TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 2nd August 2017
“Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs A
nd towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.
Wilfred Owen – soldier & poet – 1893-1918
I have to admit being absolutely mesmerised by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who fielded a slew of questions fired at her by the media vultures who attended the White House press conference post Anthony Scaramucci’s ignominious sacking on Monday. It was her cold eyes and the dexterity with which she dealt with all comers, however tough or embarrassing the questions were that pierced me, as well as the millions of TV viewers. I’d be very confident that her three children don’t mess with her, nor would her husband ever step out of line!
Lib-Dem leader, Sir Vince Cable had his first monthly column in CityAM published today – and very good it was too! – All about the excesses and dangers of consumer debt. However his article also brought a wry smile to my face. Seven years ago as BIS Secretary in the coalition government he scolded all the banks, including RBS, for failing to lend money to SMES, regardless of the credit risk and the fact that banks were desperately trying to get their balance sheet sizes down after the banking crisis and recession! It was the irony!
As investors, analysts and observers watched incredulously at the machinations at the White House, where senior officials seem to be running around like headless chickens Wall Street had its eyes down for a full house, seemingly immune to extraordinarily undiplomatic shenanigans. US financials closed at their highest level in almost 10 years Apple beat earnings estimates with services up 22%; shares +6.3%. Toyota, Nissan, Honda beat U.S. Forecasts as local Cars sales wane. Toyota was only major automaker to increase U.S. sales in July. Industry-wide deliveries fell 7%, the steepest drop since the anniversary of “Cash for Clunkers,” a program that inflated U.S. sales in August 2009 as buyers traded in for more fuel-efficient wheels. AMC Entertainment shares fell 25% in after-hours trading on Tuesday after the movie-theatre chain said it expects to post a steeper-than-expected loss when it reports second-quarter results next week. US markets closed as follows with YTD – DOW: 21,963 +0.33% +11.139% S&P: 2,476 +0.24% +10.609% NASDAQ: 5,895 +0.25% +21.21%. Asian markets were marginally boosted by the weakness in the Dollar with the NIKKEI surprisingly not suffering too much. Asian Markets & YTD – NIKKEI 20,101 +0.58% +5.159% HANG SENG 27,731 +0.68% +26.019% CHINA 3,780 +0.28% +14.265% ASX 5,742 -0.52% +1.345%.
Apples results still continue to blow my mind. In total since inception Apple has sold 1.2 billion mobiles and units. In the last quarter sales were up 7.2% to $45.4 billion with profits of $8.72 billion. iPad sales were up 14% with 11.4 million sold. Mobile sales were up 1.5% to 41 million. Added services are also improving. This company has a capital value of $782 billion. There was no evidence to suggest that the introduction of iPhone8 will be late. The shares have risen by over 50% in the last year – $105 to $159.
Yesterday we were all but knocked over by the weight of earnings – most of which were either good or passed muster. Rolls Royce (+9%) drew plaudits and the pain that BP has endured in recent years is receding though the Gulf disaster still cost another $1 billion (total $50 billion). Despite increasing importance of North Sea BP will be making asset sales seen as non-core to their business and to get its huge $30 billion debt down. Enough has been written about Rolls Royce CEO Warren East’s escapades in bring round the fortunes of this very important manufacturing titan. We enjoyed the £1.94 billion profits against a £2 billion loss last year and that the sales and servicing shows are back on the road. Shares were up 9% yesterday and 50% since January this year – work in progress.
The resignation/dismissal of AA Chairman Bob Mackenzie for gross misconduct after an alleged row with a colleague grabbed the financial headlines. His son, Peter, was quick to come to his defense, based on the mental illness issues of the 64-year old. The recent trading statement brought little relief and the lack of clarity over the whole business saw investors vent their spleen on the shares – -14%. Poor Mr Mackenzie will have a real issue with the company as he owns 33 million shares in AA, if he were to prove to be a bad leaver. In that event he would get nothing!
Results came thick and fast today with Aggreko not quite up to snuff, solid efforts from RSA, Travis Perkins, a good one from StatPro, with great encouragement from BAE Systems (+2%), William Hill (+5%) and Johnston Press (+5%). I’d like to focus on Rio Tinto’s numbers. These shares are up 41% this year. Net earnings were up from $1.7 billion to $3.3 billion. Another $1 billion has been returned to shareholders plus $2 billion in dividends. Sales totaled $19 billion up $3.8 billion from last year. Net debt is down to a parsimonious $7.6 billion. Considering that the global forecasts for growth remain positive and with the sale of copper and iron ore doing well, the second half of the year should prove very productive for Rio and hopefully its shareholders. Shares were down 2% – ‘traveled and arrived.’ Standard Chartered Bank’s results are out at 1.00am this morning. A profit of $2 billion is expected.
Thursday – Cobham, Mondi, Serco, Shire, Inmarsat, eSure, LSE, Spirent, Portmeirion, Friday – RPS Group, Pearson, Aon, Royal Bank of Scotland, Merlin Entertainment, Millennium Copthorne,
US companies posting results this week – Wednesday – Groupon, Time Warner, Metlife, Tesla, Zynga, Thursday – Aetna, Allergan, Yum Brands!, Kraft Heinz, Viacom, Friday – Revlon, Calgon Carbon
Economic Data – Monday – UK Mortgage approvals, Tuesday – Tuesday, UK PMI Manufacturing, Wednesday – UK PMI Construction, Wednesday – UK PMI Services, MPC Meeting, Friday – US Non-farm Payrolls & employment data.
Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co
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