YET more World Cup fun and games from the financial sector, as Halifax Share Dealing yesterday launched a “Sports Stocks Index” based on the upcoming tournament.
The broker’s method was to match shares to each of the competing World Cup nations by matching their Fifa country abbreviations to a ticker symbol on an international exchange. They then compared the performance of the stocks over a six month period, though the results do not exactly mirror the expected outcome of the tournament.
According to HSD, Switzerland – represented by US mobile home “community provider” Sun Communities (NYSE: SUI) – would be favourites to lift the trophy with a 66 per cent return, despite having failed to reach the latter stages of the World Cup since the 1950s.
And Algeria (Alamo Group, NYSE: ALG), in only its third-ever World Cup bid, would beat England (ENGlobal Corporation, NASDAQ: ENG) to win the group stages.
Perhaps not the best investing tip ever to come out of the City, but at least it’ll be a small comfort to those who draw the short straw in the office sweepstake.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson isn’t exactly the shy and retiring type, so it comes as no surprise that he attacked a promotional stunt yesterday with gusto. Boris dropped by the St Saviour’s and St Olave’s secondary school in South London to highlight employer-supported volunteering opportunities by teaching a class of twenty 14-year-old students.
I hear the subject chosen by the mayor was Latin and Ancient History, though he managed to demonstrate admirable skill at making a notoriously hard-going subject more accessible to youngsters. Introducing his topic, Boris asked the class for a translation of one of footballer David Beckham’s many tattoos, which reads “Ut amem et foveam” – “So that I love and cherish”.
PIECE OF ADVICE
Interesting to note a minor detail of the RNS announcement yesterday from broker Astaire, which shocked the market by revealing in one go the resignation of its senior directors, a £4m legal claim against the firm and a complete U-turn in its consolidation-focused strategy.
As part of the statement, Astaire admitted it is already in discussions with a number of parties “with a view to considering alternative ownership arrangements for the operating businesses of the group”.
That won’t come as a surprise to those aware of the persistent City rumours that investment bank Fairfax is interested in snapping up Astaire. But if Fairfax is indeed one of the parties holding talks – which I should point out is not something that has been confirmed by either side – then it might want to look into cancelling its nominated adviser (Nomad) role at Astaire. Fairfax’s head of corporate finance Ewan Leggat yesterday had his contact details on the bottom of that Astaire RNS as an adviser – and the Aim rules do specify that Nomads have to be able to demonstrate that they are independent and that there is no conflict of interest.
Then again, perhaps the City rumour mill has been getting its knickers in a twist for nothing.
An update on that rivalry between the City and Canary Wharf, after promoters for the Ryder Cup pitted both financial services centres against each other in a golfing challenge.
Tuesday saw Jeremy Thompson from Verizon Business set the City standard for the longest drive on a simulated 18th hole of the Ryder Cup course at Celtic Manor Resort, thwacking the ball an impressive 314 yards. But that was smashed in the Wharf yesterday by Credit Suisse’s Pete Foster, who drove the ball 337 yards to set a new record. Official bragging rights granted.
PURE AND SIMPLE
A bizarre little statement from luxury fashion house Burberry, the darling of the stock market yesterday after posting a 23 per cent spike in full-year profits.
Hidden in the company’s earnings statement was a paragraph claiming that Burberry continues to “purify the brand”, axing “inappropriate” wholesale accounts in Europe and implementing a pricing policy to ensure its flagmark products – classic trenchcoats, cashmere scarves and the like – are “never marked down”.
Finally, a company crusade against the check-wearing “chav” brigade which has plagued Burberry in recent times? I call the company to find out, but am assured that my theory is barking up the wrong tree.
Apparently, the use of the word “purify” is simply management speak, while the European wholesale accounts are being brought back in-house and the pricing initiative is due to the fact that Burberry’s classic products are less of a seasonal fashion risk than other, edgier brands.
“What you’re describing is a localised phenomenon in the UK, which only accounts for under seven per cent of group sales,” sniffs a spokesman. “And anyway, if you look at the price points, lots of those sales would have been fake Burberry items anyway.” That’s us told, then.