Breakingviews

Lazard and Evercore do more with less in M&A boom

July 23, 2015

Second-quarter results show the two independent advisers have not reaped as much benefit as bulge-bracket rivals from the recent dealmaking surge. But their simpler business models and higher margins leave more of the gains for shareholders – especially owners of Lazard.

Alibaba delivers chunky growth, but at a cost

November 4, 2014

The Chinese e-commerce giant pulled off a 54 pct revenue increase for the second quarter, its first results since listing in New York. But earnings slipped, only in part because of big IPO payouts to staff. Alibaba also says it targets sales, not margins. That’s not reassuring.

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.

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.

Goldman pulls every lever to make machine run

October 16, 2014

Bankers and traders helped the firm increase profit 50 pct from a year ago. Investments like Tesla supplier Mobileye contributed, too. Socking away less for pay, though, provided the real fillip to 11.8 pct return on equity. In tough times especially, that’s how it should work.

Netflix stock horror follows familiar script

October 16, 2014

The film and TV streaming service lost $7 billion of market value after it signed up fewer new subscribers than expected. Even for one of the most-shorted and volatile stocks, a 25 percent decline is notable. And yet investors have seen this movie many times before.

Vladimir Putin is the new bad weather

August 4, 2014

The bogeyman of Ukrainian unrest is replacing snow as a reason to expect worse earnings. Just ask VW, Adidas or McDonald’s. The World Cup goes the other way, helping Adidas (again), Twitter and maybe Disney. The message could be muddled when Russia and soccer converge in 2018.

China’s Tencent slows as new Internet models bloom

November 9, 2011

China’s second-biggest dot-com by market value saw its slowest quarterly earnings growth in four years. Gaming customers are defecting to new Internet models. Higher costs in micro-blogging and video are hurting margins. Tencent needs a strategy beyond simply getting bigger.

Corporate earnings hopes are still too high

June 21, 2012

Analysts are paring back profit forecasts as euro zone worries clog the wheels of global commerce. Yet history suggests that when earnings go into reverse, the shift is rarely gradual. Investors may still be expecting too much from companies, at least in the near term.