The London Stock Exchange has always been a mining/energy-centric exchange which has helped to boost the FTSE 100 over the historic and record-breaking 8000 mark. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the fallout from global supply chain issues resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic have helped energy companies listed in London (and around the world) to record profits. The likes of Shell and BP have already seen sharp increases in their share prices as a result. They’re expensive; don’t let their single-digit PE ratios fool you.
UK semiconductors scream for money
And so they should given the massive investment commitments the US government and the EU have made to secure their own supplies of chips. The threat to Taiwan from China has not gone away and they still covet Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland which threatens the global supply chain of chips. iPhones, cars, washing machines – a whole host of everyday electronic items have not been supplied to the market due to the lack of chips and last year’s lockdowns in China. Rishi Sunak needs to announce something soon or risk firms moving operations overseas. The UK’s largest exchange-listed stock, Oxford Instruments, with a high teens ROCE and PER of 26.54 is in growth stock territory. Its half-yearly report showed an almost 18% increase in revenue. Ian Barkshire, Chief Executive said ‘we anticipate higher production in the second half, combined with the positive impact of recent price increases as we convert our record order book. This provides good visibility for an expected improvement in trading in the second half’.
Or tanks. Just keep an eye on Biden’s proposed record defense spending proposals rumoured to eclipse the $858 billion enacted in the 2023 fiscal year. It’s thought that the Pentagon wants to accumulate weapons to refill US stockpiles while continuing to send munitions to Ukraine. I’ll state the obvious: look at stocks in the defense industry that have growth plans beyond the Ukraine conflict and the recent Chinese Balloon shootings. Since a lot of defense relies heavily on tech, defence-orientated tech stocks including cyber security may not go amiss. For example, Lockheed Martin is the US government’s largest defence contractor.
Plus 500 just keeps on making money
The FTSE 250 firm describes itself as a ‘global multi-asset fintech group operating proprietary technology-based trading platforms’. It’s a stockbroker that also allows users to access derivative products such as futures, options, and contracts for difference. Net profit in FY 2022 increased by 19% to $ 370.4 m (FY 2021: $310.6m) and basic earnings per share increased by 25 % to $3.81 (FY 2021: $3.06). Plus 500 has an extremely strong balance sheet. David Zruia, Chief Executive Officer said ‘we are in an extremely exciting strategic and commercial position, with multiple potential growth opportunities available, particularly in the US futures market’.
UK inflation slows in January
10.1% for January versus 10.5% in December the third month in a row of lower CPI according to the Office of National Statistics. Milk and olive oil price increases are making my weekend morning ritual of pancake making even more expensive; as for the eggs required in the recipe, I treat them more like caviar now. Inflation is still at a 40-year high and the Bank of England has already raised interest rates 10 times in a row to 4% with the market expecting rates to rise again when The Bank meets on 23rd March. Remember when inflation was meant to be transitory?
US inflation rises in January
CPI rose 6.4% for the previous 12 months to January 2023 compared with the same period last year. It rose 0.5% for January alone. Shelter, food, natural gas, and filling up your tank were the standout categories influencing the numbers. As inflation stays high, so will interest rates. The market is expecting a 0.25% increase in interest rates at the next Fed meeting scheduled for the third week of March. Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan said ‘we must remain prepared to continue rate increases for a longer period than previously anticipated, if such a path is necessary to respond to changes in the economic outlook or to offset any undesired easing in conditions’.