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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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M&G Property Fund Closed and M&C Saatchi Accounting Problems

The really bad news yesterday for many investors was that the £2.5 billion M&G Property Portfolio Fund had been closed to redemptions. This is of course an open-ended fund where sales of units by investors causes the manager to sell some investments to realise cash to meet those redemptions. The fund holds a number of large retail shopping centres in the portfolio which must be particularly difficult to sell at the present time. The fund has seen withdrawals of over £1 ...

Ted Baker Audit Failure, SRT Marine Big Deals

The bad news this morning for holders of retailer Ted Baker (TED) is that the company has announced an independent review of its inventory. It says it has identified that the value of inventory held on its balance sheet has been overstated. It estimates that the figure is up to £25 million and that it relates to prior years. This looks like yet another audit failure (the auditors are KPMG). The share price is down 10% today at the time of writing ...

De La Rue, Excessive Debt, Victoria and Link’s Debt Monitor

Link Asset Services have issued a note pointing out that De La Rue (DLAR) has net debt that now exceeds its market cap. The high debt in the company and recent falling revenue no doubt accounts for much of the recent fall in the share price, although the report of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) cannot have helped. But if you read the last interim report which was issued a couple of days ago, there are lots of ...

The Political Manifestos and their Impacts on Investors

Here are some comments on the manifestos of the major political parties, now that they are all available. I focus on how they might affect investors. Most readers will have already realised that political manifestos are about bribes to the electorate, or to put it more politely, attempts to meet their concerns and aspirations; however in this particular election, spending commitments certainly seem to be some of the most aggressive ever seen. Labour Party: The Labour manifesto includes extensive renationalisation of water/energy utility ...

Retail Shareholder Participation in Voting – US study

Cliff Weight, ShareSoc Director reviews Retail Shareholder Participation in the Proxy Process: Monitoring, Engagement, and Voting: Working Paper N° 637/2019 November 2019: By Alon Brav, Matthew D. Cain, Jonathon Zytnick This is a US study on US retail shareholders. Those with a statistical bent and a love of algebra will find the study fascinating and enjoyable. Others may find it less so! However, it does have important conclusions, which I summarise below. I think we can extrapolate that these conclusions probably also apply to ...

General Meeting Requisition at Allied Minds

Crystal Amber Fund (CRS) have requisitioned a General Meeting at Allied Minds (ALM). Allied Minds is an investment company that invests in technology and life science businesses such as university spin-outs focused on the USA. Crystal Amber aim to remove most of the board of Allied Minds and appoint two new directors. They claim the board has not acted in the best interests of shareholders with excessive HQ costs, insufficient excess cash distribution to shareholders and failure to deal with the excessive ...

PE Will Eat Itself

How private equity has devoured public markets and is now devouring itself One of the key causes of the Woodford implosion was the number of illiquid, unquoted holdings in his portfolio. The lack of a liquid market means that both valuing and transferring such holdings isn’t straightforward. Why then, should anyone invest in a fund that invests in private companies? Earlier this month, Scottish Mortgage Trust (SMT), one of the largest UK investment trusts, issued its half yearly report. Given the recent tribulations ...

Fevertree Fall, Trading Times and More on HBOS/Lloyds

Last week when I spoke at the Mello event I talked about my investment winners over the past few years. One of them was Fevertree (FEVR) but I was asked why I no longer held the shares. I gave a brief explanation at the time but there is good exposition of the issues by Phil Oakley in this week’s Investors Chronicle. Fevertree’s share price peaked at 3200p in May 2019 but it’s now about 1900p. It has declined so much in the ...

Blancco Campaign Update #3

Campaign members will be aware that Blancco has published its Report and Accounts for year ending June 2019. They show an improved performance and positive cash flow. As ever, the accounts are complex, with significant adjustments. The bottom line is only positive owing to “post tax profit from discontinued operations”. Goodwill and other intangible assets exceed the book value of shareholders’ equity. Having said that, the new CEO and new CFO seem to have got a grip and boosted revenues. Post ...

Lloyds Shareholders Lose Case

After many months of deliberation, a judge in the High Court has rejected the claims by former Lloyds TSB shareholders over the takeover of HBOS and recapitalisation of the company by the Government. That resulted in major capital losses to Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) shareholders and suspension of the dividends which many private shareholders relied on for income. For those not familiar with the case, this stems from the events in 2008/9 when all banks came under severe financial pressure. HBOS was ...
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