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.

Aug 20, 2014 13:17 UTC

Latest blunder hits StanChart where it most hurts

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By George Hay

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

Standard Chartered’s latest blunder hits the UK bank where it hurts most. New York State’s Department of Financial Services has slapped a $300 million fine on the emerging markets-focused lender for compliance lapses. It reinforces the disturbing impression that StanChart’s top brass aren’t on top of things.

Aug 19, 2014 13:45 UTC

BHP spin-off won’t appeal to commodity players

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By Swaha Pattanaik

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

BHP Billiton plans to spin off unwanted parts of its business into a new company. Aluminium and nickel, whose prices are rising, are among assets which will be parked in the yet-to-be-named organisation. A potentially more focused and nimble mining company might sound like an ideal vehicle for investors who want to follow a rising market. Not so fast.

Aug 19, 2014 06:18 UTC

Sinopec petrol sale attracts a motley bunch

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By Ethan Bilby

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

Sinopec’s petrol station stake sale could drum up a mixed bunch. The Chinese oil giant is seeking investors to help develop Sinopec Sales, which operates its vast network of filling stations. Prospective buyers from food retail, energy, technology and private equity have been shortlisted, according to Reuters. But the price tag of around $16 billion for a 30 percent stake could force them to club together.

Aug 18, 2014 10:54 UTC

German yield curve is the safest one to play

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By Swaha Pattanaik

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

 Bull flattening may sound like an exotic, and rather cruel, sport, but for today’s bond investor, it describes an investment opportunity. Some juicy bear flattening is also available, although it comes with somewhat more risk.

Aug 15, 2014 18:43 UTC

Coke investment reveals half-empty idea bottle

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By Kevin Allison

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

Coca-Cola’s latest investment reveals its idea bottle to be half empty. The $180 billion soda giant is paying $2.2 billion for 17 percent of Monster Beverage, a maker of trendy energy drinks. It goes to show how even a global powerhouse with significant distribution and marketing advantages can struggle to keep ahead of upstart rivals. At least Coke got the deal formula right.

Aug 15, 2014 06:28 UTC

Alibaba deal spree turns from romance to thriller

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By John Foley 

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

Alibaba’s investment story has turned from romance to thriller. Its Hong Kong movie-making affiliate has uncovered “possibly non-compliant” accounting just four months after the Chinese e-commerce giant bought a 60 percent stake. It’s not clear whether Alibaba’s controls were flawed – but it certainly raises questions about the value of the company’s recent investment binge.