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Newspapers: The Times, Independent, FT, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail, Express, Herald 090218

The Times

Talktalk gives investors glum faces after slashing dividend: Talktalk was scrambling to reassure disgruntled investors last night after it warned on profits and slashed its dividend for the second time in a year, sending shares plunging by nearly 10%.

Kwek cuts dividend after M&C bid rejected: The Chairman of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels has carried out his threat to cut the dividend if his £2 billion bid to take the company private was rejected.

New River keeps top job in the family: One of Britain’s biggest shopping centre owners has said it has found the perfect successor to its departing Chief Executive — by appointing his son to the role.

Icy roads fail to put skids under AA: Hedge funds betting that the AA was caught out by recent icy weather appear to have been wrong as the roadside rescue business maintained its profit guidance for the full year.

Spirit sales barrel along at Pernod Ricard: The owner of Chivas Brothers scotch, Malibu rum, Beefeater gin and Absolut vodka was buoyed by stronger sales in India and China as well as demand in shops at transport hubs around the world.

The Independent

Bank of England signals ‘earlier’ interest rate hikes for U.K. as Brexit looms: Interest rates can be expected to rise “somewhat earlier” according to the Bank of England, priming households and companies to expect a higher cost of borrowing in the coming years, even as the U.K. prepares to leave the European Union and “decouples” from the booming global economy.

Dow Jones drops 1,000 points for the second time in a week: The stock market plummeted again, extending a period of volatility that has unravelled historic gains and offering evidence of a sustained correction.

Amazon to deliver Whole Foods groceries to Prime members: Amazon said on Thursday it would start delivering Whole Foods groceries via its fast-shipping Prime Now service in select U.S. cities and plans to expand it across the country this year.

Financial Times

Total boosts returns to shareholders after jump in profits: Oil investors … Total on Thursday announced a 1.2% increase in its full year dividend for 2017 to €2.48 and said there would be a further 3.2% rise in 2018 with an aim to lift the payout a tenth over the next three years.

Sibanye Chief confident of backing for Lonmin offer: The Chief Executive of Sibanye-Stillwater is confident shareholders and regulators will back his $285 million offer for Lonmin, the platinum producer on the brink of collapse.

Adani coal mine hits railway barrier: Australia’s largest rail freight operator withdrew an application for a A$1 billion (U.S.$777 million) state-backed loan on Friday to build a rail line to support development of the Galilee Basin, one of the world’s largest untapped coal reserves.

Société Générale ekes out quarterly profit despite charges: Société Générale eked out a small profit in the fourth quarter, beating expectations of a loss driven by exceptional items, as the bank presented its first set of results since setting out its new business plan.

U.K. insurance company Hiscox accused of data protection breach: An insurance company went on trial on Thursday, accused of breaching data protection laws in its handling of a customer’s claim about the loss of a £30,000 Swiss luxury watch.

Virtu shares leap after earnings beat and volatility returns: Shares in Virtu Financial soared by more than 30% to a record high on Thursday as the U.S. high-frequency trader’s earnings beat expectations and it welcomed volatility back into markets.

AIG reports Q4 net loss on tax, wildfire hit: American International Group said its net loss for the fourth quarter widened from a year ago as the insurer took a one-off tax charge and suffered losses related to the recent California wildfires.

Teva warns on revenue amid tough U.S. drug pricing: Shares in Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical, the world’s largest generic drugmaker, fell sharply after it forecast a drop in revenue in 2018 in spite of aggressive cost-cutting that will lose as many as 14,000 workers by the end of 2019.

ABB upbeat despite fourth quarter profits dip: Swiss engineering group ABB expects improving global economic conditions to power growth in profits and sales this year, despite reporting weaker than expected results for the final quarter of 2017.

Viacom revenue drops on weak cable, film results: Viacom got a boost from U.S. tax reform in the fourth quarter of 2017, but revenues fell short of expectations as its cable networks and film studio remained under pressure.

Digital real estate helps News Corp beat despite ad decline: News Corp beat Wall Street’s expectations in the last quarter of 2017 as growth in its online real estate business offset further advertising declines at the publisher of the Wall Street Journal.

GrubHub hits all-time high after dishing up profit jump, Yum stake: Yum. Investors were gobbling up GrubHub on Thursday, sending its shares to an all-time high after it delivered a sharp rise in quarterly profit and announced that fast-food giant Yum Brands had snapped up a 3% stake.

L’Oréal ready to buy Nestlé’s €23 billion stake in cosmetics group: The Chief Executive of L’Oréal has said that if Nestlé wanted to sell its 23% stake in the French cosmetics company, L’Oréal would be a buyer and “we have what it takes” to do so.

Coty’s brighter sales outlook refreshes shares: Coty’s makeover showed signs of accelerating when the U.S. cosmetics group upgraded its full year sales forecast on Thursday after a better than expected second quarter.

Expedia tumbles as investors unpack profit drop: Expedia fell sharply in after-hours trading on Thursday after the travel-booking company’s earnings showed its quarterly profit had fallen by nearly a third, while marketing and other costs grew.

Mattel picks former Maker Studios Chief as its new Chairman: The U.S. toymaker behind brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price — has selected Ynon Kreiz to chair its board of Directors, as it attempts to shore up sliding sales in a rocky retail environment.

H&M faces up to a new reality: Now, after a 2017 that some analysts have called its annus horribilis including its first quarterly drop in sales in two decades, H&M is facing up to a new reality.

Google fined $21 million in India over competition abuse: Google has been fined $21 million by Indian competition authorities for abusing its market dominance, as global regulators continue to crack down on the U.S. tech giant’s handling of online search queries.

Qualcomm opens narrow path to Broadcom deal: Qualcomm has offered to meet Broadcom’s Chief Executive to “address the serious deficiencies” in its rival chipmaker’s $146 billion takeover proposal, creating a narrow opening for what would be the largest technology deal in history.

T-Mobile profits surge on tax gain, adds 1.9 million customers in Q4: T-Mobile U.S. added 1.9 million customers in the fourth quarter taking it total customer gain for the year to 5.7 million and 39 million since it launched its Un-carrier strategy five years ago.

EasyJet forges ahead to protect flying rights after Brexit: EasyJet has pushed forward with plans to protect its flying rights after Brexit following a shareholder vote in favour of legal changes that will help ensure the low-cost airline meets EU ownership rules.

Lex:

TDC/Macquarie: felicific calculus: Don’t be to quick to dismiss the ‘vampire kangaroo’. Denmark’s largest pension fund teams up with Australian investors deemed so aggressive that it has been dubbed “vampire kangaroo”.

European banks: the yield field: More banks are restarting payouts to shareholders.

Ashmore: jubilation: U.K. fund manager is back on an upswing, and it could add another $10 billion to assets.

Lombard:

TalkTalk’s £1.5 billion broadband plan seeks to change the mood music: As shares hit record low, investors must decide whether the only is up.

The Daily Telegraph

EE to offer fast wireless broadband to more than half a million remote homes: BT’s mobile arm EE is to offer broadband to more than half a million of Britain’s most remote homes, in a sign of increasing convergence of the telecoms giant’s fixed line and wireless services.

Petropavlovsk names new Boss, dashing hopes of Kazak investor: Gold miner Petropavlovsk has named a new Chief Executive, dashing the hopes of its biggest shareholder that it might lure back its founding Boss.

Nissan slashes profit forecast as Executives discuss Brexit at No 10: The scandal at Nissan which saw unauthorised staff doing safety checks on cars has led the Japanese automotive giant to slash profit forecasts.

The Questor Column:

Questor: three conservative trusts whose share prices have fallen in the market sell-off: When we tipped Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust last month we said it looked well placed to cope with a downturn, thanks to its approach of “pure, unadulterated value investing”. That remains the case – for one thing, its holdings are valued much more cheaply than the market as a whole, suggesting that they should have less far to fall if the correction continues – but the shares have still slipped by 6.4% since our tip. The discount stood then at 13.9% and has actually narrowed slightly to 13%, according to Morningstar, the investment analyst, which shows that the share price fall is down to declines in its underlying holdings. Peter Walls, who holds the fund in his Unicorn Mastertrust, said: “This portfolio is not going to go disastrously wrong. In a stressed market it is likely to perform better than other types of fund.” “Buy”.

Another conservatively managed trust is Troy Income & Growth, which we described in November last year as “the trust to buy if you are worried that markets have become complacent”. One of the attributes we highlighted was the trust’s mechanism to limit its discount (or premium). This can be reassuring to existing investors in times of market dislocation because they can be reasonably sure that the discount will not widen significantly, which could undermine solid performance from the portfolio itself. We tipped the trust at 79.6p and a discount of 0.3%; last night its shares closed 5.8% lower at 75p and at an almost unchanged discount of 0.5%. “Buy”.

Caledonia takes a different approach to protecting investors’ capital. The trust, which was established to manage the money of the Cayzer family, who remain represented on the board, believes in diversification and therefore divides its holdings into four “pools”: quoted assets, income investments (which include some quoted stocks), unquoted assets and funds. In light of its conservatism and dividend record, it seemed surprising to us that the trust was trading at a discount of 18.1% at the time of our tip, which was published when the share price was £28.81. The discount has now widened slightly to 19% and the shares have fallen by 6.5% to £26.95. “Buy”.

Update: Macau Property Opportunities: The Macau Property Opportunities trust, tipped here last month, has conditionally agreed to sell one of its properties for about $102 million (£73 million), a premium of about 14% to the property’s valuation of $90 million at the end of last year. Nick Greenwood, who owns the £147 million trust in his Miton Worldwide Opportunities fund, described the deal as “very good news”. The trust’s shares have gained 3.8% since we tipped them last month. Shareholders will be asked to approve the transaction.

The Guardian

Aviva under fire for pouring £370 million into Polish coal industry: U.K. insurer Aviva is the second-biggest investor in the Polish coal industry, the most polluting in Europe, according to a report that looks at insurance firms’ involvement in the sector.

Twitter makes first quarterly profit in its history: Twitter has posted its first quarterly profit in the company’s 12-year history, although a clampdown on fake accounts meant it lost users in the U.S. and overall user growth stalled.

Debenhams to axe 320 store manager roles: The retailer said it would remove a layer of management by March, similar to moves taken by several supermarket groups in recent weeks. The company said it aims to redeploy staff where possible.

Daily Mail

Builder Bellway lines up double-digit revenues rise as demand stays strong: Housebuilder Bellway is lining up a double-digit rise in revenues and expects half year housing revenues to climb 14% to £1.3billion, as customer appetite stays strong.

GlaxoSmithKline faces fresh probe over allegations it bribed doctors to prescribe its drugs: Drugs titan Glaxosmithkline faces a fresh bribery probe over allegations it paid doctors to prescribe its medicines to patients.

Thomas Cook boosted by travellers heading back to Turkey and Egypt as terror attack fears begin to subside: Britain’s biggest travel agent hailed a strong start to the year as holidaymakers took a shine again to sun-soaked holidays in the Mediterranean.

Fashion house Hermes runs out of its coveted £8000-plus handbags as sales hit £4.8 billion: A handbag shortage hit sales at French fashion house Hermes. Famed for its $10,000-plus handbags such as the Birkin and its squared silk scarves, it said stocks of its coveted bags ran low in 2017.

Daily Express

Nikkei 225 plunges more than 700 points as global market meltdown continues: the Nikkei 225 plunged over 700 points after opening this morning and that marks the second time the market has gone into free fall in the last week, it has emerged.

The Scottish Herald

Scottish manufactured exports jump as food and drink sales surge: Scottish manufactured export volumes jumped by 3.6% quarter-on-quarter in the three months to September last year, official figures reveal.

Aberdeen oil and gas firm underlines potential of Moray Firth fields: The North Sea-focused Parkmead Group run by oil and gas entrepreneur Tom Cross has underlined its faith in the potential of a flagship field development project after taking full control.

Cancer therapy firm hails Japanese pharma deal: TC Biopharm, the Motherwell-based biotech company, has declared its future has been safeguarded after teaming up with Japan’s Nipro Corporation to fund a new therapy targeting blood cancers.

Law firm Thorntons reports big leap in profits: Thorntons Law has highlighted the impact made by its acquisition of Kirkcaldy-based Clarkson Hamilton as it expanded during its most recent financial year, writes Scott Wright.

City A.M.

Goals Soccer Centres appoints Andrew Anson as Chief Executive: Goals Soccer Centres has appointed a new Boss after its previous Chief Executive left to take over at Carluccio’s. Andrew Anson, global President of Teneo Sports and former Chief Executive of Kitbag, will join towards the end of April.

DFS’ sales boosted by Sofology acquisition: Group sales increased 4% over the 26 weeks to 27 January, however, excluding Sofology, sales fell 3.5% year-on-year. The retailer did not provide a like-for-like sales figure, but said comparable sales were “strengthening” during the first half of the year.

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Disclaimer: Statements in this article should not be considered investment advice, which is best sought directly from a qualified professional.