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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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The Vote at Electra Private Equity

Electra Private Equity have fought off an attack from Sherborne Investors Management. The latter wanted a change of directors and for the company to conduct a strategic review, but resolutions to remove three directors were defeated with over 61% of the votes cast against them. The interesting aspect of this event was that over 81% of the votes in issue were actually voted. There was considerable debate last week at the meeting ShareSoc held on shareholder rights about the difficulty of getting ...

Shareholder Rights campaign launched

Last week ShareSoc launched a campaign to improve shareholder rights with a meeting in London. It focussed on the problems associated with nominee accounts and the adopted legal requirement to replace paper share certificates with an electronic system in a few years time. There was an impressive line-up of speakers at the meeting which included John Kay (author of the Kay Review and FT writer), Michael Kempe from Capita representing the ICSA Registrars Group, Peter Swabey from ICSA, John Lee (Lord Lee ...

Directors Pay Up 21%

There can be no clearer indication that the pay of company directors is out of control than the latest figures from Income Data Services (IDS). They have reported that the total remuneration of FTSE-100 company directors went up by 21% last year, based on figures in the annual reports of companies. Although base salaries only rose by 2.5%, the overall increase has been driven by “performance” awards such as bonuses and LTIPs (Long Term Incentive Plans). The 21% increase is of course ...

A Tale of Two Trusts – SLS and BRWM

Yesterday Blackrock World Mining (BRWM) announced they were writing off their investment in London Mining. This was one of their largest holdings and cut the trust's net asset value by almost 8%. The share price promptly fell by 8% on the day and fell further today. Who are London Mining you may ask? This is a small iron ore mining company based in Sierra Leone which has been badly affected by the slump in iron ore prices and the Ebola crisis ...

Tesco and why ShareSoc members should not have been surprised

After we published some previous comments on Tesco, Warren Buffett publicly admitted that his investment was a "huge mistake". He currently has about a 4% stake in the company, and may have lost over $800 million at the current share price after first buying it in 2007. It's perhaps worth reminding ShareSoc members and others of the fact they could have read a report on the Tesco 2013 Annual General Meeting in June 2013 which spelled out some of the problems the ...

Sainsbury and Tesco (do they need a pressure group?)

Following on from the debacle at Tesco, Sainsbury produced some quite awful trading figures yesterday (1/10/2014). Here's a review of some of the news on those and other retailers. Tesco The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are undertaking an investigation into Tesco's "overstatement of expected profit". Making misleading statements to the market is potentially a criminal offence. How long that will take to reach any conclusions is anyone's guess. The result of such investigations are often reported to investors so late in the day ...

Inheritance tax giveaway by the Chancellor

The announcement by George Osborne yesterday (29/9/2014), that a tax on pension funds is to be scrapped is a major giveaway for investors. It would seem we are already into the 2015 election campaign. At present anyone holding a SIPP (the most cost effective way to hold your pension fund) or other defined contribution pensions (e.g. personal pensions), faces a hefty tax bill when they die after the age of 75, or earlier if the fund is already in "drawdown", i.e. paying ...

Globo Interims and evaluating software companies

Globo issued some Interim Results this morning (29/9/2014). The announcement created quite a debate on some bulletin boards because of varying interpretation of the results. It only merits some comments from me because ShareSoc has published articles on this company before, particularly after it came under attack from shorters who primarily questioned the poor cash flow, capitalisation of development costs and several other aspects of the company's operations (see our November 2013 newsletter). That caused the share price to collapse from ...

The Tesco Board – fit for purpose?

There was a very good article in the Financial Times today by Luke Johnson. It covers the problems at Tesco and suggests that "the stewardship at Tesco has been woeful".  A particular focus is on the experience of board members, of which only one is executive (recently appointed Dave Lewis). It says "Like every single other director on the main board, he has no executive experience as a retailer whatsoever". Luke suggests they might have a wide and impressive set of ...

Barclays, Tesco and MoPowered

Barclays, Tesco and MoPowered - two big companies and one a typical new AIM company which has yet to show it can make a profit - but all three are under the weather in the last couple of days. Barclays have today (23/9/2014) been fined £38m by the Financial Conduct Authority for failing to ensure that clients money in the investment bank was kept separate from the banks own assets. When I joked in my local Barclays Bank this morning that I ...
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