Alibaba’s strong core comes with shaky periphery

May 5, 2016

The Chinese e-commerce group’s revenue soared 39 pct year on year, faster than volumes of stuff sold on its sites. Alibaba also disclosed losses on its fintech, services and logistics affiliates. Those trends can co-exist, so long as online shopping growth stays sturdy.

Marissa Mayer has only one last job to do at Yahoo

April 20, 2016

Underscoring the lack of progress in her nearly four years as CEO, the web company’s quarterly revenue fell another 11 pct. Google and Facebook are cleaning up in ads, especially mobile. It’s time to offload Yahoo’s core business before bidders like Verizon lose interest.

HSBC shares weighed down by fear of future

February 22, 2016

The global bank hiked its dividend even as 2015 pre-tax profit fell 7 pct. HSBC thinks it can raise returns even as its balance sheet shrinks. But investors remain worried about negative rates, cheap oil and China’s slowdown. An 8 percent yield shows they can’t both be right.

Alibaba offers two insights into China economy

January 28, 2016

The e-commerce giant’s third-quarter revenue rose 32 pct, above expectations. It shows China shifting to more consumption. But it also shows that Alibaba, like China, needs new ways to grow. Forays into local services and the cloud make it a less useful proxy for the consumer.

JPMorgan results offer compelling case for fintech

January 14, 2016

Jamie Dimon’s bank is lending more and reducing drags on capital. Yet Q4 return on equity was only 9 pct and relied heavily on one-offs – and the bank is a top performer in the industry. Rising interest rates won’t help much, but new technology could boost revenue and savings.

Cox: Quarterly reporting to get a major rethink

By Rob Cox
November 17, 2015

From BlackRock’s Larry Fink to presidential contender Hillary Clinton, “quarterly capitalism” has become a four-letter word. Big publicly traded asset managers could change habits by abandoning their own three-monthly results. Watch for that in the coming year.

Time Warner leaving gate ajar for Fox return

November 4, 2015

Boss Jeff Bewkes thwarted Rupert Murdoch’s $80 bln takeover bid with some bold stand-alone projections. A year later, the HBO owner’s results are failing to impress. Its stock trades below Fox’s offer price and at a discount to peers, making it vulnerable to a fresh approach.

Exxon pumps up position in world of cheap oil

October 30, 2015

The $340 bln energy giant is standing firm despite $50-a-barrel crude, avoiding the kind of writedowns and job cuts that tarnished results at Shell and Chevron. An iron-clad balance sheet and strong cash flow leave Exxon primed to acquire assets as weaker producers falter.

Conoco shows flexibility in oil’s awful year

October 29, 2015

The $66 bln crude producer cut capital-spending plans yet again as it reported a $1.1 bln loss in the third quarter. Low oil prices have yet to hit output, though. And CEO Ryan Lance is cutting other costs, too. Investors can take comfort from all that, but should still watch their dividends.

Google and Amazon grapple happily with maturity

October 22, 2015

Alphabet, the new holding company for the search giant, is returning cash to shareholders. Amazon delivered profits. Both operations are growing so fast, and throwing off so much cash, that they can act as responsible stewards of capital while still chasing the next big thing.