Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

Aussie bid battle questions wine’s standalone case

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Wine may age better in the cellar than on the stock market. A bid battle for Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates – the only big listed producer – has called into question the case for standalone wine companies. The maker of Penfolds could be better-managed but a fragmented market and low brand loyalty also suggests the fruit of the vine may not be suitable for public company treatment.

Treasury Wine has opened its books to two bidders, both of which have submitted non-binding bids worth A$3.4 billion ($3.1 billion). KKR has teamed up with Rhone Capital while Reuters reports that TPG Capital is behind a rival offer. If the deal goes ahead, it will end the company’s short life as a listed company after brewer Foster’s spun it off in 2011. All the other major wine producers are part of bigger beverage groups like U.S.-based Constellation Brands, France’s Pernod Ricard, and spirits giant Diageo.

Private equity owners may be able to extract some value from Treasury Wine simply by running it better. The company’s operating margin in 2013 was almost half that of the (mostly) wine and spirits division of Constellation Brands. Poor inventory controls at its U.S. operations led to big writedowns a year ago. It has also spent too little on marketing its premium products.

from Felix Salmon:

There’s no global wine shortage

Have you heard about the global wine shortage? Of course you have: it’s been covered in pretty much every media outlet imaginable, but Roberto Ferdman’s piece for Quartz (“A global wine shortage could soon be upon us") was one of the first, and also one of the most detailed. Still, it was the classic single-source article: it basically took one Morgan Stanley report, reproduced a bunch of the key charts, and added a clickbaity headline.

The charts, on their face, tell a pretty clear story, especially this one:

But if you look closely at the Morgan Stanley report, it starts to look less like a dispassionate analysis of supply and demand dynamics in the wine world, and more like an aggressively-argued attempt to put forward one particular investment thesis as strongly as possible. What's more, the investment thesis is not, particularly, based on the existence of any present or future wine shortage; it's simply trying to present the idea that demand for Australian wine exports is likely to rise, and to justify the fact that  a company called Treasury Wine Estates is the bank's "top Australian consumer pick". (The report was written by Morgan Stanley Australia.)

from Felix Salmon:

How money can buy happiness, wine edition

I spent the past couple of days in Berkeley, participating in a number of events at the inaugural Berkeley Ideas Festival. The highlight for me was interviewing Donald MacDonald, the architect of the new (and magnificent) Bay Bridge. But I was also asked to present a little "provocation" on the second morning, in between heavier sessions covering topics like the effect of 3D printing on the manufacturing workforce and the rise of the plutocracy.

So I thought I'd be a little servicey, and let the audience into a secret: specifically, the secret of how to buy happiness with money.

from Breakingviews:

Wine tariffs won’t end China’s thirst for Bordeaux

By Peter Thal Larsen

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Sorry, wine lovers: tariff threats won’t end China’s thirst for Bordeaux. Talk of restricting imports from Europe has raised hopes elsewhere that fine wines might become more affordable. But French chateaux have more to fear from China’s anti-corruption drive than from trade war.

from Felix Salmon:

The decline of the Robert Parker empire

Since I'm on the subject of fallen emperors, it's worth catching up with the latest Robert Parker news.

Decanter's Adam Lechmere has seen an email to French wine blogger Vincent Pousson, which seems to confirm the rumors: Parker isn't just giving up editorial control of The Wine Advocate, but also 'command and control' of the business as a whole. The new jefe is Soo Hoo Khoon Peng, a Singaporean wine importer who seems to have bought the franchise, Parker included, for $15 million. Of that, Parker got $10 million, with the rest going to the deal's two brokers, who are reportedly "connected with Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs."

from Felix Salmon:

The Robert Parker bombshell

This is a bit odd. Last month, Lettie Teague had lunch with Robert Parker, and asked the questions on everybody's mind: "Was Parker planning to retire? Did he have a replacement? Was he selling the Wine Advocate?"

Parker told Teague that he had no intention of retiring, nor of selling:

Parker said he has entertained offers to buy his newsletter over the years, including three from “hedge-fund guys,” but so far he has refused them all, in part because he would not relinquish editorial control of the newsletter.

from Unstructured Finance:

Gundlach doesn’t whine over his stolen wine

By Jennifer Ablan and Matthew Goldstein

Who said bonds are boring? In recent days, Jeffrey Gundlach, the new king of the fixed-income world, has been dominating headlines with his lengthy CNBC interview on everything from counterparty risk to the market’s love affair with Apple stock to talk in the blogosphere about Gundlach’s pricey Santa Monica, Calif. residence being burglarized of more than $10 million in assets.

Against this backdrop, Gundlach’s firm, DoubleLine, hit a huge milestone this week as well, hitting $45 billion in assets under management.

from Felix Salmon:

America’s minuscule high-end wine market

Dan Levy at Bloomberg has a big story today under the headline "America Drinking Top-End Wine Fuels Napa Deals". It's mostly about land and winery transactions, but this jumped out at me:

High-end California wine accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. bottle sales above $20, according to data compiled by Nielsen Holdings NV… Purchases of California premium wine totaled $410 million in the 12 months through July 21, up 14 percent year-over-year, store-scan data from New York-based Nielsen show.

from Global Investing:

Investors hungover after wine binge

During this depression, it would appear that investors are no longer finding solace in turning to the bottle.

Fine wines are being hit hard by the global downturn, with the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 index down 7.4 percent on the year, according to July’s Cellar Watch Market Report.

from MediaFile:

Sheraton becomes a sommelier

Say you’re planning a business trip. If you knew you could get a very good glass of wine at your hotel at the end of the day, would that influence which hotel you book?

The people at Sheraton are betting that it will.

Earlier this year, Sheraton began holding “Sheraton Social Hour” events at a number of hotels, and 130 more Sheraton branches around the globe will add the social hours this week. From 5 to 8 PM, usually Tuesday through Thursday, Sheraton residents will be able to sample a selection of high-quality wines. At the larger Sheratons, such as New York’s, eight wines will be on offer, four scoring a Wine Spectator rating of 85 or higher and four scoring 90 or higher.