Breakingviews on Twitter
Search League Tables

Sunday, 26 October 2014

BREAKINGVIEWS

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks in the demonstration room after the Apple event introducing the new iPad in San Francisco, California March 7, 2012.

Apple's promise justifies return to old big self

24 October 2014

The iPhone maker’s $615 bln market capitalization is nearing its own record of two years ago, which eclipsed Microsoft’s peak valuation before the dot-com bust in 2000. This Apple share-price runup may not go far enough. But there’s no bubble fantasy math involved if it does.

Duracell

Duracell jolt highlights the value of focus at P&G

24 October 2014

Investors were energized by the consumer-goods giant’s plan to offload its struggling batteries arm. Spinning off a low-growth commodity business won’t create much value on its own. But it’s a solid step in boss A.G. Lafley’s campaign to simplify the sprawling $225 bln firm.

An Indian mechanic works at the Volvo truck division in Bangalore.

Most of the heavy lifting lies ahead for Volvo

24 October 2014

An unexpected earnings jump propelled shares in the Swedish truck maker up 10 pct. But Volvo is facing an uphill struggle. The outlook for its core European market is weak, and its new cost cutting targets are ambitious. 

Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Kindle

Amazon’s ambition outruns its cash flow

23 October 2014

The online retailer’s 20 pct sales growth in its third quarter was slower than expected, and its $437 mln loss was an ugly record. The firm’s voracious need for investment is a problem. CEO Jeff Bezos’ vision may be limitless, but his company’s ability to finance it is not.

Estate RMBS

U.S. mortgages sputter on demand more than supply

23 October 2014

Plenty of home loans are available, industry data show. But a lukewarm economy has made potential borrowers skittish. With the likes of ex-Fed boss Bernanke complaining about getting turned down, blaming stingy banks is easy. It’s the other side of the equation that needs work.

A sign for Bank Street is seen in London

EU bank tests: the good, the bad and the ugly

23 October 2014

The best European lenders will pass Sunday’s exercise outright based on their Dec. 31 balance sheet. Potentially some big names will fail that test, but pass on capital raised since. As for banks still deemed outright failures today, their bosses cannot expect to keep their jobs.

Ken Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer of Lazard North America,  speaks during the Reuters Investment Banking Summit in New York, November 15, 2006. (UNITED STATES)

M&A boom puts Lazard earnings goal in sight

23 October 2014

The Wall Street firm’s Q3 results show boss Ken Jacobs short of his 25 pct margin target for the year. Getting there requires a fair drop in pay in the final quarter. But rising revenue from the urge to merge should allow him to balance the interests of bankers and shareholders.

A woman runs past a poster of luxury fashion house Gucci outside a shopping mall in Beijing's central business district.

Gucci makeover still a work in progress

24 October 2014

The flagship brand of French luxury and lifestyle group Kering posted disappointing sales in the last quarter, sending the shares down. Gucci is struggling with an image problem. At least it can point to early signs that its new strategy is bearing fruit.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a news conference at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California May 26, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Zuckerberg's Chinese chat leaves CEOs tongue-tied

24 October 2014

The Facebook founder surprised and delighted a Beijing audience by answering questions in Mandarin. His linguistic skills probably won’t make the social network any more welcome in the People’s Republic. But other corporate chiefs could learn from his efforts to friend China.

Police officers stand outside the Hefei Intermediate People's Court, where Gu Kailai is being tried for murder, in Hefei, Anhui Province August 9, 2012 REUTERS/Aly Song

China's new reform: rule of law for some

24 October 2014

The latest leadership pow-wow ended with a pledge to reduce political meddling in court cases, and fight legal graft. Yet foreign companies are unlikely to get a fairer hearing from regulators, and the ruling Party remains untouchable. It’s justice with Chinese characteristics.

An employee of Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp holds a sign board of the company's Annual General Meeting at an exit of a station near the venue in Tokyo June 26, 2014.

Air-bag recall poses carmaker valuation challenge

23 October 2014

Supplier Takata’s faulty devices have sucked $6.5 bln from Honda’s market cap. Dodgy ignitions helped dent GM’s by $16 bln. Automakers can overcome such woes, as GM’s Q3 earnings imply. Increasing automation adds a new dimension to the risk, making it even harder to quantify.

A trader looks up at charts on his screen just before the end of trading for the day on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, November 18, 2013.REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Bond markets nudge France towards periphery

23 October 2014

Investors want a growing yield premium to hold French bonds rather than Dutch, Belgian or Austrian ones and the cost of insuring against a Gallic default is inching up. Blame repeated budget misses and a sluggish economy. Still, a large, liquid debt market has some attractions.

Tesco Plc. CEO Dave Lewis arrives for Tesco's interim results announcement in London October 23, 2014.

Tesco fails to answer key strategy questions

23 October 2014

The UK retailer’s accounting error is larger than originally flagged. Sales are falling faster than feared. News that the chairman is being replaced will help. But Tesco’s new CEO missed a big chance to articulate a turnaround plan – despite some obvious remedies.

BREAKINGVIEWS TV ON INSIDER

Features

Martin Hutchinson

Review: World needs agreed ground rules for peace

24 October 2014

Henry Kissinger’s “World Order” bemoans the lack of one, as the West’s prevailing approach of nation states with limited conflict isn’t reflected in non-Western traditions. However the Vienna Congress innovation allowing intervention only to protect stability might work better.

Andy Mukherjee

Robots may spell "Control-Alt-Delete" for workers

23 October 2014

Researchers think automatons could displace half of all existing U.S. jobs. If that happens rapidly, it could push humans into a strife-torn future in which lack of wage income hobbles prosperity even in capable societies. Yet governments can make the transition less stressful.

Columns

Rob Cox

Rob Cox: Fragility bigger worry than volatility

21 October 2014

Recent rollercoaster markets are a symptom of a more concerning malady. They reflect the shock accompanying recognition that widely accepted assumptions about everything from monetary policy to geopolitics, and even the state of global health, are dangerously flimsy.

Hugo Dixon

Hugo Dixon: Markets right to worry about euro zone

20 October 2014

The epicentre of last week’s fright was the 18-nation currency bloc, whose three big economies – Germany, France and Italy – are in their own ways stuck. There is a grand bargain sketched out by Mario Draghi that might shift the malaise. But it won’t materialise soon, if at all.