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Nike has, as predicted, bid for Umbro but whether it lives up to its name depends in part on the reactions of Sports Direct and JJB Sports, which control 15 per cent and 10 per cent of Umbro respectively and are run by ex-colleagues. They presumably are worried about protecting the terms of their contract for the England kit. Umbro shares remain below the offer price (although not much) but Mike Ashley looks like quite a smart fund manager, as Nils Pratley pointed out last week in the Guardian.

BP has produced some miserable Q3 figures, although not quite as miserable as the market had been expecting after Tony Hayward’s warning of a “dreadful” performance and downgrades from Cazenove, one of the group’s brokers. BP shares are up just over 1 per cent. I just wonder, though, if everyone is not a bit too sanguine about BP’s reserves. There still seem to be some quite bullish forecasts out there, for example from Citigroup.

Amazingly, shareholders in Low & Bonar have approved proposals to for a new incentive scheme which would see the chief executive, Paul Forman, receive a one-off bonus worth 7.5 times his salary – and they have done so overwhelmingly. So much for an ABI “red-top”.

Things are looking a bit better at Debenhams, where today’s results have lifted the shares 2.5 per cent. If nothing else, it wasn’t a profits warning.

Pru shares are up a similar amount on better-than-expected new business figures (which tell us little about profitability), despite a worse-than-expected 20 per cent drop in UK revenues in the nine months to end-September. The growth is all coming from the US and Asia.

Things aren’t nearly so good, though, at Autonomy where in-line Q3 figures knocked the stock, which has been on 50 times 2007 earnings, down more than 8 per cent.

The FTSE-100 index, by the way, is up 1.5 per cent at lunchtime.

Rumours of the day: Word (picked up by the New York Post and FT Alphaville) is that Merrill Lynch is about to announce much worse Q3s than expected. The rumour is that it will take a $12bn charge, not the $5bn one it warned about. Also, a note from Dresdner suggests Ladbroke or William Hill might be interested in Rank. And, rumours again of Adecco looking at Hays.

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