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Ian Pollard – A Thousand Years Of History, plus #QLT, #DOM, #CCC and #SUN

Today may see the last dying days of a nation whose history was peppered with stirring speeches which matched the mood of the people just at the times when they were most needed, from Agincourt to Shakespeare, the singeing of some minor king of Spains beard, to Waterloo and to Churchill. All men with fire in their bellies who loved their country and would never think of profiteering from a cheap trick. Look at the disgraceful sight of those who now, to their shame and ours, stalk the corridors of power, always ready for the quick buck. Who won the war? Surely it can not have been us, now ready to roll over and make way for a new unelected dictatorship of European bureaucracy, a Europe which would not be recognisable to the people of all countries who fought and died, believing in vain that they were fighting for freedom.

Quilter plc QLT Despite increasingly challenging market conditions as the year progressed. Quilter report record profits with a rise of 11% for the year to the 31st December. Diluted earnings per share rose by 15% and the final dividend is recommended at 3.3p per share in line with the company’s dividend policy. On a like for like basis profit before tax came in at £5m. compared to the previous years loss of £5m.

Dominos Pizza Grp DOM Admits that 2018 was a mixed year. In the UK and Ireland, which account for around 90% of the business, the excellent record of growth continued Internationally, growing pains were experienced which hampered the overall financial performance. Total revenue rose by 14.5% but total profit before tax fell by over 22% and statutory basic earnings per share by 23.7%. The record of increasing dividends continues with a rise of 5.6%

Computacenter CCC Total revenues for the year to the end of December, exceeded over £4 billion for the first time, with  Germany delivering yet another record performance as revenue grew by 8.3 per cent. 2018 was a record year for the group in revenue, adjusted operating profit and adjusted diluted earnings per share and the foundations have been paid for further growth in the years ahead.

Surgical Innovations SUN has delivered the strong rebound which was expected in the second half and revenues for the year to the end of December grew strongly by 25% andadjusted profit before tax rose by 30%

 beachfront villas for sale in Greece;   http://www.hiddengreece.net

Ian Pollard – Democracy Died Last Night

A referendum is one of the highest and truest forms of decmocracy. That is why they are absolute anathema to the unelected dictators of Brussels who would not recognise an election if they saw one staring them in the face. That is why the EU demagogues, those of them who remain sober and capable of standing up, have forced one European country after another to reverse the result of every referendum they have held. And now we have joined them in disgrace, as the destroyers of democracy. The British who have one of the longest  histories of parliamentary democracies in the world, have seen their MPs refuse to accept the will of the people and overturn the common decision reached two years ago that there was a majority in favour of Brexit.

It matters not whether that majority was right or wrong. It is the principal which matters. The people were not only allowed to decide, they were asked by Parliament to decide. The government then descended into chaos as MPs began to jockey for position. Ministers abandoned their posts almost every week, looking for aggrandisement and opportunites for self advancement. Led by the weakest leader the country has ever seen since King Harold failed to turn the tide at Hastings in 1066, we became a laughing stock throughout Europe as country after country sought to avenge  slights, real or imagined, such as freeing them at great cost from the horrors of fascist domination, with which so many of them happily collaborated.

The jostling for position amongst ministers over the past two years has been a disgrace. They resigned from government one day as a matter of principal, only to rejoin it the next day as they saw better opportunities to get higher up the ladder before they finally brought about the collapse of the government of which they were supposed to be such loyal members.

Ministers have never been so happy as they day on which they realised that Brexit meant the end of Human Rights legislation in the UK. Ministers could not hide their joy as they saw a possible end to the European court, little realising that before we joined Europe, we were the only country in Europe which had no statutory human rights. Did these empty headed numpties want to see Maggie Thatchers mounted police literally riding down unarmed miners fleeing from them across the fields of Orgreave, Did they really want to see Arthur Scargills hordes closing down pits, and power stations and much of British Industry as he plunged Britain into the darkness of the three day week and saw Downing Street as his weekend holiday home..Their faces lit with glee as they saw the emasculation of the European court. The very same Europan court which has just  ordered thousands and thousand of judges to be restored to the positions from which newly elected governments in Poland and Hungary had illegally removed them.

There was far more to Brexit than trade and economics. The deliberate trampling down of the democratic rights of the British people in last nights embarassing farce puts those responsible on the same level as the unelected bureaucracies of Brussels and the toothless gravy trainers of Strasbourg, Brexit is now dead.

Ian Pollard: Cloud Cuckoo Land Is Never Empty

2018 was quite a good year for the self important types who could not resist making fools of themselves in the full gaze of the public. The overall group winner of the year award must go to company directors and CEOs who have provided us with endless hours of amusement as they have literally tied themselves in knots trying to convince  us that the absolutely disastrous results which their companies have produced under their grossly incompetent leadership are really a good thing.

The examples are legion but a favourite is the self deluded belief that the continuing collapse in sales has been a blessing in disguise, because it led to a sharp fall in costs which enabled the company  to increase its dividend.

But for the mindless contribution from the country’s boardrooms, breakfast time business news would never be the same.

Shortly before Xmas Government ministers woke up to the opportunities they were missing and the votes they were losing, with their failure to take advantage of the Gatwick airport drone scandal. There was the Essex police making a ham fisted attempt at policing Essex and arresting innocent citizens in the process, when Ministers woke up and  discovered there was at last a major scandal in the country for which they had no responsibility whatsoever. What a golden opportunity. Essex police are incompetent, they screamed. Essex police are making a mess of it they brayed, even, Essex police should be removed from the investigation and Ministers  be put in charge.

Now hang on a bit. Ministers put in charge of a major investigation which the police had made a mess of? Ministers? These are the people, who brought you Brexit. These are the people who wanted customs posts in the Irish Sea, the uprooting of expats who had built new lives all over Europe and of Europeans who had been happily settled in the UK for years.Turn the south of England into a lorry park? Certainly sir. That shouldn’t be a problem They could not resist jumping on a bandwagon they would fall off at the first jolt. – all for a bit of self serving political advantage. They could not run a whelk stall, never mind Brexit and they claim they should be handed such responsibility.

Fortunately cloud cuckoo land is never empty.

Beachfront  houses for sale in Greece;   http://www.hiddengreece.net

Ian Pollard – A Nightmare For Europe

When will they ever learn ? This is the week when European leaders suddenly woke up to realise they had created their own nightmare situation in which they had lost the Brexit argument. The UK was back once again in charge of of Europe. You can humiliate British politicians, they fully deserve it. but what you cannot do is to humiliate the British people. for having exercised their right to hold a referendum and then dare to stick to the result. You can not bully the Brits as if they were the Danes or the Irish, or even the French.

The Eurocrats stood no chance of forcing the UK into holding a second referendum so that it produced the “correct” result, namely the one demanded by Brussels. And who are these so called leaders who strut the European stage. First and foremost there is Barnier who can not stop himself from planting sloppy wet kisses on the cheeks of men he hardly knows and then engaging in a form of bodily contact with females, he knows even less, uninvited contact which nowadays would pass  in most countries as a form of abuse. His main problems are his ability to remain upright on occasions and to speak without slurring his S’s.  This is becoming so bad that his office has to come to his defence and provide excuses for his outlandish behaviour because he appears incapable of providing his own. I mean it is not as if he has a drink problem is it?

The Italians most popular politician is a comedian and he is really funny unlike Barnier who is just an embarrasment.

From Ireland to Hungary the antics of Brussels are endless, Who on earth dreamt up the idea of having customs posts in the Irish Sea. Has Brussels not woken up to the reality that it can be quite seriously wet in there on occasions.

How many Euro states have adopted the latest Olympic sport of sacking their leading judges because they keep bringing in the wrong verdicts. Even Spain that hotbed of democracy has now gone as far as locking up some of its leading politicians, apparantly without a trial, so far, let alone a fair one. Poland forced ten of its top judges into early retirement during the summer until the highest court in Europe ordered their re- instatement, a decision for which they deserve much credit. The success of Viktor Orban, Hungary’ fascist leader, saw many of that countrys 3,000 judges begin to tumble and the courts being systematically packed with loyalists, loyal to Viktor Orban that is.

One weakness of the Brits position is the glee with which our politicians embraced the demise of the European court. They could not wait to start dismantling the legislation which has given us all the protections which we now enjoy. All of our human rights in the UK emanate from Europe. Before the EU we had the weakest human rights in Europe. We had no written constitution and as far as the courts were concerned they were emasculated because there was no human rights legislation for them to enforce. The welcome to the new order was a stain on our democracy for which many of our leading politicians should be ashamed.

Now however the people of the UK have woken up. It is not just a case of European leaders lambasting the UKs politicians. They have in the past few weeks chosen to humiliate the British people for the decision they took. Like her or not our Prime Minister is our elected leader carrying out the wishes of the electorate. EU leaders have deliberately chosen to humiliate her in public in the belief that she is so weak that they have already won the battle. The realisation this week that she has fought back and outwitted them, is now sending shock waves through Brussels and the capitals of Europe. .

Democracy in Europe is crumbling rapidly. Let them go their own way.

Beachfront  houses for sale in Greece;   http://www.hiddengreece.net

 

Ken Baksh – October market report…..trickery or treats!

October 2018 Market Report

During the month to September 30th, 2018, major equity markets again displayed a mixed trend, rising by 1.19% overall and the VIX index fell. There continued to be an abundance of market moving news over what is traditionally a quieter month, at macro-economic, corporate and political levels.

The European Central Bank appeared to become more certain of removing QE over coming quarters, with more hawkish policy statements, but delaying any interest rate increase until 2019, while economic news seems to have been more upbeat than in recent months, particularly in Germany. Political events were not in short supply, and in Turkey for example, continued to affect bond and currency markets while Italian bonds and the anniversary of the Greek rescue package also attracted headlines.  US market watchers continued to grapple with ongoing tariff discussions, Federal Budget, Turkish stand-off, NAFTA follow up and North Korean meeting uncertainty as well as Trump’s growing domestic issues, ominously becoming higher profile, before the important November midterm elections. US economic data and corporate results so far have generally been above expectation and the official interest rate was increased again in September to a range of 2%-2.25%.  In the Far East, China flexed its muscles in response to Trump’s trade and other demands while relaxing some bank reserve requirements. Japanese second quarter GDP growth appeared higher than expected and Shinzo Abe consolidated his political position, both perceived as market friendly, and the ten-year bond continues to trade near the recent yield high.  The UK reported mixed economic data with satisfactory developments on the government borrowing side, inflation higher than expected, but poor relative GDP figures and deteriorating property sentiment, both residential and commercial. Recent retail data shows mixed trends, some “weather related”. Market attention, both domestic and international is clearly focussed on ongoing BREXIT developments and their strong influence on politics.

Aggregate world hard economic data continues to show steady expansion, excluding the UK, as confirmed by the IMF and the OECD with some forecasts of 2018 economic growth in the 3.3% to 3.6% area, a little lower than January forecasts. Fluctuating currencies continued to play an important part in asset allocation decisions, the stronger US dollar again being the major recent feature recently, although lagging the yen year to date. Emerging market currencies have had a particularly volatile period. Government Bond holders saw small price moves over the month. Of note was the continuing rise in the Japanese Government Bond Yield, albeit from a low level. Oil was again about the only major commodity to show a price gain in September.

At the end of the nine -month period, “mixed investment” unit trusts show a very small positive price performance, with technology and most overseas equity regions showing above average performance, and bonds, Asia excl-Japan and Emerging markets in negative territory. Source: Morningstar

Equities

Global Equities displayed a mixed performance over the month of September, the FTSE ALL World Index gaining 1.19% in dollar terms and showing a small positive return since the beginning of the year. The UK broad and narrow market indices lagged other major markets over the month in local terms and have underperformed in both local and sterling adjusted values from the end of 2017 by 4.4% and 9.3% respectively. Europe ex-UK also declined while USA and Japan outperformed. The NASDAQ index, driven by technology companies, remains by far the best asset class year to date. In sterling adjusted terms, America, helped to a large degree by the tech sector, has jumped to the top of the leader board year to date, with Japan following. The VIX index fell 5.22 % over the month, and at the current level of 12.54 is up about 22% from the year end.

UK Sectors

Sector volatility remained high during the month, influenced by both global factors e.g. commodity prices, tariffs, as well as corporate activity. Banking stocks fell significantly while oil and gas gained 1.8%. Over the nine-month period, pharmaceuticals are outpacing the worse performing major sector, telecommunications by around 40%.

Fixed Interest

Gilt prices fell over the month and are now down 3.55% year to date in capital terms, the 10-year UK yield standing at 1.46% currently.  Other ten-year yield closed the month at US 3.06% Japan, 0.09% and Germany 0.46% respectively.  UK corporate bonds fell, ending August on a yield of approximately 2.74%. Amongst the more speculative grades, emerging market bonds continued to fall in capital terms. Floating rate bond prices outperformed gilts over the month and both of my recommended funds are showing significant capital and total return outperformance of conventional gilts year to date. I continue to strongly recommend this asset class. The monthly dip in the convertible fund may provide a buying opportunity, with a stable running yield near 5% See my recommendations in preference shares, convertibles, corporate bonds, floating rate bonds etc. A list of my top thirty income ideas (all yielding over 5%) from over 10 different asset classes is available. 

Foreign Exchange

Amongst the major currencies, a slightly weaker Yen was the monthly feature largely on political and economic developments. Sterling showed just small moves against the major currencies over the month. Currency adjusted, the FTSE World Equity Index is now outperforming the FTSE 100 by over around 9.3% since the end of 2017.

Commodities

A generally weak month for commodities with the notable exception of oil, largely on supply issues. Over the year so far, oil, wheat and uranium (renegotiation of longer-term contracts) have shown the greatest gains.

Looking Forward

Over the coming months, geo-political events and Central Bank actions/statements will be accompanied by the onset of the third quarter corporate reporting season, resulting in an abundance of stock moving events. With medium term expectation of rising bond yields, equity valuations and fund flow (both institutional and Central bank) dynamics will also be increasingly important areas of interest/concern.

US watchers will continue to speculate on the timing and number of interest rate hikes 2018/2019 and longer-term debt dynamics, as well as fleshing out the winners and losers from any tariff developments (steel, aluminium, EU, China,NAFTA)-a moving target! Third quarter figures (and accompanying statements) will be subject to even greater analysis after the buoyant first half year, and the growing list of headwinds. Additional discussions pertaining to North Korea, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and Trump’s own position could precipitate volatility in equities, commodities and currencies, especially with the November mid-term elections edging closer. In Japan market sentiment may be calmer after recent political and economic events although international events e.g exchange rates and tariff developments will affect equity direction. European investment mood will be tested by economic figures, EU Budget discussions, Italian bond spreads, Turkish and Spanish politics, and reaction to the migrant discussions. It must also be remembered that the QE bond buying is being wound down over coming months.  Hard economic data and various sentiment/residential property indicators will continue to show that UK economic growth will be slower in 2018 compared to 2017, and further down grades may appear as anecdotal third quarter trends are closely analysed. Brexit discussion has moved to a new level, discussions, and several target EU/ BREXIT dates and the Conservative Party Conference, starting today, will inevitably lead to speculation of all sorts.    The current perceptions of either a move to a “softer” European exit, or a “no deal” will undoubtedly lead to pressure from many sides.   Political tensions stay at elevated levels both within and across the major parties and considerable uncertainties still face individual companies and sectors. Industry, whether through trade organizations, international pressure e.g Japan, or directly e.g. Bae, BMW,Toyota, Honda, Ryanair is becoming increasingly impatient, and vocal, and many London based financial companies are already “voting with their feet”.

On a valuation basis, most, but not all, conventional government fixed interest products continue to appear expensive against current economic forecasts and supply factors, and renewed bond price declines and further relative underperformance versus equities should be expected in the medium term, in my view. See my recent ‘iceberg’ illustration for an estimate of bond sensitivity, particularly acute for longer maturities. Price declines are eroding any small income returns leading to negative total returns in many cases.  On the supply point there are increasing estimates of US bond issuance against a background of diminished QE and overseas buying. European bond purchases are also winding down.

Equities appear more reasonably valued, apart from some PE metrics, (especially in the US), but there are wide variations, and opportunities, in both broad asset classes. Equity investors will be looking to see if superior earnings growth can compensate for higher interest rates in several areas. Helped in no small part by tax cuts, US companies have been showing earnings growth more than 20% so far this year, although the current quarter is widely expected to be the peak comparison period, and ‘misses’ are being severely punished e.g. Facebook and Twitter.   Corporate results from US, Europe and Japan have, on aggregate, been up to expectations over the current period.

Outside pure valuation measures, sentiment indicators and the VIX index are showing significant day to day variation, after the complacency of last year. The current level of 13.54 appears rather low in the context of potential banana skins.

In terms of current recommendations,

Continue to overweight equities relative to core government bonds, especially within Continental Europe and Japan. However, an increased weighting in absolute return and other vehicles may be warranted as equity returns will become increasingly lower and more volatile and holding greater than usual cash balances may also be appropriate. Among major equity markets, the USA is one of the few areas where the ten-year bond yields more than the benchmark equity index. The equity selection should be very focussed. Certain equity valuations are rather high, especially on a PE basis (see quarterly), although not in “bubble” territory. A combination of sharper than expected interest rate increases with corporate earnings shocks would not be conducive to strong equity returns. Ongoing and fluid tariff discussions could additionally unsettle selected countries, sectors and individual stocks Harley Davidson, German car producers, American and Brazilian soy producers etc.

  • UK warrants a neutral allocation after the strong relative bounce over the quarter on the back of stronger oil price, sterling weakness and corporate activity. Ongoing Brexit debate, political stalemate and economic uncertainty could cause more sterling wobbles, which in turn could affect sector/size choices. I would expect to see more profits warnings (Countryside,Foxtons,H&M,BHS,Homebase- latest casualties) and extra due diligence in stock/fund selection is strongly advised.
  • Within UK sectors, some of the higher yielding defensive plays e.g. Pharma, telco’s and utilities have attractions relative to certain cyclicals and many financials are showing confidence by dividend hikes and buy-backs etc. Over recent months, value stocks have been staging a long overdue recovery compared to growth stocks. Oil and gas majors may be worth holding despite the outperformance to date. Remember that the larger cap names such as Royal Dutch and BP will be better placed than some of the purer exploration plays in the event of a softer oil price. Mining stocks remain a strong hold, in my view (see my recent note for favoured large cap pooled play). Corporate activity, already apparent in the engineering (GKN), property (Hammerson), pharmaceutical (Glaxo, Shire?), packaging (Smurfit), retail (Sainsbury/Asda), leisure (Whitbread),media (Sky),mining (Randgold) is likely to increase in my view, although the Government has recently been expressing concern about overseas take-overs in certain strategic areas.
  • Continental European equities continue to be preferred to those of USA, for reasons of valuation, and Central bank policy, although political developments in Italy, Spain and Turkey should be monitored closely. Improving economic data adds to my enthusiasm for selected European names, although European investors may be advised to focus more on domestic, rather than export related themes. Look at underlying exposure of your funds carefully. Remember that certain European and Japanese companies provide US exposure, without paying US prices. I have recently written on Japan, and I would continue to overweight this market, despite the large 2017 and 2018 to date outperformance. Smaller cap/ domestic focussed funds may outperform broader index averages e.g. JP Morgan Japanese Smaller Companies and Legg Mason.
  • Alternative fixed interest vehicles, which continue to perform relatively well against conventional government bonds, have attractions e.g. floating rate funds, preference shares, convertibles, for balanced, cautious accounts and energy/ emerging/speculative grade for higher risk. These remain my favoured plays within the fixed interest space. See recent note
  • UK bank preference shares still look particularly attractive and could be considered as alternatives to the ordinary shares in some cases. If anything, recent sector “news” has highlighted the attractions of the sector.
  • Alternative income, private equity and renewable funds have exhibited their defensive characteristics during recent equity market wobbles and are still recommended as part of a balanced portfolio. Many of these are already providing superior total returns to both gilts and equities so far this year. Reference could be made to the renewable funds (see my recent solar and wind power recommendations). Results from Greencoat on February 26nd and Bluefield Solar (last week) reinforce my optimism for the sector. I will be writing on Bluefield shortly. Selected infrastructure funds are also recommended for purchase after the recent Corbyn/Carillion inspired weakness (see note). The take-over of JLIF during the month highlights the value in the sector!
  • Any new commitments to the commercial property sector should be more focussed on direct equities and investment trusts than unit trusts (see my recent note comparing open ended and closed ended funds), thus exploiting the discount and double discount features respectively as well as having liquidity and trading advantages. However, in general I would not overweight the sector, as along with residential property, I expect further price stagnation especially in London offices and retail developments e.g. (Hammerson, Intu). The outlook for some specialist sub sectors e.g. health, logistics, student, multi-let etc and property outside London/South-East, however, is currently more favourable. Investors should also consider some continental European property See my recent company note.
  • I suggest a very selective approach to emerging equities and would continue to avoid bonds. Although the overall valuation for emerging market equities is relatively modest, there are large differences between individual countries. A mixture of high growth/high valuation e.g. India, Vietnam and value e.g. Russia could yield rewards and there are signs of funds moving back to South Africa on political change. Turkish assets seem likely to remain highly volatile in the short term and much of South America is either in a crisis mode g. Venezuela or entering an uncertain election process e.g. Brazil. As highlighted in the quarterly, Chinese index weightings are expected to increase quite significantly over coming years and Saudi Arabia, is just being allowed into certain indices.

Full fourth quarter report will shortly be available to clients/subscribers and suggested portfolio strategy/individual recommendations are available. Ideas for a ten stock FTSE portfolio, model pooled fund portfolios (cautious, balanced adventurous, income), 30 stock income lists, hedging ideas and a list of shorter-term low risk/ high risk ideas can also be purchased, as well as bespoke portfolio construction/restructuring. Feel free to contact    regarding any investment project.

Good luck with performance!   Ken Baksh 01/10/2018

Independent Investment Research

Ken has over 35 years of investment management experience, working for two major City institutions between 1976 and 2002.

Since then he has been engaged as a self-employed investment consultant. He has worked with investment trusts, unit trusts, pension funds, charities, Life Fund,hedge fund and private clients. Individual asset managed have included direct equities and bonds pooled vehicles currencies, derivatives and commodities.

Projects undertaken in a number of areas including asset allocation, risk control, performance measurement, marketing, individual company research, legacy portfolios and portfolio construction. He has a BSc(Mathematics/Statistics) and is a Fellow Member of the UK Society of Investment Professionals.

Phone 07747 114 691

kenbaksh@btopenworld.com

 

Disclaimer

All stock recommendations and comments are the opinion of writer.

Investors should be cautious about all stock recommendations and should consider the source of any advice on stock selection. Various factors, including personal ownership, may influence or factor into a stock analysis or opinion.

All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into individual stocks before making a purchase decision. In addition, investors are advised that past stock performance is not indicative of future price action.

You should be aware of the risks involved in stock investing, and you use the material contained herein at your own risk

The author may have historic or prospective positions in securities mentioned in the report.

The material on this website are provided for information purpose only.

Please contact Ken, (kenbaksh@btopenworld.com) for further information

Ken Baksh: August Investment Review….Stay with equities versus bonds….for the time being!

August  2018 Market Report

During the month to July 31 st, 2018, major equity markets displayed a stronger trend and the VIX index fell significantly, indicative of a preference for greater risk-taking. There continued to be an abundance of market moving news over the period whether at corporate, economic or political level.

The European Central Bank appeared to become more certain of removing QE over coming quarters but delaying any interest rate increase until 2019, while economic news was generally dull. Political events were not in short supply, and in Turkey for example, dramatically affected bond and currency markets. European leaders and policy makers are having an uncharacteristically active summer, with debates on US tariffs, immigration, Japanese trade pact and post Brexit implications just four of the more topical issues.  US market watchers continued to grapple with ongoing tariff discussions, Federal Budget, Iranian nuclear/sanctions, NAFTA friction and North Korean meeting uncertainty as well as domestic issues. Economic data and corporate results so far have generally been above expectation.  In the Far East, North and South Korea made faltering progress towards an agreement while China flexed its muscles in response to Trump’s trade and other demands and relaxed bank reserve requirement late in the month. Chinese economic growth slowed slightly while there was a little speculation that the Bank of Japan may tweak it’s QE programme.  The UK reported mixed economic data with satisfactory developments on the government borrowing side, inflation slightly lower than expected, but poor relative GDP figures and deteriorating property sentiment, both residential and commercial. The data and ongoing Brexit confusion appear to be keeping the MPC in a wait and see mode regarding interest rates, although mathematically the’ hawks’ are gaining ground. An important day for MPC policy statements tomorrow (2nd August).

Aggregate world hard economic data continues to show steady expansion, excluding the UK, as confirmed by the IMF and the OECD with some forecasts of 2018 economic growth in the 3.3% to 3.6% area, a little lower than January forecasts. Fluctuating currencies continued to play an important part in asset allocation decisions, the stronger US dollar again being the major recent feature recently, although lagging the yen year to date. Government Bond holders saw modest price falls over the month. Of note was the large jump in the Japanese Government Bond Yield. Oil was the main commodity feature during the month, falling after the long rally seen so far this year. Tariffs, whether actual or rumoured, are continuing to bear on certain metals and soft commodities, the latter also responding to extreme weather conditions. The price of wheat for example has climbed nearly 30% so far this year.

At the end of the seven-month period, “mixed investment” unit trusts show a very small positive price performance, with technology and most overseas equity regions showing above average performance, and bonds, Asia-excl Japan and Emerging markets in negative territory. Source Trustnet:01/08/2018

Equities

Global Equities rose over the month the FTSE ALL World Index gaining 3.43% in dollar terms and now showing a positive return since the beginning of the year. The UK broad and narrow market indices lagged other major markets over the month in local terms and have underperformed in both local and sterling adjusted values from the end of 2017.Asia and emerging markets were the relative underperformers and declined in absolute terms while Europe jumped quite strongly, although the DAX Index is still down in absolute returns since the beginning of 2018. In sterling adjusted terms, America has jumped to the top of the leader board year to date, largely helped by the technology component (NASDAQ up 10.9%) and a recently strengthening dollar. The VIX index while still up about 30% from the year end, dropped 13% over the month, as “risk on “trades returned.

UK Sectors

Sector volatility picked up during the month, influenced by both global factors e.g. commodity prices, tariffs, as well as corporate activity and ex-dividend adjustments. Utility stocks fell over 4%, while pharmaceuticals gained 5.8 %, largely on encouraging results and lingering corporate activity. Over the seven-month period, pharmaceuticals are outpacing the worse performing major sector, telecommunications by nearly 33%.

Fixed Interest

Gilt prices fell marginally over the month and are now down 1.64% year to date in capital terms, the 10-year UK yield standing at 1.39% currently.  Other ten-year yield closed the month at US 2.97% Japan, 0.06% and Germany 0.33% respectively.  UK corporate bonds remained broadly unchanged, ending July on a yield of approximately 2.75%. Amongst the more speculative grades, emerging market bonds fell while US high yield rose, in price terms. Floating rate and convertible bond prices showed mixed performance over the month. See my recommendations in preference shares, convertibles, corporate bonds, floating rate bonds etc. A list of my top thirty income ideas (all yielding over 5%) from over 10 different asset classes is available.

Foreign Exchange

Amongst the major currencies, a stronger dollar was the major monthly feature rising largely on relative economic news. Sterling fell versus the dollar while rising against the Yen and Euro. Currency adjusted, the FTSE World Equity Index is now outperforming the FTSE 100 by over 3% since the end of 2017.Just over two years since the BREXIT vote, the FTSE has risen by about 19% compared with the 32% gain in sterling adjusted world indices.

Commodities

A generally weak month for commodities with the notable exception of some of the softs, the latter largely reflecting weather conditions! Over the year so far, oil seems to be stabilising over $70, while gold, falling on the month and year-to date languishes at around $1223 currently.

Looking Forward

Over the coming months, geo-political events and Central Bank actions/statements will continue be key market drivers while early second quarter company results will likely add some additional volatility. With medium term expectation of rising bond yields, equity valuations and fund flow dynamics will also be increasingly important areas of interest/concern.

US watchers will continue to speculate on the timing and number of interest rate hikes 2018/2019 and longer-term debt dynamics, as well as fleshing out the winners and losers from any tariff developments (steel, aluminium, EU, China,NAFTA)-a moving target! Additional discussions pertaining to North Korea, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and Trump’s own position could precipitate volatility in equities, commodities and currencies. In Japan market sentiment is likely to be influenced by economic policy and Abe’s political rating. It will be interesting to see if there is any follow through from recent BoJ speculation regarding bond yield policy. Recent corporate governance initiatives e.g. non-executive directors, cross holdings, dividends are helping sentiment. European investment mood will be tested by economic figures (temporary slowdown or more sustained?), EU Budget discussions, Italian, Turkish and Spanish politics, and reaction to the migrant discussions.  Hard economic data and various sentiment/residential property indicators will continue to show that UK economic growth will be slower in 2018 compared to 2017, and further down grades may appear as anecdotal second quarter figures trends are closely analysed. Brexit discussion have moved to a new level, discussions on the “custom union” being currently hotly debated. The current perception of a move to a “softer” European exit will inevitably lead to pressure from many sides.   Political tensions stay at elevated levels both within and across the major parties and considerable uncertainties still face individual companies and sectors. Industry, whether through trade organizations or directly e.g. Bae, BMW, Honda, Ryanair is becoming increasingly impatient, and vocal, and many London based financial companies are already “voting with their feet”.

On a valuation basis, most, but not all, conventional government fixed interest products continue to appear expensive against current economic forecasts and supply factors, and renewed bond price declines and further relative underperformance versus equities should be expected in the medium term, in my view. See my recent ‘iceberg’ illustration for an estimate of bond sensitivity. Price declines are eroding any small income returns leading to negative total returns in many cases.  On the supply point there are increasing estimates of US bond issuance against a background of diminished QE and overseas buying. European bond purchases are expected to wind down later this year.

Equities appear more reasonably valued, apart from some PE metrics, (especially in the US), but there are wide variations, and opportunities, in both broad asset classes. Equity investors will be looking to see if superior earnings growth can compensate for higher interest rates in several areas. Helped in no small part by tax cuts, US companies have been showing earnings growth more than 20% so far this year, although the current quarter is widely expected to be the peak comparison period, and ‘misses’ are being severely punished e.g. Facebook and Twitter.   Corporate results from US, Europe and Japan have, on aggregate, been up to expectations over the current period.

Outside pure valuation measures, sentiment indicators and the VIX index are showing significant day to day variation, after the complacency of last year. The current level of 13.23 appears rather low in the context of potential banana skins.

In terms of current recommendations,

Continue to overweight equities relative to core government bonds, especially within Continental Europe and Japan. However, an increased weighting in absolute return and other vehicles may be warranted as equity returns will become increasingly lower and more volatile and holding greater than usual cash balances may also be appropriate. Among major equity markets, the USA is one of the few areas where the ten-year bond yields more than the benchmark equity index. The equity selection should be very focussed. Certain equity valuations are rather high, especially on a PE basis (see quarterly), although not in “bubble” territory. A combination of sharper than expected interest rate increases with corporate earnings shocks would not be conducive to strong equity returns. Ongoing and fluid tariff discussions could additionally unsettle selected countries, sectors and individual stocks Harley Davidson, German car producers, American and Brazilian soy producers etc.

  • UK warrants a neutral allocation after the strong relative bounce over the quarter on the back of stronger oil price, sterling weakness and corporate activity. Ongoing Brexit debate, political stalemate and economic uncertainty could cause more sterling wobbles, which in turn could affect sector/size choices. I would expect to see more profits warnings (Countryside,Foxtons,H&M- latest casualties) and extra due diligence in stock/fund selection is strongly advised.
  • Within UK sectors, some of the higher yielding defensive plays e.g. Pharma, telco’s and utilities have attractions relative to certain cyclicals and many financials are showing confidence by dividend hikes and buy-backs etc. Oil and gas majors may be worth holding despite the outperformance to date. Remember that the larger cap names such as Royal Dutch and BP will be better placed than some of the purer exploration plays in the event of a softer oil price. Mining stocks remain a strong hold, in my view (see my recent note for favoured large cap pooled play). Corporate activity, already apparent in the engineering (GKN), property (Hammerson), pharmaceutical (Glaxo, Shire?), packaging (Smurfit), retail (Sainsbury/Asda) is likely to increase in my view, although the Government has recently been expressing concern about overseas take-overs in certain strategic areas.
  • Continental European equities continue to be preferred to those of USA, for reasons of valuation, and Central bank policy, although political developments in Italy, Spain and Turkey should be monitored closely. Improving economic data adds to my enthusiasm for selected European names, although European investors may be advised to focus more on domestic, rather than export related themes. Look at underlying exposure of your funds carefully. Remember that certain European and Japanese companies provide US exposure, without paying US prices. I have recently written on Japan, and I would continue to overweight this market, despite the large 2017 outperformance. Smaller cap/ domestic focussed funds may outperform broader index averages e.g. JP Morgan Japanese Smaller Companies and Legg Mason.
  • Alternative fixed interest vehicles, which continue to perform relatively well against conventional government bonds, have attractions e.g. floating rate funds, preference shares, convertibles, for balanced, cautious accounts and energy/ emerging/speculative grade for higher risk. These remain my favoured plays within the fixed interest space. See recent note
  • UK bank preference shares still look particularly attractive and could be considered as alternatives to the ordinary shares in some cases. If anything, recent sector “news” has highlighted the attractions of the sector.
  • Alternative income, private equity and renewable funds have exhibited their defensive characteristics during recent equity market wobbles and are still recommended as part of a balanced portfolio. Many of these are already providing superior total returns to both gilts and equities so far this year. Reference could be made to the renewable funds (see my recent solar and wind power recommendations). Results from Greencoat on February 26nd and Bluefield Solar the following day reinforce my optimism for the sector. Selected infrastructure funds are also recommended for purchase after the recent Corbyn/Carillion inspired weakness (see note). The take-over of JLIF during the month highlights the value in the sector!
  • Any new commitments to the commercial property sector should be more focussed on direct equities and investment trusts than unit trusts (see my recent note comparing open ended and closed ended funds), thus exploiting the discount and double discount features respectively as well as having liquidity and trading advantages. However, in general I would not overweight the sector, as along with residential property, I expect further price stagnation especially in London offices and retail developments e.g(Hammerson,Intu). The outlook for some specialist sub sectors and property outside London/South-East, however, is currently more favourable. Investors should also consider some continental European property See my recent company note.
  • I suggest a selective approach to emerging equities and would currently avoid bonds. Although the overall valuation for emerging market equities is relatively modest, there are large differences between individual countries. A mixture of high growth/high valuation e.g. India, Vietnam and value e.g. Russia could yield rewards and there are signs of funds moving back to South Africa on political change. Turkish assets seem likely to remain highly volatile in the short term. As highlighted in the quarterly, Chinese index weightings are expected to increase quite significantly over coming years and Saudi Arabia, is just being allowed into certain indices.

Full third quarter report is available to clients/subscribers and suggested portfolio strategy/individual recommendations are available. Ideas for a ten stock FTSE portfolio, model pooled fund portfolios (cautious, balanced adventurous, income), 30 stock income lists, hedging ideas and a list of shorter term low risk/ high risk ideas can also be purchased, as well as bespoke portfolio construction/restructuring.

Good luck with performance!   Ken Baksh 01/08/2018

Independent Investment Research

Ken has over 35 years of investment management experience, working for two major City institutions between 1976 and 2002.

Since then he has been engaged as a self-employed investment consultant. He has worked with investment trusts, unit trusts, pension funds, charities, Life Fund,hedge fund and private clients. Individual asset managed have included direct equities and bonds pooled vehicles currencies, derivatives and commodities.

Projects undertaken in a number of areas including asset allocation, risk control, performance measurement, marketing, individual company research, legacy portfolios and portfolio construction. He has a BSc(Mathematics/Statistics) and is a Fellow Member of the UK Society of Investment Professionals.

Phone 07747 114 691

kenbaksh@btopenworld.com

 

Disclaimer

All stock recommendations and comments are the opinion of writer.

Investors should be cautious about all stock recommendations and should consider the source of any advice on stock selection. Various factors, including personal ownership, may influence or factor into a stock analysis or opinion.

All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into individual stocks before making a purchase decision. In addition, investors are advised that past stock performance is not indicative of future price action.

You should be aware of the risks involved in stock investing, and you use the material contained herein at your own risk

The author may have historic or prospective positions in securities mentioned in the report.

The material on this website are provided for information purpose only.

Please contact Ken, (kenbaksh@btopenworld.com) for further information

Ken Baksh: July Investment Report – Bumpy ride ahead…..Hang on to your hats!

July  2018 Market Report

During the month to June 29th, 2018, major equity markets displayed a mixed trend, dropping overall and with considerable individual market and day to day variation. There was an abundance of market moving news over the period whether at corporate, economic or political level.  The European Central Bank appeared to become more certain of removing QE over coming quarters but delaying any interest rate increase until 2019, while economic news was generally dull. Political events in Germany, Italy, Spain and Turkey influenced bond spreads and Forex markets. US market watchers continued to grapple with ongoing tariff discussions, Iranian nuclear/sanctions, NAFTA friction and North Korean meeting uncertainty as well as domestic issues. In the Far East, North and South Korea made faltering progress towards an agreement while China flexed its muscles in response to Trump’s trade and other demands and relaxed bank reserve requirement late in the month.  The UK reported mixed economic data with satisfactory developments on the government borrowing side, inflation slightly lower than expected, but poor revised GDP first quarter figures. The data and ongoing Brexit confusion had forced the MPC to keep interest rates on hold at the previous meeting although the MPC appears to be turning more hawkish.

Aggregate world hard economic data continues to show steady expansion, excluding the UK, as confirmed by the IMF and the OECD with some forecasts of 2018 economic growth in the 3.5% to 3.9% area although recent sentiment indicators indicate some current economic softness. Fluctuating currencies continued to play an important part in asset allocation decisions, the stronger US dollar again being the major feature over June 2018, although lagging the yen year to date. Bond holders saw modest gains over the month, largely for haven reasons, although the year to date development has seen UK and US 10-year yields rise, while those in Germany and Japan have fallen. Oil was the main commodity feature both before and after the June OPEC meeting.

Interestingly, at the half year stage equity indices, gilts and sterling adjusted world equities have essentially delivered a flat performance, a buoyant first quarter almost exactly cancelled out by a weak second quarter, and the FTSE Private Investor Index Series also shows zero or slightly negative returns for the six-month period (Source FT,30/06/2018). In topical football parlance “all to play for in the second half”.

Equities

Global Equities fell over the month the FTSE ALL World Index dropping 1.61% in dollar terms and now showing a loss of -2.40% since the beginning of the year. The UK broad and narrow market indices outperformed other major markets over the month in local terms, although underperformed in sterling adjusted values from the end of 2017. Emerging markets, Germany, and Asia ex-Japan were the relative underperformers and declined in absolute terms while the S&P and NASDAQ showed absolute and relative gains. In sterling adjusted terms, Japan and America remain the outperformers on year to date performance amongst the major markets while the UK and parts of Europe remain in negative territory. The VIX index while still up about 50% from the year end, seems to have stabilised, with occasional short upward spikes. At the time of writing, the absolute VIX level stands at 15.22, far from the 9-10 level that prevailed much of last year and reflecting a level of uncertainty but far from the extreme levels experienced during major market meltdowns of the past.

UK Sectors

Sector volatility was more muted during the month, influenced by both global factors e.g. sanctions, tariffs as well as corporate activity and ex-dividend adjustments. Oil and gas and utilities led the sectors over the month, the former also one of the top sectors year to date while banks, life assurance and property all suffered monthly relative declines. The general retail area continues to experience profit warning and downgrades and is understandably one of the weaker stock market sectors so far this year.

Fixed Interest

Gilt prices fell marginally over the month and are now down 0.98% year to date in capital terms, the 10-year yield standing at 1.31% currently.  Other ten-year yield closed the month at US 2.83% Japan, 0.02% and Germany 0.26% respectively.  UK corporate bonds also fell marginally in price terms over the month, ending June on a yield of approximately 2.75%. Amongst the more speculative grades, emerging markets stage a bounce in prices after several weak months. Floating rate issues continue to outperform gilts year to date in both capital and total return terms. Preference shares have recovered from the Aviva U-turn and remain attractive fixed interest alternatives. See my recommendations in preference shares, convertibles, corporate bonds, floating rate bonds etc. A list of my top thirty income ideas (all yielding over 5%) from over 10 different asset classes is available.

Foreign Exchange

Amongst the major currencies, a stronger dollar was the major monthly feature rising 1.43% in trade weighted terms, largely on relative economic news The Japanese yen and the British pound both fell, the latter being very sensitive to ongoing Brexit discussion. As mentioned above, the FX moves are becoming a growing factor in asset allocations discussions. Year to date the Japanese and American equity markets are outperforming the UK and European benchmarks in sterling terms.

 Commodities

A generally weak month for commodities with the notable exception of oil receiving a boost from the recent OPEC meeting. Gold and other precious metals fell, as did some of the softer agricultural products after previous monthly gains. At the half year stage, oil,wheat and soya are amongst the few commodities showing absolute price gains.

Looking Forward

Over the coming months, geo-political events and Central Bank actions/statements will continue be key market drivers while early second quarter company results will likely add some additional volatility. Ongoing corporate activity will however remain at a high level, following the record deal flow reported in the first half of 2018. With medium term expectation of rising bond yields, equity valuations and fund flow dynamics will also be increasingly important areas of interest/concern.

US watchers will continue to speculate on the timing and number of interest rate hikes 2018/2019 and longer-term debt dynamics, as well as fleshing out the winners and losers from any tariff developments (steel, aluminium, EU, China,NAFTA)-a moving target! Additional discussions pertaining to North Korea, Russia (July 16th), Iran, Venezuela, and Trump’s own position could precipitate volatility in equities, commodities and currencies. In Japan market sentiment is likely to be influenced by economic policy and Abe’s political rating, the recent yen weakness being a positive factor for equity investors. Recent corporate governance initiatives e.g non-executive directors, cross holdings, dividends are also helping sentiment European investment mood will be tested by economic figures (temporary slowdown or more sustained?), EU Budget discussions, Italian, Turkish and Spanish politics, and reaction to the migrant discussions.  Hard economic data and various sentiment/residential property indicators will continue to show that UK economic growth will be slower in 2018 compared to 2017, and further down grades may appear as anecdotal second quarter figures trends are closely analysed. Brexit discussion have moved to a new level, discussions on the “custom union” being currently hotly debated. The current perception of a move to a “softer” European exit will inevitably lead to pressure from many sides.   Political tensions stay at elevated levels both within and across the major parties and considerable uncertainties still face individual companies and sectors. Industry, whether through trade organizations or directly e.g. Bae, BMW, Honda,Ryanair is becoming increasingly impatient, and vocal.

On a valuation basis, most, but not all, conventional government fixed interest products continue to appear expensive against current economic forecasts and supply factors, and renewed bond price declines and further relative underperformance versus equities should be expected in the medium term, in my view. Price declines are eroding any small income returns leading to negative total returns in many cases.  On the supply point there are increasing estimates of US bond issuance against a background of diminished QE and overseas buying.

Equities appear more reasonably valued, apart from some PE metrics, (especially in the US), but there are wide variations, and opportunities, in both broad asset classes. Equity investors will be looking to see if superior earnings growth can compensate for higher interest rates in several areas.   Corporate results from US, Europe and Japan have, on aggregate, been up to expectations over the first quarter of 2018, although EY noted that the number of UK profits warning were about 10% higher than the previous year at the nine-month stage, mostly in the home improvement, motor, government supply, restaurant and other retail areas.US earnings rising at about 22% during the first quarter, will face a slowdown once the one-off factors dissipate.

Outside pure valuation measures, sentiment indicators and the VIX index are showing significant day to day variation, after the complacency of last year.

In terms of current recommendations,

Continue to overweight equities relative to core government bonds, especially within Continental Europe and Japan. However, an increased weighting in absolute return and other vehicles may be warranted as equity returns will become increasingly lower and more volatile, and holding greater than usual cash balances may be appropriate. Among major equity markets, the USA is one of the few areas where the ten-year bond yields roughly the same as the benchmark equity index. The equity selection should be very focussed. Certain equity valuations are rather high, especially on a PE basis (see quarterly). A combination of sharper than expected interest rate increases with corporate earnings shocks would not be conducive to strong equity returns. Ongoing and fluid tariff discussions could additionally unsettle selected countries, sectors and individual stocks Harley Davidson, German car producers etc.

  • UK warrants a neutral allocation after the strong relative bounce over the quarter on the back of stronger oil price, sterling weakness and corporate activity. Ongoing Brexit debate, political stalemate and economic uncertainty could cause more sterling wobbles, which in turn could affect sector/size choices. I would expect to see more profits warnings (Countryside,H&M- latest casualties) and extra due diligence in stock/fund selection is strongly advised.
  • Within UK sectors, some of the higher yielding defensive plays e.g. Pharma, telco’s and utilities have attractions relative to certain cyclicals and many financials are showing confidence by dividend hikes and buy-backs etc. Oil and gas majors may be worth holding despite the outperformance to date. Remember that the larger cap names such as Royal Dutch and BP will be better placed than some of the purer exploration plays in the event of a softer oil price. Mining stocks remain a strong hold, in my view (see my recent note for favoured large cap pooled play). Corporate activity, already apparent in the engineering (GKN), property (Hammerson), pharmaceutical (Glaxo, Shire?), packaging (Smurfit), retail (Sainsbury/Asda) is likely to increase in my view.
  • Continental European equities continue to be preferred to those of USA, for reasons of valuation, and Central bank policy, although political developments in Italy, Spain and Turkey should be monitored closely. Improving economic data adds to my enthusiasm for selected European names, although European investors may be advised to focus more on domestic, rather than export related themes. Look at underlying exposure of your funds carefully. Remember that certain European and Japanese companies provide US exposure, without paying US prices. I have recently written on Japan, and I would continue to overweight this market, despite the large 2017, and 2018 to date outperformance. Smaller cap/ domestic focussed funds may out perform broader index averages e.g. JP Morgan Japanese Smaller Companies and Legg Mason.
  • Alternative fixed interest vehicles, which continue to perform relatively well against conventional government bonds, have attractions e.g. floating rate funds, preference shares, convertibles, for balanced, cautious accounts and energy/ emerging/speculative grade for higher risk. These remain my favoured plays within the fixed interest space. See recent note
  • UK bank preference shares still look particularly attractive and could be considered as alternatives to the ordinary shares in some cases. If anything, recent sector “news” has highlighted the attractions of the sector.
  • Alternative income, private equity and renewable funds have exhibited their defensive characteristics during recent equity market wobbles and are still recommended as part of a balanced portfolio. Many of these are already providing superior total returns to both gilts and equities so far this year. Reference could be made to the renewable funds (see my recent solar and wind power recommendations). Results from Greencoat on February 26nd and Bluefield Solar the following day reinforce my optimism for the sector. Selected infrastructure funds are also recommended for purchase after the recent Corbyn / Carillion inspired weakness (see note).
  • Any new commitments to the commercial property sector should be more focussed on direct equities and investment trusts than unit trusts (see my recent note comparing open ended and closed ended funds), thus exploiting the discount and double discount features respectively as well as having liquidity and trading advantages. However, in general I would not overweight the sector, as along with residential property, I expect further price stagnation especially in London offices and retail developments. The outlook for some specialist sub sectors and property outside London/South-East, however, is currently more favourable. Investors should also consider some continental European property See my recent company note, after management update last week.
  • I suggest a selective approach to emerging equities and would currently avoid bonds. Although the overall valuation for emerging market equities is relatively modest, there are large differences between individual countries. A mixture of high growth/high valuation e.g. India, Vietnam and value e.g. Russia could yield rewards and there are signs of funds moving back to South Africa on political change. Turkish assets seem likely to remain highly volatile in the short term. As highlighted in the quarterly, Chinese index weightings are expected to increase quite significantly over coming years and Saudi Arabia, is just being allowed into certain indices.

Full third quarter report will soon be available to clients/subscribers and suggested portfolio strategy/individual recommendations are available. Ideas for a ten stock FTSE portfolio, model pooled fund portfolios (cautious, balanced adventurous, income), 30 stock income lists, hedging ideas and a list of shorter term low risk/ high risk ideas can also be purchased, as well as bespoke portfolio construction/restructuring.

Good luck with performance!   Ken Baksh 02/07/2018

Independent Investment Research

Ken has over 35 years of investment management experience, working for two major City institutions between 1976 and 2002.

Since then he has been engaged as a self-employed investment consultant. He has worked with investment trusts, unit trusts, pension funds, charities, Life Fund,hedge fund and private clients. Individual asset managed have included direct equities and bonds pooled vehicles currencies, derivatives and commodities.

Projects undertaken in a number of areas including asset allocation, risk control, performance measurement, marketing, individual company research, legacy portfolios and portfolio construction. He has a BSc(Mathematics/Statistics) and is a Fellow Member of the UK Society of Investment Professionals.

Phone 07747 114 691

kenbaksh@btopenworld.com

 

Disclaimer

All stock recommendations and comments are the opinion of writer.

Investors should be cautious about all stock recommendations and should consider the source of any advice on stock selection. Various factors, including personal ownership, may influence or factor into a stock analysis or opinion.

All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into individual stocks before making a purchase decision. In addition, investors are advised that past stock performance is not indicative of future price action.

You should be aware of the risks involved in stock investing, and you use the material contained herein at your own risk

The author may have historic or prospective positions in securities mentioned in the report.

The material on this website are provided for information purpose only.

Please contact Ken, (kenbaksh@btopenworld.com) for further information

Ian Pollard – Old Year jottings..New Year fears

The city still slumbers on and only next week will it begin to wake up to the first of the disasters which it will have to face in 2018. That will naturally be the Nightmare on High Street as our major retailers also wake up to the fact that whilst Britain was still playing at being a nation of shopkeepers, the rest of the world had been taken over by computers which are even now threatening to close down our favourite shopping malls and turn them into huge depots for the storage and distribution of goods which you can now select from the comfort of your own home, without having to suffer the indignities heaped on the public by our ancient creaking transport systems which are as useful in transporting people as the police are in attempting to investegate crime.

The much awaited Christmas and new year sales figures look like they could be fairly  horrific unless the media has yet again been trying to spread fear and trepidation as the best way it knows of increasing sales. There are even ugly rumours that the BBC is to start employing reporters to see if it can get some reasonably up to date news on to its internet pages.

The real horror story for 2018 is likely to be Brexit with the Brussels bullies heaping more insults, lies and even threats not on to our politicians but on to the British people themselves because they dared to vote in a democratically held referendum to exit Euroland by methods which were and still are completely legal. So successful has the European campaign of menace and ill will  become that we have lost our stiff upper lips and started to tremble at the thought that leaving this sad and pitiable shambles may be extremely bad for our country and forgetting that for most people we voted to leave because we were fed up with dictatorial rule from bosses in Brussels who didnt know and could not care less what a ballot box was.

Much of Europe agreed with us except for the growing list of countries which were electing extreme right wing politicians determined to take Europe back to the dark ages.of the nineteen thirties, even to the introduction of so called camps for immigrants.What is the point of insisting that   Greece with the longest borders in Europe must take responsibility for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and then screaming at this impoverished bankrupt country for spending money it did not have in providing food and shelter for these very same immigrants.  Levels of double think which make Geoge Orwell look like an amateur.

Our own politicians still hankering after the European gravy train, wobbled” and did so in a way which would have had Thatcher standing like Boadicea, routing her enemies single handed with mighty swipes of her handbag. Instead we had Teresa May and her trembling cohorts, caving in to every threat and unjustified demand emanating from Brussels. If we stay in, in the face of these odious bullies,we will deserve, everything they throw at us. Perhaps Chamberlain should be resurrected from the grave in a last desperate attempt to give us backbone and strength.

Find beachfront villas & houses for sale in Greece;   http://www.hiddengreece.net

 

Midcap Bonanza among FTSE250 stocks

After the Brexit inspired sell-off, thanks to rising earnings, the FTSE 250 index has recovered sharply to hit record highs and post gains significantly in excess of the benchmark FTSE 100. At the time of the referendum, the slide in sterling was expected to be a disaster for UK plc, especially for those companies without significant dollar earnings. Even so the weaker pound has helped boost exporters’ orders, and although a mild pullback has been seen following the UK Election Hung parliament result, the recent trend shows the pound is continuing to strengthen against the dollar and euro, This stability has enabled midcap companies as diverse as Auto Trader (AUTO), Cranswick (CWK) and Greene King (GNK) to thrive.

These conditions haven’t suited all firms though, and there are plenty still suffering a weak sterling discount. Few pundits could predict the earth shaking political events of the past year, but with Article 50 triggered, and the UK Hung Parliament result, Brexit negotiations over the next two years coupled with European political uncertainty make it hard to identify opportunities. And for many FTSE 250 companies, the risks of a possible UK consumer slowdown cannot be offset by currency gains or outperformance in other parts of the world.

Despite the uncertain backdrop, one key element of the revival among FTSE 250 companies has been strong corporate earnings and positive news flow. Across the board, profits and sales are rising, dividends are being increased, and companies are expanding despite the obvious macroeconomic and political risk. Plus as of yet, consumer spending appears untroubled by recent political events.

Looking ahead, the pound looks stable and set to continue rising against the dollar and euro, a factor that could benefit companies without significant dollar earnings. A stronger pound could also take the sting out of the recent rise in inflation, which has hiked costs for importers.

While the wider global political outlook remains uncertain, financial markets have reacted in a broadly positive manner to the Hung Parliament result. This looks likely to provide backing to the ongoing stability and potential recovery of the pound, which in turn will further support FTSE 250 companies, and for some may even result in stellar growth performances, such as that delivered by Cranswick (CWK) and Cineworld (CINE) over the past year.

Brand CEO Alan Green discussing May Brexit, Andalas Energy (ADL), Rio Tinto (RIO) & Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO) on TipTV

Brand CEO Alan Green discusses May Brexit, Andalas Energy (ADL), Rio Tinto (RIO) & Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO) with Zak Mir on TipTV

 

 

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