Home » Posts tagged 'whitbread'

Tag Archives: whitbread

Ken Baksh – November Market Report – Is it safe to put a toe in?

November 2018 Market Report

During the month to October 31st, 2018, major equity markets displayed a very weak trend, falling by 8.52% overall and the VIX index rose sharply to 22.05. The month was the worst equity performance for more than six years. There continued to be an abundance of market moving news over what is traditionally a volatile 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 weaker than forecast 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 oscillated with the growing tension between the two-party Government and the ECB. Angela Merkel stood down as CDU leader late in the month, a position occupied for 18 years.  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%. Provisional third quarter GDP growth figures showed very buoyant consumer trends but weak corporate investment and foreign trade.  In the Far East, China flexed its muscles in response to Trump’s trade and other demands while relaxing some bank reserve requirements and “allowing” the currency to drift to a recent low. Recent indicators and statements would suggest a slowdown in 2018 growth to a still very respectable 6%-6.5%. 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. At the October BoJ meeting, the current easier fiscal stance was reconfirmed.  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. Although the Budget presented on October 29th, showed a slightly higher GDP forecast and a more expansionary fiscal approach, the Chancellor made frequent references to the unsettling effects of any unsatisfactory Brexit outcome.

Aggregate world hard economic data continues to show steady expansion, although forecasts of future growth have been trimmed in recent months by the leading independent international organization. Fluctuating currencies continued to play an important part in asset allocation decisions, the stronger Yen being the major recent feature recently, largely for haven reasons. Emerging market currencies have had a particularly volatile period, showing some relative recovery over October from very weak levels. Government Bond holders saw mixed moves over the month-some more inspired by equity market turmoil rather than changed fundamentals.

At the end of the ten -month period, “mixed investment” unit trusts all showed negative performance, and only a small number of asset class sub sectors are showing a positive return. Source: Morningstar

Equities

Global Equities displayed a strong downwards trend over the month of October the FTSE ALL World Index falling 8.52% in dollar terms and now showing a negative return of 6.55% return since the beginning of the year. The UK broad and narrow market indices fell by 5.09% and 5.42%  respectively over the month and have both underperformed world equities in  sterling adjusted values from the end of 2017 by about 6%. The NASDAQ index, driven by technology companies, saw some of the steepest declines with many bell weather stocks showing significant falls. In sterling adjusted terms, America and Japan are the only two major markets now showing positive returns year to date The VIX index rose 75.84 % over the month, and at the current level of 22.05 is up about 115% 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 and a general risk aversion mood. Industrial stocks fell significantly while utilities and banks registered positive returns. Over the ten-month period, pharmaceuticals are outpacing the worse performing major sector, telecommunications by around 45%.

Fixed Interest

Gilt prices rose marginally over the month largely on haven buying but are still down 2.67% year to date in capital terms, the 10-year UK yield standing at 1.26% currently.  Other ten-year yields closed the month at US 3.1%, Japan 0.13%, and Germany 0.3% respectively.  UK corporate bonds rose 1% in price terms ending October on a yield of approximately 2.71%. Amongst the more speculative grades by contrast, yields rose, although US lower grade bonds are still one of the few sub-categories showing year to date price gains. Floating rate bond prices underperformed gilts over the month but are still showing positive year to date total returns. I continue to strongly recommend this asset class. 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 Yen was the monthly feature largely on safe haven buying as global equities tumbled. Currency adjusted, the FTSE World Equity Index is now outperforming the FTSE 100 by around 6% since the end of 2017 and about 20% since the June 2016 BREXIT vote.

Commodities

A generally weak month for commodities with the notable exception of gold, related precious metals, iron ore and sugar 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 continuation 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, and it is expected that any “disappointments”, economic or corporate, will be severely punished.

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 -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 Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Russia, Iran,Brazil, Venezuela, and Trump’s own position could precipitate volatility in equities, commodities and currencies, especially with the November mid-term elections just days away. 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. The recent China/Japan summit may signal closer co-operation in the area. European investment mood will be tested by economic figures, EU Budget discussions, Italian bond spreads, German, 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 any economic upgrade over current quarters appear extremely unlikely.  Whichever Brexit outcome is agreed, it is highly likely that near term quarterly figures will be distorted.  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 organisations, international pressure e.g Japan, or directly e.g. Bae, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, 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. Apart from debt implications, corporate earnings growth and discounting purposes, remember that higher bond yields also are starting to play into the alternative asset argument. In the US for example the ten-year bond yield at 3.1%, is over 100 basis points higher than that on equities.

Equities appear more reasonably valued after recent price falls, but there are wide variations. 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. Caterpillar,3M Facebook, General Electric,Kellogs, and Twitter. Accompanying corporate outlook statements are being carefully scrutinised.

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 22.05 reflects the uncertain market mood, as does the relatively high put/call ratio.

In terms of current recommendations,

Depending on benchmark, and risk attitude, first considerations should be appropriate cash/hedging stance and the degree of asset diversification.

An increased weighting in absolute return, alternative income 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, including some outside sterling. 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 but is starting to look good value on certain metrics. 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,WPP,Computacentre- 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. European investors may be advised to focus more on domestic, rather than export related themes. Look at underlying exposure of your funds carefully and 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,in total return terms, 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 the October market wobble and are still strongly recommended as part of a balanced portfolio. Most of these are already providing superior total returns to both gilts and equities so far this year, and indeed some produced positive returns during October. Reference could be made to the renewable funds (see my recent solar and wind power recommendations). Recent results from Green coat and Bluefield Solar 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 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 embarking on new political era e.g. Mexico and 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

Ian Pollard – Whitbread #WTB, a solidly good year!

Whitbread plc WTB can not quite make its mind up as to whether its full year results are good or solid, so to be on the safe side, it claims they are both.On an underlying basis revenue rose by 2.6% and profit before tax by 2.5% which is hardly impressive. On a statutory basis, operating profit and profit before tax rose by 0.1% and 0.2% respectively, which appears to be neither good nor solid. Even solidly good  seems to be a bit of an exaggeration.

The man event of the year was was the sale of Costs to Coca Cola for £3.9bn.  A significant majority of the net cash proceeds will be returned to shareholders but not just yet because regulatory approval  is still required from the EU and perhaps more importantly China. Trump had perhaps best tread carefully on the sanctions front if he wants Coca Cola to get its approval. The one figure which does stand out among these somewhat mundane results is that the shareholders are to be well looked after with a dividend rise of 4%.

Bunzl plc BNZL Third quarter Group revenue rose by 7% at constant exchange rates due to a mixture of organic growth of approximately 4% and an impact from net acquisitions, of approximately 3%. This is as expected at the time of the half year results.Since then Bunzl recently has entered into an agreement to acquire Volk do Brasil  which .will expand its already well established safety business in Brazil

Plus500 Ltd PLUS expects trading for 2018 will now be ahead of expectations. Despite a third quarter drop in revenue of 14%, the nine month figures show a healthy rise in revenue of 86% whilst the number of new customers has risen by 19% and the number of active customers by 74%.

Intu Properties plc INTU has continued to deliver a strong and resilient operational performance from 1st July to the 23rd October but it has not been able to ignore the fact this has been a particularly challenging period for UK retailers. Rent reviews settled in the period have on average been 5 per cent above previous reviews but significantly anticipated growth for 2018 is expected to be no more than 0 to 1% as tenant failures impacted the figures by some 1.5 %.and footfall for the year fell by 1.3%. The occupancy rate however rose to 97%

 Forget Brexit; Get A Greek Residence Permit Valid For The EU  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

Ian Pollard – Whitbread Delves Deep Into The Excuses Drawer – Even For Costa

Whitbread WTB is forced to delve deep into the excuses and jargon drawer to try and explain away its weak UK performance during quarter 3. It concentrates on total sales growth figures which look quite reasonable until one looks at how it fared on a like for like basis.Thus group sales growth came in at 5.6% with the UK performance lagging far behind with a like for like rise at a miserable 0.3%, market conditions being blamed, for continuing to get tougher. Hotels were flat and worst of all at Costa they actually fell by 0.1%. Here blame is allocated to “weak retail market footfall negatively impacting high street stores.” The role of management in all this does not even get a mention. Gone are the days, it would seem when management accepted responsibility for a company’s affairs, provided they have gone well.

Associated British Foods plc ABF For the 16 weeks to the 6th January all businesses delivered revenue sales growth of 4% on a continuing basis although at actual exchange rates this dropped to 3%. Primark sales grew by 7% at constant currency rates, as selling space was increased and Christmas week broke previous records. In grocery, progress has been made in reducing the loss and in sugar the UK crop will be significantly larger but prices will be lower. No views are expressed about the future in 2018.

Halfords HFD expects retail sales for 2018 wil be subdued as the retail environment continues to be difficult but for the 15 weeks to 12th January it enjoyed good trading especially over what it calls “peak including Xmas”. Third quarter sales revenue rose by 2.7% compared to 1.9% for the 41 weeks of the year to  date. Car maitenance led the way with with rises of 2.1% whilst he quarter 3 laggard was travel solutions with a drop of 4.1% as against a rise of 4.2% for the year so far. Cycling took a clear lead with a rise of 7.8% for the quarter compared to 3.9% for the year.

Royal Mail RMG delivered a good performance over Xmas and over the 9 months to the 24th December parcel volumes rose by 6% producing a reveue increase of 4%. Addressed letter volume fell by only 5% which was better than expected and overall group revenue was up by 2%.

Eddie Stobart ESL Revenue for the year to 30th November rose by 12% with E commerce sales more than doubling to £103m. Operating margins were strong and improved across all sectors and for the current year growth is ahead of the prior year, again, across all sectors

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

Pipelines Are In Growth Channels & Lapped Prior Year Pipeline Fill

Whitbread plc WBT places such emphasis on its various pipelines new and old that one has to wonder which business it is in, hotels or oil and gas. Verbiage in its interim report has not however stopped it from having a good first half. On a statutory basis, profit before tax for the six months to the 31st August rose by 19.9% and basic earnings per share by 23.6%Revenue growth was strong at 7.4% and Premier Inn and Costa are both gaining market share. In the UK over 2,000 new rooms have been 0pened and Direct bookings now account for 95% of the total which is not good news for the likes of booking.com.

As for those pipelines, in Germany it has accelerated new hotel pipelines and achieved nine secured pipeline hotels as well as strengthening a new Costa Store pipeline. The focus is on growth channels which are of course much better than straightforward ordinary growth without the channels.

Bunzl plc BNZL Since the 30th June revenue at constant exchange rates has grown by 11% and underlying growth has improved by between 5 and 6%. Growth through acquisition has also continued as an important part of the company’s strategy and for which it has an active pipeline.

GB Group GBG traded strongly in the half year to the 30th September with revenue rising by 40%, equal to 17% on n organic basis. An adjusted operating profit of £10m. is expected, which will be an increase of over 90% on last year.

Shoe Zone plc SHOE Despite the continuation of foreign exchange impacts continuing into the second half, full year profit before tax should be broadly in line with expectations. Revenue in the second half fell slightly due to the planned closure of loss making stores. The Big Box format as proved successful with six opened during the year and a further 10 planned.

Distil plc DIS Lapped prior year pipeline fill, with strong year on year growth in the six months to 30th September., which saw volume rise by 41.3% and  gross profit by 22.1%.Operating losses  fell by 68.1% to £22,000.

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

Fast start to the year for Whitbread

by Ian Pollard

Whitbread WTB – Management reports a good start to the year, with first quarter sales growth of 7.6%, in line with expectations. Premier Inn continued to win overall market share with strong sales growth of 9.2%, benefitting from a resilient hotel market and the contribution from the c.9,000 rooms opened over the last two years. Costa sales grew 8.7% with UK equity like for like growth of 1.1% and a good performance in the expanding travel and drive thru channels. Whitbread has a clear plan to deliver growth and remain on track to open c.4,200 hotel rooms, 230-250 Costa coffee shops and install c.1,250 Costa Express machines this year.

Hornby HRN – A dismal performance from a management team that needs to turn this company around, although CEO Steve Cooke claims “solid evidence of our delivery in phase one of our Turnaround Plan.” FY revenue of £47.4m (2016: £55.8m), loss before tax of £9.5m (2016: £13.5m loss). At least net cash at 31 March 2017: stood at £1.5m (2016: £7.2m net debt). Hornby claims the current financial year has started positively and it is are well placed to achieve the Board’s expectations for the year.

Wynnstay Group WYN – Interim results benefited from greater demand for agricultural inputs over the winter period but were affected by continued subdued trading at pet products business, Just for Pets. Revenue of £205.32m (2016: £193.24m) and adjusted profit before tax, before goodwill & investment impairment charges of £4.07m (2016: £4.08m). The interim dividend of 4.20p is an increase of 5%.

Lekoil Limited LEK – Reports continuous commercial production and cash flow generation at Otakikpo. The company says the 15m Shell offtake facility secured on Otakikpo production provides liquidity to complete Phase 1 development and ramp up production to 10,000 bopd by year end. The Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources of Nigeria, granted consent to complete the transfer of the original 17.14% participating interest that LEKOIL acquired in OPL 310 in February 2013.

Berkeley Group Holdings BKG – FY profit before tax shot up an impressive 53% to £812.4m, with net asset value per share up 18.4% to £15.56. Management claimed it had delivered another strong performance in a fast-changing environment.

Luxury villas & houses for sale in Greece  – visit;   http://www.hiddengreece.net

Whitbread Raises Dividend by 6%

Image result for whitbread logoWhitbread plc WTB is increasing its full year dividend by 6% after another year of strong sales and growth. Revenue for the year to 2nd March rose by 8.2% and underlying profit before tax by 6.2%. On a like for like basis revenue at Premier Inns increased by 2.3% after achieving an occupancy rate of over 80%. 3816 rooms were added during the year. Costa  grew by 2% on a like for like basis and opened 255 net new stores worldwide. However a tougher consumer environment is foreseen for 2017, although Premier Inns has made a good start to the new financial year and Costa has continued to see like for like sales growth.

Image result for minds and machines logoMinds & Machines Group MMX saw an increase of 159% in gross profit for the year to the end of December, after growth of 100% in billings and 146% in revenue. Operating costs fell by 46%. EBITDA was transformed from a loss of $4.4m in 2015 to a positive $3m. There is still significant scope for revenue and billing improvements and the size of the Board was reduced from seven to four.

Image result for elementis logoElementis ELM enjoyed strong demand in most markets, exceeding that of the first quarter of 2016. Growth in Personal Care and in Energy was notably stronger than last year. for the remainder of the current year all 3 sectors are expected to produce growth in operating profits.

Image result for telit communications logoTelit Communications TCM has traded in line since the beginning of the year and is on course to meet expectations for double digit revenue growth for the full year.

Image result for imaginatik logoImaginatik plc IMTK claims good underlying progress for the year to the end of March, with flat revenues and bookings down some 25% from £4.7m to £3.6m. The strong dollar resulted in a foreign exchange loss of £0.23m and net of that. the adjusted loss after after tax will be basically in line with expectations at £0.55m. New business opportunities for 2017 are said to be strong.

Image result for eu supply logoEU Supply plc EUSP reduced its loss before interest and tax by 42% for the year to 31st December and actually moved into profit in the final quarter. New contrcts entered into in 2016 helped to establish a profitable platform for growth and generated a strong order book for the start of 2017

Luxury Villas & Houses For Sale In Greece; http://www.hiddengreece.net

Major Companies Blame Challenging Conditions Again

Rank Group RNK met challenging trading conditions in the 6 months to 31st December but is still raising its interim dividend by 11% after a fall of 17% in profit before tax and 14% in basic earnings per share. Like for like group revenue for the half year rose by 2%. Nothing like raising  a dividend when the going gets tough.

Diageo DGE  is raising its interim dividend by 5% after a stronger performance produced a rise of 14.5% in reported net sales and 28% in operating profit for the 6 months to the end of December. On a like for like basis, operating profit grew by 4.4% and basic earnings per share were up by 20% at 60.3p.

SKY plc SKY produced a strong first half performance with operating profit falling only 10% to £679m, after absorbing £314m of additional Premier League costs. Revenue rose by 12% and earnings per share fell by 5%. strongest growth came in Germany & Italy with rises of 10% and 9% at constant currency rates and the UK lagging behind with only 5%

Unilever ULVR saw core turnover fall by 1% in 2016, which ended with tough market conditions.Core earnings per share fell by 7% or 3% at current exchange rates. Sales rose by 4.3% at constant exchange rates. emerging markets  performed much better with underlying growth of 6.5%. A slow start is expected to 2017 with tough market conditions expected to continue into the first half. Europe has been particularly challenging with subdued volume growth   and price deflation in many countries.

Whitbread plc WTB produced third quarter total sales growth of 8.6% but this masked a patchy like for like position. Restaurants fell by 1.5% on a like for like basis but Costa rose by 4.3% and the total came in at 1.7%

Villas & houses for sale in Greece  – visit;   http://www.hiddengr.net

Braemar Shipping Fights Back

Braemar Shipping BMS Half year figures to 31st august illustrate the savage decline which has hit the worldwide shipping market. A fall in revenue from £79.6m to £70.2m resulted in earnings per share falling from 13.3p to 0.4p and operating profit declining from £5.3m to £0.3m. Braemar however gives the definite impression that it is fighting back successfully against  the challenges which it faces. Shipbroking has produced a resilient performance in volatile conditions. The Technical division has suffered most but is being realigned to current market conditions and the group claims it is well placed to take advantage of any upturn. The interim dividend is unchanged.

GKN plc GKN The collapse in sterling gave GKN a massive bonus in the 9 months to the end of September with a 21% increase in sales. The currency benefit amounted to £ 474m or some 6% of the rise and three times the miserable 2% which came from from organic growth

Whitbread International WTB claims a good set of results with strong growth for the six months to the 1st September and is raising its interim dividend by 4.9%. Powered by Premier Inns and Costa total revenue grew by 8.1% as both divisions increased market share. Premier Inns revenue rose by 8.9% or 2.4% on a like for like basis whilst total sales at Costa were up by `10.7% or 2.3% on a like for like basis

Pendragon PDG Third quarter sales to 30th September have risen by 5.7% and like for like  profit is up  by 6.3%. Priority is being given to used car sales, which have been particularly strong with revenue growth of 8.3%.  The company has not noticed any change in customer attitudes which can be attributed to the referendum.

On The Beach Group OTB Despite terrorist attacks and the slump in the pound OTB  delivered a year of highly profitable growth and traded well during the 12 months to the end of September. UK revenue grew by 12% which was less than expected but underlying profit before tax will be marginally ahead of the top end of market expectations. Since the last update in July demand for beach holidays has remained resilient.

 Beachfront Property For Sale In The Greek Islands – visit;   http://www.hiddengreece.net

Whitbread Worries – Costa Goes Ex Growth

WHITBREAD WTB claims good all round growth for the 53 weeks to the 3rd March and is raising its final dividend by 10% but somehow the excitement and the buzz at Premier Inns and Costa seems to have disappeared. Underlying profit  growth at Costa slumped to15.8% from 28% for the first half. On a like for like basis Costa sales rose by only 2.9% compared to 4.4% at half time and 3% for the group as a whole, figures which show that Costa is no longer the great engine of growth as in previous years and has clearly fallen or been knocked off its perch.

Basic earnings per share for the group rose by 5.3% and profit by 5.8%.  Net debt nearly doubled  to £909 million compared to the previous years £583m.

BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO BATS saw momentum continuing and market share rising during the 3 months to the end of March. Revenue rose by 7.5% and cigarette volume by 3.6% or 2.4% on a like for like basis. The trading environment was challenging because of the impact of adverse exchange rates.  A bit strange that from a company which trades all over the world.

BP plc. BP. expects robust demand plus weak supply growth will lead oil markets to be more in balance by the end of the year i.e. the market will continue to be manipulated by the producers to keep the price over $40 per barrel.First quarter underlying replacement cost profit came in at $532m compared to $2.6 billion for the first quarter of 2015. Cost reductions have saved BP $4.4billion over the past two years.

Trakm8 Holdings TRAK announces a proposed maiden dividend of 2p for the year to the end of March after strong trading saw revenue up by 44% or 28% on a like for like basis. Orders rose by 29% and net debt fell to just under £1 million. The shares have opened 25p up following the good news.

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

I would like to receive Brand Communications updates and news...
Free Stock Updates & News
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 3.000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, find free traffic, and monetize your website.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.