In the Telegraph, the Questor column takes on the big daddy of the retailing sector, Tesco, which released results yesterday roughly in line with expectations. The problem is, those expectations followed a profits warning in January. Questor likes the turnaround plan of Chief Executive Philip Clarke, which amounts to opening less big stores in the UK, while focusing on smaller, local offerings and the internet. Buy (Last IC rating: Hold, 12 Jan).
In the Times Tempus eyes Mexico-focused gold producer Fresnillo. It's a low profile stock, with only 23 per cent of the shares available on the open market. On the other hand it's a FTSE 100 firm and is raking in profits on the back of a high gold price. Changes to FTSE listing rules means at least 2 per cent more shares must be made available which may help small shareholders who fancy a bet on the price of gold: "worth a closer look" says Tempus (Last IC rating: Hold, 6 Mar).
Tempus also likes AIM listed IGas, which owns concessions in Cheshire on which it would like to start "fracking" - that is pumping huge amounts of water into the ground to release gas. Fracking can cause earthquakes which means there are serious regulatory hurdles to get through. On the other hand, if, and when fracking becomes widely accepted, IGas shares could rocket, thinks Tempus (Last IC rating: Buy, 19 Sept).
Business press headlines:
Flatpack giant Ikea has taken over from traditional John Lewis as Britain's favourite shop, an influential annual study reveals. The Swedish furniture chain has finally worked its way up to the top of the nation's affections thanks to the way it keeps its customers satisfied, said experts. And John Lewis, despite its heart-warming adverts and 'never knowingly undersold' reliability has slipped from first to third in the list from analysts Verdict Research. Sandwiched in second place, perhaps surprisingly, is affordable womens´ wear chain Bonmarche which has ridden out a rollercoaster year. The store is popular with the more 'mature' woman yet has triumphed over the likes of Topshop, Next, M&S and H&M in the satisfaction rankings, The Daily Mail reports.
David Blanchflower, who sat on the Monetary Policy Committee between 2006 and 2009, claimed Sir Mervyn "controlled the Bank with an iron fist", oversaw an organisation with shockingly "low morale" and was "unprepared for the crisis" that wrecked the world economy. "A tyrant looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects and uses extreme and cruel tactics," said Mr Blanchflower, noting that was how Sir Mervyn ran the Bank. He also intimated that the Governor had become too political, criticising his "dalliance with fiscal policy" as a "major mistake". He said the Governor was responsible for "monetary policy, not fiscal policy, and King crossed the line by endorsing the Coalition's failed austerity program," The Telegraph writes.
Sony will on Thursday get the green light for a $2.2bn takeover of EMI's music publishing division. It will seal the deal after agreeing to sell off some of the rival firm's "crown jewels" upon completion. Sony made its bid as part of a consortium that includes Michael Jackson's estate and offered to give up key parts of the EMI catalogue, which together generate €25m a year, to satisfy competition law requirements. European Union regulators feared that the enlarged group would have too much control over works by English and American artists. However, the Sony consortium agreed to offload EMI's Virgin and Famous catalogues, according to The Telegraph.
Fitch Ratings has issued the clearest warning to date that Holland faces losing its AAA rating if it fails to deliver austerity cuts or lets political conflict intrude on economic management. "The Dutch are on the edge of a negative rating action," said Chris Pryce, Fitch's expert on the Netherlands. The first move is likely to be a switch from stable to negative outlook rather than a full downgrade. "We will hold a rating committee meeting in June. They run risks if they keep letting debt rise: a cautious approach would be advisable," he told the Telegraph.
The threat of a potentially crippling strike by fuel tanker drivers grew last night after a deal aimed at settling the dispute was rejected by union leaders. About 60 Unite officials turned down the offer which was thrashed out during six days of talks between the union and representatives of six fuel distribution companies. The union, which represents more than 1,200 tanker drivers involved in the dispute, said it planned to reconvene talks with the help of conciliation service Acas. But the terms of an earlier ballot on industrial action will expire tomorrow and if there is no deal the union will have to name strike dates by then, unless employers agree to extend the deadline. Any strike, which would require seven days' notice, could hit 90 per cent of Britain's petrol station forecourts and stocks would begin to run dry within 48 hours of any action, according to Unite, according to The Scotsman.
HSBC has raised two billion renminbi - equivalent to £198m - in a landmark debt sale that boosted the City of London's hopes of becoming an offshore hub for the Chinese currency. The banking group became the first business to issue a renminbi-denominated bond outside mainland China or Hong Kong. The sale of the "Dim Sum" bonds coincided with the launch of a working group aimed at turning the City into a leading centre for offshore renminbi business. George Osborne is trying to turn London into the top Western hub for trading in the Chinese currency. Until now, Dim Sum bonds had been confined to Hong Kong, which has been turned into the principal market for offshore renminbi trading, The Times reports.
Europe could be heading into a new credit crunch as banks aggressively dump assets and cut back their lending, the International Monetary Fund has warned. Leading European Union banks may be set to shrink their balance sheets by a total of $2.6tn over the coming 18 months, the Global Financial Stability Report said. A quarter of the so-called deleveraging will come from reductions in lending, alongside sales of securities and assets as banks try to shore up their finances. The development threatens to drive Europe into a new, vicious cycle, in which business and households are starved of credit, driving down economic activity and worsening the strains in the banking system. The IMF said that credit supply in the euro area could shrink by 1.7 per cent, under its analysis, as European banks dump almost 7 per cent of their assets by the end of 2013, writes The Times.