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1 April 2020 – Taking a break for a while

Time to take a break from posting to this blog. But in the meantime, there are thousands of entries from prior years to view. Either search in the Search box above, or choose a category at right. Robert Brain

27 July 2019 (AFR) – Europe sweats in heat wave as mercury tops 38 degrees

(27 July 2019, AFR, p12, Nina Chestney and Susanna Twidale) ‘London | Soaring temperatures broke records in Germany, France, Britain and the Netherlands as a heatwave gripped Europe for the second time in a month, in what scientists said were becoming more frequent events as the planet heats up.’ Read more at (might need … Continue reading

25 July 2019 (AFR) – Retirees will scream ‘blue murder’ in a crash

[COMMENT: Now this is a very contentious topic – how to define the various terms used to categorise managed funds and more importantly superannuation funds – growth, balanced or conservative. There seems to be some very wide variations between the fund managers – which many people would call ‘misleading’.] (25 July 2019, AFR, p8, Joanna … Continue reading

5 July 2019 (AFR) – Broking bad: warnings of an advisory wipeout

[COMMENT: This is an interesting expose into the world of stoke broking, and some of the things that can go wrong. Bottom line? – Maybe don’t trust everything that everyone tells you.] (5 July 2019, AFR, p20, Liam Walsh, Reporter) ‘Questions are being raised about why one of Australia’s biggest stockbrokers did not disclose internal … Continue reading

1 May 2019 – Taking a break…

I am taking a break for a couple of weeks, and might only be posting here occasionally.

7 Feb 2019 (TheAge) – Millions are on the move in China, and Big Data is watching More than 5 million people in China have now been banned from buying a high-speed rail ticket and 17 million stopped from buying air tickets because they appear on a social credit system black list

[COMMENT: Some people might say that this view of the future, which is already here in China, is rather scary – “Big Brother is watching”.] (7 February 2019, The Age, p14, by Kirsty Needham) ‘More than 5 million people in China have now been banned from buying a high-speed rail ticket and 17 million stopped … Continue reading

2 Jan 2019 (AFR) – Financial Review quarterly survey of economists: Reserve Bank to hike in 2020

(2 January 2019, AFR, p1, by Vesna Poljak) ‘The Reserve Bank of Australia could leave interest rates untouched for another 12 months, according to leading economists, who say the central bank’s conviction that the next move in rates is up is starting to drift. The first quarterly survey of economists by The Australian Financial Review … Continue reading

10 Dec 2018 (AFR) – The 2018 contrarians who got it right: what they’re saying now

[COMMENT: It is always interesting to look back at the so-called predictions from months ago, and see how many commentators came close to an accurate prediction. Take a look here…] (10 December 2018, AFR, p23, by: Katherine Greifeld, Vildana Hajric, Ben Bartenstein and Aline Oyamada) ‘With just three weeks to go, 2018’s market contrarians are … Continue reading

10 Dec 2018 (AFR) – ‘Frank Squared’: Circularity of Quintis deal examined in receivers’ hearings

[COMMENT: This interesting news story brings some great insight into what can sometimes happen behind the scenes with managed funds.] (10 December 2018, AFR, p20, by Vesna Poljak) ‘The Abu Dhabi Investment Council was able to exit $10 million of plantations managed by the sandalwood grower Quintis by virtue of a three-way transaction financed by … Continue reading

28 Nov 2018 (TheAge,SMH,MONEY) – RCR Tomlinson’s collapse has lessons for retail investors

[COMMENT: This article from Marcus Padley includes some great comments and insights – well worth reading the full article.] (28 November 2018, The Age, MONEY supplement, p2, By Marcus Padley) ‘Last year, RCR Tomlinson was a billion-dollar company. Last week, it went into administration. RCR went bust with a market capitalisation of $231 million. Two … Continue reading

26 Nov 2018 (AFR) – Market minds: Looking through the P/E multiple to unlock value

[COMMENT: I cannot help but comment on this article. It includes a good discussion about the usefulness, or otherwise, of the PE multiple when looking for shares to buy. After reading this one I became even more convinced that the PE might generally be useful (eg. lower PE is better), but that it cannot be … Continue reading

10 Nov 2018 (AFR) – Super investors warned about turbo-charging ‘safe’ funds to boost performance

[COMMENT: This is one topic that has puzzled myself for a long time – How on earth can we compare all of the ‘balanced’ super funds, for example, when they don’t use the same definition for ‘balanced’? We’re actually comparing apples with oranges, so to speak. So performance comparisons are out the window. And then, … Continue reading

31 Oct 2018 (AFR) – Roll up, roll up for the next blow-up – Avoiding Ponzis in the profit hunt

(31 OCtober 2018, AFR, p32, by Jonathan Shapiro) ‘There’s a joke among fund managers that the excuse they often hear from a CEO after he or she has blown a company up is “it was only the last acquisition that didn’t work”. But the way of the ‘roll-up’, if you’re a stock market cynic, is … Continue reading

2 Oct 2018 (AFR) – Founder selldowns add to ASX nerves

(2 October 2018, AFR, p13, by Simon Evans) ‘A growing number of founders selling down part of their stakes in ASX-listed companies has added to fears the Australian sharemarket could be in for a correction because of high valuation levels after a strong run, with dangers increasing that the housing slowdown could spill over into … Continue reading

28 Aug 2018 (TheAge) – CSL overtakes Westpac as third largest company on ASX

(28 August 2018, The Age, Business, p21, by Lucy Battersby) ‘Pharmaceutical giant CSL has overtaken Westpac as the third-largest company on the Australian stock market by market capitalisation, although it may be just a temporary step onto the podium. CSL is now worth $101.7 billion as its shares soar to historic highs of $224.8 each. … Continue reading

22 Aug 2018 (AFR) – After the Bitcoin boom: hard lessons for cryptocurrency investors

(22 August 2018, AFR, p22, by Nathaniel Popper and Su-Hyun Lee) ‘Pete Roberts of Nottingham, England, was one of the many risk-takers who threw their savings into cryptocurrencies when prices were going through the roof last winter. Now, eight months later, the $US23,000 he invested in several digital tokens is worth about $US4,000 and he … Continue reading

9 Aug 2018 (AFR) – ‘Cloud cuckoo land’: Brookes lashed in Myer profit guidance class action

[COMMENT: Some investors are firm believers in particular stocks. Over the years, some investors in Myer Holdings would have been firm believers. Many of these investors ignore warning signs that things are not right, and continue to hold the stock. I am sure there were many investors in Myer throughout time. But some investors would … Continue reading

8 Aug 2018 (AFR) – Lessons from investor’s attempt to claim $11m in share losses against income

[COMMENT: This news story covers a perplexing topic that frequently puzzles (share market) investors and traders – How do we account for the proceeds from trading activities?  Is it regarded as income, or a capital gain? This is a very grey area with accountants offering differing opinions from time to time. This news article reports … Continue reading

3 Aug 2018 (ABC) – Apple becomes first US-listed trillion-dollar company

(3 August 2018, ABC online) ‘Apple has became the first $1 trillion publicly listed US company, crowning a decade-long rise fuelled by its ubiquitous iPhone that transformed it from a niche player in personal computers into a global powerhouse spanning entertainment and communications. The tech company’s stock jumped 2.8 per cent to as high as … Continue reading

25 July 2018 (AFR) – says earnings to rise more than 90pc

[COMMENT: Even with positive news and company profit reporting, if the actual numbers are less than the analysts predicted and expected, then the share price can take a hit. Here is a good case study example.] (25 July 2018, AFR, p16, by Sue Mitchell) ‘Shares in fell to seven-month lows after the online retailer missed profit … Continue reading

19 July 2018 (AFR) – Super funds notch up ‘stellar’ ninth year of growth

[COMMENT: Here is another one of those reports of the performance of superannuation funds. We need to be careful about interpreting these results because of the time window for the comparison – which in this case is towards the bottom of the GFC and not the market peak prior. And we need to remember that … Continue reading

7 July 2018 (AFR) – Own bitcoin or other cryptocurrency? The ATO is after you

[COMMENT: This article sheds some light on how the ATO views the proceeds from share market trading and investing, and how it should be taxed. Are the proceeds simply “trading income” or capital gains? This is an ongoing grey area, and some accountants will want to treat the proceeds differently to others in their profession.] … Continue reading

28 June 2018 (AFR) – GDPR: Privacy makes the world go round as new laws abound

(28 June 2018, AFR, pS3, by Nick Abrahams and Jim Lennon) ‘Privacy is big news. The data breach at Equifax has reportedly cost that company $US430 million ($580 million) and climbing, the PageUp People breach in Australia has impacted many of our biggest brands, meanwhile Barbra Streisand is intent on erasing your Memories. Privacy is … Continue reading

25 June 2018 (AFR) – ‘Fools’ paradise’ momentum tests value investors

[COMMENT: This is an interesting article to do with investing, and challenges some of the age-old investing paradigms.] (25 June 2018, AFR, p13, by Jemima Whyte) ‘Buying stocks just because they are expected to continue to rise, the so-called “momentum trade”, is a “fool’s paradise”, according to a global equities fund manager. Causeway Capital’s Harry … Continue reading

21 June 2018 (AFR) – GE becomes the last 19th century company kicked out of the Dow

(21 June 2018, AFR, p12, by Sarah Ponczek and Richard Clough) ‘General Electric suffered a crowning ignominy on Wednesday (AEST) as overseers of the Dow Jones Industrial Average kicked the beleaguered company out of the stock gauge it has inhabited for more than a century. Once the world’s most valuable company, GE will be replaced … Continue reading

2 June 2018 (AFR) – Ten years on from the GFC, what happened to the once mighty Babcock & Brown?

(2 June 2018, AFR, p15, by Su-Lin Tan) ‘June 12 2008 is a date seared into the memory of everyone who worked at Babcock & Brown, a financial wizard that operated across the globe, buying up high end assets; wind farms, power companies and a lot of real estate. B&B’s share price, that had soared … Continue reading

2 June 2018 (AFR) – Could the GFC happen again? These guys should know

(2 June 2018, AFR, p9, by Su-Lin Tan) ’10 years after the GFC’ ‘Conservative bank lending, low interest rates, and tighter access to credit have carved a very different debt landscape to that of the global financial crisis 10 years ago, but there is a risk of complacency around the rise in interest rates, former … Continue reading

30 May 2018 (AFR) – Got less than $1m in assets? Forget a self-managed super fund

[COMMENT: Bah!! Humbug!!    We’ve heard a lot about superannuation and the Productivity Commission report, in recent days, including the so-called performance of funds, and fund performance comparisons. HOWEVER, there seems to be one key flaw in this reporting. The fund performance comparisons appear to be over a 10-year period – from 2009, the end of … Continue reading

25 May 2018 (AFR) – 2018 AFR Rich List: The six eras of the Rich List – 35 years of history charts a changing economy

(25 May 2018, AFR, p36, by: James Thomson, John Stensholt) ‘… Since 1983, when Business Review Weekly named Australia’s richest 200 people for the first time, the list has become a crucial tool for not only tracking our biggest fortunes, but also the changing nature of the economy. Just like Triguboff’s dolls, the Rich List … Continue reading

17 May 2018 (AFR) – PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, EY face UK break-up call amid Carillion demise

(17 May 2018, AFR, p25, by Gill Plimmer) ‘British MPs have demanded the UK’s big four accountancy firms be referred to competition authorities for potential break-up following the collapse of government contractor Carillion, calling them a “cosy club incapable of providing the degree of independent challenge needed”. The recommendation by members of two powerful parliamentary … Continue reading