Everyone complains about fat banker bonuses, but Bosch Chief Executive Franz Fehrenbach is taking the debate to a new level. The head of the world’s biggest car parts maker is going to review ties with its financiers and may break off business with those that pay excessive bonuses, he told reporters. “We find it irresponsible if some big banks more or less go back to business as usual before the crisis despite what we have gone through,” he said. He cited HSBC and JP Morgan as positive examples of good corporate behaviour. Of course it’s easier to be picky when you are unlisted and generate huge cash flow.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But you have to pick the winners. You have to separate the diamonds from the tatt,” said Giles Worthington, head of European equities at investment fund M&G Investments.
This is more easily said than done, as many companies looking rock-bottom cheap may appear so just because they are on the verge of bankruptcy. And the bottom of the current downward cycle is not yet in sight.
”It’s not just because we had a year of correction that the next year will be positive,” said Ariel Sergio Goekmen, an economist and a director at Credit Suisse’s head office who looks after wealthy families’ investments. “The recession could be deeper than one expects. We have not yet seen the darkest side of the night.”
One tip is to keep an eye on companies with a solid balance sheet and wait for just a few more companies to go bust.
“We need more blood on the carpet. Once we see more bankruptcies, then we know we are close to the bottom.”
(Reuters photo: Sukree Sukplan)