Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Syria:Voices and Visions

US and French forces seem almost certain to attack Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons within a short period of time.The UK is waffling after expressing initial support,delaying a decision until the UN inspectors have issued a report on chemical weapons use in Syria and a Parliamentary debate next week.NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed support for military action.The US is prepared to go it alone if necessary.*There would be cruise missiles launched from four or five US destroyers in the region,and perhaps from submarines;and possibly long range bombers would be utilised as well,along with fighter aircraft to suppress anti-aircraft systems and strike other targets with precision munitions.Air bases in Turkey and Italy could be used.The target sets would likely be Syrian command and control centres,as well as their naval and air forces in order to hinder a Syrian response.The operation would perhaps take a day or two.*CNBC's Jim Cramer said I'm at a loss.How do I game Syria?Collectively,the market doesn't know what it's doing.We're all searching for analogies;we don't really have analogs.We told Assad what the schedule is.I don't think anyone really knows much.*Art Cashin,Director of NYSE Floor Operations for UBS,said you're gonna see this as pretty broad-based;watch both gold and oil.We're playing a game of headline roulette.The difficulty is,once events begin to take place,they can accelerate.If they take it to the UN,there could be a sigh of relief rally.*General Anthony Zinni,US Marine Corps retired,former CENTCOM commander,said there has to be a long term strategy.Where do we go in the long term if he continues these unacceptable acts? This is not simply a matter of regime removal.We thought that in Iraq.This is a mess.There is a religious war underneath.If we attack now,we have to be prepared to follow up.A military commander,if he's prudent,plans against all possibilities.*This is a regional conflict.We have a lot of work to build international support.It's not there now,and that concerns me greatly,General Zinni confided.*President Barack Obama said the Assad regime will have received a pretty strong signal it better not do it again.You are not only breaking international norms and standards of decency,you are also having an affect on US national interests,and it needs to stop.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Publicis-Omnicom:the Meaning of the Merger

The merger of Publicis and Omnicom is a big,bold move,strategically counterculture and structurally a bit clunky,said Sir Martin Sorrell,CEO of advertising and public relations firm WPP Group.They have to jump regualtory hurdles.There will be impacts on clients and their people.We're already seeing a certain degree of disruption,which we will seek to capitalise on.*There will be two large companies-ourselves and Publicis Omnicom Group.It makes you a little more energetic.We've done five or six deals in Brazil,in the UK,and two in Asia.I wanted to signal to our people that we want to be a little more energetic.We have 165,000 people in 110 countries.Size for size's sake,I'm not sure there's anything in that.*Our clients probably lowered their earnings estimates.They're getting there by cost-cutting,small leaps-a focus on cost,finance and procurement that shows in the lack of top line growth.It can't continue forever.*Western Europe,the UK and Germany are stronger than people realise.July surprised us a little on the upside,Sir Martin Sorrel noted.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Regional Banking Profile:National Bank of Kuwait

National Bank of Kuwait has been named Best Bank in the Middle East 2013 by Global Finance magazine,as well as one of the world's 50 safest banks.Founded in 1952,the bank says it has focused on developing long term growth and a stable strategy.Our consistency in delivering strong results is a testimony to our strong financial position and focus on core banking business despite a challenging operating environment,said NBK group CEO Ibrahim Dabdoub.*NBK has 173 branches worldwide in 16 countries.In Kuwait itself,there are 64 branches,while Egypt has 41 branches,and Turkey has 20.The Shanghai and Singapore branches represent NBK in East Asia;and branches in New York,Paris and London fly the flag in the West.*NBK gets high credit ratings from all three major ratings agencies.Standard&Poor's gives it an A+;Fitch gives it a AA-;and Moody's assigns it an Aa3.They praise NBK for financial strength,strong franchise,technological sophistication,and stable and capable management team,the bank points out.*In 2012,NBK reported total assets of 58.398 billion dollars.Assets under management were 10.016 billion,and market cap was 14.585 billion.Net profit has risen steadily for the five year period,closing at 1.085 billion in 2012.*Part of NBK's strategy is diversifying its revenue stream by entering the field of Islamic banking.This was realised when it upped its stake in Boubyan Bank to 58.4%,effectively converting it to a subsidiary.Moody's hailed this move as providing a foothold to the growing Islamic banking sector,defending the bank against any market share attrition that results from a shift in customer preference towards Islamic banking.*National Bank of Kuwait S.A.K.(Kuwait Stock Exchange:NBK)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

News Notes August 2013

The US is accelerating;Europe is improving,said Tom Lee,chief US equity strategist at JP Morgan.There's a case for higher earnings.If they start thinking rates are going up,hopefully the money goes into equities.Seek companies with topline growth,the cyclicals.I think Europe is tracking towards an acceleration.I actually think you would be better off buying US blue chips exposed to Europe,but also to US private expansion.*AIG is reinstating a 0.10 a share dividend and a 1.0 billion dollar buyback.Its Q2 earnings were 1.12 a share versus an 0.85 estimate,while revenue was 8.35 billion dollars versus an 8.62 billion estimate.*If you really want to be contarian,buy European stocks,said Nick Colas of Convergex Group.There are better opportunities around the world,than there are here in the US.*Japan is joining negotiations to form the Trans-Pacific Patnership.The TPP will be the world's largest free trade zone,also including the US,Canada,Mexico,Peru,Chile,Malaysia,Vietnam,Singapore,Brunei,Australia and New Zealand.Besides free trade,the TPP will produce a common framework for dealing with the services trade;foreign investment;government procurement;domestic regulations;and intellectual property.It is expected to have a huge impact on both global trade and investment patterns.