Breakingviews

Bank synchrony hints at right kind of collusion

October 31, 2014

In recent days, Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche and RBS have socked away big sums for legal expenses, much of it related to forex rate manipulation. That suggests many U.S. and UK regulators are working together on a rare single settlement. It’d be good for all concerned.

New Shell chairman has a tough job on his hands

October 30, 2014

Charles Holliday arrives at the Anglo-Dutch major as oil prices slump towards $85 a barrel. After a dismal 2013, Shell is making good progress. But while Holliday has sound experience at DuPont and Bank of America, he will need to learn the tricks of his new trade quickly.

Sky-high valuations no match for earnings reality

October 28, 2014

Investors knocked more than 10 pct, or well over $3 bln, off Twitter’s worth despite sales doubling. Blame the company’s overdone value multiples. Similar knocks to Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, Chipotle and Yelp show the danger when quarterly numbers can’t match a bullish story.

UBS’ legal pain is beginning to look manageable

October 28, 2014

The Swiss bank is still paying for past sins, with a 12 month extension of a U.S. non-prosecution deal and a hefty $1.9 bln addition to legal reserves in the third quarter. But the underlying businesses are now prospering. Investors can finally eye decent returns.

Missed stock connection hurts China’s reform drive

October 27, 2014

Regulators have delayed a flagship scheme to connect the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges. Protests, market jitters and tax issues may have been factors. The problem is that investors are in the dark. The uncertainty damages confidence in the plan, and in other Chinese reforms.

Duracell jolt highlights the value of focus at P&G

October 24, 2014

Investors were energized by the consumer-goods giant’s plan to offload its struggling batteries arm. Spinning off a low-growth commodity business won’t create much value on its own. But it’s a solid step in boss A.G. Lafley’s campaign to simplify the sprawling $225 bln firm.

Amazon’s ambition outruns its cash flow

October 24, 2014

The online retailer’s 20 pct sales growth in its third quarter was slower than expected, and its $437 mln loss was an ugly record. The firm’s voracious need for investment is a problem. CEO Jeff Bezos’ vision may be limitless, but his company’s ability to finance it is not.

Credit Suisse’s future is mid-table drabness

October 23, 2014

The Swiss group’s investment bank trumped Wall Street in Q3. But it’s no longer a top-tier player in any standalone business line, and questions linger over its ability to maintain strong fixed income returns if rates rise. Muted expectations should apply to other divisions too.

Tesco fails to answer key strategy questions

October 23, 2014

The UK retailer’s accounting error is larger than originally flagged. Sales are falling faster than feared. News that the chairman is being replaced will help. But Tesco’s new CEO missed a big chance to articulate a turnaround plan – despite some obvious remedies.

Amgen boss makes a prime breakup target

October 22, 2014

Former Morgan Stanley banker Robert Bradway runs the $109 bln biotech being eyed by activist Dan Loeb. Splitting into a cash cow and a growth arm comes up often in the industry but rarely happens. In Amgen’s case, its drug focus and the CEO’s background give the idea a chance.