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Newspapers: The Times, Independent, FT, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail, Express, Herald 280717

The Times

Smith & Nephew puts itself on solid footing: A recovery in emerging markets at Smith & Nephew has helped to alleviate the pain of adverse foreign exchange headwinds and the disposal of one of its businesses.

Sky to invest in tech and programmes to fend off rivals: Sky is to hire 300 new technology staff and invest millions more in original programming to tackle competition from streaming services such as Netflix and reduce its dependency on sport, after a fall in profits last year and a rise in customer defections.

Addiction drugs help Indivior to announce healthy figures: An increase in U.S. sales of drugs for opioid addictions helped Indivior to raise its full-year forecasts, prompting its shares to hit record highs.

Heathrow airport’s fortunes enjoy quick turnaround: Heathrow has recorded a sharp rise in passenger numbers and profits since the start of the year as Britain’s biggest airport paves the way for the construction of a third runway.

Starbucks closes hundreds of outlets as earnings fall: Starbucks announced plans last night to close hundreds of stores as its sales fell short of expectations.

Snap Inc excluded by FTSE Russell over voting rights: The New York-listed owner of Snapchat will be excluded from one of the world’s largest share indices over concerns at the company’s ownership structure that effectively means ordinary investors are excluded from having a say on the way the business is run.

Consumer confidence at lowest level in a year: Consumers are the most pessimistic they have been about the state of the general economy since the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, a closely-watched survey has revealed.

New York Times beats doubters to record strong growth: Strong growth in digital advertising revenue and an unprecedented surge in online subscriptions offset continued declines in print advertising at The New York Times. It helped the paper to hit a record 3.3 million subscribers in the second quarter as it swung into profit.

London wins backing for Saudi Aramco flotation: Saudi Aramco’s advisers are said to have recommended London for the company’s proposed stock market flotation.

Beer-lovers give a boost to Mitchells and Butlers: The pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers enjoyed a rare day in the sun after it cheered investors with a strong third-quarter update that sent the shares up by more than a fifth.

The Independent

Porsche ordered to recall thousands of cars over emissions cheating: Germany’s transport Minister has ordered the recall of thousands of Porsche cars, saying that they contain software that allows emissions tests to be cheated.

Britain’s five most uncomfortable commuter trains: Hitchin to King’s Cross, East Croydon to London Bridge and Manchester to Wigan: those are the most uncomfortable commuter journeys in Britain.

Volkswagen profits more than double in second quarter: Volkswagen’s profits more than doubled in the second quarter of the year, helped by a boost in sales across Europe, inspiring the carmaker to raise its 2017 sales forecast.

Trillion pound U.K. fund business threatened by new EU Brexit guidance: British-based investment firms’ long-standing ability to manage billions of euros of assets elsewhere in Europe could be threatened by Brexit, new EU guidance suggests.

Hundreds of U.K. charities hit by global crackdown on illegal funds: More than 300 U.K.-based charities have had their bank accounts closed in the last two years after being caught up in a global crackdown on illegal money flows, forcing the Government to explore how to allow them easier access to the financial system.

Slack: Messaging startup claimed to be seeking £190 million of new funding: Software startup Slack Technologies is raising $250 million (£190 million) in a new funding round, according to people familiar with the matter, boosting the company’s valuation as Silicon Valley companies enjoy a surge in venture capital investments.

Government report on EU migration after Brexit not due for over a year: The Government has commissioned an independent study into the role that EU nationals play in the U.K. economy, but the study is not due to be published until September 2018 – just six months before Britain’s deadline to exit the bloc.

Deutsche Bank warns of worse than expected 2017 as revenues slump 10%: Deutsche Bank forecast lower full-year revenues and only a modest improvement in earnings on Thursday, after second-quarter sales were hit by a drop in capital markets trading.

U.K. households could face ‘considerable and unpredictable’ fluctuations in food prices, says IFS: U.K. households could face “considerable and unpredictable” fluctuations in food prices after Brexit thanks to increased trade barriers and a weak pound, according to a think tank.

Twitter fails to grow its audience in second quarter of 2017: Twitter failed to attract more monthly users in the second quarter, spooking investors looking for evidence that the company is on a sustainable long-term growth path.

Financial Times

First U.K. commercial fracking well set to be drilled: The first commercial fracking well in the U.K. is set to be drilled within weeks in spite of strong opposition from protesters at the site near Blackpool.

Halliburton pays $29.2 million to settle SEC claims over Angola payments: Oil-services giant Halliburton will pay $29.2 million to resolve U.S. regulators’ claims that it fell afoul of an anti-corruption law in connection with payments it made to a company in Angola where it won lucrative oilfield services contracts.

Total ready to make acquisitions and invest while assets still cheap: Total said it was ready to make acquisitions and invest in new projects while global assets were still cheap, as the French oil and gas group reported forecast-beating second-quarter earnings on Thursday.

Fed nominee backs bank call for changes to stress tests: Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Federal Reserve’s regulatory wing has said he wants to inject greater “transparency” into the system of stress tests that the central bank uses to gauge banks’ health.

AIB to halt investment in U.K. due to Brexit uncertainty: Allied Irish Banks is reviewing its British business and will not invest more in that market at least until there is more clarity around the country’s departure from the EU.

Daiwa Securities buys M&A boutique banks in the U.S.: Daiwa Securities has snapped up a pair of merger and acquisition boutiques in the U.S. as Japanese investment banks make a fresh push to expand abroad and compensate for their declining domestic market.

Tax reform plan sees U.S. import charges scrapped: Republican leaders have ditched plans for an import tax, in recognition that the highly divisive measure was becoming a barrier to their ambitions to reform the U.S. tax system before critical elections next year.

Australia targets arms exports amid defence splurge: Spain and Italy sent warships on a 20,000-mile round trip this year in an effort to win a A$35 billion contract to build Australia’s next generation of frigates. On Thursday, the U.K. fired back — dispatching its defence secretary to Sydney on a charm offensive to make the case for Britain’s Type 26 submarine hunters.

Future of A380 superjumbo in doubt after Airbus cuts production: The future of the A380, the world’s biggest passenger jet, is in doubt after Airbus slashed the rate of production of the superjumbo for the second time in just over a year and signalled it was not optimistic about winning new orders in the short term.

Telegraph ends contract with Andy Coulson: The Daily Telegraph has ended its contract with David Cameron’s former communications Director Andy Coulson, as new Chief Executive Nick Hugh continues his shake up of the U.K. newspaper group.

Diageo hits all-time high on share buyback and profit upgrade: Diageo, the world’s biggest distiller, said it would buy back £1.5 billion in shares as it raised its profitability targets on the back of a 25% rise in full-year pre-tax profits.

Amazon sticks with investment plans despite blow to profits: Amazon saw profits fall to a seven-quarter low and forecast a drop in profits next quarter, as the company enters a phase of heavy investment in areas such as building warehouses, producing films, and setting up data centres.

P&G Boss to Nelson Peltz: ‘We are delivering right now’: Procter & Gamble bolstered its ammunition for the fight with activist investor Nelson Peltz on Thursday by bucking the gloom in the wider consumer goods sector and reporting earnings that were not as bad as investors had feared.

SpaceX’s new fundraising sees valuation near $21 billion: SpaceX, Elon Musk’s private space company, has disclosed a new $351 million fundraising round that would, according to one estimate, lift its valuation to about $21 billion.

Intel lifts profit outlook even as chip crown slips: Intel exceeded forecasts for both revenues and profits for the last quarter and lifted its outlook for the year, even as the group lost its crown as the world’s top chipmaker by revenues to Samsung.

Funding identifies Callsign as cyber security leader: Callsign, a cyber security start-up, has raised $35 million in the latest sign of confidence in the U.K. tech sector.

Telecoms groups outperform growth expectations: The global telecoms sector started to turn a corner in the second quarter as Telefónica, Orange and Verizon, some of the industry’s biggest hitters, all outperformed growth expectations.

Orange returns to growth in France for first time since 2009: French telecoms group Orange returned to growth in its home market for the first time in since 2009 in the first half of the year, despite recent warnings that it will be difficult to achieve growth in the coming years.

Etihad swings to $1.9 billion loss as revenues and yields fall: Etihad Airways swung to a $1.9 billion loss in 2016, as the company struggled with “one off impairment” charges related to writedowns in aircraft and financial assets, and to fuel hedging losses.

Lex:

Amazon: hire and hire: On Thursday investors saw the proof during quarterly earnings: headcount increased a whopping 42% year-on-year to 382,000. Higher costs contributed to a profit shortfall that was the biggest disappointment in three years and drove the stock 3% lower.

U.S. cable TV: discordant: Look no further than Thursday’s strong results at Charter Communications and Comcast Corp to understand why the Scripps family might feel threatened and want out. The pay TV network business the family controls, Scripps Networks Interactive, supplies them with such lifestyle stations as the Food Network and HGTV. A bidding war for Scripps is reaching its climax with rival Discovery Communications close to prevailing over Viacom.

Libor: missin’ you already: Everything about the London Interbank Offered Rate is passé — even the scandal that sealed its fate. Small wonder regulators want to replace it with a more “reliable” borrowing benchmark based on real deals. Yet it remains a global reference point for a reason. Phasing it out with no international replacement in sight leaves a gap.

Lombard:

Lloyds scores on profit but pays penalty for mistakes: Shareholders in Lloyds Banking Group might be wishing such an approach had been taken a few years back. It would have meant the full £18 billion cost was booked by now. Instead, they have had to endure news of a further £1.1 billion provision for PPI mis-selling in Lloyds’ half-year results — plus another £540 million for mishandling mortgage arrears and pushing “packaged” bank accounts. Refunding arrears charges to 590,000 borrowers will cost £284 million. And while Chief Executive António Horta-Osório might reasonably argue PPI mis-selling predated him, the mortgage mistakes were on his watch.

Diageo finds a cure for its cash hangover: It’s a good job Diageo didn’t wait until this morning to announce a £1.5 billion share buyback. With most analysts spending last night sampling its liquid wares — on the City’s unofficial last day of term (or not so ‘Super Thursday’ if you’re a journalist) — more might have missed the news. As it was, at least one analyst on Thursday deemed Diageo’s decision as “a surprise”.

The Daily Telegraph

Sports Direct swoops on French Connection shares as activists sell out: Two activist investors who declared war on French Connection’s corporate governance have sold their entire stakes to Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct in a move that gives the sportswear giant a 27% grip on the fashion retailer.

Pascal Soriot ‘here ‘after bad trial results wipe £10 billion from AstraZeneca value: AstraZeneca has suffered its worst one day share price crash since its formation in 1993, after bad results from a landmark lung cancer drug trial wiped more than £10 billion from its market value.

Amazon shares sink as profits fall 77%: Amazon’s quarterly profit slumped 77% after it stepped up spending in the three-month period to boost its international presence and invested heavily in video content.

Anglo American restarts dividend as it smashes debt target: Mining group Anglo American has surprised investors by restarting its dividend six months early, boosted by a surge in profits that helped it pay off more debt than it planned.

Glencore finally lands a stake in Australian coal mines with £1 billion deal: Glencore has acquired half a coal mine in Australia, just weeks after losing a bidding war to buy the whole lot.

Shoppers splurge in the sun but economists fear growth spurt is a last hurrah: Retailers earned another bumper month of sales in July as warm weather encouraged shoppers to hit the high street in force, spending more money despite rising inflation and restrained pay growth.

Two million to get ultrafast full-fibre broadband as Soros-backed Hyperoptic borrows £100 million: An ultrafast band provider backed by the billionaire investor George Soros has borrowed £100 million from a consortium of banks to fund a rapid network expansion that will increase pressure on BT and Virgin Media.

The Questor Column:

Diverse, global portfolio that seeks out undervalued assets is perfect for bargain hunters: Questor tipped British Empire Trust (BTEM) last October at 606p, arguing that the price – then representing an 11% discount to the stated value of the company’s underlying holdings – represented bargain exposure to a diverse, global portfolio. But our real argument lay in the fact that we believed the stated discount to be a wild underestimate. BTEM owns, among a range of assets, other investment funds, overseas holding companies and family – where in many cases the assets are not quoted on any market. Anthony Leatham, head of investment company research at broker Peel Hunt, estimates the company’s “overall discount” has narrowed from 30% to 25%. The share price has risen handsomely since our tip partly because of the weakening pound, but in part, also, because of this narrowing discount, Mr. Leatham says. This effect is set to continue as local markets re-rate a number of BTEM’s holdings. One differentiator of the company is that it actively seeks undervalued assets, often finding them in quoted funds and holding companies whose own shares are out of favour. This gives rise to the double-discount. The trust remains an attractive, long-term holding for those wanting exposure to a very different asset class. Even at ‘s price there is plenty of potential. Questor says ‘Hold’.

The Guardian

Richard Branson cedes control of Virgin Atlantic: The potential end of an era looms in British aviation after Sir Richard Branson announced he is selling 31% of Virgin Atlantic, relinquishing his controlling interest in the airline he founded in 1984.

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos – briefly – becomes world’s richest man: The Founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos briefly overtook Microsoft’s Bill Gates to become the world’s richest person.

London’s Walkie Talkie building sold for record-breaking £1.3 billion: The controversial skyscraper, officially called 20 Fenchurch Street, is being bought by the property arm of Lee Kum Kee Health Products Group, a conglomerate that makes condiments and healthcare products and also develops property. The price tag is the highest ever paid for a single U.K. building.

Southern rail tops list of most overcrowded trains: Southern rail services carrying more than twice as many passengers as they were designed for were the most overcrowded in the country last year, government statistics reveal.

Hammond appoints key economic adviser to Bank of England deputy role: Philip Hammond has filled the vacancy on the Bank of England’s interest rate setting committee left by the departure of Charlotte Hogg, following the appointment of Sir David Ramsden as the central bank’s new deputy Governor.

Libor interest rate to be phased out after string of scandals: The Libor interest rate benchmark used to price billions of pounds of financial products, which was linked to a series of bank scandals, is to be phased out.

France nationalises strategic shipyard to thwart Italian ownership: France is to nationalise its biggest shipyard at St-Nazaire rather than allow it to pass into Italian ownership, its economy Minister has announced.

Daily Mail

Lloyds takes another £1 billion hit as mortgage arrears blunder collides with ongoing PPI scandal: Lloyds Banking Group has revealed that it has taken a fresh £1 billion financial hit over botched mortgage payment collections and the long-running payment protection insurance fiasco.

Torrid day for leading U.K. estate agents as London slowdown hurts profits at Foxtons and Countrywide: Profits at two of the U.K.’s largest estate agents, Foxtons and Countrywide, have fallen sharply after a downturn in the London property market.

Just Eat looks to strike up delivery deals with chains such as Burger King and KFC as it celebrates appetising 46% profit rise: Online food delivery firm Just Eat says it plans to work with more chain restaurants such as Burger King and KFC as it looks to springboard off a 46% profit rise.

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch to pocket £11.5 million of shares as media giant reports 6% profit slide: Sky has revealed Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch is to pocket £11.5 million worth of shares on the same day it announced annual profits were hit by hikes for broadcasting live Premier League football.

MailOnline’s advertising revenues increase by £6 million – as online spending offset a decline in print: In its results for the quarter, the Daily Mail & General Trust said the Daily Mail’s market share grew to 23.3% compared to 22.8% this time last year, while The Mail on Sunday’s share rose to 22.2% from 21.8% in 2016.

Schroders client assets hit new high as profits climb to £342.8 million: Fund manager Schroders is now looking after a record £418 billion of clients’ assets, after customers pumped in another £800 million in the first half of 2017.

Daily Express

Lloyds to pay £300 million compensation to customers: Hundreds of thousands of Lloyds customers are to receive a slice of nearly £300 million after they were wrongly charged over a period of seven years.

Pension savers owed £26 million as HMRC overcharges thousands accessing pots: Savers accessing pension cash have been overcharged to the tune of £26 million by the taxman due to a quirk in HMRC’s system that has prompted outrage.

Furious German businesses call for EU to threaten U.S. after Russia sanctions: The European Union should slap the United States with punitive sanctions in response to Washington hitting Moscow with financial restrictions, a leading German business group has declared.

Government agrees £835 million with EU to satisfy state aid rules following RBS bailout: European regulators have agreed to an £835 million deal to satisfy state aid rules following the bailout of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2008.

Currency is ‘pyramid scheme’ says top investor who predicted crash: Cryptocurrency Bitcoin is a nothing more than a fad or pyramid scheme style scam, according to billionaire investor Howard Marks.

The Scottish Herald

Rising redress costs continue to dog newly independent Lloyds: The ongoing cost of rectifying past mistakes continues to weigh on Bank of Scotland owner Lloyds, which posted a statutory profit of £2.5 billion for the first half of 2017 despite underlying profits rising by 8% to £4.5 billion.

Profit leap at Diageo as whisky growth is heralded: Diageo has described the performance of its Scotch whisky business as “strong and sustainable” and said it would take Brexit in its stride, with a hope that the U.K. can extend global free-trade agreements.

Investment trust says small company gains do not reflect reduction in EU exit risks: The £1.4 billion Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust was significantly ahead of its benchmark index in the six months to June, posting a 13.8% total return on net asset value.

BAT revenue boosted by weak pound: British American Tobacco reported a 15.7% jump in first-half revenue to £7.72 billion, as the pound’s weakness boosted the value of overseas sales in sterling terms.

Brodies continues to build up its cash reserves: Law firm Brodies has continued to hoard cash after posting its seventh consecutive year of rising turnover.

Braehead shopping centre ran £12 million deficit: The Braehead shopping centre on the outskirts of Glasgow ran a £12 million deficit in the six months to June 30, it has been revealed.

Mining malaise hits Weir as U.S. oil recovers: Weir Group has highlighted the “accelerated recovery” of the fracking industry in the U.S., but shares were dragged down by a 13% fall in profits in its minerals division.

The Scotsman

Alliance Trust hails results of ‘transformational’ shake-up: Wealth manager Alliance Trust said its ‘transformational’ overhaul was beginning to bear fruit as it revealed that returns had outperformed its benchmark during the first half of the year.

Shell earnings boosted by higher oil and gas prices: Royal Dutch Shell has reported a large rise in second-quarter profits after the energy giant was boosted by higher oil and gas prices.

Sky profits slip on higher football broadcasting costs: Sky has reported a fall in full-year profits after it was stung by an increase in the cost of broadcasting live English Premier League football.

Semiconductor equipment supplier Ichor eyes expansion: Semiconductor manufacturing equipment supplier Ichor Systems, which employs 46 at its Blantyre base, is planning to expand from its traditional sectors into the wider engineering market.

North-east engineer SengS ups sales target on contract wins: An Aberdeenshire subsea engineering services business acquired by a private-equity backed manufacturer last year has secured new contracts worth £1.6 million.

City A.M.

Former Deutsche Bank top execs surrender bonuses worth €38.4 million after financial crisis failings: Top Deutsche Bank Executives agreed to waive bonuses worth €38.4 million (£34.3 million) to make amends for historical misconduct by the German lender.

Lyceum Capital builds on Grenfell momentum investing £40 million in fire compliance business Churchesfire: The fire in Grenfell Tower earlier this year, which killed at least 80 people, caused ripples across society as the scale of apparent safety failings in the apartment block became clear.

AB InBev looks to premium market for growth as Budweiser falters in the U.S.: Beer giant AB InBev posted profit and revenue growth in the first half as it focused on the top end of the market.

Ladbrokes Coral high street decline offset by fast online growth: Ladbrokes Coral saw its income from high street outlets drop in the first half, as analysts warned of dangers from tougher gambling regulations.

Thomas Cook share price rises as it reports growing sales and plans to return to Tunisia: Thomas Cook shares rose 6% in early afternoon trading as the travel company reported narrowing losses and a bounce back in travel to Turkey, in its third quarter update.

Investors back Bonmarche as it ploughs on with turnaround effort: Bonmarche’s sales have continued apace as the retailer continued to steam ahead with its turnaround effort.

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