Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc jumps on early earnings — why?

Fifty pound noteRoyal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS) surged more than 10% higher in trading today, after the bank surprised investors with a early look at the bank’s first-half results, which are due on 1 August.

The headlines focused on the big jump in pre-tax profits, but I reckon the real winner was a different figure altogether.

To find out more, check out my latest Motley Fool article, which you can find here.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for information only and is not intended as investment advice. The author may own shares in the companies mentioned in the article. Do your own research or seek qualified professional advice before making any purchase decisions.

Kingfisher plc decline gathers pace as Euro operations weigh on results

A share tip circled in a newspaper share listingLacklustre European sales appear to be holding back home improvement firm Kingfisher plc (LON:KGF), especially in Europe, where sales slipped back during the first half of this year.

Although UK sales (B&Q and Screwfix) climbed by 4.7% during the first half on a like-for-like basis, these only accounted for 30% of profits last year and will not be enough to prop up the firm’s earnings if its international operations don’t respond to the company’s plan to accelerate price cuts.

In a new article for the Motley Fool this morning, I took a closer look at noted the growing similarities between Kingfisher and that other struggling retailer, Tesco.

You can read the full article by clicking here.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for information only and is not intended as investment advice. The author may own shares in the companies mentioned in the article. Do your own research or seek qualified professional advice before making any purchase decisions.

Has the City fallen out of love with Standard Chartered PLC ?

Glass skyscraper buildingAnyone looking for financial company news on the FT website this morning (Wednesday 23/7) might be forgiven for thinking that emerging markets bank Standard Chartered PLC (LON:STAN) was about to go bust.

What other explanation could their be for the financial paper’s deluge of negative coverage?

No fewer than three articles were on offer, all taking a downbeat view of the bank’s near-term prospects, and citing anonymous insiders apparently briefing against their own employer.

I’m only guessing, but I don’t think this level of coverage was a coincidence, especially as it’s two weeks to the day before the bank is due to unveil its first-half results.

In a new article for the Motley Fool, I explain what might lie behind today’s news coverage, take a closer look at the issues facing the bank, and stick my head into the lion’s mouth with a ‘back of the envelope’ earnings forecast for Standard Chartered. To read the full article, click here.

Updates 24/07/2014: As if by magic, the next day a new StanChart story appeared in the FT – “StanChart urged to start work on Sands succession plan“, along with another Sands-bashing piece, “Bricks come loose from StanChart tower“, which is a detailed hatchet job on current top management.

BUT WAIT… it’s 7am, and the RNS floodgates have opened. Amongst the day’s announcements is a statement from StanChart, noting ‘rumours in some media outlets on succession planning’.

The bank wants to reiterate its united support for Peter Sands and Chairman Sir John Peace and confirms that while ‘robust and considered succession plans’  are in place for all senior leaders, ‘no succession planning is taking place as a result of recent investor pressure’.

Sounds like backs are against the wall — the reference to investor pressure suggests to me that the FT articles are merely the public arm of a multi-pronged attack.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for information only and is not intended as investment advice. The author may own shares in the companies mentioned in the article. Do your own research or seek qualified professional advice before making any purchase decisions.

Smart move? Tesco PLC hires Unilever lifer as next CEO

Tesco Tiverton store

“Tiverton, Tesco – geograph.org.uk – 85534″ by Martin Bodman – From geograph.org.uk. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tiverton,_Tesco_-_geograph.org.uk_-_85534.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Tiverton,_Tesco_-_geograph.org.uk_-_85534.jpg

Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) made waves this week with the appointment of Unilever personal care products supremo Dave Lewis as its new CEO.

The vultures had been circling around Tesco lifer Philip Clarke for some time now, and this week’s profit warning was one too many for the firm’s board.

Unfortunately for Mr Clarke, his departure was announced one day before a planned party to celebrate his forty years working for the company.

However, Mr Clarke’s departure will be sweetened by a multi-million pound severance package, so he should be able to retire a rich man, if he chooses to.

Of more interest to investors is Mr Lewis. What can this lifetime Unilever employee bring to the UK’s largest supermarket? Dave Lewis has never worked in retail, but has a reputation of being a turnaround specialist, and has been credited with some notable marketing successes at Unilever.

Personally, I think it’s a smart appointment – I reckon that a dose of Unilever values and an outsider’s perspective might be just what Tesco needs at this time.

In an article for the Motley Fool earlier this week, I explained exactly how I believe Mr Lewis may be able to rejuvenate Tesco’s flagging fortunes — to read the full article, click here.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for information only and is not intended as investment advice. The author may own shares in the companies mentioned in the article. Do your own research or seek qualified professional advice before making any purchase decisions.

Questions for the Gulf Keystone Petroleum Limited AGM (if you can make it)

Onshore oil installationGulf Keystone Petroleum Limited (LON:GKP) has deservedly caught some flack for its corporate governance and investor relations over the last few years.

It seems as though the message hasn’t fully gone home yet, as although this year’s AGM is closer than Bermuda, where last year’s meeting took place, it’s still overseas for the majority of the firm’s shareholders, in Paris (France, not Texas!).

That aside, the firm’s turbulent year and the recent mass exodus of directors, including the FD and CEO, deserves some questions, in my view.

I’ve put together a list of three questions I’d like to hear Chairman Simon Murray address at the meeting in a new article for the Motley Fool. To read the full article, click here.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for information only and is not intended as investment advice. The author may own shares in the companies mentioned in the article. Do your own research or seek qualified professional advice before making any purchase decisions.