TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 25th July 2017
“WHAT does it mean? Tired, angry, and ill at ease,
No man, woman, or child alive could please
Me now. And yet I almost dare to laugh
Because I sit and frame an epitaph-
‘Here lies all that no one loved of him
And that loved no one.’
Then in a trice that whim Has wearied.
But, though I am like a river
At fall of evening when it seems that never
Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while
Cross breezes cut the surface to a file,
This heart, some fraction of me, happily
Floats through a window even now to a tree
Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale;
Not like a pewit that returns to wail
For something it has lost, but like a dove
That slants unanswering to its home and love.
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air
Flies what yet lives in me. Beauty is there.”
Edward Thomas – poet – 1878-1917
People talk about country house opera with infectious enthusiasm and it is easy to understand why – Glyndebourne, Garsington, Grange Park Opera and the Grange Festival. In recent years I have really been enraptured by productions put on by West Green House. Marylyn Abbott owns West Green House, near Hartley Wintney and she bought the lease from the National Trust in 1993.
The house and the new opera house sit in the most stunning gardens imaginable, which are at their very best for the two weekends selected for these productions. Marylyn had previously developed her well-known Kennerton Green garden in Mittagong, NSW. This year Verdi’s ‘Un Ballo in Machera’ was the opera we chose to go and see. This was a brilliant production by any standards with outstanding contributions made by all the lead singers.
Just in passing it is so annoying when the media take comments or prognoses from august bodies such as the IMF as Gospel. Last night at 10.45pm ITV’S Tom Bradby, probably a passionate ‘remainer’, relished at the prospect of the IMF’S downgrade of UK growth. Of course the fact that the IMF is often behind the curve and whose track record is modest at best is rarely taken in to account!
The NASDAQ hit a fresh record ‘high’ yesterday, ahead of a week of technology earnings reports, while the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials edged lower, weighed down by losses in healthcare heavyweight Johnson & Johnson. It’s shares were down 1.5%.
Google parent Alphabet reported its results after the stock market closed. The tech giant took a major hit on profits due to a record £2.7 billion EU fine. Google’s shares slumped below the $1,000 mark in after-hours trading (-3%). Amazon and Facebook are set to report later this week.
However investors remained wary ahead to the Federal Reserve statement due on Wednesday for clues about the future path of interest rate hikes. In other earnings news, Halliburton shares fell 4.2% after the oilfield services provider warned about flattening growth in North American rig count. WebMD Health Corp jumped 19.6%. Private equity firm KKR & Co agreed to buy WebMD in a deal valued at about $2.8 billion, bringing a slew of popular online health information websites under one umbrella. US markets closed as follows with YTD gains – DOW: 21,513 -0.31% +8.858% S&P: 2,469 -0.11% +10.321% NASDAQ 5,941+0.34% +22.159%. As for Asia it was a question of treading water, awaiting Central bank input – Asian Markets & YTD – NIKKEI: 19,972 unch +4.489%, HANG SENG: 26,841 unch +21.986% CHINA: 3,735 -0.22% +12.768% ASX: 5,736 +0.85% +1.241%.
Yesterday the FTSE lost 75 points to 7377 – much of it down to a weak Dollar, a set of results below par from Reckitt Benckiser due to the recent ‘cyber’ attack costing £100 million and poor performances from the oil and airlines sectors. Ryanair, despite the obnoxious ebullience of Michael O’Leary, still castigated the UK’s decision to leave the EU, but in the same breath posts a 55% increase in profits, helped by a bumper Easter. Ryanair still has designs on buying Alitalia and served notice that BREXIT would lead to higher prices. This warning took shares lower by 2.5%. You have to admire Michael O’Leary’s Irish blarney, but listen Old Chap, you’ve done well out of Old Blighty! So in the same manner as you took all your horses away from Willie Mullins as you did not like the training fees going up 10% after a protracted period of no increase, the UK has the same right to leave the EU! I think Ryanair will still fly in to the UK – Brexit or no Brexit! You’ve too much to lose! So stop whining!
This morning PZ Cussons and Domino Pizzas both posted reasonable results. Virgin Money saw its shares fall by 8% in early skirmishes, despite a solid performance from the challenger bank in the first half of 2017. Virgin Money posted an underlying profit before tax rising to £128.6mln from £101.8mln the year before, BUT full-year net interest margin would be at the lower end of its guidance range – hence investors ran to the hills, requiring further clarification!
Kantar UK grocery data posted news that Aldi’s & Lidl’s market share rose to 12.1%; Tesco, Morrison, Sainsbury’s and ASDA’S fell with Waitrose’s unchanged. Michael Kors announced that it was paying £896 million for Jimmy Choo’s.
Alphabets results in isolation were good. A profit of $3.5 billion on increased revenue of $26 billion for the last quarter was blighted by an EU fine of $2.7 billion over crossing sales boundaries. Alphabet will almost certainly appeal but few think the search engine giant will win. We hear there are another 2 possible cases are waiting in the wind. Google encompasses 90% of the search capacity in Europe and the EU don’t like it. Me? I’m a free marketer and I like to think the market will charge what the traffic will bear. YouTube has been a huge contributor to Alphabet’s bottom line. It has 1.5 billion subscribers and 100 million people watch it every day. Advertising revenue has dropped on YouTube due to some undesirable content, but it remains a huge ‘Arfur Daley!’
UK companies posting numbers this week – Wednesday – 3i Group, ITV, GKN, Tullow, Hammerson, Compass Group, Robert Walters, PayPoint, Unite Group, Glaxo SmithKline, Antofagasta, Marston’s, Brewin Dolphin, Paragon, Sage Group, Thursday – Royal Dutch Shell, BATS, Lloyds Banking Group, Thos Cook, Smith & Nephew, Diageo, Sky, Mitchell & Butler, Tate & Lyle, Bodycote, Ladbroke Coral, CMC Markets, Jardine Lloyd Thompson, Vesuvius, Intu Properties, RELX, Weir Group, Just Eat, Inchcape, National Express, St James’s Place, Countrywide, Astra Zeneca Friday – Barclays, Rightmove, Essentra, BT Group, UBM, IAG, Lonmin
US companies posting results this week – Tuesday – Caterpillar, 3Ms, Pulte, Biogen, JetBlue, General Motors, Dolby Systems, AT&T, Texas Instruments, Amgen, Wednesday – BGC Partners, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, PayPal, Facebook, Whole Foods, Whirlpool, Xilinx, Thursday – Raytheon, Conoco-Phillips, NGM Resorts, Valero Energy, Bristol Myers Squibb, Dupont, KKR, Twitter, Procter & Gamble, BJ Restaurants, Intel, Starbucks, Mattel, Friday – American Airlines, Goodyear, Chevron, Exxon Mobil
Economic data posted this week – Tuesday – US Consumer Confidence, Wednesday – Nationwide House price Index, UK GDP Preliminary, FOMC Statement, US New Home Sales, Thursday – US durable Goods, UD Initial Jobless Claims, US GDP preliminary, University of Michigan Consumer Confidence
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