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2 FTSE 100 stocks to buy that I’d consider right now

I reckon it’s a good idea to invest in a few good quality FTSE 100 shares. I think these two pay decent dividend yields and have reasonable prospects for growing their dividends a little each year from where we are today.

Meanwhile, each firm has an undemanding valuation, which bodes well for future expansion of their share prices.

Retailing

FTSE 100 clothing, footwear, accessories and home products retailer Next (LSE: NXT) looks set to become a survivor in what has become a difficult sector. I think that’s because of the success of its catalogue and online sales strategy working in harmony with the store estate.

The second-quarter trading update released at the end of July revealed to us that sales and profits edged up by modest single-digit percentages in the period. I think that’s a far better trading outcome than many struggling retailers have been experiencing lately.

The good trading was better than the directors had previously anticipated and they increased full-price sales guidance for the second half of the year to an anticipated increase of 3% rather than 1.7% as stated earlier. Things are moving in the right direction and I think the stock is attractive.

At the recent share price close to 6,007p, the forward-looking earnings multiple runs just below 13 for the trading year to January 2021 and the anticipated dividend yield is around 2.9%. City analysts following the firm are pencilling in modest increases in the dividend ahead. I think Next looks like a stalwart that I’d be happy to add to my portfolio.

Paper & Packaging

Despite delivering decent-looking half-year financial numbers with its interim report at the beginning of August, paper and packaging firm Mondi (LSE: MNDI) saw its share price fall back on the news.

I think the move happened because the stock market is always looking ahead and trying to anticipate trading down the line. The figures were good, yes, but chief executive Peter Oswald said in the report they were achieved “against a backdrop of increasingly challenging trading conditions.” That, I reckon, was enough to spook the market.

But Oswald went on to say the firm’s “relentless” focus on continuous improvement is set to lessen the impact of trading pressures in the firm’s markets. I reckon the firm’s multi-year record of steady growth in revenue, earnings, cash flow and the dividend bodes well for future progress, despite any macro-economic wobbles we might see from time to time.

I like the stock and see the current weakness in the share price as an opportunity to hop aboard the story on better terms. The recent share price close to 1,595p throws up a forward-looking earnings multiple of just over nine for 2020 and the anticipated dividend yield is a little under 5%. I think that looks like decent value.

Women in Finance Charter continues to drive change at highest level

Over 350 financial services organisations have now signed up to the Women in Finance Charter, with today’s signatories bringing the total coverage of the Charter to over 800,000 people.

The Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter asks financial firms to commit to taking action to support the progression of women into senior roles, including setting their own gender targets.

The 21 newest signatories include investment firms Allianz Global Investors and Natixis, and business-banking tech company Tide.

Alongside this, new research from New Financial finds that the Women in Finance Charter is leading to greater engagement on gender diversity at the highest levels in those organisations which have signed up to it. Women in Finance Champion, Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia, said:

I’m delighted to see the Charter continue to grow. It’s the businesses that address their culture and understand the power of diversity that really succeed. The top quarter of businesses on gender diversity are 21% more likely to have above-average profits than the bottom quarter. So this is not just the right thing to do socially, it’s the right thing to do for business.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said:

It’s great to see so many financial organisations signed up to the Charter, but we can’t be complacent.

We need to make sure this is translated into meaningful change across the sector. So it’s reassuring that people are already seeing the Charter as a driver for change in their companies, including on wider diversity issues too.

Signing the Charter is just the first step, and I encourage all signatories to continue this work so we can create a fairer, more equal industry.

Yasmine Chinwala, partner at New Financial and co-author of the report, said:

It is very encouraging that signatories believe the Charter is driving change both within their organisations and at industry level. The data shows the Charter has influenced signatories to take a new approach to improving diversity. It is vital that signatories continue to use the Charter to stimulate discussions at the highest levels, and maintain focus on increasing female representation.

Two-thirds of the signatories surveyed believe being a Charter signatory will drive permanent sustainable change in their company and across the financial services industry, with the majority of the rest expecting to see a shift in their own organisation over the next five years.

The research also found that this is not just a ‘women’s issue’ but a business issue, with nearly all respondents seeking ways to involve men in their Charter commitments. Four-fifths of respondents are also seeking to improve their wider diversity as well as their gender balance, most commonly focusing on ethnicity, LGBT+, disability and socio-economic background.

Disruptive trading app nears $7 BILLION valuation with fresh funding

Robinhood Markets, the operator of a free mobile trading app, is close to garnering a valuation of $7 billion or more.

CNBC, citing two people familiar with the deal, reported Robinhood has raised a minimum of $200 million in a recent late-stage fundraising round that will give it a valuation of between $7 billion and $8 billion. The round, which includes mainly existing investors, hasn’t closed yet — which means it could raise more than $200 million. When Robinhood raised money via a Series D round it had a valuation of $5.6 billion, noted CNBC. Robinhood declined to comment on its valuation.

According to CNBC, Robinhood’s co-CEOs Baiju Bhatt and Vlad Tenev have said an initial public offering is in the cards at some point — but that currently, it is focused on disrupting other areas of finance. This year it applied for a national bank charter from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. A spokesman told CNBC in April that getting the national bank charter will enable it to offer banking products. “Robinhood’s goal is to be able to offer its customers a full suite of financial products to serve their needs,” the spokesman said.

CNBC noted that Robinhood brought on the CEO of Wedbush Bank and Merchants Bank of California, Scott Racusin, to head up its banking efforts. Racusin was eventually named the president and CEO of the potential bank. Robinhood was forced to retreat from offering a bank account after announcing in late 2018 a checking and savings product with 3 percent interest. Backlash quickly surfaced as to how the money would be insured and if it would be protected like a bank account that has the backing of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Robinhood removed all its marketing material and now calls it a cash management feature offered within its brokerage accounts.

Robinhood has been enjoying fast-paced growth thanks in large part to the fact that its stock trading app is free. In 2018 its user base jumped from 4 million during the summer to 6 million by late 2018.

Networking Event PHOTO

3 Simple Steps to Becoming a Better Networker

I’ve always been a natural extrovert in school and in business. I find it easy to socialise with others and connect with them personally and professionally. When I first embarked on my entrepreneurial journey and left the practice of law, I used to attend as many local networking events as possible. I deemed it important to get out there and connect with other business professionals to build both my brand and network for prospective clients, speaking engagements, and other business opportunities.

I realise that networking is not easy or simple for everyone. There are some who fear being in large crowds of people they do not know at networking events and being forced to strike up a conversation with someone they have little synergy with. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you can build solid networking skills through these 3 simple steps:

Attend as Many Networking Events as Possible

I am sure you have heard many say, “You need to put yourself out there if you want to meet the right person.” Networking is a lot like dating. In order to find a date, you need to put yourself out there in the limelight, and practice makes perfect.

First, find out where the local networking events are in your community. A great place to start is your local chamber of commerce and other leadership organisations that are industry-specific. Many groups will offer the first event free to all guests. Some events may be as high £180 for a lunch. Either way, if you meet your next business contact or potential boss, suddenly that fee becomes pennies and the reward outweighs the risk. But don’t forget to dress professional to the networking event. Treat it like a series of mini interviews.

Bring Business Cards & Don’t Forget to Take Business Cards from Others

Every person you meet is an opportunity. A key step to networking is having your own professional image and brand. Don’t make the mistake of showing up to a networking event without a stack of professional business cards.

Make sure the business card has your name, professional title (i.e. Managing Director) or industry (i.e. Finance), phone number, email (keep it professional), and Linkedin URL. Before you put your Linkedin URL on your new personal business card, ensure that you have a customised URL.

When you go to networking events, take a business card from each person you meet and give them your business card. Easy and done, right? Not so fast.

Following-up is the most important part of networking. Always follow-up with each person you meet. Get on their contact list. Tell them you hope to see them at the next event (which may open the door to them inviting you to an event you didn’t know about!). Invite them to have lunch or coffee the next week. Being consistent and committed is key.

Connect on Linkedin & Beyond

If you are going to attend networking events and build connections on Linkedin with attendees from the events (which of course I highly recommend), make sure your Linkedin profile is fully optimised with a powerful headline, compelling summary, and details of your experience. It’s important that the image you put out at the networking events matches your digital footprint — i.e. your personal brand aligns. You never know where this connection may lead.

Develop a rapport with other professionals and connect on a greater level through Linkedin. Share and comment on each other’s content. Engage with one another beyond just being a connection. Join groups they are members of and possibly connect with their connections.

WSJ PHOTO

The Wall Street Journal Reports Barron’s 2019 Top Adviser List

Greg Miller, CPA, CEO, Portfolio Manager and Co-Founder of Wellesley Asset Management, Inc., has been ranked #1 in Massachusetts for the fifth consecutive year on Barrons list of Americas Top 1,200 Financial Advisers. Featured in the March 14, 2019 edition of The Wall Street Journal, the Top 1,200 ranking is Barrons most comprehensive list of advisers which is published annually.

Following the ranking announcement, Greg Miller, a nationally recognised convertible bond expert with over 25 years of convertible bond experience, said, I am honored to have been ranked the top financial adviser in Massachusetts once again by Barrons. I believe this is a testament to our convertible bond investing strategy with the goal of principal protection, while at the same time, outperforming equities and fixed income over complete market cycles.

President, Portfolio Manager and Co-Founder of Wellesley Asset Management, Darlene Murphy, CPA, CFP, commented, It is truly an honor to be recognised again by Barrons as the top adviser in our home state of Massachusetts. This is a tribute not only to Greg Miller, but also to our team of professionals and to our loyal clients nationwide who inspire us to strive for excellence.

Michael Miller, CFIP, Chief Investment Officer added, We believe our success is directly related to investors concerns about possible upcoming market corrections and a desire for relative safety for their investments, while still pursuing equity-like capital appreciation. We believe properly selected convertible bonds offer this opportunity. In addition, convertible bonds are one of the few fixed income vehicles that have historically performed well during periods of rising interest rates.

To be nominated for Barrons Top 1,200 Financial Adviser listing, advisers must complete an extensive survey about their practice. Barrons also examines regulatory records, internal company documents, and 100-plus points of data provided by the firm. The criteria for inclusion are total assets under management and revenue generated, as well as the overall quality of the practice. Investment performance is not an explicit criterion, because it can be skewed by each clients appetite for risk. In many cases, the objective is preservation of wealth, rather than extraordinary returns.

About Wellesley Asset Management, Inc.

Wellesley Asset Management (Wellesley) is an SEC registered investment advisory firm located in Wellesley, Massachusetts specialising in the management of convertible bonds through separately managed accounts, mutual funds and a private fund. Wellesley is a trusted adviser to a diverse client base serving high and ultra-high net-worth individuals, registered investment advisers, institutions, pensions, and other investment professionals. Founded in 1991, by Greg Miller, CPA and Darlene Murphy, CPA, CFP, Wellesley invests in convertible bonds deploying absolute return-seeking strategies. Additional information about the firm is available at https://www.wellesleyassetmanagement.com/

About The Wall Street Journal & Barrons

The Wall Street Journal has been a trusted name since 1889 for unparalleled analysis and unique reporting of informing decisions that drive the world forward. Winner of 37 Pulitzer Prizes for outstanding journalism, the Journal includes coverage of U.S. and world news, politics, arts, culture, lifestyle and more. Barrons, published by Dow Jones since 1921, is Americas premier financial magazine. It is the trusted financial publishing brand that people active in the market turn to for information, ideas and insights they can use to increase their professional success and enhance their personal, financial well-being. The Wall Street Journal and Barrons are registered trademarks of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Disclosures:

Past Performance is no guarantee of future results.

All investing involves risk, including the risk of loss. There is no assurance that any investment will meet its performance objectives or that losses will be avoided.

Rankings should not be viewed as representative of any one clients experience and should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of performance by Wellesley Asset Management and any of its clients. Rankings published by magazines generally base their selections exclusively on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognised adviser. Working with a highly ranked adviser does not ensure that a client will experience a higher level of performance or guarantee results.

Crypto AE PHOTO

Cryptocurrency in 2019: Things to Expect

Cryptocurrencies continue to surprise us with their behavior through the years. Amidst all the instability and unpredictability in terms of performance, trading, litigation, regulation, and taxation, miners and investors brave the odds and explore what these cryptocurrencies have to offer. Pessimists and optimists alike have much to say about the future of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin – such as bitcoin’s supposed nearing end because of the consistent drop in bitcoin price after reaching its peak. But it’s more viable to focus on observable trends in order to have an idea on what to expect as far as these cryptocurrencies are concerned. Here are some of them.

The Market

The word “bubble” is thrown around in the finance world, and if you’re wondering what it means, it is simply the cycle created by the fast escalation of asset prices followed by a contraction. The bubble deflates when investors cease to buy at elevated prices and massive sell-offs occur. As for bitcoin, yes it is a bubble, and it indeed popped. The market is expected to calm down a bit after the Crypto bubble and cryptocurrency trading will remain profitable.

Cryptocurrency as Payment

Retailers are starting to accept cryptocurrency as payment. At this point in time, including cryptocurrency in the list of payment methods can potentially boost income, in the same way that establishments that accept credit cards do have a wider reach than those who do not. Now you can book flights, purchase household goods, get web domains, buy computer products, and so much more with bitcoin. As of December 2018, more travel services, web services, food, and general merchandise have started to accept bitcoin payments. Those with a Microsoft account, for example, have the “Redeem Bitcoin” option upon checkout and can add up to $100 at a time via Bitpay.

Cybersecurity

In the recent years, crypto traders and holders have seen security threats such as phishing and mining malware. Cryptocurrencies, in theory, are secure; however, we expect that new crypto exchanges and platforms will bring about new cybersecurity threats and challenges.

Blockchain

The blockchain industry has always been associated with cryptocurrency, and in 2019, it is expected to work on its image as an industry that has a lot more to offer. If the industry wants to operate on a larger scale, it needs to be communicated that the blockchain technology has a lot of uses that are unrelated to cryptocurrency.

Taxation and Regulation

2019 is set to be the year of more widespread, formal, and international crypto regulation. In cryptocurrency news this year, Malta became the first country to have a clear regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. Countries such as Russia and India have also begun to draft national legislation for cryptocurrencies; and we expect other countries to follow suit – giving way for cryptocurrency to become more legitimate. Preventing money laundering, fraud, and terrorist funding is a prime motivation in putting these regulations in place. If cryptocurrencies are safely policed, more and more people will be confident to use and adopt them.

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