Decades and decades ago when I started to get into the world of investments, I remember learning the wise words of Sir John Templeton that “the four most dangerous words in investing are: this time it’s different”. Of course, he is absolutely correct, which brings us nicely onto a couple of changes I am considering to my pension fund.
I hope to have visited nicely over one hundred different countries before I go to a better place, but I reckon my chances of visiting North Korea are a bit light. I have been thinking about the country a few times over the last week for various reasons, but even I was surprised yesterday to read on British American Tobacco (BATS) an “agreement reached with DOJ and OFAC to resolve investigations into BAT's historical business activities in relation to North Korea from 2007-2017”.
A busy day on the London market, but I will write about the consumer health company Haleon (HLN), which many of you will remember split out from GSK (GSK) back in July last year. Whilst its shares remain above the level when I last wrote about it in November last year, the stock is down 4% today despite apparently having an "extraordinary year” as being the “first listed company 100% invested” in its specific space.
Many, many years ago, I remember somebody saying to me that investing in FTSE 100 stocks was pointless as “everything is priced in very efficiently”. What utter rubbish (as I told them at the time). Whilst the world of large cap stocks is covered by more analysts and mentioned more frequently by the press and financial TV, there are still plenty of opportunities to materially beat the index. And that is why today’s updates from both Vodafone (VOD) and (the previously named GlaxoSmithKline) GSK plc (GSK) are worth (at least) thinking about.
I always analytically like the pharmaceutical sector, even if I am not enough of a sector geek to be a massive expert. It is getting close to two years since I bought GSK plc (GSK) shares for the first time in a couple of decades. It gave a solid Q3 set of numbers earlier today, talking about “2022 Guidance raised…(as it) expect to deliver growth in sales of between 8%-10% CER and growth in 2022 adjusted operating profit of between 15%-17% CER". It is always better to raise numbers than not, but that does not mean that the management, led by the extremely well remunerated Dame Emma, does not still have a bunch of questions to answer.
It remains an interesting macro world when people who are not that naturally interested in the financial markets become obsessed with what the 10-year gilt yield is. It is a bit like when Barbra Streisand described herself as a day trader in late 1999, changes are upcoming soon. Despite the best efforts of the chancellor the UK is not going to go bust, your corporate pension won’t disappear and it remains very stupid to have a massive amount of cash in your back garden.