Unstructured Finance

Auto index jumps 1.5 percent

AUTO INDIA MAHINDRA
The BSE Auto Index gained 1.5 percent on Friday with Hero Honda and Tata Motors posting gains of over 3 percent.

Ashok Leyland was the star performer among index counters with gains of over 8 percent. The company said March quarter net profit more than quadrupled on higher sales, but warned of supply constraints and margin pressure in the future.

Over the month, Tata Motors shares have surged over 15 percent.

Apollo Tyres closed down 2.7 percent and was among the four sectoral stocks, which included Maruti Suzuki, which ended in the red.

The auto index has not moved much in April, gaining just 1.7 percent, but has done better than the BSE Sensex which has been almost flat for the period.

Would you place your bets on stocks in this sector now?

Check Out Line: What’s significant?

Check out Avon’s dose of disclosure.

Andrea Jung 2010The world’s top direct seller of cosmetics (led by Chairman and CEO Andrea Jung, shown here) topped analysts’ expectations with its quarterly profit.

It also gave a little more insight into its ongoing investigation about possible bribery in China — which is by far its smallest market, but one with great potential.  The company said fees paid to professionals working on the probe were “significant” in the latest quarter.

The ongoing probe has been expanded to additional countries in Avon’s other international regions — Latin America; Central & Eastern Europe; Western Europe, Middle East & Africa; and Asia Pacific.

Firm trading session for banking stocks

MARKETS-SOUTHASIA-STOCKS/

It was a good day for banking counters with the Bankex gaining 1.6 percent and ending as the second best sectoral performer.

Financial counters rose on hopes that the economy, expected to expand 8.5 percent in the fiscal year beginning April 1, will boost demand for loans.

Shares of Yes Bank, which ended as the top gainer in the Bankex, jumped 5.6 percent to 293.15 rupees. ICICI Bank, India’s top private bank, gained 2.8 percent. Shares in SBI gained 1.7 percent to close at 2274 rupees.

Rich guys love their manSpanx for looking thin

neiman-marcusTo the relief of many women (and men for that matter) out there, Spanx introduced its cotton-compression undershirts for men in February this year.

No surprise that a garment that helps hide unsightly potbellies and sagging rear-ends would be a hit. But I admit, I was surprised on a recent trip to Chicago to see Spanx for Men at the Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue. I thought, in my naïveté, that that product might be a bit downmarket for Neiman’s upscale male patrons.

I was wrong. Neiman wasn’t just passively selling Spanx — it was looping on a large screen a video extolling its virtues, gave it half a wall of display space and made sure the helpful salesman knew how to approach guys about Spanx without directly saying, “don’t think we can’t see your ample love handles.”

Check Out Line: A smorgasbord of consumer earnings to parse

tide1Check out the smorgasbord of quarterly earnings in the consumer sector.

Among the many companies to report earnings on Thursday were P&G, Burger King, OfficeMax, Colgate,  Fortune Brands, Bunge, Kellogg, Safeway and Mead Johnson. As usual, there was something for investors of all stripes.

P&G, for example, posted a better-than-expected profit, helped by its biggest volume gain in more than four years. That would please the optimists.

The pessimists, however, had their news to focus on as the world’s largest household products company, known for its Tide detergent (pictured), also forecast results for the current quarter below Wall Street’s expectations. Go figure.

Gabbert spots side letters loophole

Earlier this month we reported that the Hedge Fund Standards Board had voiced its concerns over the increased use of so-called “side letters” — preferential deals offered to some clients that could disadvantage others.

These ad-hoc deals are covered by best practice guidelines, although not formal rules, that were issued by AIMA in conjunction with the FSA. These say that managers should disclose terms that give some investors better access to their cash, although it seems that these guidelines may not always be followed to the letter by managers.

However, eagle-eyed lawyer Dale Gabbert of Reed Smith has spotted a potential loophole, which is particularly relevant now that many big hedge fund firms are opening offices in Switzerland or elsewhere and shifting the location of some functions such as fund management to cut their personal or corporate tax bills.

DealZone Daily

Hewlett-Packard announces a $1.2 billion deal to buy Palm Inc. The deal is a bet that HP can resuscitate the struggling smartphone maker to compete with the likes of Apple and RIM. Reuters story here.

Germany’s E.ON is selling its Kentucky-based unit to U.S. peer PPL for $6.7 billion in cash. It’s the largest deal in the power sector in the last two and a half years.

And late yesterday, Algeria said it would block a key part of MTN‘s $9 billion bid for Egypt’s Orascom Telecom. Naguib Sawiris, the Egyptian billionaire who heads Orascom, says he wants to meet Algerian officials to discuss their concerns.

Morning line-up: Goldman, shorts and an overpaid nanny

News and views on the fund industry from Reuters and elsewhere:

tea.jpgThe overpaid nanny – Times

Profits buoyant in US – Reuters

Top 10 shorts and squeezes –  DataExplorers

Goldman in settlement talks – FT

Regulation summit kicks off – Reuters

Bad day for realty stocks

INDIA
The BSE realty index ended 3.5 percent lower while the broader index dropped 1.7 percent to 17,380 points.

Some of the other losers were Indiabulls Real Estate, which dropped 6.3 percent, Unitech which ended 3.9 percent lower, and HDIL which slipped 3.7 percent.

The Realty Index has dropped over 12 percent so far this year. Do you see a further decline in realty stocks?

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