Two Welshies in the office crowing after the w/e’s England drubbing and with the Azzurri playing so well against the Irish, we’ll probably lose to the Italians (and we’ve got an Italian in the team to boot!)…not good to be an Englishman…will make for merciless ribbing in the office this week…

Still, on the plus side, in ALDI over the w/e I bought 2 huge bags of shopping for 14 ‘quid…whereas the same two bags cost 21 ‘quid at SAINSBURY’s.

Sainsburys Asda merger

Not surprisingly Andrew Tyrie, a highly effective former chair of the Treasury Select Committee showed he’s not worried about losing friends in his new role as chair of the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) by making the conditions for the ASDA SAINSBURY merger so onerous, the deal is effectively dead in its tracks.

http://www.cityam.com/273523/sainsburys-asda-merger-could-push-up-prices-and-reduce

SAINSBURY boss Mike Coupe described the decision as outrageous as SAINSBURY’s share price bombed 20% and he’s now probably regretting his “We’re in the money” an unfortunate choice of song at the time of the merger announcement this time last year,  which at minimum can’t exactly have helped the bidders’ cause…

Clearly Tyrie and the CMA took a different view, namely that loads of money for them (SAINSBURY and ASDA) was going to mean less money for their customers via higher prices and reduced competition!

The whole subject of brands and their value was put into stark focus two days later by a record one day 28% share price fall in the Buffet owned KRAFT HEINZ,  which wrote down US$21bn of its brands in its quarterly report.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kraft-heinz-stocks/kraft-heinz-shares-fall-28-percent-after-writedown-dividend-cut-idUSKCN1QB1J9?il=0

The truth is brand value is a funny thing and while FERRARI, LVMH and MERC have got it, RECKITT and COLMAN and P&G probably haven’t…what price for example would CHANEL, in the news this week on Karl Lagerfield’s leaving £150m, even if much of it was to his cat, fetch?

2019-02-22T154519Z_2_LYNXNPEF1L0VQ_RTROPTP_3_KRAFT-HEINZ-RESULTS_original

Buying four tins of beans or tuna for 2 ‘quid not 3 is more useful for the customer and it will be interesting to see how the makers of these brands are able or not to protect their value after last week’s wake up call on both sides of the pond.

Meanwhile Trumpie and Xi look closer to an agreement on trade with a summit planned at DT’s golf club at Mar a Lago in Palm Beach before the end of March. Markets responded with another giant leap forward and a record- breaking ninth week rise in a row for the Dow, putting the S and P within 4% of a new all-time high…

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/22/the-stock-market-rally-to-start-2019-is-one-for-the-history-books.html

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china/trump-says-trade-talks-with-china-were-very-productive-idUSKCN1QD0L0

And while Kim Jong Un takes the slow train to Hanoi for their summit this week (2 days, sounds worse than Amtrak or South West Trains!) the efforts being made by Asian and American leaders in the name of collaboration are not going unnoticed by markets.

_105105515_kim

Here in ‘Blighty though, Bob (Bored of Brexit!) has gained traction as a phrase. Even the author as a self-proclaimed politics obsessive and someone who did the subject at uni and who used to watch BBC’s Question Time religiously, is starting to run out of road when it comes to Brexit.

I mean how many times can the same questions be asked over and over again, how many blood curdling warnings about luxury cat food and faux caviar that us poor Brits are going to be deprived of can we take?

And now we even have the ArchBish in on the act asking for five days of national prayer following Brexit…have you ever heard anything so idiotic when five people die every day in the UK from opiate abuse and the “left” is led by the gift to the Conservatives that keeps on giving…Labour is a now stunning 14% behind in the latest polls…leaving the EU is a change in our trading relationship with our main trade partner for goodness sake, it’s hardly a national  bereavement, what is wrong with policymakers in this country?

Fortunately for us, they’re not much better over La Manche, les gilets jaunes having forced Macron into a massive 7% pay rise and they’re still stirring up trouble…

But if I’m bored of it surely the whole country must be absolutely sick of it, but no, apparently people are still arguing like cats and dogs and apparently will be fighting like crazy till the world ends at this rate!  I mean, they must have better things to do with their lives these people??

We’ll still be here and the French and Germans will still be there right?

And the key question in Brussels last week surely was “Was Monsieur Juncker given a bop by Madame May?”

2019-02-20T181039Z_1_LYNXNPEF1J1GW_RTROPTP_2_BRITAIN-EU-JUNCKER-BANDAGE

Or was he trying to do a passing impression of a Luxembourgeois version of rapper Nelly in an attempt to forge a new career after he steps down later this year…

DLU51a4UEAA6VCh

Meeting a number of European bank bosses this last week or two it’s increasingly apparent as the press is saying and currency markets are indicating that the European Central Bank is about to get its rocket fuel boosters on again and reintroduce TLTRO’s into the banking system.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-eurozone-bonds-tltros-analysis/time-to-tltro-markets-home-in-on-details-of-ecbs-potential-new-booster-idUKKCN1Q00FP

Talking of rocket fuel, among other meetings we had last week, one very interesting one we had was with management of hydrogen fuel cells specialist UK listed CERES POWER.

https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/191846/ceres-power-makes-progress-with-growing-list-of-big-name-partners-191846.html

Elon Musk said last week he worried about the hydrogen-based fuel cell threat to his business month and it’s clear there is potential competition to battery technology evolving even if it’s in its early stages.

South River funds have had a cracking start to the year with multi asset funds up between 1% and 3% for the Cautious funds and 7% for the Dynamic multi asset and 8% for the specialist gold fund.

Overall we remain broadly constructive on markets with generous amounts of yield around in high yield bonds, property and in equities and with central banks supportive and valuations generally not excessive, investors continue to be compensated for the risks in global economies in our view.

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