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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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TrakM8: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

My attention this morning was drawn by an RNS from TrakM8, a company I used to own shares in but, thankfully have not since 2017. TrakM8 has proved a pretty awful investment for its shareholders, with its share price declining by some 70% in the last year alone and by more than 90% since its peak in late 2015. This is on the back of disappointing revenue growth, declining profits and weak cashflow, ultimately necessitating placings at 65p in 2017 and at ...

Abcam Interims, Brexit Amusement and Superdry

Abcam (ABC) published their Interim Results this morning (4/3/2019). The share price promptly dropped 20% although it has recovered half of that at the time of writing. What was the reason for the price drop? A major profit warning, totally unexpected results or other issues? None that I could see. Before giving you my analysis, you may care to read what I said about the company after attending their last AGM – see https://www.sharesoc.org/blog/company-news/persimmon-departure-abcam-agm-and-over-boarding/ . I expressed concerns about the cost and ...

More Words of Wisdom from Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett has published his latest annual letter for investors in Berkshire Hathaway (see http://berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2018ltr.pdf). These letters are always worth reading for their insight into how a successful stock market investor thinks. I’ll pick out a few highlights: Berkshire’s per share book value only rose by 0.4% in 2018 but he assigns that to the need to write down $20.6 billion on his investment holdings in unlisted companies due to new GAAP accounting rules using “mark-to-market” principles. He is not happy about ...

Quindell (Watchstone), SFO Inaction and Tungsten Corporation

The Daily Telegraph this morning (25/2/2019) disclosed that law firm Harcus Sinclair is preparing a legal case for investors who lost money in Quindell (now renamed Watchstone). Quindell was once the largest AIM company – valued at £2.6 billion. But its accounts were extremely dubious and many investors think they were downright fraudulent. The company is still being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) but only two days ago it was announced that the SFO was dropping investigations into Rolls-Royce ...

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 ...

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