Maitland/AMO Morning Monitor – Friday 4 September 2020
In the news
- Number 10 is coming under increasing pressure to revoke the appointment of former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott as a trade adviser amid growing condemnation of his misogynistic and homophobic comments and dismissal of climate change.
- Latest government figures have revealed that the number of weekly positive COVID-19 cases in England has increased to its highest level since the end of May.
- The Chancellor's "eat out to help out" exceeded the Treasury's estimates with 100m meals eaten at an interim taxpayer cost of £522m by the end of August.
- Pret a Manger has announced that it will shift to dinner deliveries to city dwellers and open more suburban branches to revive its business.
- The CMA has opened an investigation into four of the UK's biggest housebuilders over the sale of leasehold properties.
- HS2 has announced the formal beginning of the construction of the high-speed rail line between London and the West Midlands.
- The ONS will release its infection survey statistics for England this afternoon.
Stock market moves
- China’s CSI 300 index of Shanghai and Shenzhen listed stocks dropped 1.6%, while Japan’s benchmark Topix fell 1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.8%.
- The falls in Asia followed a hectic day on Wall Street, where the Nasdaq Composite index fell 5% while the S&P dropped 3.5%.
- In Europe, the FTSE 100 and Euro Stoxx 600 are both down 0.3% and 0.4% respectively in early hours.
- Brent crude fell 0.8% to $43.71 a barrel and gold rose 0.3% to $1,936.48 a troy ounce.
Corporate announcements* Maitland Client
The Berkeley Group Holdings PLC Trading Statement
- The Group’s trading has been resilient and supports its existing guidance of £500 million of pre-tax profit for the full year and its commitment to its shareholder returns programme of £280 million per annum.
- Sales pricing has been robust above its business plan levels. This has been supported by the demand for Berkeley properties in under-supplied markets, good mortgage availability and the support from Government for the sector.
- It anticipates a more split profit between the first and second halves of the year, reflecting levels of production that have been better than initially anticipated and its decision not to furlough staff.
- The Group currently has net cash in excess of £1 billion, ahead of next week’s dividend payment.
- The Group’s appointment of WCM Investment Management and Jennison Associates as new investment managers has now been completed, with the portfolio transition taking effect during the latter part of August.
- WCM has been allocated $200m to manage (8% of Witan’s assets). The portfolio is concentrated in 30 – 40 high conviction investments with the objective of securing long-term excess return and downside protection.
- Jennison has been allocated $100m to manage (4% of Witan’s assets). The portfolio typically has between 35 and 45 holdings and securities must meet stringent standards in order to remain or earn a place in the portfolio.
- Andrew Bell, CEO, said: “We are delighted to add WCM and Jennison this month to our list of managers. They specialise in high-conviction investments in rapidly growing companies and those with increasing competitive advantages that should enable them to win market share and achieve superior business results.”
- The Group, through its British Gas business, has agreed to acquire the energy supply customers of Robin Hood Energy Limited for an undisclosed sum.
- Completion of the transaction is expected on 16 September with customers moving to British Gas over the next few months.
- Customers will be given information on the process of moving and will be offered a British Gas tariff.
- Chris O’Shea, CEO of Centrica, said: “We are pleased to be able to offer every customer moving to British Gas a tariff which means their price will not be any higher and, importantly, they will be supplied with green electricity and have access to a range of other benefits – such as British Gas Rewards with free energy days and exclusive offers on services such as boiler cover.”