At Barclays, the adaynniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers is an occasion for a toast, not revisiting old regrets. Yet for most it was then that a financial brush-fire morphed into an inferno. Barclays, however, was clever enough to pull out its cheque book and turn itself into an investment banking powerhouse by acquiring the left over pieces of Lehman Brothers. In 2012 Barclays was eighth in investment banking revenue worldwide, one spot higher then where Lehman stood in 2007, with the £4bn ascribed to its investment bank making it the lender's largest segment. As well, its stock price has appreciated by more than those of BofA, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Happy anniversary indeed, says the Financial Time's Lex column.
There was a time - in the spring of 2011 - when African Minerals was the largest stock on AIM, with its share price standing at 650p. Yesterday it stood at 167p. Nevertheless, many things have changed this year at the company besides its share price. There is a new Chief Executive, Bernard Pryor and the company has abandoned plans to purchase assets elsewhere in Africa. As part of that change in strategy, it will concentrate on regaining output levels of 20m tonnes a year at its lone Sierra Leone iron-ore mine, at Tonkolili. As well, the company has scaled back the costly second phase of an upgrade of the infrastructure at Tonkilili. Its aim is to get to about 25m tonnes a year by 2017 or 2018.
With the support of its Chinese investor the company should have enough cash-flow and debt available to fund this. The shares
are attractive long-term, as it is hard to see how they can fall further. Not for widows and orphans, writes The Times's Tempus.
Sports Direct's good execution of the classic retail strategy of sourcing well, selling goods more cheaply than rivals and gradually eating their lunch has paid off handsomely. The company's stock price has doubled since it came to market in 2007. As well, it is now pursuing an international expansion and will gradually reshuffle its existing portfolio of stores in the UK. However, its presence on-line is scarce, as was that of HMV, which is a source of worry. Nevertheless, the firm stands to benefit from next year's Olympic Games. The shares sell on about 23.5 times earnings. The promotion to the FTSE 100 will be a plus, but one wonders how much further they can go thereafter, Tempus muses.
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