Capital Markets, Financial

BGC Partners eyes new platform to trade US Treasuries

BGC Partners plans to launch a new platform to trade US Treasuries early next year, in a bid to return to a market in the middle of evolution, according to people familiar with the plans.  The company, spun out of Howard Lutnick’s Cantor Fitzgerald in 2004, sold eSpeed, the second-largest interdealer platform for trading Treasuries, […]

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Sales in Rocket Internet’s portfolio companies rise 30%

Revenues at Rocket Internet rose strongly at its portfolio companies in the first nine months of the year as the German tech group said it was making strides on the “path towards profitability”. Sales at its main companies increased 30.6 per cent to €1.58bn while losses narrowed. Rocket said the adjusted margin for earnings before […]

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Renminbi strengthens further despite gains by dollar

The renminbi on track for a fourth day of firming against the dollar on Wednesday after China’s central bank once again pushed the currency’s trading band (marginally) stronger. The onshore exchange rate (CNY) for the reniminbi was 0.28 per cent stronger at Rmb6.8855 in afternoon trade, bringing it 0.53 per cent firmer since it last […]

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Nomura rounds up markets’ biggest misses in 2016

Forecasting markets a year in advance is never easy, but with “year-ahead investment themes” season well underway, Nomura has provided a handy reminder of quite how difficult it is, with an overview of markets’ biggest hits and misses (OK, mostly misses) from the start of 2016. The biggest miss among analysts, according to Nomura’s Sam […]

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Spanish construction rebuilds after market collapse

Property developer Olivier Crambade founded Therus Invest in Madrid in 2004 to build offices and retail space. For five years business went quite well, and Therus developed and sold more than €300m of properties. Then Spain’s economy imploded, taking property with it, and Mr Crambade spent six years tending to Dhamma Energy, a solar energy […]

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Categorized | Banks

Take off shades to peer behind numbers

Posted on January 31, 2015


It has been a week to be blinded by the big numbers. Apple produced the largest quarterly profit in corporate history — $18bn of it. Alibaba said on Thursday that $126bn of goods were sold over its website in the three months to December. Oil major Shell is to reduce its capital spending by $15bn over the next three years. And Greek bank shares fell 40 per cent in the first half of the week as fears grew about exactly how radical the new leftwing government will be. Wow.

    But take off your shades and squint at the smaller numbers too — they can often be more revealing. Take Apple, for example. Lots of people are getting excited about its potential in China, but the $700 average cost of an iPhone 6 is 10 per cent of per capita GDP of $7,000. It will be hard for the company to achieve the same penetration there that it has in the US.

    Or at Alibaba, look at the $160m that the company has spent over the past two years to combat counterfeits. That might sound like a big effort, but will it be enough to please Chinese regulators who investigated ecommerce sites last autumn? A nasty spat is brewing.

    Yahoo is to spin off its Alibaba stake into a separately listed company. A big move (and a welcome one) for sure, but the spun off company will contain some smaller businesses that Yahoo no longer wants, as well as the Alibaba stake. Those small businesses will muddy the valuation.

    Over at Deutsche Bank, the small number to look at was 7 per cent — that’s the return on equity that the core part of the bank made last year. It was 3 per cent if non-core losses are included. Not good enough. There are big hopes, then, for a strategy review due to be unveiled in the second quarter of the year.

    Shake Shack, the US burger chain that got its IPO away this week, says that same-store (sorry, same Shack) sales growth is a skinny 1.2 per cent. For the moment that may not matter too much as it opens new outlets. But eventually, it will need existing stores to be part of the growth story.

    Even that 1.2 per cent, though, looks big next to what McDonald’s reported this week. Same store sales dropped by 1 per cent throughout 2014 as diners switched to more upmarket chains. A new chief executive is in place. One of his aims should be to push same-store sales to even the small level that Shake Shack manages.

    Whether you have big plans or small ones, have a good weekend.

    Oliver Ralph, deputy head of Lex