Latest Posts

Two Tribes.. and two charts..

“When two tribes go to war A point is all you can score” (Frankie Goes To Hollywood, proving my age) Milliband and Cameron debate at 9pm tonight on Sky, two very different tribes hoping to score important political points. At PMQs yesterday Cameron ruled out an increase to VAT.  This is interesting because of what was buried in the […]

Its the politics, stupid…

This was quite clearly a very political budget.  In the first 30mins only one small policy was announced, to allow farmers to smooth their income to mitigate tax.  The first half of the speech was all about Osborne’s economic legacy.  What he has achieved so far and therefore why he should continue with the job. This was a re-election pitch first and a […]

Putting the budget into context – Economic thoughts

The OBR is expected to increase its GDP forecasts today from 2.4% to 2.7% for 2015 and from 2.2% to 2.5% for 2016 according to the Times.  The OBR is slightly playing catch up as consensus forecasts for UK GDP according to all economists polled by Bloomberg is 2.6% for 2015 and 2.4% for 2016. Better growth is due to […]


£16.8bn of revenue and underlying pre tax profit of only £345mn – a profit margin of just 2%.  But Morrison’s wrote down £1.273bn of property assets to leave a headline loss of £792mn. Sainsbury’s wrote off £628mn off its property assets in November with its results.  When Tesco has its results on 22nd April, I imagine it will […]

Supermarket Sweep

This Thursday Morrison’s releases full year results.  Pre tax profits are expected to halve to between £335mn and £365mn from £785mn and the dividend is expected to be cut at least 40%.  Waitrose also reports results on Thursday. Sainsbury’s releases its 4q trading statement next week on 17th March.  The next update from Tesco is not until 22nd April.  This […]

Its the final countwon – one month to go before the pension changes

In my German O-level I forget the word for street lamp but remembered it was similar to English. I had a go with “lampa posta” – aka lamp post. It is actually “strassen laterne”, street lantern. The examiner did her best not to laugh. For the majority of the population the language of finance is […]

ECB QE – The Big Day

It is the day we have waited years for.  QE has finished in both the UK and US and yet the ECB is only now starting.    Decisions by committee are always slow.  But even so the ECB is extraordinarily leisurely.  Draghi’s Whatever it Takes speech was two and a half years ago! In an example […]

Spectator Column: why a financial advisor is like a personal trainer…

Not to come over all Jeremy Clarkson, but speeding fines irritate me. There are plenty of other dangerous drivers who get away with lethal behaviour. But speeding is easy to measure, dangerous driving less so. What’s this got to do with investment? Well, it illustrates a problem with financial advisers because, like the police, I […]

Eurostar sold at a high price. Investors searching for yield in a ZIRP world.

The consortium who bought the Eurostar stake from the government paid a full price: 3.8X 2013 sales, 14X 2013 EBITDA and 26X 2013 net profit.  The government sold well, not least because the new owners are minority shareholders to the French government.  SNCF has “control over the board of directors”.  However there are “minority protection rights” for […]

Banking on Recovery..

The recovery in the British banking industry is almost complete and now finally the industry can do what it is supposed to do – support economic growth by lending. Barclays reported pre tax profits up 12% to £5.5bn this morning. Including costs for PPI and interest rate hedging of £1.1bn, a £1.25bn provision for Forex manipulation and other exceptionals, the statutory pre […]