Aug 29, 2014 16:46 UTC

Square swipes a hollow-looking $6 bln valuation

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By Robert Cyran

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

Square is starting to look oddly hollow. The payments company set up and run by Jack Dorsey is set to raise $200 million in new funding, according to Bloomberg. That would value the company at $6 billion. While big, it’s a deflated figure, considering Square’s former hype, the small amount raised, and tech rivals’ ease securing higher valuations.

Square’s credit card readers for smartphones and tablets are easily spotted in the wilds of flea markets and coffee shops. They are easy to use, and the 2.75 percent they charge per swipe is relatively appealing for small transactions. Last year the company racked up more than $500 million in revenue.

Aug 29, 2014 14:26 UTC

Agenda for Tesco CEO: price cuts, board and UK

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By Robert Cole

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

Tesco needs to reduce, rebuild and review. Friday saw a jumbo profit alert from the UK grocer, plus a big cut to the interim dividend and a lowered capex budget. The good news was that the new chief executive is to arrive a month earlier than originally envisaged. This kitchen-sinking will make life easier for Dave Lewis when he starts on Sept. 1. But his trolley is still loaded high with problems.

Aug 27, 2014 20:29 UTC

Snapchat’s valuation soars on tech-land pixie dust

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By Robert Cyran

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

Snapchat’s valuation is soaring on tech-land pixie dust. The disappearing-photo business has turned 100 million users, strong demand for chat services and the $20 million sale of a tiny equity stake into a $10 billion price tag. Trouble is, the company lacks revenue – and none is in sight. It’s a reminder that Silicon Valley dreams often trump real economics.

Aug 27, 2014 12:09 UTC

Tesco should cut its dividend

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By Robert Cole

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Shareholders ultimately lose out when too-high payouts prevent companies from responding well to problems. Right now, Tesco needs all the financial flexibility it can muster. Its current dividend is dangerously constricting.

Aug 27, 2014 07:27 UTC

Aggressive M&A puts focus on Thai tycoon’s empire

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By Una Galani

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

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s appetite for deals has put his sprawling empire in focus. The Thai drinks-to-property tycoon is eyeing more acquisitions on top of the $3.3 billion his companies have spent this year. Investors have already given a poor reception to his most recent deals. A pick’n’mix approach to public markets may explain some of their doubts.

Aug 26, 2014 19:09 UTC

Burger King tax flip merger logic doesn’t stack up

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By Kevin Allison

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

It will take more than a crossing of the Canadian border to justify investor ebullience for a potential Burger King-Tim Hortons combination.

Aug 26, 2014 19:05 UTC

S&P 500 at 2,000 invites “new normal” thinking

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

Beware new paradigms. The S&P 500 Index’s first trades above 2,000 on Monday invite the idea of a new normal in markets. The price-to-earnings ratio is under 20, only moderately above average, and interest rates remain low. But U.S. earnings are at a peak relative to GDP. Assume they adjust back to the long-term norm, and the stock benchmark would be a third lower.

Aug 21, 2014 20:21 UTC

Hertz gears up for another financial spin

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By Kevin Allison

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

Carl Icahn is just the latest financier to toy with Hertz Global. The activist investor reported an 8.5 percent stake on Wednesday, saying he planned to pressure the $14 billion car rental company over recent management stumbles. But Hertz has been an investor plaything for nearly a century. Automakers, an airline, a 1960s conglomerate, private equity and public investors have all owned the business.

Aug 21, 2014 14:05 UTC

Blackstone finds way to outsource skin in the game

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By Neil Unmack

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

Blackstone has devised a novel definition of ”skin in the game”: other people’s money. The buyout and debt management firm is taking advantage of newly relaxed rules on how much risk needs to be retained in securitisations, to improve its returns. Its structure looks acceptable – but regulators and investors should still watch for sharp practice from future copycats.

Aug 20, 2014 19:57 UTC

Ballmer’s exit value is now Nadella’s to preserve

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Steve Ballmer’s exit value is now Satya Nadella’s to preserve. Microsoft’s market capitalization swelled by over $100 billion from the day about a year ago when the 34-year veteran of the software giant said he would resign as chief executive until Tuesday, when he stepped down from the board of directors. With Ballmer fading from the picture, maintaining the momentum is now firmly up to new boss Nadella.