Tesco’s first half profit up 11%.

30 09 2008

Supermarket giant Tesco today announced a 11% rise in its half-year pre-tax profits which rose to £1.44 billion from £1.29 billion last year with sales rising 13% to £25.6 billion. Like-for-like sales grew by about 7% which seems very good especially since consumers are cutting back on their spending and discount retailers like Aldi, Lidl, Netto, Iceland, Wilkinsons, etc. are attracting customers from large supermarkets.

It was reported earlier this month that Tesco’s market share had decreased by 0.2% to 31.5%. However, it still has a much greater market share when compared to stores such as Aldi which has 2.9% market share which allows Tesco to benefit from economies of scale. This means it can buy its stock in relatively large numbers at lower cost which would normally allow it to increase its profit margin, but in the current financial situation, it allows Tesco to reduce its prices thereby attracting shoppers looking to reduce their grocery bills.

Tesco introduced a new discount range of about 400 products aptly named “Discount Range” with the aim to compete with discount stores and offer customers value for money. Tesco’s chief executive Sir Terry Laehy claimed that sales of its discount range was rising faster than that of Aldi or Lidl.

HSBC, Bradford & Bingley and Seagate cut jobs to cut costs.

26 09 2008

HSBC announced today that it was going to sack 1,100 of its 335,00 employees employed worldwide. According to the BBC, half of these job losses will be from the investment banking section of HSBC whose headquarters is situated at Canary Wharf.

Mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley announced yesterday that it would sack 370 of its employees in a bid to cut down its costs. 300 of these will be from its mortgage processing centre in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, while the rest will consist of mortgage advisers and sales staff. Bradford & Bingley believe that these job cuts will save them around £15 million in costs. However, it also plans to add about 70 more staff to collect repayments from their customers who have failed to pay up. B&B specialises in buy-to-let and self-certified mortgages and has been hit heavily by the falling property prices since the fall in price leads to negative equity of its assets, i.e., the value of the property is less than the loan secured against it. B&B is also finding it hard to attract depositors because last week, B&B’s credit rating by the credit rating agencies Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s was downgraded to just above junk status.

Electronics company Seagate Technologies, which is one of the world’s largest manufacturer of hard drives, announced yesterday that it is moving its manufacturing from Limavady in Northern Ireland to Malaysia which will see 1000 employees lose their jobs. The factory at Limavady has operated for the last 10 years and was due to be shut down around October end this year but its closure was brought forward. Although Seagate may not be a household name, its hard drives can be found in consumer electronics ranging from computers, portable music players and games consoles such as the PlayStation and Xbox.

AIG bailout-CNN video

19 09 2008

In an interesting video on the CNN website, Richard Quest explains the link between the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers and how it affected the insurer AIG. 

Credit Crunch 101 http://edition.cnn.com/video/savp/evp/?loc=int&vid=/video/business/2008/09/19/quest.credit.crunch.101.cnn

Lloyds TSB confirms HBOS rescue.

18 09 2008

Lloyds TSB confirmed the speculations and rumours about the rescue deal of HBOS which is to be worth around £12.2 billion. This deal is still awaiting the approval of the majority of the shareholders and the Financial Services Authority to go ahead. Should this deal go ahead, it will create a bank which will be worth about £30 billion and will have about 28% of the mortgage and savings market.

However, the staff at HBOS may not be celebrating as yet from the news of the takeover since it is very likely that many, some estimates being around 40,000 members of staff, will be made redudant. It is likely that in places where branches of HBOS and Lloyds TSB are too close to one another, the least effective branch will be closed. This will certainly reduce costs for the new bank, something it needs in such times, but will also contribute to unemployment.



AIG bailout and HBOS trouble.

17 09 2008

The US Federal Reserve, which is America’s central bank, threw a lifeline and saved one of the world’s biggest insurance group, American International Group (AIG), from collapse by lending it $85 billion, which would have to be paid back over two years at a high interest rate. Just recently, the US Government took over the US mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a deal which is reported to be worth around $200 billion.

In Britain, media reports are emerging about banks Lloyds TSB and HBOS being in the advanced stages of a possible merger deal or even a takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, should this deal go ahead, it would create a lender which would have a 28% share of the mortgage market in the U.K. Currently, HBOS has a 20% share of the U.K. mortgage market whereas in comparison, Lloyds TSB have only 8%. Back in Frebruary of this year, Lloyds TSB was interested in taking over the troubled bank Northern Rock, but the Government were reluctant, and Northern Rock has been nationalised since. Looking at the current state of the markets, its seems unlikely that the Government will create any obstacles in this deal. On the contrary, according to the BBC, the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority are infact encouraging the deal so as to prevent any more turmoil in the banking sector. 

HBOS was formed by the merger of Halifax Plc. based in Yorkshire and Bank of Scotland based in Edinburgh back in 2001. HBOS’s main source of revenue is from its mortgage products, but with the current increase in repossession of properties due to default payments and the drop in house prices, HBOS will be left with properties worth less than the mortgage secured against them and hence, with little left in its pockets.

It will be interesting to what happens to this proposed deal.

Richard Branson need not worry.

13 09 2008

Richard Branson is under pressure. He is opposed to the proposed BA-AA deal. I don’t think, he needs to worry.

First of all, its a free world. To say that this (BA+AA+Iberia alliance) will create monopoly is exaggeration.

Secondly, he needs to make Virgin Atlantic more competitive. Virgin is known for good customer services. There is always a market for good airlines. Come on Sir Richard, be competitive. A good businessman should never be afraid of competition. Differentiate (Michael Porter), create a niche market and you will reap rewards.

Further reading: http://uk.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUKLC60329820080912


Morrison’s Profits boosted by Bargain Hunters

12 09 2008

Retailer Morrisons reported that its profits in the first half of the year rose by 19% to £295 million. Shoppers, who are faced with rising utility bills and higher mortgage repayments, are seeing a reduction in their spending power and are hence switching from more expensive products such as premium branded and organic products to more basic value for money products to reduce their shopping bills. Morrisons, who reduced prices on several everyday items to 50p, believe they have attracted about half a million new customers from their rivals by offering them bargains.

Interestingly, the Times reported that sales of Tupperware lunchboxes, sandwich bags and aluminium foil rose by 40%, 34% and 27% respectively at retailer Sainsburys, but the Thermos flask was clearly the winner seeing its sales double as compared to last year. This shows a clear shift and increase in the number of people who prefer to prepare their own lunch at home rather than spending, what seems like a fortune in these circumstances, on food and drink outside. It seems that shoppers are beginning to scrutinise whats in their shopping basket and making sure they only buy what is needed and that its value for money.