BusinessCompany NewsWeekly stock market round-up

Weekly stock market round-up

August 4 - 7 2003All of the 'big four' clearing banks have now reported their interim results for 2003. By and large, they were reassuringly good: bad debts have been kept under control, as have costs. Remortgaging activity has helped offset the slower housing market. Profits have been eroded slightly by government orders to offer small businesses a better deal.

At Lloyds TSB, the big issue is the dividend. The interim payout was held at last year’s level, although there was no firm commitment to do the same for the final dividend. The yield on Lloyds shares is over 7%; such a high level suggests the payout may be cut, although we don’t think it likely. Royal Bank of Scotland, which also includes NatWest, reported strong profits and hinted that the surplus cash it is generating may be returned to shareholders. That’s reassuring, because some thought that once the cost savings from buying NatWest had been digested, there would be little more growth. HSBC, a much more international outfit than its peers, also did well. But the star performer was Barclays, whose profits topped expectations.

Pix-investors-chronicle

As Britain’s pitiful rail system conked out yet again this week, the Strategic Rail Authority was busy redrawing the franchising map. It’s hoped that bigger franchises on clearer terms will result in clean trains running more or less on time. While most of the bidders are the same outfits responsible for the current system, there have been some interesting changes. The presumption that incumbent operators would be well-placed to win new franchises has been well and truly disproved; Arriva, for instance, won the Wales and Borders franchise ahead of incumbent National Express. Cynics are already spotting another pattern: companies winning new franchises often have extensive bus operations in the same area, raising the prospect of buses replacing trains on many routes. Dr Beeching would have loved it.

Ryanair could be forced off its Strasbourg-London route by a French court ruling that prohibits publicly-owned Strasbourg airport from subsidising the airline’s operations there. Ryanair is appealing, but the case could have implications, since Ryanair often receives ‘assistance’ in setting up new routes to under-used airports. The case prompted a lengthy rant from the company’s chief executive in the first-quarter results statement. He also described FreshAer, a new Irish rival on the London-Dublin route, as ‘a bunch of nutters’.

More shenanigans in the fashion world. New Look shares shot up after founder Tom Singh, who still owns 28% of the company, confirmed he is in talks with financial backers. Meanwhile, Monsoon’s chief executive Rose Foster has changed her mind about leaving the company. The volte-face has angered shareholders as news of her original departure caused a steep drop in the share price.

Related Articles

BDO replaces Deloitte as Mitie auditor

Audit BDO replaces Deloitte as Mitie auditor

3m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
CVR Global appoints partner in London office

Company News CVR Global appoints partner in London office

7m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
FTSE100 failing to provide adequate ethics information

Company News FTSE100 failing to provide adequate ethics information

7m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Moore Stephens recruits new private client partner

Accounting Firms Moore Stephens recruits new private client partner

10m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Magma Group announces merger, partner promotions

Accounting Firms Magma Group announces merger, partner promotions

10m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
BDO on ‘recruitment spree’ with multiple partner appointments

Accounting Firms BDO on ‘recruitment spree’ with multiple partner appointments

10m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Brand strength leads to fee income growth for RSM

Accounting Firms Brand strength leads to fee income growth for RSM

10m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Mazars strengthens audit team with partner appointment

Accounting Firms Mazars strengthens audit team with partner appointment

10m Emma Smith, Managing Editor