Japanese electronics-maker Sharp reports a record annual loss, as it struggles with a high debt load and shrinking sales.
Daily deals firm Groupon reports first-quarter results ahead of market expectations, with revenues up 7.5% and its net loss narrowing to $3.24m (£2.1m).
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Bailed-out bank’s chairman uses strongest language yet to talk of sale, as RBS reports first-quarter profits of £826m
Royal Bank of Scotland has given the clearest signal yet that the government is preparing to sell off part of the taxpayer’s stake in the bailed-out bank next year.
As the Edinburgh-based bank reported a profit of £826m for the first quarter compared with a £1.4bn loss the same time last year, its chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, said RBS could be ready for sale from the middle of 2014 – or even earlier.
But the return to profit, and talk about a return to the private sector, did not impress the stock market. RBS shares were the biggest fallers in the FTSE 100, dropping 5.5% to 289p, a level that represents a £19bn loss on the £45bn ploughed in by the taxpayer during 2008 and 2009.
The decision to sell the 81% stake rests with the Treasury and the disposal is expected to take place in a series of tranches over a number of years. Hampton used more definitive language about the prospects of a share sale than he did at the results in February, issuing a video message in which he said drawing up a prospectus for shareholders could be achieved from the middle of 2014. “It could be earlier … we think the recovery process will be complete in about a year or so’s time,” he said.
A prospectus contains all the details about the bank’s financial performance and would be needed to be sent to prospective shareholders if the shares are to be sold off.
An uncharacteristically upbeat Stephen Hester, who became RBS chief executive at the time of the October 2008 banking crisis, said the group was “back in profit … a big change on recent times”.
Some £900bn has been taken off the bank’s balance sheet which was £2.3tn at the time of its bailout.
But Ian Gordon, banks analyst at Investec, said: “We were quite bemused listening to RBS management describe the business as ‘ready for privatisation in 12 months’. It is ready now – it was ready three years ago – surely the only issue we are actually discussing here is the price.”
The average share price at which taxpayers bought the stake in the bank was around 500p, although a figure has since emerged of 407p, which was the average price of the shares on the stock market on the days the shares were bought.
Hester, who described the possibility of privatisation as a “terrific thing for the country”, conceded that some of the share sales could take place at a loss. “There may well be a cogent case for starting at a lower price but I believe the average price can, and should, be above the government purchase price,” Hester said.
The slow economy and tougher regulations had made all bank shares less valuable, Hester said, but he insisted he was not complaining about the regulatory changes facing the industry. “It is our view that privatisation would be a terrific thing for the country psychologically and in terms of taxpayers money be freed up for other needs,” Hester said.
The parliamentary banking standards commission could still call for the break-up of RBS into a good and bad bank. Such a decision should be for the government, Hester said, but he did not dismiss the idea out of hand.
Even though RBS was back in profit, the City had been expecting a stronger performance and was surprised by the sharp downturn in the investment bank’s profits. “Underlying trends are weaker, with [group] operating profit of £800m – down 28% – a £400m consensus miss. The markets [investment bank] division [pre-tax profit down 64%] looks awful,” said Gordon.
Hester has been under political pressure to scale back the investment banking division and focus RBS on helping grow the domestic economy.
The bank did not make an additional charge for payment protection insurance on top of the existing £2.2bn it has set aside, although it ring-fenced an extra £50m for insurance rate swap mis-selling. It is also falling behind in selling off the 316 branches that it has been instructed to by Brussels and signalled a stock market flotation of the branches under the revived Williams and Glyn’s brand could take place in 2015.
The bank is also still waiting to learn the size of any fine for money laundering offences in the US and warned it could have a “material adverse affect” on future results.
The Newport firm which built the Olympics Aquatics Centre roof – and worked on many Welsh landmark venues – is to go into administration, with the likely loss of 400 jobs.
Here is the original post: 400 jobs to go at Olympic roof firm
Dr. Matas Offers His Orlando Plastic Surgery Patients Body Lift Procedures and Body Contouring to Tighten the Trunk, Buttocks, Thighs, and More After Dramatic Weight Loss
A Wiltshire-based hot air ballooning company goes bust with the loss of 30 jobs.
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Blue Dolphin Reports Fourth Quarter And Fiscal Year 2012 Financial Results, Record Full Year Revenue
HOUSTON, April 5, 2013
Category : Stocks