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ShareSoc Blog

This blog gives you the latest topical news plus some informal comments on them from ShareSoc’s directors and other contributors. These are the personal comments of the authors and not necessarily the considered views of ShareSoc. The writers may hold shares in the companies mentioned. You can add your own comments on the blog posts, but note that ShareSoc reserves the right to remove or edit comments where they are inappropriate or defamatory.

There is more news given in the News page of our web site and more analysis of news is provided in our monthly newsletter for members – see the Newsletters page.

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Gooch & Housego and Sectors to Avoid

Today Gooch & Housego (GHH), a photonic components manufacturer, held its Annual General Meeting in Ilminster, Somerset. I would have attended as a shareholder except the time of 11.00 am would have meant a very early start. As it was, the trading update issued in the morning prompted me to sell my holding anyway. The key negative in the announcement was this: “Looking forward, we believe timing and mix will result in a FY 2019 group trading performance showing low single digit ...

Auditor appointments: ShareSoc+UKSA write to Minister Greg Clark

Today 18 Feb 2019, ShareSoc & UKSA have written to The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We made three key points: Appointment of auditors by a third party with the relevant skills and expertise would, once and for all, break the current link of excessive dependency between auditors and those they audit. If, on a trial basis, the Regulator started by managing the appointment of auditors for FTSE 100 companies this would ...

FCA Sector Views- ShareSoc+UKSA response

The Financial Conduct Authority’s Sector Views publication provides its annual analysis of the changing financial landscape, the resulting impacts on consumers and market effectiveness. This analysis will feed into the FCA Business Plan 2019/20. Although the Sector Views are not a consultation, the FCA are interested in the views of stakeholders on its findings. ShareSoc & UKSA made a joint submission. The main points we made were: We are appalled that Sector Views fails to give sufficient weight to the damning criticisms of ...

Shareholder Rights and Nominee accounts – Update and letter to BEIS

Our relationships with key opinion formers continue to grow. Peter Parry, Mike Dennis, Mark Bentley and I had a very useful meeting with BEIS on 8 Jan and at their request I have written explaining why the Minister should now act on the nominee account issue. A copy of my letter of 18 Feb is below. (The reason for the long delay in writing this letter was due to illness. It was delayed due my trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, and then ...

Plus500: Buybacks, Fat Cat Pay and Profits Warning

Superstar share Plus500 has plummeted back to Earth. This super stock rose from a price of £3.14 5 years ago (14 Feb 2014) to a high of £20.76 and following a profits warning has dropped to £10.88 today 13 Feb 2019. Tom Winnifrith has commented on this company and the dangers of investing in companies where 80% of their customers lose money. I agree with him, this cannot be a recipe for long term success. But are the directors stupid or have they ...

£400 Million Legal Claim to be Launched Against Petrofac

Keystone Law have announced that they are about to launch a legal claim against Petrofac (PFC). This is what the announcement says: “Keystone Law is getting ready to launch a claim on behalf of institutional investors who have suffered significant losses on their Petrofac investments since at least 2010. The team, led by senior litigators George Lambrou, Matthew Reach and Robert Lawrie, has joined forces with litigation funder, Innsworth, to mount legal action against the oil services company. The claim is ...

Unhelpful Computershare provide RBS register in ugly pdf format

I am writing this blog to castigate Computershare for their unhelpful service and suggest that registrars should be required to respond to valid register requests with a more usable response. I recently requested a copy of the RBS register of shareholders. I wanted this so we could write to RBS shareholders about the upcoming resolution for a shareholder committee at the 2019 RBS AGM. Despite repeated requests, Computershare refused to provide the register in a user friendly format. I know that the Computershare system is capable of ...

Response to FRC Post Implementation Review of 2016 Ethical and Auditing Standards

UKSA and ShareSoc made a a joint response to the FRC Post Implementation Review of 2016 Ethical and Auditing Standards The main points we made were: We welcome the FRC’s decision to hold a post-implementation review of the 2016 Ethical and Auditing standards. The audit profession and audits are in a state of crisis. The recent cases of Carillion, Conviviality, Patisserie Holdings, Flybe and Interserve make investors very worried as to whether they can trust accounts. It is not just the high ...

Stewardship Should Reflect Views of Beneficial Owners

We, ShareSoc, think that individual investors have been disenfranchised by the nominee system and by the difficulties in getting timely copies of Annual Reports, AGM notices and voting forms. It is estimated only 6% of individual investors shares get voted, which is a disgrace. What is needed is a neat, easy to use system that makes it ultra quick and easy to vote your shares. Individuals who invest in funds have little or no control over how the shares in their funds ...

RBS General Meeting Report

98.7% of shareholders voted for the proposal, with 1.3% against. A very strong majority. UKGI did not vote their shares. I watched the General Meeting on the webcast. Attendance looked pretty thin. Three people asked questions. Neil Mitchell questioned the prudence of using company funds to buy back shares when there was £15bn of GR legacy issues claims outstanding. He also questioned why there had to be so much haste (why not wait until the AGM and after the annual results were ...

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