that Barclays never fell to the taxpayer. We should be grateful for that. The fact that everyone at HBOS, Lloyds, and RBS has walked away ‘scott-free’ from the biggest financial scandal since the 1929 depression, is an outrage!

 

 

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Wolseley, N Brown, Wednesday – Hornby, Berkeley Group, Whitbread, Thursday – Chemring, Go-Ahead, Saga

 

 

Economic data this week – Tuesday – FOMC Minutes, Wednesday – UK PSBR, US Existing Home Sales, Thursday – Initial Jobless Claims, US PMI Manufacturing and services, Friday – US New Home Sales

 

 David Buik

 

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF ​

MARKET UPDATE – DON’T UNDERSTAND IT – OFF TO DEVON!

It is just as well as that I am off to Devon for a few days as this market defies all logic! Politically we are hanging in rags. Messrs Verhofstadt and Barnier are trying, understandably to bully us in to hasty negotiations, talking about their growing impatience due to the adverse effect deafening silence could have on growth! Please! The earliest you could see us was the end of May – Macron etc – and then we were preoccupied with the worst General Election campaign in living history. The level of inertia is quite unacceptable. The problem is the Government is now weak. What it should be doing is not listening to peripheral waffle; they should be saying we are doing this and that!

 

Notwithstanding all these shenanigans at 2.20pm the FTSE is flat at 7515 and the FTSE 250 is up 1% – amazing. Is that us giving the EU 2 fingers or was it special performances by constituent stocks – a bit of both I think. Capita has recovered like the phoenix from the ashes – +15% (28 points out of 190 in FTSE 250). It looks as though there is another bid for Kennedy Williams – +8%. Property stocks have been barking dogs for some time and they have sat up and taken nourishment today. Ted Baker is +3%; Merlin Entertainment -1.5% having ben down nearly 3%. Even inflation reaching 2.9% from 2.7% had little effect.

 

In the big boys market, the Pound is little stronger hence the FTSE 100 has surrendered a 25 point initial gain. Miners and oils have been rather anaemic – slightly lower and drugs are -0.5% lower. The LSE is up 5.2% and is vying for the big boys’ yellow jersey. Credit Suisse believes there is a great growth story. The DOW in early trading is up 0.2%.