Monthly Archives: August 2017


Though everyone is levitating about 3 inches above the carpet at Michel Barnier’s arrogance and David Davis’s intransigence, with another eye 7000 miles away looking at PM May’s performance with Abe-san in Tokyo, meanwhile back here at the ranch the FTSE 100 has bounced out of the traps adding 52 points at 7417 on very little business at 1.00pm. In response to Australia’s session, mining stocks are in good order with Glencore blazing the trail – up 2%.  Banks are also on buoyant terms with themselves – HSBC, Standard Chartered, RBS and Barclays all up 0.7%. Market makers are clearly AGAIN enjoying their new pair of black NIKE’S, dodging buyers with ‘coach & four prices.’  The level of activity and business is derisory.

Of those companies posting results some have fared better than others. Restaurant Group, after months in the doldrums added 7% having initially added 10%. STV’S effort was solid in a soft media market – +2%. Chesnara pleased its acolytes +3%. Melrose did not pass muster – off 4%. Ladbrokes Coral just missed with the numbers, but started the session by adding 1.5% – but there was insufficient meat on the bone looking forward easing down -1%. 888 Holdings, despite their large fine was up 5.3% – relief rally!

DOW futures are scheduled to open 50 points to the good.



TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday 31st August 2017


“All’s over, then: does truth sound bitter

As one at first believes?

Hark, ’tis the sparrows’ good-night twitter

About your cottage eaves!


And the leaf-buds on the vine are woolly,

I noticed that, today;

One day more bursts them open fully

– You know the red turns grey.


Tomorrow we meet the same then, dearest?

May I take your hand in mine?

Mere friends are we, – well, friends the merest

Keep much that I resign:


For each glance of the eye so bright and black,

Though I keep with heart’s endeavor, –

Your voice, when you wish the snowdrops back,

Though it stay in my soul for ever! –


Yet I will but say what mere friends say,

Or only a thought stronger;

I will hold your hand but as long as all may,

Or so very little longer!”




Robert Browning – Poet – 1812-1889


“Girls from the North” is a play written and directed by Conor McPherson, which also features unknown or unfamiliar music, written by the celebrated and much loved Bob Dylan.  The play is set in a guest house in Duluth, Minnesota (Dylan’s home town) in 1934 – the US was still deep in the prevailing depression.  The drama tells the story of the numerous eclectic visitors who passed through the guest house, run by Ciaran Hines, whose wife played by Shirley Henderson is suffering from a severe mental disorder. The supporting cast includes Sam Reid (recently seen in ‘Prime Suspect 73’), Sheila Atim, Ron Cook, Bronagh Gallagher, Claudia Jolly, Arinzé Kene, Debbie Kurup, Kirsty Malpass, Jim Norton, Tom Peters, Karl Queensborough, Michael Shaeffer, Jack Shalloo, and Stanley Townsend. It’s a brilliant production, magnificently staged with great music and outstanding singing. The script was about as depressing as anything I have ever seen or heard.  I cannot say that I left the Old Vic uplifted.  I felt as if I had been metaphorically dragged through a hedge backwards! It’s an acquired taste – not everyone’s cup of tea! The play runs at the Old Vic until October 2017.


Lib-Dem leader Sir Vince Cable has written a very compassionate piece in CityAM on his party’s commitment to the EU. I believe he is wrong to say that withdrawing from the single market means no freedom of movement for Labour. The UK is surely open to anyone making a real contribution to the economy. It is true to say that the UK has a work-permit scheme, which is different and it is rigorous! However the government needs to show some imagination to deliver a scheme that works for the growth of the economy.


I hear Tony Blair is today, on his way to meet J-C Juncker, not doubt with a large wooden spoon in his hand luggage. Surely the timing of his trip, with David Davis in Brussels to meet Michel Barnier, is very unhelpful. Mr Blair is so transparent in his passion for the UK’S membership of the EU that it is impossible for him to be constructive by helping to deliver BREXIT.


With most equity geeks embroiled in the North Korean jingoistic bellicose nonsense and the appalling damage floods in Texas and the loss of lives (EST: 1200) in India, Bangladesh and Asia, it is hard to make any erudite comments on the performance of the Street of Dreams yesterday. Suffice to say that tech stocks were on fire and investors were encouraged at the prospect of US corporation tax being lowered from 35% to 28.6%. If President Trump’s proposal gets acceptance by Congress, this will be Trump’s first successful economic initiative. So when the clanger went last night US markets closed as follow – DOW +0.12%, S&P +0.46%, NASDAQ +1.05%. Observers await positive Non-Farm payroll numbers and employment data on Friday.


Asian stocks attempted to be buoyant thanks to very strong Chinese PMI Manufacturing data. Their markets closed or were looking to do so as follows – ASX +0.8%, Shanghai unchanged, Hang Seng -0.6% and the NIKKEI +0.75%.


Yesterday’s session in London was rather a nebulous one but there was interest in a possible tie up between shopping centre magnates – Hammerson and Intu. The FTSE closed up 16 points. News that John Browett was leaving Dunelm with indecent haste saw it shares easier by 3% (down 37% in the last year). There may be reasonable trading statement next week. It looks as though the Coop may be successful in buying Nisa, which distributes to about 3000 small outlets. This deal is more likely than one with Sainsbury, which could hit a CMA barrier. This morning a number of smaller companies posted numbers. Restaurant Group posted upbeat numbers with shares initially surging 10%, before settling up 6.5% as I write. Hays’s effort was solid as was Chesnara. Melrose eased by 4%. Finally the Ladbroke Coral merger looks as though it finally getting its technological act together, the first named operation, having languished a fair bit behind the curve for many years. Revenues for the last quarter came in slightly light at £1.2 billion with a profit of £19 million. The outlook for the year seemed quite bright. The merger teething problems seem to be coming to an end. The share price is down from 135p in March to 120p today (+1.5%). Jim Mullen the CEO looks as though he might be winning the battle. Ladbrokes needed to dispose of 322 shops to BetFred and 37 to Stan James for considerations of £55 million and £500k respectively. Carrefour, the French titanic supermarket posted a profits warning this morning and its shares were consequently larruped – down 12%! At 9.30am the FTSE 100 was up 35 at 7401.


UK companies posting numbers – Thursday – Alpha Bank, Ladbrokes Coral, Restaurant Group, Churchill China, Hays, Chesnara, Melrose, STV


US companies posting interim results – Thursday – Dollar General, Ciena, Campbell Soups, Friday – Ford Motor Co (sales release)


Economic data due this week –  Thursday – Gfk UK Consumer Confidence, US Initial Jobless Claims, US Pending Home Sales, Friday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US Non-Farm Payrolls, unemployment rate and hourly earnings, US PMI Manufacturing, US ISM Manufacturing & Construction.


 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 – Wednesday, 30th August 2017



“The Love a Life can show Below
Is but a filament, I know,
Of that diviner thing
That faints upon the face of Noon—
And smites the Tinder in the Sun—
And hinders Gabriel’s Wing—

‘Tis this—in Music—hints and sways—
And far abroad on Summer days—
Distils uncertain pain—
‘Tis this enamors in the East—
And tints the Transit in the West
With harrowing Iodine—

‘Tis this—invites—appalls—endows&mda sh;
Flits—glimmers—proves—di ssolves—
Returns—suggests—co nvicts—enchants—
Then—flings in Paradise— “



Emily Dickinson – Poet – 1830-1886



I was quite shocked at the content of Times’s article, posted yesterday, on the ineptness of the UK’S Foreign and Colonial Secretary, Boris Johnson, written by the visceral Rachel Sylvester, who metaphorically eats nails for breakfast and spits rust out. I have rarely seen a public figure stripped of his raiment and be publicly vilified in such a vituperative manner. It was pure character assassination and you know what? It was justified. Mr Johnson in recent months has been invisible and consequently without influence on the international stage of foreign diplomacy.


Whilst touching briefly on the subject of diplomacy, there is little doubt in my mind that Michel Barnier and his bureaucratic gnomes are desperate for the BREXIT negotiations to fail.  The EU knows full well that, were an agreement to be found, other countries would follow by leaving, in the wake of the UK.  The words and advice of former Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis ring in my ears.  “There was no point trying to negotiate…The EU will just drag its feet, obfuscate and run down the clock.” The EU is incapable of negotiating. It is totally inflexible, due to the diverging interests of individual members. Barnier is just a talking head! The negotiations are designed by EU to be recalcitrant and to subsequently fail. David Davis and his team will soon find out that ‘hard ball’ may be the only game in town.


What a test match.  The West Indies rose like the proverbial phoenix from the Ashes, having been dead and buried at Old Trafford.  It was a magnificent win against all the odds.  There was nothing wrong with Joe Root’s declaration. Brathwaite, Hope and Blackwood played brilliantly. A score of 258 by England in their first innings at Headingley was never going to be enough.  England, subsequently, was always playing catch up, rather than dictating.  Roll on Lord’s! I can’t wait!


Despite the FT informing us that Japan has put any trade deal with the UK on ‘hold’, until agreement has been reached with the EU, PM May has set-off hot foot for Tokyo for preliminary talks on trade and security with PM Abe and others. Companies travelling with the prime minister include Darktrace, a Cambridge university start-up that helps organisations detect and defend themselves from ‘cyber attacks’ in real time; Sky Futures, which uses drones to inspect industries; Surevine, which provides secure forums for exchanging cyber threat information; and BMT, an engineering and technology consultancy.


Kim Jong Un’s ridiculously dangerous antics dominated the market headlines yesterday. Asian and European bourses semi-disappeared in to their risk averse bunkers. Despite the threat of another Donald Trump outburst – superficially he was more concerned with the Texas floods, which was just as well – US markets attempted to shrug off their blues with the DOW closing +0.26%, the S&P finishing just above the Plimsoll line +0.08%, and the NASDAQ +0.30%, relatively full of beans.


Warren Buffett has become the biggest shareholder in Bank of America after exercising an option to take hold of 700M shares at a heavy discount. Wall Street pulled back from early losses and closed higher on Tuesday as Apple scaled a new all-time high and investors shook off concerns that hostilities in the Korean Peninsula could escalate. Gains in the NASDAQ were led by the largest names, with Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon, all higher. Apple’s shares hit an all-time peak of $163.12 before paring those gains slightly to end the day at $162.91 on the heels of reports that it is planning its latest product launch next month. United Technologies, which is nearing a deal for aircraft component manufacturer Rockwell Collins, was a key driver for the Dow. The share rose 2.9%. Rockwell’s shares rose 2.1%. Best Buy Co tumbled 11.9% after the No.1 US consumer electronics retailer warned its strong quarterly sales performance should not be seen as a new normal.

Yesterday the FTSE 100 closed down 64 points at 7337, with oil, mining, banks and utilities all shedding some value, though HSBC faired quite well, finishing the session near enough flat. Supermarkets were under attack under the Amazon syndrome, losing between 1.8% and 3.4%.  Bunzl was the only FTSE 100 Company to post results, with a weak Pound providing some impetus. However shares closed down 0.67%. Gold was the ‘flight to quality haven’ so Randgold near enough grabbed the yellow jersey adding 4.3% during yesterday’s session. Ocado entered in to an agreement with Amazon Alexa by launching an app on this popular device. The FCA announced that it would investigate Mitie’s profit warning in September last year. Astra Zeneca has done a £400 million deal with Japan for ‘Parkinson’s Disease’ development.  So far, in the US alone Parkinson’s has cost $25 billion in social security and lost work.


At the time of writing Asia has shaken off yesterday’s Korean blues.  The ASX closed up 0.03% and the NIKKEI was up 0.72% when stumps were drawn. The Shanghai Composite was up a modest 0.09% after lunch and the Hang Seng was purring along +0.92%.  The FTSE is expected to open +27 with investors seeming happier to own a little risk perhaps in commodities. Sterling has taken a pasting against the Euro in recent sessions, but has regained some poise against the Greenback.


UK companies posting numbers – Wednesday – James Fisher, HSS Hire, The Gym Group, Thursday – Alpha Bank, Ladbrokes Coral, Restaurant Group, Churchill China, Hays, Chesnara, Melrose, STV


US companies posting interim results – Wednesday – Brown & Forman, Analog Devices, Dyacom, Chico’s FAS, Thursday – Dollar General, Ciena, Campbell Soups, Friday – Ford Motor Co (sales release)


Economic data due this week – Wednesday – Nationwide House prices, UK Mortgage approvals, US ADP Index, US GDP preliminary, Thursday – Gfk UK Consumer Confidence, US Intial Jobless Claims, US Pending Home Sales, Friday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US Non-Farm Payrolls, unemployment rate and hourly earnings, US PMI Manufacturing, US ISM Manufacturing & Construction.


 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


Apart from the fact that North Korea’s Kim Jong UN is carrying condition – at least 4 stone superfluous to requirement and needing to go on that ‘Atkins Diet (he shouldn’t find it difficult as its main constituent is raw meat!), he is beginning to unsettle my equilibrium, as suspect is the case with most sane people, with his dangerous bellicose attitude. Certainly Asia had its feathers ruffled and when Europe arrived for business the three main bourses took some risk off the table most of it down to the Korean missile issue, though the lack of progress made in the BREXT negotiations was also a contributory reason for the negative sentiment. Initially the FTSE 100 eased by 75 points and by 9.45am it was down 101 points to 7300. At 3.15pm the FTSE was down just 66 points at 7334

Mining, oil and banks all lost an average of 1%. Only Gold shares, such as Randgold, rallied to the cause. Over lunch and in the early afternoon, many stocks in the FTSE lightened their losses, particularly miners down an average of 0.3%. Oils settled easier by 0.75%.  Pharmas were weak and banks mixed with HSBC just above the Plimsoll line and Standard Chartered a laggard – down 1.9%. Utilities shed some value and media was friendless in the ring – ITV down 4%. Wall Street was more concerned about the Houston floods, which may cost the insurance sector $20 billion in terms of insurance, than Trump’s response to N Korea – The Dow was down just 0.25% at 3.25pm.


TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday 29th August 2017


“Through long nursery nights he stood

By my bed unwearying,

Loomed gigantic, formless, queer,

Purring in my haunted ear

That same hideous nightmare thing,

Talking, as he lapped my blood,

In a voice cruel and flat,

Saying for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”


That one word was all he said,

That one word through all my sleep,

In monotonous mock despair.

Nonsense may be light as air,

But there’s Nonsense that can keep

Horror bristling round the head,

When a voice cruel and flat Says for ever,

“Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…” H


e had faded, he was gone

Years ago with Nursery Land,

When he leapt on me again

From the clank of a night train,

Overpowered me foot and head,

Lapped my blood, while on and on

The old voice cruel and flat Says for ever,

“Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”


Morphia drowsed, again

I lay In a crater by High Wood:

He was there with straddling legs,

Staring eyes as big as eggs,

Purring as he lapped my blood,

His black bulk darkening the day,

With a voice cruel and flat,

“Cat! … Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…” he said, “Cat! … Cat!…”


When I’m shot through heart and head,

And there’s no choice but to die,

The last word I’ll hear, no doubt, Won’t be

“Charge!” or “Bomb them out!” Nor the stretcher-bearer’s cry,

“Let that body be, he’s dead!”

But a voice cruel and flat

Saying for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!”


Robert Graves – Poet – 1895-1985


“We must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians . . . were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space if fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?” – HG Wells – 1866-1946

 Anyone in this country concerned about the way the UK’S fabric of society and its disintegration is panning out and the degree of hatred which is gaining momentum by almost epidemic proportions should take an evening or an afternoon out and go and see Kathryn Bigelow’s new film ‘Detroit.’ Anyone who has seen M/S Bigelow’s film ‘The Hurt Locker’ knows that she majors in violence and unpleasantness. ‘Detroit’ takes us back to 1967, when the Detroit city was under curfew as the Michigan National Guard patrolled its streets, which resulted in murder, mayhem and pillaging on an industrial scale.  Rarely, if ever, have I seen unadulterated hatred portrayed so graphically on screen. Ironically, two Englishmen, John Boyega and Will Poulter are the two main stars and my word their performances are quite brilliant!  This film may not win too many awards, but it sends out a very powerful message that we should all heed.


I read today’s FT headline on Theresa May’s forthcoming visit to Japan, where PM Abe is likely to put any trade agreement with the UK on the back burner in favour of first agreeing one with the EU. Knowing the EU, that could take years. The FT, now owned by NIKKEI, will be more than well-informed. My thoughts are two-fold. If Mrs May was unaware of Japan’s views then that was an act of gross diplomatic discourtesy. If she did know she should never have gone. It diminishes her authority and that of the government yet again.

Again BREXIT Secretary Davis is being pushed around unceremoniously by Michel Barnier. The EU ‘bully-boy’ is asking for transparency and clarity over the divorce bill and the Citizens’ charter. Everyone agrees with him over the latter, but as regards the rest of it, these negotiations are inextricably intertwined to quote David Davis. Time marches on and there is little evidence of progress. Barner & Davis would be well advised not to hang their dirty linen until all other avenues of diplomacy have failed. Walking out or just leaving would be an insane alternative for both parties. However it cannot be ruled out, much as the EU thinks it is in the driving seat.


There is quite a compendium of news to consider this morning, but little of earth shattering proportions. Wall Street had a sepulchral session as Kin Jong Un had yet to drop his business in North China Sea. Yesterday US markets closed as follows with the Street of Dreams quietly going about its business, despite flood disaster in Houston – DOW -0.02%, S&P +0.05%, NASDAQ +0.28%. Exxon fell 0.33% after the oil major shut its Baytown refinery – the second largest in the US – in a Houston suburb because of the heavy floodwaters. Royal Dutch Shell fell 0.19% after it stopped making fuel at its Deer Park, Texas, plant.  Chevron was down 0.4%. However, refiner Valero Energy climbed 1.1%. Home Depot (HD.N) rose 1.2% as it is likely to benefit from rebuilding efforts in the region. Insurer Travelers was the largest drag on the Dow with a 2.6%, while Allstate fell 1.5% as investors assessed the likely impact of Harvey on the sector. Kite Pharmaceuticals surged 28.0% after Gilead Sciences agreed to buy the immunotherapy developer in a deal valued at $11.9 billion. Shares of Gilead rose 1.2%. Expedia (EXPE.O) declined 4.5% after an internal memo by the online travel services company.


Needless to say Asia suffered from the vagaries of missile activity and at the close markets closed as follows – ASX -0.7%, Shanghai +0.1%, Hang Seng -0.3% and the NIKKEI -0.5%. Astra Zeneca will be stepping up its investment in the UK particularly in Macclesfield, where the company employs 3500 people. The Investment Association’s Chris Cummings expressed his dismay at the responsibility put on his trade association for implementing controlled executive remuneration packages. Heineken may only have to sell 30 pubs after buying Punch Taverns’ 1900 outlets. The industry has reacted furiously. The UK government has been left in a quandary, thanks to its ambivalent attitude towards Qatar. Saudi Arabia may well be sufficiently irritated to withdraw support to the LSE’s participation in the Aramco IPO.


Reacting to North Korean madness the FTSE had shed 101 points by 9.300am this morning to 7300, with mining, oils, banking all down 1% plus.



UK companies posting numbers – Tuesday – Bunzl, Nostrum Oil & Gas, Wednesday – James Fisher, HSS Hire, The Gym Group, Thursday – Alpha Bank, Ladbrokes Coral, Restaurant Group, Churchill China, Hays, Chesnara, Melrose, STV


US companies posting interim results – Tuesday – Best Buy, Christopher & Banks, H&R Block, Wednesday – Brown & Forman, Analog Devices, Dycom, Chico’s FAS, Thursday – Dollar General, Ciena, Campbell Soups, Friday – Ford Motor Co (sales release)


Economic data due this week – Tuesday – German Gfk Consumer Climate, Wednesday – Nationwide House prices, UK Mortgage approvals, US ADP Index, US GDP preliminary, Thursday – Gfk UK Consumer Confidence, US Intial Jobless Claims, US Pending Home Sales, Friday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US Non-Farm Payrolls, unemployment rate and hourly earnings, US PMI Manufacturing, US ISM Manufacturing & Construction.


 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 – Sunday, 28th August 2017


“If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.
Both of you are great light borrowers.
Her O-mouth grieves at the world; yours is unaffected,

And your first gift is making stone out of everything.
I wake to a mausoleum; you are here,
Ticking your fingers on the marble table, looking for cigarettes,
Spiteful as a woman, but not so nervous,
And dying to say something unanswerable.

The moon, too, abuses her subjects,
But in the daytime she is ridiculous.
Your dissatisfactions, on the other hand,
Arrive through the mailslot with loving regularity,
White and blank, expansive as carbon monoxide.

No day is safe from news of you,
Walking about in Africa maybe, but thinking of me.”


Sylvia Plath – Poet – 1932-1963


I read with some interest and with nervous a wry smile in CityAm that Frankfurt, Germany’s financial services capital, will gain 10,000 banking sector jobs by 2021 as a consequence of the UK leaving the European Union, resulting in a tsunami wave of new jobs, which will be created in an array of sectors, mainly in the service sector including hotels and restaurants, plus healthcare, welfare and car manufacturing. A reputable survey says that 21,000 jobs would be created in Frankfurt and 36,000 in total across the Rhine-Main region. Under the “optimistic scenario”, an additional 34,000 jobs would come to the city and 88,000 across the region.

I have to admit this is quite brilliant PR. Frankfurt is a large town of 750,000 people (central London 8.7 million, Paris 2.2 million as comparisons).  No one should ever underestimate the resolve of Germany. As a country it has always been relentless in its quest for dominance and success. Its work ethic is second to none. However to believe in 4 years that Frankfurt will create infrastructure, reputation and achieve the experience to challenge London as an international finance sector, is surely fanciful and respectfully ‘Walter Mitty’ material for a good fun film of escapism. I don’t underestimate the EU’s resolve to bury London without trace. However this initiative will hopefully galvanise the Government to perform with a greater sense of urgency than it currently has displayed to ‘protect a goose that has laid many golden eggs!’

I cannot believe the amount of stick I am receiving in my continued support of BREXIT – well I suppose I can.  To ask me to see the errors of my ways is akin to asking a Liverpool supporter to cross that city to Goodison and support Everton. Unthinkable!

The headline in The Times on Saturday – “Top Schools Push Pupils Away From Universities.” – Quite right is my cry.  The UK’s education policy is all wrong.  The number of people that go to University and achieve an appropriate academic standard and then find it hard to land a decent job, is unacceptable. Those school leavers not in the top flight of academic prowess should go to technical colleges and learn a trade.  The country would be in far better shape economically if many of the young were trained to contribute to the work place.

It’s been a sad week for Rugby Union with the death of Sir Colin Meads – The Pine Tree – arguably the greatest All-Black in living memory, who died at the age of 81. I remember seeing him play at Twickenham in the 1963/4 tour of UK, when he was at his prime – 28 years old. He was a colossus – an old fashioned often-over-robust lineout forward, who really got stuck in! – A sight to behold. Don Clarke was New Zealand’s world class full back at that time – RIP.  Also Doddie Weir, Scotland’s very popular durable lock forward, was very unfortunately diagnosed with motor-neurone’s disease.  He is only 47!

It was dispiriting to read the Times’s Philip Aldrick’s views that the risk of recession in the U.K. Increases.  It is true to say that consumer spending has dropped uncomfortably, but frankly these accurate numbers are marginally historical and does an annualised GDP number of 1.7% really telegraph recession? I don’t think so.  However this is surely a wake-up call to the government to ‘get the lead out’ and push on with BREXIT negotiations, with a view restoring confidence in investment and hopefully stimulating renewed vigour for exports, which recently have been very disappointing. However, last month manufacturing output has shown signs of resurgence, after a downbeat May and June. Summer holidays across the spectrum appear to become more somnolent than ever. So maybe it will be September before a real assessment can be made. 

Thanks to a prevailing weak Pound the FTSE 100 added 1.06% last week, despite some adverse and disastrous results from WPP, Dixon Carphone and Provident Financial. With valuations and P/E ratios starting to look a little rich, any shortfall in terms of performance are now met with visceral treatment resulting in the offending company having its share price larruped. Provident Financial may find itself in the unenviable position of having to repay clients as much as £200 million for miss-selling as was the case with PPI for the main high street banks. It is also interesting to note that retail stocks in the FTSE have really started to fade in recent weeks – M&S, Next, Tesco, Kingfisher, and Morrison. It’s mining, oil, drugs and best of all mining that have kept the FTSE’S performance up with the pace. 

On the Street of Dreams, considering the flow of unsettling rhetoric from the White House, which in years gone by, would have destabilised markets, it was not the case last week. The S&P 500 added 0.79%, with retail operators such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Signet, Dollar Tree, Guess and Tiffany’s posting better than excepted results. Then there were the speeches from Central bankers at their jamboree in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to consider. FED Chairman Yellen offered nothing new on monetary policy, which was seen as dovish by the market. She did surprise many by insisting that banks had recovered well since the banking crisis, thanks to financial rules adopted at that time. The size of the US debt market was conveniently swept under the carpet. ECB’S Draghi did nothing to deter the Euro from becoming even stronger than it is now. It is at an 8 year high against Sterling. The only interesting part of Draghi’s speech was when he had a ‘pop’ at Trump, by rebuking his protectionism, in saying free trade was essential for global growth. 


Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International are preparing a rescue package for financially stressed Palmer & Harvey, the wholesaler, which supplies 90,000 shops with cigarettes. The Sunday Times tells us that Admiral Taverns with 1000 pubs is to be sold to Proprium Capital of the US for £220 million. Having had a setback with its lung cancer drug, Mystic, Astra Zeneca is to ramp up production of other cancer drugs at its Macclesfield plant, where it currently employs 3500. The RBS experienced further desperate publicity in regards to its treatment of SMES during the financial crisis – sadly nothing new to this beleaguered bank, but a setback to Ross McEwan’s plans to return RBS to the private sector. No doubt regulatory investigations will reveal all, though initial suggestions are that any allegations will be vigorously defended by the bank, with recourse, many suspect, difficult to prove.  



UK companies posting numbers – Tuesday – Bunzl, Nostrum Oil & Gas, Wednesday – James Fisher, HSS Hire, The Gym Group, Thursday – Alpha Bank, Ladbrokes Coral, Restaurant Group, Churchill China, Hays, Chesnara, Melrose, STV


US companies posting interim results – Tuesday – Best Buy, Christopher & Banks, H&R Block, Wednesday – Brown & Forman, Analog Devices, Dycom, Chico’s FAS, Thursday – Dollar General, Ciena, Campbell Soups, Friday – Ford Motor Co (sales release)


Economic data due this week – Tuesday – German Gfk Consumer Climate, Wednesday – Nationwide House prices, UK Mortgage approvals, US ADP Index, US GDP preliminary, Thursday – Gfk UK Consumer Confidence, US Intial Jobless Claims, US Pending Home Sales, Friday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US Non-Farm Payrolls, unemployment rate and hourly earnings, US PMI Manufacturing, US ISM Manufacturing & Construction.


 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 – Friday, 25th August 2017


“A Tower of Brass, one would have said,

And Locks, and Bolts, and Iron Bars,

Might have preserv’d one innocent Maiden-head.

The jealous Father thought he well might spare

All further jealous Care.

And, as he walk’d, t’himself alone he smiled,

To think how Venus’ Arts he had beguil’d;

And when he slept, his Rest was deep:

But Venus laugh’d, to see and hear him sleep:

She taught the am’rous Jove

A magical Receipt in Love,

Which arm’d him stronger, and which help’d him more,

Than all his Thunder did, and his Almightyship before.




She taught him Love’s Elixir, by which Art

His Godhead into Gold he did convert;

No Guards did then his Passage stay,

He pass’d with Ease, Gold was the Word;

Subtle as Light’ning, bright, and quick, and fierce,

Gold thro’ Doors and Walls did pierce;

And as that works sometimes upon the Sword,

Melted the Maidenhead away,

Ev’n in the secret Scabbard where it lay.

The prudent Macedonian King,

To blow up Towns a Golden Mine did spring;

He broke thro’ Gates with this Petarr,

’Tis the great Art of Peace, the Engine ’tis of War;

And Fleets and Armies follow it afar;

The Ensign ’tis at Land: and ’tis the Seaman’s Star.”


Horace – Poet & Author – 65 BC


Net migration figures have fallen to their lowest level since the Referendum in June 2016. The difference between those entering and leaving the UK fell 81,000 to 246,000 in the year to March 2017. More than half that change is due to a decrease in net migration of EU citizens, which is down 51,000. The government is committed to reducing net migration to below 100,000. A number of reasons have been given for the decline. Some I buy. Some don’t wash with me at all. People says some of those returning are feeling unwelcome. In number they must be minimal.  European immigrants who come here properly vetted do a great job and contribute to the growth and prosperity of the UK.  Also they perform jobs that many people in this country refuse to do! However the main reason for the ‘net-drop’ is surely the value of the Pound having fallen by about 12% against the Euro, which seriously damages the money many want to send back to their country of origin. Also uncertainty over BREXIT does little to instil confidence.  Messrs May, Davis & Fox need ‘to get the lead out’ and deal with the citizens’ rights issues with the EU’s truculent Barnier, PDQ. It is in everyone’s interest.

During the holiday period, volatility, which this year has been in relatively short supply, can often return to investors’ agenda with a vengeance. A huge number of people can be contemplating their oversized navels on the Cote D’Azur or preening their stick-insect torsos on Martha’s Vineyard, which can adversely affect liquidity.  This week four companies have experienced roller-coaster rides and some cases vituperative treatment. I think what has become clear in recent times, which is indisputable is that the valuations of some stocks have become rather too rich for some peoples’ blood, bordering on sexy and consequently unsustainable, if news that is anything less than positive is posted. Provident Financial has been one such company that investors have had the needle over, resulting in significant ‘shorts’ being taken out. 

Provident Financial posted its second profits warning and it was a severe one. Market makers vented their spleens taking the shares down 66% on Wednesday.  They recovered 13.5% on Thursday.  Some of this rally was down to some ‘shorts’ being closed out and some of it was down to investor Neil Woodford insisting that this ‘door-step’ lender still had some life in it and that it would recover. WPP’S sales posted by Sir Martin Sorrell with an indifferent outlook took the shares down 9.9% on Wednesday.  I suspect that the mood the market was in, could have meant that the shares could have dropped considerably more had Sir Martin not given the media a tremendously powerful and concise presentation.

Carillion the builder, which has already lost 60% in value this year, with a debt mountain hanging over it. It has postponed its numbers until 29th September, which made investors nervous – down 9.3% yesterday.  It may just be that Carillion is waiting on new banking covenants and contracts. Who knows? Yesterday Dixon Carphone fell 19.3% on terrible Carphone sales (Dixons did OK with sales of electrical goods +6%). Chairman Sir Charles Dunstone and CEO Seb James, both obsessive ‘remainers’, blamed BREXIT, the weakening Pound and lack of consumer confidence – not so sure about that.  Apple and Samsung would not agree.  The shares were 28% light at one time.  On the positive side Game Digital, Mike Ashley having bought 26% of the company has rallied by 56% in 2 days – mind you shares had fallen from 68p to 24p before rally to 37.54P.

Yesterday UK data did not make very pretty reading – The UK economy grew by 0.3% in second quarter – the lowest amongst the G7 countries. Retail sales were at their weakest for over a year – that was worrying. However UK car sales accelerated in July. According to the SMMT, UK car output rose by 7.8% last month after seven successive months of decline. Exports grew by 5.3%. Car production has now passed the one million mark this year, although this is down 1.6% compared to the same time last year.

Yesterday the Street of Dreams kept its poise with many retailers posting less awful earnings than many expected – The US markets closed as follows – DOW -0.13%, S&P 500 -0.21% and the NASDAQ -0.11%. Abercrombie & Fitch gathered in 14% yesterday in value despite sales falling by 1%, but the share price has halved in the last year from $22.95 to $11.25. Guess blazed the trail adding 17% with Signet gaining 16%, Dollar Tree 5% with Tiffany’s losing 1%. World-wide sales were up 3% but like for like in US -2%.  However when Amazon said it planned to complete its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market on Monday, after winning antitrust approval from US regulators, this announcement started to weigh heavily on grocery store stocks such as Kroger Co, off 8.10%, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), down 2.03%.The FTSE had gained 24 points at 7407 on a weakfish Pound which had improved thanks to GDP number that was not as depressing as some might have thought.

This morning Asia, together with the rest of the world, waits on the pearls of wisdom from Central banks’ meeting in Jackson Hole this weekend. However its input was quite positive. The ASX closed +0.05%, with the NIKKEI looking to close its doors +0.61%.  The Hang Seng, at the time of writing was 0.97% to the good with Shanghai up a very healthy 1.45%. This morning the FTSE is expected to open down 8 points at 7399.

Good weekend to one and all!


Economic data due this week – Friday – BBA Mortgage Applications, Germany IFO, US University of Michigan Consumer Confidence


 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 – Thursday, 24th August 2017

“The last year’s leaves are on the beech:
The twigs are black; the cold is dry;
To deeps byond the deepest reach
The Easter bells enlarge the sky.
O ordered metal clatter-clang!
Is yours the song the angels sang?
You fill my heart with joy and grief –
Belief! Belief! And unbelief…
And, though you tell me I shall die,
You say not how or when or why.

Indifferent the finches sing,
Unheeding roll the lorries past:
What misery will this year bring
Now spring is in the air at last?
For, sure as blackthorn bursts to snow,
Cancer in some of us will grow,
The tasteful crematorium door
Shuts out for some the furnace roar;
But church-bells open on the blast
Our loneliness, so long and vast.”


Sir John Betjaman – Poet & Author – 1906- 1980


I always try and watch Sir Martin Sorrell CEO of WPP PLC, when he presents the company’s results or trading updates each quarter on television or on the radio.  Why? I always consider Sir Martin to be a decent barometer for global business activity and growth. Not only does he assess and promote WPP’S activities comprehensively, whether it be his acquisitions, for which he has always had a voracious appetite for, or appraising the world at large with his views on politics and global events.  For me he is a religious ‘must view or listen.’  Some do not like the cut of his jib – I do for his forthright views and his clarity.  He calls a spade a shovel. His dislike of Donald Trump comes as no surprise and his utter contempt for BREXIT is as plain as the nose on the end of my ugly face.


Sir Martin has been at the helm of WPP since 1986. WPP’S portfolio of agencies has included over 100 companies over the years with the most famous being JWT, Young & Rubicon, Hill & Knowlton and Grey’s. The share price has tripled in the last decade.  Sir Martin has done brilliantly.  He is as rich as Croesus and deserves to be.  He is an innovator and entrepreneur, who has been at the helm for 33 years, having been finance director at Saatchi & Saatchi.


However rather akin to what happened at the recession in 2008/9, today was a rude wakening for WPP and Sir Martin. Like for like sales in the last trading period fell by 0.4% when estimates suggested that they might have risen by 0.7%. Surprisingly the UK was the best performing region, despite BREXIT uncertainty, with the US the most disappointing (normally a strong region for WPP), with Europe and the Far-East just about more than washing their face. What was interesting for me was Sir Martin alluded to the fact that the culture of advertising and PR was changing radically with much more emphasis on digital operations, which in his opinion could well be not only an encouraging signal but also a potential blessing disguise. However I did not get any really encouraging vibes about the immediate future.


WPP’S shares fell by 9.99% to 1424p on the day.  Had Sir Martin not been in such good and robust order on his feet speaking to all and sundry – CNBC, Bloomberg, BBC, SKY and with a particularly good interview with Kamal Ahmed on BBC Today, I think WPP’S share price could have fallen further! WPP sooner or later will come back on the bridle!




UK companies posting results this week – Thursday – John Laing, Polymetal International, Premier Oil, PlayTech

US companies posting interim results this week – Thursday – Abercrombie & Fitch, Staples

Economic data due this week – Friday – BBA Mortgage Applications, Germany IFO, US University of Michigan Consumer Confidence


 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






You could hear a pin drop in this dealing room. Nonetheless the FTSE 100 has added 68 points to 7368 by just after 4.00pm. Business has been negligible. I can only assume that all the market makers have been given new pairs of NIKE’s, such is the lightness of foot not to be caught short of stock. Mining stocks have been good with BHP Billiton leading the charge, adding 3% after good numbers. Shire has had a vibrant day – +3%. Kingfisher has made a valiant attempt to regain some lost ground – +1%.Whitbread has been the steady eddy – +1.5%. Oil stocks have been solid. The star of the FTSE has been Tesco – +3.5%, pushed hard by HSBC’S positive note.


Of those companies that posted numbers today, Provident Financial dropped a real clanger – second profits warning and what a shocker it was. Shares were down 68%, having been down 73%. I have never seen a FTSE company fall by that amount in one session though I suspect Marconi and HBOS ran them close. I doubt PF will be a takeover target – too many regulatory issues which would discourage most predators. Persimmon was 1.4% to the good, with encouraging upbeat sales and profits. Poor Cairn seem stuck in the mud in Senegal and Ireland – they will get there – +2.5%. Inspired Energy was unchanged but they have had a decent run on the rails. Sports Direct’s interest in Debenhams (stake of 10%+) did not go down well with shareholders – -5% and Debenhams were up 1.5% in response. Wood Group was unchanged.


The Street of Dreams was up 128 points and I suspect defence stocks were blazing the trail with Trump in a very pugilistic and bellicose mood over Afghanistan.


TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 22nd August 2017


“Bells are blooming down the bohreens,

White the mist along the grass.

Now the Julias, Maeves and Maureens

Move between the fields to Mass.

Twisted trees of small green apple

Guard the decent whitewashed chapel,

Gilded gates and doorway grained

Pointed windows richly stained

With many-coloured Munich glass.


In yews and woodbine, walls and guelder,

Nettle-deep the faithful rest,

Winding leagues of flowering elder,

Sycamore with ivy dressed,

Ruins in demesnes deserted

Bog-surrounded bramble-skirted-

Townlands rich or townlands mean as

These, oh, counties of them screen us

In the Kingdom of the West.


Stony seaboard, far and foreign,

Stony hills poured over space,

Stony outcrop of the Burren,

Stones in every fertile place

Little fields with boulders dotted

Grey-stone shoulders saffron –spotted

Stone-walled cabins thatched with reeds

The last of Europe’s stone age race.


There in pinnacled protection,

One extinguished family waits

A Church of Ireland resurrection

By the broken, rusty gates.

Sheepswool, straw and droppings cover,

Greaves of spinster, rake and lover,

Whose fantastic mausoleum

Sings its own seablown Te Deum,

In and out the slipping slates.”


Sir John Betjeman – Poet Laureate – 1906- 1984


‘Knives in Hens’ is not the most obvious or high profile play on offer in the West End at present. This play was written by David Harrower and is currently being produced at ‘The Donmar Theatre.’ To call it bizarre is probably an understatement.


I think it takes place in BC about the time of the invention of the wheel. The dialogue comes out as grunting with some kind of a Northern accent. I think it tells us how the wife of ‘Pony William’ a serial adulterer, discovers how to read and write courtesy of the local miller, which completely changes her perspective on life. I think the acting was very good on a very Spartan but cleverly constructed stage. Christian Cooke (Pony William), Judith Roddy (Young Woman) and Matt Ryan (Miller) gave it their best shot but it was an awful play!


The Korean crisis showed some signs of abating, which was reflected in the performance of the main US bourses. The Dow industrials and S&P 500 eked out slight gains to close higher on Monday after two days of declines, though a drop in oil prices (2%) weighed on energy shares and investors remained cautious amid geopolitical tensions and on-going political shenanigans in Washington.


Market participants began to turn their focus to the Federal Reserve meeting at Jackson Hole, Wyoming later this week which will be attended by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi, and BOE Governor Mark Carney and other luminaries. Many observers and economists are looking for guidance over inflation, monetary policy and most of all quantitative easing. When will it be tapered? Former Treasury guru Sir Nick McPherson referred to the experience as probably being akin to being on heroin, not that he has had any personal experience!

The S&P 500 energy index was down 0.6%, leading sector declines in the S&P 500, with US crude oil prices settling down 2.4%, giving back last week’s gains. In company news, shares of sporting goods retailers took a hit after analysts downgraded ratings on Nike (NKE.N), Foot Locker (FL.N) and other companies. Nike’s shares fell 2.4%, while Foot Locker shares slid 7.4%. Johnson Controls (JCI.N) rose 3.3%. Johnson & Johnson was look down the barrel of a pay-out of $417 million to a woman who says she developed ovarian cancer after using products such as baby powder. Wall Street closed as follows – DOW +0.13%, S&P -+0.12%, NASDAQ -0.05%. This morning Asian stocks grabbed moderate solace from abating of Korean tension, as $ steadies – ASX +0.37%, Shanghai +0.12%, Hang Seng +1.04%, Nikkei +0.07%.



In London yesterday the FTSE hardly moved with banks feeling a little uncomfortable. This morning the market is full of news. Great Wall Motors of China are weighing up the idea of buying Fiat Chrysler, beautifully managed in recent years since the recession by Sergio Marchionne. China seems to know more about this idea that Fiat does. However FC’S shares rallied by 6%. President Trump may have views on this, since his policy is to have only a domestic agenda where at all possible. France Total is casting its beady eyes over buying Maersk’s oil and drilling assets for $7.5 billion. There were some interesting results this morning including a disastrous profit warning from Provident Financial. The doorstep lender issued its second profit warning in recent months. It says it now expects to make losses of £80m to £120m as its debt collection rates have dropped to 60% compared with a previous rate of 90% in 2016. Bradford-based Provident recently changed the way it collected its loans, replacing self-employed agents with “customer experience managers”. Its chief executive, Peter Crook, has resigned.


BHP Billiton posted very encouraging numbers with profits of $6.7 billion with a dividend of 0.83p. Debt was cut by 37% to $16.3 billion. In the February quarter BHP returned to profit of $3.2 billion from a loss of $5.7 billion. CEO Andrew McKenzie has orchestrated a great recovery on the back of industrial commodity prices. Persimmon also did not disappoint its acolytes with good numbers for the last 6 months. Profits were up 30%, with revenue up 12%. Legal completions were up 8% with 7794 units competed. Selling price was up 4% to £213,262.00. Persimmon shares are up from 1800p to 2500p circa in the last year – up 38%. Cairn Energy is in a frustrating cycle of its business. Senegal will work but is taking its time to deliver and Ireland remains slightly on the back burner with the first well drilled being dry. Shares have fallen 202p a year ago to 172p today. Sports Direct has taken a stake in Debenhams in excess of 10% (+0.62%).


UK companies posting results this week – Monday – BHP Billiton, TBC Bank Group, Tuesday – John Wood Group, Persimmon, Cairn Energy, Inspired Energy, Wednesday – WPP, Carillion, Vedanta Resources, Thursday – John Laing, Polymetal International, Premier Oil, PlayTech


US companies posting interim results this week – Monday – Ruby Tuesday, Tuesday – Toll Bros, La-Z-Boy, Wednesday – American Eagle Outfitters, HP Inc, Thursday – Abercrombie & Fitch, Staples


Economic data due this week – Monday – UK Public Sector borrowing requirement, CBI Industrial Order Expectations, Wednesday – US New Home Sales, Thursday – UK 2nd quarter GDP estimate, US initial Jobless Claims, US Existing Homes Sales, Friday – BBA Mortgage Applications, Germany IFO, US University of Michigan Consumer Confidence



 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 ​