Stocks and Funds
The two U.S. oil giants experienced even bigger drops in profit than were expected, pushing dividend yields closer to those of rivals across the Atlantic. Shell and BP have been more aggressive on capex and job cuts. If oil prices tumble further, Exxon and others could follow.
France’s top bank by assets cranked out resurgent second-quarter earnings of 2.6 bln euros. Three takeovers in 2014 are delivering results. Yet dealmaking sprawl has tripped up rivals in the past. It might be a good time for the Belgian state to trim its 10 pct stake.
The indoor cycling chain is inviting investors to join its “tribe” of athletes, renegades and rockstars. The company is profitable and sales accelerated by more than 50 pct in the first quarter to $35 mln. But management, growth plans and faddishness are weak points in the spin.
The French retailer is performing better in Latin America and Asia than at home, while its similarly sized UK rival might sell foreign assets to relieve balance-sheet strain. But if Tesco can live with the debt, it might be emboldened by Carrefour’s global shopping experience.
Bids and Buyouts
Daimler, BMW and Audi are offering 2.6 times revenue for HERE, Nokia’s investment-heavy digital maps unit. The price is high, but the German luxury carmakers’ strategic logic is solid. Map systems are scarce, and a good one will be a competitive advantage for driverless cars.
The auto supplier is paying $1.7 bln for a UK maker of “bundle management solutions.” HellermannTyton may be a solid company whose cable ties and such are integral components, but there’s a whiff of dot-com fever in the rhetoric. That’s not enough to justify the 45 pct premium.
Sheraton owner Starwood is looking for partners. A deal with IHG might help it boost prices and lower costs, but even with synergies, the merged firms would barely match Airbnb’s $25 bln valuation. As the home rental service’s clout grows, hotels will face some sleepless nights.
Two of the world’s largest drinks companies – together worth $275 bln - posted OK-ish results on July 30. Investors might hope for transformational deals, perhaps a mega-merger of the two. Though it is harder to build standalone investment cases, they may be necessary.
Money and Markets
The Winter Games won’t boost China’s growth, end repression, or win the country much extra respect. It might help soft power, but then most countries already do whatever China asks. Freed from such false hopes, everyone can sit back, have fun and admire the fake snow.
The global lender only got involved in the Greek mess because the euro zone was too young to deal with its own problems. As a third bailout nears, the IMF says it wants out, unless both sides behave sensibly. This call for realism may actually be listened to.
A Colorado credit union is suing for access to national check clearing and money transfer systems. The law may be hazy, but opponents sound as if they’re just blowing smoke. Public safety, revenue and transparency are solid reasons for financial regulators to mellow out.
The global bank is reviewing its head office location based on 11 criteria such as economic importance, transparency and tax. A ranking based on data compiled by Breakingviews shows Singapore, Hong Kong and even Toronto are more attractive than HSBC’s current home base.