BBC Radio Scotland – Amanda Forsyth on “Good Morning Scotland”


Amanda Forsyth – Investment Manager & Business Development

Amanda Forsyth and BBC Radio Scotland’s Andrew Black take a fast-moving look at FMCG giants Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser; assess whether the history of the Facebook float has informed the pricing of Pinterest; and discuss the balance of pressures on franchisor and franchisees at Domino’s Pizza. At 52 minutes into the programme.

BBC Radio Scotland – Amanda Forsyth on “Good Morning Scotland”


Amanda Forsyth – Investment Manager & Business Development

Amanda Forsyth and BBC Radio Scotland’s Andrew Black review the continued fallout of Debenhams shares as management struggles to make shopping fun again; assesses the ability of Just Eat to deliver on expectations in the face of hot competition; note the short term filip Aggreko enjoys from the Olympics; look forward to Legal & General’s results announcement; and judge PageGroup’s succcess in converting higher consultant numbers into higher sales. At 50 minutes into the programme.

The MAM Blog – US-China Trade Wars – What Price Services?


Simon Lloyd – Chief Investment Officer

As tensions remain high in the ongoing negotiations between representatives of President Xi Jinping of China and President Donald Trump of the US, all eyes are on the next deadline of March 2nd. If insufficient progress has been made by that stage, tariffs on $250bn worth of Chinese goods will rise from 10% to 25%, with impacts expected both in China and the US. At present, the expectation is that Mr Trump will stand by his Tweet from 24th February, delaying that punitive hike.

However much less attention is being paid to what are, arguably, at least as important to international business; the supplies of services. While automotive parts and food ingredients are tangible evidence of the two countries’ reliance on one another, there is arguably much greater value to be obtained for the US if access to banking and financial services was opened up. When China joined the WTO, it undertook to let in foreign electronic-payment services; however, Mastercard and Visa have both struggled to make any headway with the authorities. American Express was finally granted a license in late 2018, after agreeing to form a joint venture with Lianlian Group; while Mastercard may finally break a deadlock by linking up with Chinese clearing house Nets Union Clearing Corp.

At the same time, telecommunications services remain resolutely dominated by Beijing; freedoms promised are, eventually, shown to be only very narrowly defined, and permitted only at a pace that befits a nation of long history and long memory.

So, while the US soybean market continues to struggle, the stakes for service industries in the ongoing trade conflict are high enough to give both Mr Xi and Mr Trump vertigo, should either of them look down.

BBC Radio Scotland – Amanda Forsyth on “Good Morning Scotland”


Amanda Forsyth – Investment Manager & Business Development

Amanda Forsyth and BBC Radio Scotland’s Andrew Black compare and contrast Honda’s planning cycle and that of the UK government; debate HSBC’s role as bellweather for US/China relations; look to the long term stay at Intercontinental Hotels; and dig up the details of BHP Group’s results. At 51 minutes into the programme.

BBC Radio Scotland – Amanda Forsyth on “Good Morning Scotland”


Amanda Forsyth – Investment Manager & Business Development

52 minutes into the programme, Amanda Forsyth and BBC Radio Scotland’s Andrew Black dissect the implications – or lack of them – for businesses from last night’s series of Brexit amendment votes; discuss the difficulties faced by Wizz, Norwegian and FlyBe with all those moving parts of an airline business; assess the impact for Apple of cutting the cost of iPhones; and recall the happier times when GDPR was the major news item – albeit one still impacting Royal Mail today.

The MAM Blog – Smartphone sales as economic indicator


Stuart Ralph – Investment Manager

The stockmarket recently wiped $50bn off Apple’s stockmarket valuation following its news of slowing iPhone sales in China. The US tech giant now anticipates revenues of around $84bn for the latest financial quarter, a decrease of approximately 8% from earlier guidance. Since China accounts for 20% of all company revenues, and as weakness was specifically seen within iPhone sales, the decline indicates quite a sharp fall in demand. In the aftermath, commentators have also suggested that given the iPhone’s symbolism of affluence within China, declining sales is a worrying sign for Chinese consumer confidence and the wider global economic outlook.

While I agree that weaker sales in China is of concern to Apple (and its suppliers), I am reluctant to see this as a more widespread and worrying sign. It’s obvious that US – Sino relations are increasingly challenging, and incrementally damaged by the arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada on the request of US authorities in relation to Iranian Trade embargo matters. The fact that President Trump suggests a more widespread deal between the two countries could remedy the situation clearly masks the wider political intent.

However, the real problem is that companies such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei are victims of their own success. They have over recent years produced increasingly complex, technologically sophisticated and ultimately increasingly “must-have” devices that the populations of the world have embraced. However at the same time, their high-end devices have become ever more expensive.

As I look at my 4 year old iPhone 6 Plus and the images it can take, I can’t see a clear imperative to buy a new phone with an ever better camera or faster processor. It can do all the surfing, emailing, texting, video conferencing, ticket purchasing, music listening and media consuming activities that I could possibly need. I can even login into my work desktop should I wish and it’s a great sat-nav system at the weekends. While it doesn’t have some of the operating bells and whistles that newer devices have, the underlying functionality remains virtually identical.

My belief is that for the vast majority of people, once devices reached a certain point in technological evolutionary terms, the applications that can be run on them is key – new operating system updates / compatibility issues / and dare I say it, intentional obsolescence are the critical factors.

So the question is – if Consumers are happy with their amazing devices and not cajoled into upgrading, then the additional disposable income required to purchase a new device can be used to purchase a range of different products. In economic parlance, the marginal utility per unit of cost associated with a new device is less than the marginal utility per unit cost gained consuming a range or basket of alternative goods.

There will of course be new consumers that underpin future sales, but a combination of enhanced functionality and cost increases have resulted in the replacement cycle being pushed out. The higher the technological bar and cost, the further this cycle will be pushed out.

Growth in China is almost certainly slowing and a deeper economic downturn may yet be seen, but the truth is that no single data point should be regarded as a proxy for the overall performance of the Chinese economy.

BBC Radio Scotland – Amanda Forsyth on “Good Morning Scotland”


Amanda Forsyth – Investment Manager & Business Development

Amanda Forsyth and BBC Radio Scotland’s Andrew Black begin by looking East – to review Samsung’s disappointing trading update, and seek hints of optimism for US/China trade talks. Closer to home, they then look forward to the supermarket results season, beginning with Morrison’s; and finally, assess the challenges facing Jaguar Land Rover as revealed in their global sales figures.