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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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Market Bouncing Up or Down – Sophos, Greggs, Apple and Fundsmith

After a dire market performance before Xmas, we seem to be back to the good times in the last 3 days. Is it time to get back into the market for those who moved into cash as the market fell down and down and down in the autumn? Rather early to generalise I suggest although I have been picking up some shares recently. One which I purchased a small holding in was Softcat (SCT). Yesterday it issued a trading update simply saying ...

The Signs Were There – Corporate Disasters and How to Avoid Them

This is a review of the recently published book entitled “The Signs Were There” by Tim Steer. It’s worth reading by any investor who invests directly in stock market shares, but particularly by those new to the game. Experienced investors will know about many of the causes of companies collapsing, and how accounts can deceive, from their own past experiences. But it’s best to learn what to look for in other ways. The book covers many UK examples of corporate disasters - ...

The trouble with net debt…

Net debt is a vital metric for investors and lenders. What ultimately kills companies is when they are unable to pay their debts when due. Hence, measuring the ratio of net debt to profits (and cashflow) is crucial to judging a company's ability to pay and whether it is likely to find itself in trouble, potentially leading to a permanent loss of capital for investors. Therefore it is very troubling that there have been several instances in recent years where reported net ...

IC Share Tips, National Grid, Brexit and the Audit Market

This week’s Investors Chronicle edition (dated 28/12/2018) provides lots of food for thought. One of the most educational is their review of the share tips they published as “tips of the week” in 2018. Unlike some investment publications, who simply forget about their past tips that go nowhere, while lauding their hits, the IC is open about their performance. They issued 173 “BUY” tips and 24 “SELL” tips in the year. That is quite some achievement by itself as I rarely have ...

Remuneration Update

by Cliff Weight, Director, ShareSoc. On 22 November 2018, the Investment Association (“IA”), wrote to the chairmen of the remuneration committees of FTSE 350 companies attaching its updated Principles of Remuneration . These changes to the IA guidelines have been made against the backdrop of the new remuneration provisions in the UK Corporate Governance Code and the changes to the reporting of directors’ remuneration which is due to come into force for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2019. MM&K's excellent(*) review ...

Market Trends, Interest Rates, Glaxo and Yu Group Accounts

Yesterday was another dismal day in the markets. The US fell significantly allegedly caused by the rise in interest rates announced by the Federal Reserve and the UK market followed it down this morning. The US rate rise was widely expected although perhaps slightly lower estimates for US economic growth had an impact. But when the markets are in a bear mood, excuses for selling abound. Meanwhile the Bank of England has announced today that their base rate will remain at ...

Small shareholders renew bid to make RBS a better run company

Press release 108 - Small shareholders renew bid to make RBS a better run company RBS Shareholders Requisition Shareholder Resolution for a Shareholder Committee. Over 100 shareholders in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) have requisitioned a resolution to install a "Shareholder Committee" at the company, which will include shareholder representatives, to improve the corporate governance and shareholder engagement at RBS. RBS will now have to put this proposal to a vote at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in May 2019. ShareSoc ...

It’s Not Just Blood on the High Street – ASOS et al

The trading statement this morning (17/12/2018) from ASOS (ASC) has caused the share price to fall by 40% at the time of writing. Other internet retailers such as Boohoo (BOO) fell in sympathy. ASOS reported that revenue was up by 14% over the previous year, but warned that they “experienced a significant deterioration in the important trading month of November and conditions remain challenging. As a result, we have reduced our expectations for the current financial year”. In effect the previous forecast sales ...

Response to Illiquid Assets Consultation cp18-27

Today, 17 December 2018, ShareSoc and  the UK Shareholders Association  submitted to the FCA a joint response on behalf of individual investors to this consultation. The key points we made were: UKSA and ShareSoc represent the 5 million people who own shares and have investment accounts with platforms in the UK. We represent the individual investors who own 12% of the UK stock market: they own 30%, if you include their investments via funds, pensions, etc. Our view is that better labelling of these ...

Big Audit Firm Break-Up and Northern VCT AGM

A report commissioned by the Labour Party has advocated the break-up of the big four audit firms that dominate the audits of FTSE-350 firms. The report, co-authored by Prof. Prem Sikka et al, even goes so far as to suggest that their share of that market should be limited to 50% and that joint audits be promoted. In addition it argues that audit firms should be banned from doing non-audit work for the same company, and an independent body to appoint audit ...

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