The Mail 12/06/19 - Vox Markets | Vox Markets

The Mail 12/06/19

Retirement firm Saga (SAGA) is joining forces with Goldman Sachs to offer savings accounts to the over-50s. The tie-up will give Saga’s 2.1m customers access to market-beating interest rates offered by Marcus, the consumer bank launched by Goldman in Britain last year. The deal – which is to start this autumn – will replace a partnership Saga has with Lloyds, where it offers rates of 0.55%. It is expected that Saga will use its own brand to market the accounts, rather than the Marcus name.

Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) has been ordered to explain why it repeatedly plugged Neil Woodford’s toxic flagship fund. As City regulators launched a probe into best-buy lists, Hargreaves was sent a string of questions about its practices by MPs on the Treasury select committee. The fund supermarket has come under heavy pressure over its close links to Woodford, whose Equity Income fund was included on Hargreaves’ prestigious Wealth 50 list of top investments right up until it suspended trading on Monday last week. This table of supposedly star performers is used by thousands of savers as an authoritative guide to where they should put their money. Hargreaves has long insisted that the Wealth 50 is compiled solely based on analysis of funds’ performance and the value for money which they offer investors in terms of fees.

Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) has appointed former RBS executive Jim Brown to head up its bank. Brown, who previously led Williams & Glyn and Ulster Bank Group, will join Sainsbury’s as chief executive designate on June 19. He will work with its veteran boss Peter Griffiths, who has run the bank since 2012, for a short handover period.

Mike Ashley’s has gone back into battle with Debenhams (DEB), launching last-minute legal proceedings against a rescue deal that was voted through by its creditors last month. Sports Direct, which was Debenhams’ biggest shareholder until it went into administration last April, is disputing the chain’s store closure plans. The agreed deal, known as a CVA, will allow Debenhams to shutter at least 22 shops and benefit from lower rents on more than 100 others.  Ashley, who also owns rival department store chain House of Fraser, wanted to take control of Debenhams was aggrieved when he did not succeed in his audacious takeover mission. Investors, including Sports Direct, saw their remaining shares wiped out when Debenhams fell into the hands of its lenders – a group of banks and hedge funds now called Celine – instead.

Mobile advertising firm Taptica International (DI) (TAP) is in trouble with Uber, as the taxi app giant filed a legal case against it in California. Taptica places adverts for Uber on websites and apps, and charges the company every time they get a successful download. But Uber is accusing it of fraudulent concealment, negligence and unfair competition, saying it hasn’t been honest about how many times customers clicked on its ad.

Hazard detection company Halma (HLMA) has once again proved itself a safe bet for investors. The business yesterday hiked its annual dividend for the 40th year in a row. It makes products from smoke alarms to blood pressure monitors, and business appears to be booming. Revenue jumped 13% to £1.2billion in the year to March 31, while profit leapt 20% to £206.7million. Investors reaped the bonus, as Halma’s dividend per share climbed 7% to 15.7p. Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said the firm was acting prudently by investing in its own products and expansion, buying up a select number of smaller companies and returning spare cash to shareholders. Although the dividend yield, or the size of the payout compared to Halma’s shares, isn’t particularly large, Mould said this shouldn’t put off savers. He added: ‘Even if the dividend yield itself is just 0.8 per cent, investors should not be deceived. Halma’s dividend has doubled in the past decade alone.’

Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) said pre-tax profits were down 11% in the six months to April 30, at £64.4million, as it blamed Brexit worries for keeping house prices flat while costs continued to rise. Revenues, however, were up 7% to £501.9million in a sign the firm’s shift away from London was boosting sales.

Bellway (BWY) was also reporting cost pressures. Even though it had seen strong sales between February and June, it added that house price inflation wasn’t helping profits as much as it had previously.

Ryanair Holdings (RYA) guided its investors’ sights towards Malta, as the budget airline announced it was expanding with the launch of Malta Air, which will take over the 61 routes it already operates in the country. Malta Air will also take over Ryanair’s fleet of six Malta-based aircraft, and the company plans to bring in four more planes in the next three years while creating more than 350 jobs.

Hong Kong billionaire Sammy Tak Lee has launched a £10million legal claim against West End landlord Shaftesbury (SHB). The property tycoon – Shaftesbury’s largest shareholder – is alleging that it acted improperly when it raised £265million from a share placing in December 2017 that reduced his stake.

Artificial hip maker Smith & Nephew (SN.) announced that it had signed a deal to buy surgery technology business Atracsys for an undisclosed sum. The Switzerland-based firm makes cameras which can track movement with pinpoint accuracy, and Smith & Nephew hopes these can be applied to its robotic surgery systems.

Funding Circle (FCH) tumbled as its investment trust got the green light to shut down. The Funding Circle SME Income Fund, which had been struggling after a period of disappointing performance, will now sell its loans and return cash to shareholders.


Mentioned in this post

Crest Nicholson Holdings
Funding Circle
Hargreaves Lansdown
Ryanair Holdings
Sainsbury (J)
Smith & Nephew
Taptica International (DI)