Oct 30, 2014 15:01 UTC

New Shell chairman has a tough job on his hands

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By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

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

Royal Dutch Shell’s new chairman needs to learn quickly. Charles Holliday is appointed as oil prices slump towards $85 a barrel. After a dismal 2013, Shell’s newish CEO Ben van Beurden is reviving the company’s fortunes. But he will need Holliday’s backup when he joins next year.

Oct 28, 2014 18:47 UTC

Sky-high valuations no match for earnings reality

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By Robert Cyran

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

Sky-high valuations are no match for the sober black-and-white of quarterly earnings. Investors knocked more than 10 percent, or well over $3 billion, off Twitter’s worth in early trade on Tuesday despite a third-quarter report on Monday that showed sales doubling from a year earlier. Blame the company’s overdone valuation. Twitter trades at more than 100 times its own “non-GAAP estimated earnings” measure. Other U.S. companies on high multiples have suffered a similar reality check.

Oct 28, 2014 14:37 UTC

UBS’ legal pain is beginning to look manageable

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By Dominic Elliott

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

UBS investors can almost see past the bank’s legal woes. The Zurich-based financial group is still paying for past sins, with a 12 month extension of a U.S. non-prosecution deal and a hefty 1.8 billion Swiss francs ($1.9 billion) addition to litigation provisions in the third quarter. But underlying businesses are now prospering.

Oct 27, 2014 07:09 UTC

Missed stock connection hurts China’s reform drive

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

China’s financial reform drive has suffered another setback. A flagship scheme to link the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges has been delayed after regulators failed to approve it ahead of an expected launch on Oct. 27. The setback puts another question mark over why foreign investors would want to access China’s markets in the first place.

Oct 24, 2014 19:57 UTC

Duracell jolt highlights the value of focus at P&G

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By Kevin Allison

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

Procter & Gamble’s Duracell jolt highlights the value of focus at the sprawling $225 billion consumer products giant. Investors were energized by the detergent-to-diapers behemoth’s plan to offload its batteries arm. Spinning off copper tops won’t create much value on its own. But it’s a solid plank in boss A.G. Lafley’s campaign to shed underperforming brands and simplify an unwieldy business.

Oct 24, 2014 13:03 UTC

Amazon’s ambition outruns its cash flow

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By Robert Cyran

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

Amazon’s ambition is outrunning its cash flow. The online retailer’s 20 percent sales growth in its third quarter was slower than expected, and its $437 million loss was an ugly record. But it’s the firm’s voracious need for investment that is the bigger problem. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ vision may be limitless, but his company’s ability to finance it is not.

Oct 23, 2014 16:53 UTC

Credit Suisse’s future is mid-table drabness

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By Dominic Elliott

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

Credit Suisse’s future is more workmanlike than its racy third quarter might suggest. The Swiss group revealed on Oct. 23 that its investment bank had trumped Wall Street: fixed income trading revenue leapt by a half year-on-year, against U.S. peers’ average mid-teens increase. But questions linger over Credit Suisse’s ability to maintain that performance if rates rise.

Oct 23, 2014 12:57 UTC

Tesco fails to answer key strategy questions

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By Robert Cole

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

Tesco has let a golden opportunity go begging. The UK grocer could have built confidence in its future with a bold statement of strategy alongside a key set of half-year numbers. It could have taken the first steps to recovery. Yet Tesco appears as mired as ever.

Oct 22, 2014 15:55 UTC

Amgen boss makes a prime breakup target

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By Robert Cyran

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

Amgen’s boss makes a prime breakup target for Dan Loeb. Former Morgan Stanley banker Robert Bradway has run the $109 billion biotech being eyed by the activist investor for the past two years. The idea of splitting such companies into a cash cow and a growth arm comes up often, but rarely happens. Amgen may be the exception.

Oct 21, 2014 15:08 UTC

Rob Cox: Fragility bigger worry than volatility

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By Rob Cox

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

It has been impossible to escape the V-word for the past week. Turn on the television, and it is easy to conclude that central bankers, corporate chiefs, investors and politicians think volatility is the biggest problem vexing global markets. The rollercoaster ride recently experienced by financial assets is nettlesome. But it’s merely a symptom of a bigger malady: the fragility of widely accepted assumptions about where the world is headed.