|Bid||1,757.50 x 0|
|Ask||1,758.00 x 0|
|Day's range||1,730.50 - 1,794.06|
|52-week range||1,624.00 - 2,447.00|
|Beta (3Y monthly)||1.01|
|PE ratio (TTM)||33.88|
|Earnings date||4 Feb 2019 - 8 Feb 2019|
|Forward dividend & yield||0.34 (1.83%)|
|1y target est||1,810.38|
We expect better than the fan-club tone of the best buy list following its hero’s costly crash and burn. What does Hargreaves Lansdown, Neil Woodford’s former cheerleader-in-chief, make of its old hero’s decision to throw in the towel? Surely this is an ideal moment for the investment platform’s chief executive, Chris Hill, to share the “learnings and improvements” that apply to his own firm. He’s been promising to reveal the fruits of this exercise almost from the moment Woodford’s flagship fund was suspended in June. There was near-silence from Bristol on Wednesday. Hargreaves relayed the latest grim updates for Woodford investors on its website, but that was all. Hill must still working on his “learnings”. This is odd, though, because Peter Hargreaves, one of the firm’s founders and still its biggest shareholder, has been clear about one lesson to be drawn. “The reality is platform buy lists, especially the Hargreaves Lansdown one, have been key to the fortunes of some fund managers,” he told FT Adviser this month. “Maybe the Woodford issue will mean people take them with a pinch of salt in future.” Well, yes, investors definitely should keep a cellar of salt handy when reading Hargreaves’ Wealth 50 report. Woodford’s Equity Income Fund retained its star status until the gates were shut, despite the platform revealing afterwards that it had been fretting since late 2017 about the number of illiquid stocks in the portfolio. But you’ll struggle to get Hill, or Hargreaves the company, to concede there’s a fundamental problem with best buy lists that blur the line between promotion and research. Instead, Hill has defended current practices, arguing that recommendations are valued by the punters and that “the shortcomings on one fund should not detract from the benefits”. Nobody, obviously, expects only winning funds to be included. But, come on, the one-dimensional fan-club tone of best buy lists is grating. Where’s the scepticism? Where are the counter views? Where’s the acknowledgement that the cult of the star fund manager, which has been hugely profitable for Hargreaves, may not be all it’s cracked up to be? Where, indeed, is the admission that Hargreaves, having prodded many clients in Woodford’s direction, had a duty to ensure governance was more robust than the cosy-looking set-up seen at the Patient Capital investment trust? One lives in hope that Hargreaves’ promised self-examination will produce something more meaningful than the early but vague apology for the “disappointment and frustration” suffered by clients. But it’s starting to look as if Hargreaves just hopes the whole Woodford thing would blow over. Regulators must not let that happen. Asos still has a way to go Good news from Asos: there have been no more self-inflicted calamities with the automated warehouses since the last episode. Full-year profits still collapsed, but only to the degree that embattled chief executive Nick Beighton had indicated in his last profits warning in July – they fell 68% to £33.1m. The share roses 28% on Wednesday. The only way is up. Well, maybe. For all the hype around Asos, the company’s stupendous investment spree – £700m spent in the past five years – has so far succeeded only in demonstrating that cheap and cheerful fashion lines are popular. Revenues last year were £2.7bn. The harder part is making decent money from global expansion and ensuring that new hubs in Atlanta and Berlin earn their keep. Asos’ operating profit margin last year was a skinny 1.3%. In the old days, meaning half a decade ago, Asos aspired to 6%-8%. It’s hard to tell if that long-term ambition remains wholly intact because Beighton has adopted a pose as a man of mystery and has abandoned the policy of offering year-ahead guidance on profits and sales. Actually, though, the new stance is probably sensible for two reasons. First, Asos’ forecasting record was reliably terrible. Second, competition has become stiffer since those long-ago days when Asos seemed to have the twentysomething fast fashion field to itself. Boohoo, with its PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal brands, has planted itself on the same patch. Meanwhile, Next’s online operation is rapidly expanding into the world of third-party brands and never seems to suffer the warehousing hiccups that have plagued Asos in the past year. Beighton says the problems at Asos have now been fixed and, if so, investors may eventually discover the answer to the profit margin riddle. The reassurance for investors is that Asos has beefed-up its cast of non-executive directors, led by chairman Adam Crozier, the former ITV chief executive, and they surely won’t tolerate an operational relapse. The prickly Beighton still has a lot of lost ground to recover.
Once one of Britain's most celebrated money managers and idolised by a legion of investor devotees, the collapse of Neil Woodford's business has been swift and brutal. The 59-year-old moved quickly to call time on his eponymous asset management company late on Tuesday, hours after being sacked as manager of the firm's flagship fund by its administrator, Link Fund Solutions. The move followed four months of efforts to sell out of a number of unlisted and little traded stocks - some 20% of the fund's portfolio according to Britain's regulator - and raise cash to pay off investors irked by weak returns.
Famed British money manager Neil Woodford shut his asset management business on Tuesday, calling it quits hours after administrators stepped in to wind down his flagship fund and sack him as its manager. Woodford, one of Britain's most high profile investors, had been battling to save his company since June after a flood of investor redemption requests forced him to suspend withdrawals in his flagship LF Woodford Equity Income Fund.
A daily overview of the top business, market, and economic stories to watch in the UK, Europe, and abroad.
British investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown said its total assets rose 3% in the quarter to the end of September, driven by net inflows of client cash and market gains, although investment sentiment was weak. Total assets under administration were 101.8 billion pounds ($124.45 billion), it said in a statement, up from 99.3 billion pounds at the end of June. Net new business contributed 1.7 billion pounds while markets added a further 800 million pounds.
AGM this week will be dominated by scrutiny of the firm’s links with the frozen investment fund, and the toll on its share price. The last thing Hargreaves Lansdown needed in the run-up to Thursday’s annual general meeting was a broadside from the company’s founder and biggest shareholder about its handling of the Neil Woodford affair. Peter Hargreaves, who owns 32% of the business that bears his name, blamed the company’s management for the plight of savers who are now unable to get their money out of Woodford’s funds. “It’s annoyed the hell out of me that it would appear he [Woodford] has not been truthful with Hargreaves Lansdown. But it’s also annoyed me that they [Hargreaves Lansdown] let it go on so long,” Hargreaves told the Sunday Times. Hargreaves, most of whose £3bn-plus fortune is tied up in the investment service company, added: “The clients have been stuffed in this horrible Woodford fund.” Hargreaves Lansdown, a FTSE 100 company, will hold the AGM at its Bristol headquarters on 10 October alongside a trading update for the three months to the end of September. Woodford’s flagship equity income fund blocked withdrawals in June and is not due to reopen until December, after its plunging value sparked a run of savers trying to get their money back. Almost 300,000 Hargreaves Lansdown customers, about a quarter of the total, have money tied up there. The company had promoted Woodford heavily in its Wealth 50 list of favourite funds, withdrawing the recommendation only when the fund was frozen. Chris Hill, Hargreaves Lansdown’s chief executive, has tried to atone for his company’s role in the debacle. He offered an apology and he and his top team waived annual bonuses for last year and fees for affected customers. But that may not be enough for some individual Hargreaves Lansdown shareholders who also have money frozen in Woodford’s fund. The affair exposed the close relationship between Woodford and Hargreaves Lansdown, which made £41m in fees from clients’ investments in the fund before its closure. Peter Parry, policy director at the UK Shareholders’ Association, said: “There may well be a number of people who are invested in both Woodford and Hargreaves Lansdown who are quite surprised to learn how close those links were. I think some investors who are quite active will want to go along, rattle the cage and question the directors pretty closely.” The company is unlikely to face major rebellions at the AGM. Shareholder advisers are fairly content with its governance, though Pirc and Minerva have questioned executives’ pay levels. Woodford’s woes have taken their toll on Hargreaves Lansdown’s shares, which hit a record of more than £24 in May before falling by a quarter over the following month. Even after a further fall last week, it has been a phenomenal investment since floating at 160p in 2007. But some analysts argue the Woodford imbroglio could cause further trouble for a company whose success has been based on its reputation for customer service and investment advice. Last week Credit Suisse gave Hargreaves Lansdown an “underperform” rating, sending the shares down. “We see continued headwinds from the impact of the gating of the LF Woodford equity income fund,” analyst Haley Tam said, adding that the company’s outsized profit margins could come under pressure. If Thursday’s trading update on post-Woodford performance shows the sceptics are right, Peter Hargreaves and other shareholders could get angrier.
UK stocks retreated on Tuesday, reversing gains from earlier in the day, coming under pressure following disappointing manufacturing data from the United States that added to concerns about the health of the global economy. The FTSE 100 lost 0.7% and a sub-index of banks fell more than 1%. The main index still outperformed the benchmark European bourse that was already rattled by weak factory activity data from the euro zone.
With his flagship 3.7 billion pound ($4.5 billion) fund frozen, money manager Neil Woodford has been travelling around Britain trying to convince independent financial advisers (IFAs) his firm remains a good long-term bet. Woodford, one of the UK's best-known fund managers, has given no media interviews or made any public appearances since his Equity Income Fund was suspended on June 3 after it ran out of cash to pay back investors seeking to leave. Woodford has been "fighting his corner" said one source who attended the meetings, explaining his view of the markets and receiving a positive response, though two others said they did not find his arguments convincing.
Could this FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE: UKX) faller be the key to stunning returns now and in the future? Royston Wild explains why his answer is yes.
European shares had their best day in almost two months on Thursday as upbeat trade data from China and a steadying of its currency helped to calm some fears of recession and a further escalation in Sino-U.S. trade tensions. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose for a second day, closing 1.7% higher, swept up in a global rally after days of turmoil sparked by an escalation in U.S.-China trade tensions last week. Data showed July exports in China rose at their fastest since March, while a fall in imports was not as bad as a forecast, soothing worries that the protracted and escalating trade war will tip the world into recession.
Mining stocks thrust London's main index higher on Thursday after a round of Chinese data dissipated some global growth fears and nickel prices hit a 16-month high amid supply worries, while Hargreaves Lansdown advanced after strong annual results. The FTSE 100, which fell almost 5% in the days after President Donald Trump said he would slap tariffs on more Chinese imports last week, recovered for the second session running and surged 1.2%.
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The FTSE 100 , which fell almost 5% in the days after President Donald Trump said he would slap tariffs on more Chinese imports last week, recovered for the second session running and surged 1.2%. The more domestically focussed mid-cap index rose 1% on its best day in nearly three months. "The trade spat is far from over, but while the rhetoric and the actions have been dialled down, traders are swooping in snapping up relatively cheap stocks," CMC Markets analyst David Madden said.
British fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown overcame adverse publicity over the suspension of Neil Woodford's flagship fund to increase full-year assets by 8.4% on a growing client base and net savings inflows, sending its shares higher. The UK's biggest online investing platform appeared to have weathered the ire of clients and policymakers since the June suspension of Woodford's equity income fund, which Hargreaves had championed for years to its many retail savers. Hargreaves said on Thursday that total assets under administration were 99.3 billion pounds ($121 billion) at end-June, up from 91.6 billion pounds a year earlier and beating a company supplied consensus of 15 analysts for 98.7 billion pounds, helping to underpin a 7.7% rise in its shares.