Still got the back-to-work blues? What’s wrong with you? It might only be January 4, but the City’s finest have already successfully implemented – or partly waived – 1.7m paragraphs of new Mifid II regulations, and earned as much as the average employee does all year, writes Matthew Vincent. And it’s almost the weekend again!
Next always seems to go first in reporting what’s happening to retail sales, writes Matthew Vincent. This is perhaps nominally appropriate – and moderately helpful to rivals. In early January 2017, the clothing chain was first to forewarn that rising inflation would hit consumer spending – knocking £948m off its own market capitalisation, but making it easier for Marks & Spencer and others to break their own bad news later on. In 2018, however, it may be easier to be Next than next.
Compass Group will not be the only company to feel the loss of Richard Cousins, its chief executive who died on Sunday, writes Matthew Vincent. When, last September, Cousins announced his intention to step down as chief executive of the FTSE 100 caterer after 11 years, the FT Lombard column was not alone in suggesting others could have benefited from his food for thought. Not least Tesco, from which he had earlier resigned over an objection to its proposed Booker acquisition.
Thursday December 14 will go down in history as the day that the Walt Disney Company wrote a new chapter in the history of a once feared empire, and settled the destiny of one who was taught to wield mysterious power by a wise and wizened old master. But enough of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker and his mentor Yoda, writes Matthew Vincent. In other news, Disney is buying the entertainment assets of the 21st Century Fox empire, and deciding the destiny of James Murdoch, who had run the business for his father: the legendary media mogul Rupert.
Customers are used to be being put on hold by retailers. Retailers are less used to being put on hold by customers, writes Matthew Vincent. But that is exactly what has happened to Dixons Carphonethis year: customers decided to put their mobile phone upgrades on hold, refusing to choose expensive new models, and forced the electricals retailer to ring up a profit warning.
Did you think Local Shopping REIT selling 142 retail properties for £19.3m was dealmaking? No, that’s not property dealmaking. Did you think UK shopping centre owner Hammerson offering £3.2bn for rival Intu was proper dealmaking? No, it’s really not. Unibail-Rodamco, the largest commercial property company in Europe, buying Westfield Corporation for $24.7bn. Now that is property dealmaking, writes Matthew Vincent.
Theresa May is not the only one to secure a political deal in the nick of time, and breathe a sigh of relief, writes Matthew Vincent. Charles Woodburn, chief executive of BAE Systems has managed no less a negotiating feat, but in the Middle East rather than Europe: finalising a £5bn order from Qatar for 24 Typhoon fighter jets – a deal that will safeguard British jobs and ensure UK production of the aircraft into the mid-2020s.
For Ladbrokes Coral shareholders this morning, it is not so much a case of Christmas coming early, as a bid coming early, writes Matthew Vincent. GVC Holdings’ wish to buy the High Street bookmaker has been known for months – it has been the worst kept secret in the the FTSE 250. But most people expected the two companies would wait until the outcome of the government review of fixed odds betting terminals – the high-stakes machines that deliver a majority of Ladbrokes’ retail revenues.
Carillion’s full-year trading statement was always going to be the news this morning, whether it happened or not, writes Matthew Vincent. And those betting on further falls in the stricken construction group’s shares probably had money on “not”. In fact, as of last night, Carillion’s own financial calendar still said: “There is no event/s available for current selection” and the company had not confirmed to news websites that any announcement would be forthcoming today.
Thomas Cook, the FTSE 250 tour operator, has been offering so called Black Friday discounts a few days early, according to tabloid newspaper bargain hunters, writes Matthew Vincent. And, given every Friday from now until May is forecast to be largely black from 3:00pm to the following 2.55pm, one can see the appeal of £200 off a sunshine break. But such early price cutting is normally a warning sign, according to broadsheet newspaper profit-warning hunters. So does it mean red ink, rather than black, for the company?
EasyJet boss Dame Carolyn McCall is presenting her last set of annual results this morning – before she leaves the budget airline for broadcaster ITV, writes Matthew Vincent. So this is the last time she will have to endure aeronautical puns and metaphors in every single report of the company’s numbers. That said, with some reports suggesting she’s heading to the departure gate with £5m in salary and shares, she may not mind that at all. So, Opening Quote is happy to offer both treatments/(final) approaches.
Bookmaker William Hill is fancied to extend a recent run of good results, writes Matthew Vincent. Analysts at Investec reckon the FTSE 250 group’s low level of hedging on the recent boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor will have helped it to outperform rival Ladbrokes Coral.
Marketing types have seized on a quiet Friday for corporate reporting to make an attention-grabbing announcement on the London Stock Exchange’s RNS company news service this morning: “Opportunity to advertise on an iceberg”. “Be the first ever company or individual to have your advertising appear on a real North Atlantic Iceberg and watch as your message goes viral. You’ve heard the expression “it’s only the tip of the iceberg;” be the first to own this expression,” it reads.
Royal Mail’s best result in the last half year has arguably been staving off industrial action ahead of the vital Christmas period, writes Matthew Vincent. It seems the Communication Workers Union – which was disputing pension changes and pay – had not realised a pre-strike mediation agreement was legally binding.
Ladbrokes Coral is updating the market in week two of a 12-week regulatory consultation period that will decide the future of UK betting shops, writes Matthew Vincent. If the government listens to campaigners rather than bookies, and imposes the maximum cut to stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals, hundreds – possibly thousands – of high-street outlets could close, so reliant are they now on these in-store machines.
Marks & Spencer’s seemingly ever-earlier launch of its Christmas TV advert has long been a source of delight to the middle classes and indignation to middle-aged commentators, writes Matthew Vincent. In fact, first sightings of ‘Paddington and the Christmas visitor’ on November 6, a new ad featuring the Peruvian emigre bear, caused one contemporary of Opening Quote to despair: “Just thrown away the Halloween pumpkins and the Christmas ads have started…”.
Is there nothing Disney cannot do? writes Matthew Vincent in this morning’s FT Opening Quote. It has held talks about taking over Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, including the US group’s stake in UK-based Sky. It has rescued the Star Wars film franchise from the cringe-inducing antics of Jar-Jar Binks in all those tedious prequels. And now, it seems, it has helped Primark-owner Associated British Foods boost its annual profit by 22 per cent, with a range of keenly-priced Minnie Mouse accessories and strangely persistent press coverage.
The latest batch of forecasts shows the Fed deliberately tightening policy to cause growth to slow and unemployment to rise.
Debunking (again) the so-called “Fed model” for equity valuations.
Cashing out of stocks after prices have dropped can make a lot of sense if you’re worried that incompetent policymakers are about to drive your country into a repeat of the Great Depression.