Connect with us

Economics

UK Banks – Digital Dinosaurs

UK Banks – Digital Dinosaurs

Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

“Tuppence wisely invested in the bank…”

As UK bank…

Published

on

This article was originally published by Zero Hedge

UK Banks – Digital Dinosaurs

Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

“Tuppence wisely invested in the bank…”

As UK bank reporting season kicks off, the dull, boring, predictable UK banks should look good. But the reality is they are dinosaurs – their failure to digitise and evolve leaves them vulnerable to tech-savy FinTechs and Challenger filling their niche. If the future of modern finance is a Tech hypersonic missile… British Banks are still building steam trains. 

Today see’s the start of the UK bank reporting season. Yawn….

I wrote a piece for the Evening Standard y’day – Another set of numbers to disguise the rot. (I’ve reused some of it this morning – lazy, eh?) Exactly as I predicted in that note, Barclays came in strong this morning with a decent lift from its investment banking businesses. Lloyds and HSBC will also produce acceptable numbers and limited losses on post pandemic recovery.  The sector outlook looks positive, the regulator will allow them to increase dividends, and there is higher income potential from rising interest rates.

But… would you buy the UK banks?

They face substantial market and ongoing pandemic risk. The cost of economic reality falls heavy across them all. This morning the headlines are about Medical groups screaming out for a renewal of lockdown measures to protect the NHS – a move that will 100% nail-on recession and cause multiple small businesses to give up. The threat of recession in the UK is pronounced – exacerbated by global supply chain crisis and risks of policy mistakes. The worst outcome for banks would be stagflation resulting in exploding loan impairments.

Lloyds is the most vulnerable to the UK economy – hence it’s underperformed the others. Even without renewed Covid measures, potential policy mistakes by the Bank of England in raising interest rates too early, or by government by raising taxes and austerity spending, will hit business and consumer sentiment hardest, causing the stock prices to crumble back towards its low back in Sept 2020 when it hit £24.72. It’s got the largest mortgage exposure – but no one really expects a significant housing sell-off. (When no-one expects it – is when to worry!)

If you believe the UK’s economic potential is under-stated, then Lloyds has the best upside stock potential among the big three. If the economy recovers strongly, Lloyds goes up. If it stumbles, then so will Lloyds!

Barclays is a more difficult call. It’s a broader, more diversified name. It retains an element of “whoosh” from its markets businesses – which have delivered excellent returns from its capital markets businesses fuelled by low rates, but it also runs a higher-than-average reputational risk for generating embarrassing headlines. But, when the global economy normalises, higher interest rates will impact the fee income of all the investment banks, thus impacting Barclays to a greater extent than Lloyds. Barclay’s international business gives it some hedge against a UK economic slide.

HSBC is the most complex call. The UK banking operation is a rounding error compared to the Bank’s Hong Kong business. The bank is pivoting towards Asia, orbiting China and other high-growth Far East economies where it seeks to attract rising middle-class wealth. It’s underperformed due to a distaste among global investors for its China business, but also the perception it’s just too big a bank to manage effectively.

If its China strategy was to pay off, it will be a long-term winner. But that’s no means certain – Premier Xi’s crackdown on Chinese Tech threatens to morph into a China first policy, and the space for a strong foreign bank in China’s banking system looks questionable, even as the developing crisis in real-estate could pull it lower.

Ok – so good for UK banks…

Whatever the respective bank numbers show this week, the banks will remain core holdings for many investors. Generally, big banks are perceived to be “relatively” safe. Regulation has reduced their market risk profiles, and strengthened capital bases since the post-Lehman unpleasantness in 2008 which saw RBS rescued by government.

Conventional investment wisdom says the more “dull, boring and predictable” a bank is, the more valuable it will be perceived in terms of stable predictable dividends, sound risk management, and for not surprising investors. Strong banks are perceived to be less vulnerable to competition with deep moats around their business.

Since 2008 that’s changed – in ways the incumbent banks have completely missed. The costs of entry have tumbled as banking has evolved into a completely different service. New, more nimble Fin-Techs like Revolut, digital challenger banks such as Starling, and cheaper foreign competitors, including the Yanks, are not only eating their lunch, but dinner as well.

The old established UK banks don’t seem to have a clue it’s happening. These incumbent banks look like dinosaurs wondering what that bright shiny light getting bigger in the sky might be. Despite proudly boasting of hundreds years of history, they are constrained by old tech ledger systems and never built centralised data-lakes from their information on individuals or the financial behaviours of crowds to improve and develop their services and income streams.

The future of banking is going to be about Tech and how effectively banks compete in a marketplace of online digital facilities and services. Banks that you use tech smartly will see their costs tumble, freeing up resources to do more, better! (When I ran a major bank’s FIG (Financial Institutions Group) about 100 years ago – the best banks were those with lowest cost-to-income ratio!)

There is an excellent article outlining FinTechs and Challengers from Chris Skinner this morning: Europe’s Challenger Banks are Challenging (and worth more than the old names). Let me pluck a bite from his piece: “Revolut is the most valuable UK tech start-up in history and the eighth biggest private company in the world, worth an estimated US$33 billion, according to CB Insights. Revolut has more than 16 million customers worldwide and sees over 150 million transactions per month.”

The new generation of nimbler Fin Techs and Challengers can innovate product offerings with sophisticated new systems and software. In contrast, UK bank IT departments are engaged in digital archaeology.  I understand only 17% of Senior Tech positions are held by women. Within the banks, I’m told its still a boys club, where the best paid IT jobs are for ancient bearded D&D playing coders brought into to patch 50 year-old archaic systems. Legacy systems leave the big banks with impossible catch up costs.

It’s probably unfair to say the big UK banks don’t know what’s happening – their management can’t be that unaware? Surely not…. But…. Maybe..

Although the banks brag how well diversified they are with over 37% of UK board members female – how much have they really changed? Hiring on the basis of diversity is a fad. At the risk of lighting the blue-touch paper and this comment exploding in my face, I would hazard to suggest the appointment of senior ladies who’ve worked their way up the existing financial system simply risks confirmation-bias on how things are conventionally done in banking.

They might do better hiring outside movers and shakers – rather than listening to themselves.

The bottom line is its not just their failure to innovate tech that’s a crisis. Over the years the UK banks have become increasingly sclerotic – slow to shift and adapt. The middle to senior levels of banking are hamstrung by bureaucracy, a satisficing culture, stifled innovation, a compliance fearful mindset, and senior management fixated on impressing the regulators first and foremost.

If the future of modern finance is a Tech hypersonic missile… British Banks are still building steam trains.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 10/22/2021 – 05:00



Author: Tyler Durden

Economics

Cannabis analytics startup Headset, led by Leafly founders, raises more cash

The news: Cannabis analytics company Headset on Tuesday announced that it raised $8.6 million in funding. That includes $3 million of venture capital from…

Headset co-founders, left to right: CEO Cy Scott, Chief Technology Officer Scott Vickers, and Chief Design Officer Brian Wansolich. (Headset Photos)

The news: Cannabis analytics company Headset on Tuesday announced that it raised $8.6 million in funding. That includes $3 million of venture capital from a round led by Althea, as well as the conversion of $5.6 million of bridge notes issued in August 2020 and this past April.

The Seattle-based company reports having more than 300 customers and 50 employees.

Headset has raised about $23 million, according to GeekWire reporting.

The tech: Headset provides data analytics for the cannabis industry on growers and product manufacturers; retail sales; food, health and beauty products; financial services; and hardware.

The company gathers information on market trends, top selling cannabis strains, market projections for states where recreational marijuana is newly legalized, ruminations on the impacts of inflation, and favored product brands in different regions.

The new funding will help Headset expand its analysis into new legal markets and launch additional services.

(Bigstock Photo)

The founders: Headset was founded in 2015 by CEO Cy Scott, Chief Design Officer Brian Wansolich and CTO Scott Vickers, who all previously co-founded Leafly, an online cannabis marketplace that is going public via a SPAC merger.

The tailwinds: While Washington and Colorado were the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use back in 2012, an additional 16 states plus Washington, D.C. have followed suit. More than a dozen others have approved cannabis for medical use.

When the pandemic forced businesses to close in order slow COVID-19’s spread, marijuana dispensaries in many states were deemed “essential” and allowed to remain open. The New York Times called it “official recognition that for some Americans, cannabis is as necessary as milk and bread.”

The sector: Competition in the cannabis analytics space include BDSA, which according to PitchBook has raised $16.2 million, and Cannabis Big Data. Both are based in Colorado.

There are big dollars flowing into online sales of cannabis. Oregon’s Dutchie has raised more than $600 million while Leafly is valued at nearly $400 million.

There is also continued momentum in delivery. Uber entered the cannabis market just last week, announcing plans to launch a delivery service in Ontario.

The investors: In addition to the private equity investment firm Althea, the VC round included two investors focused on the cannabis sector: Poseidon Investment Management and WGD Capital.

Track all of GeekWire’s in-depth startup coverage: Sign up for the weekly startup email newsletter; check out the GeekWire funding tracker and venture capital directory; and follow our startup news headlines.


Author: Lisa Stiffler

Continue Reading

Economics

WTI Extends Losses After Smaller Than Expected Crude Draw

WTI Extends Losses After Smaller Than Expected Crude Draw

Crude prices puked over 5% today as demand fears over Omicron (jet fuel demand)…

WTI Extends Losses After Smaller Than Expected Crude Draw

Crude prices puked over 5% today as demand fears over Omicron (jet fuel demand) and European case count continued acceleration combined with Fed Chair Powell’s taper tantrum. While tighter monetary policy can be a sign of economic strength, it’s typically bearish for commodities. WTI briefly dropped below $65 a barrel for the first time since August during the session, while the global benchmark Brent also tumbled.

“That ties back to crude oil because if you start to pump the brakes on economic growth, you start to see impact on demand,” said Rebecca Babin, senior energy trader at CIBC Private Wealth Management.

Oil traders are also tracking talks this week aimed at reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Success at the negotiations in Vienna could lift sanctions on Iran’s economy, leading to a resumption in official oil flows. The exchanges began positively on Monday, according to a top European diplomat.

However, the next leg one way or the other will likely be decided by this week’s inventory data…

API

  • Crude -747k (-1.66mm exp)

  • Cushing (+1.00mm exp)

  • Gasoline

  • Distillates

Crude stocks fell 747k barrels last week, less than expected…

Source: Bloomberg

After the biggest monthly drop since March 2020, WTI was hovering around $66.75 ahead of the API print and dipped after despite the small crude draw…

Are we about to see gas prices at the pump plunge?

As Bloomberg notes, the oil market is also continuing to weigh the impact of the omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus on demand and what OPEC+ may decide to do in response when the producer group meets later this week. New travel restrictions threaten the rebound in global crude consumption that has underpinned this year’s price rally.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/30/2021 – 16:37




Author: Tyler Durden

Continue Reading

Economics

4 Top Stock Trades for Wednesday: Ethereum, XPEV, DLTR, BABA

Stocks were creamed on Friday due to worries over the new Covid variant Omicron. We bounced nicely on Monday, but stocks are back under pressure on Tuesday….

Stocks were creamed on Friday due to worries over the new Covid variant Omicron. We bounced nicely on Monday, but stocks are back under pressure on Tuesday. With that in mind, let’s look at a few top stock trades.

Top Stock Trades for Tomorrow No. 1: Ethereum (ETH-USD)


Click to Enlarge
Source: Chart courtesy of TrendSpider

While Bitcoin (CCC:BTC-USD) isn’t seeing the same kind of rotation today, Ethereum (CCC:ETH-USD) sure is.

In fact, Ethereum is going weekly-up over $4,555. From here, that puts the 161.8% extension and the all-time high in play up near $4,875 to $4,900.

If that does indeed come to fruition, bulls will inevitably turn their attention to the $5,000 level. A breakout over $5,000 puts the $5,500 area in play next, followed by $6,000 to $6,250 zone — where another set of upside extensions sit.

Back below $4,555, and investors will be watching the 10-day and 21-day moving averages.

Below $4,380 has the 50-day and 10-week moving averages on deck, followed by around $4,000.

Top Stock Trades for Tomorrow No. 2: Xpeng (XPEV)

Daily chart of XPEV
Click to Enlarge
Source: Chart courtesy of TrendSpider

Xpeng (NYSE:XPEV) continues to trade incredibly well. And if we look at just this chart, there’s no indication that the market is experiencing any volatility.

The stock is doing a terrific job holding up over the breakout level (blue line) and the 10-day moving average. Now trying for a weekly-up rotation and a move over the 61.8% retracement, bulls are hoping to see Xpeng gain steam over $55.

If it does, that could open the door to the current 2021 high up near $60, then the 78.6% retracement at $63.41.

However, a move below the breakout level and the 10-day moving average could force XPEV stock to rest a bit.

Top Stock Trades for Tomorrow No. 3: Dollar Tree (DLTR)

Top stock trades for DLTRf
Click to Enlarge
Source: Chart courtesy of TrendSpider

Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) was a stock I had on my radar early this morning, as the stock was under pressure from a downgrade following a fantastic earnings reaction.

Shares are checking back to the 10-day moving average after its massive run, opening the door for aggressive dip-buyers to get long.

If we get a bounce going, $140 would be the first upside target. Above that, and $143.50 to $145 could be next, followed by the highs near $148.

On the downside, though, failure to find support could put $130 in play, followed by the 21-day moving average.

Top Trades for Tomorrow No. 4: Alibaba (BABA)

Top stock trades for BABA
Click to Enlarge
Source: Chart courtesy of TrendSpider

Last but not least, we have Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), which has been an abysmal performer. 

The stock is working on its fourth quarterly decline in the past five quarters, and the one quarterly gain in that stretch was a paltry 0.02% — and no, that’s not a typo!

Shares have declined in nine of the past 13 months and in the most recent month (November), we’ve seen a 22% haircut to the share price. Alibaba ended November in a monthly-down rotation, taking out the October low.

Amid the recent decline, BABA stock is now below its 2018 low at $138-and-change. If we reclaim it, it could put a reversal in play.

However, a further decline could put the $120 level on deck. With some divergence on the chart, that could set Alibaba stock up for a bounce if we get there. While it won’t always remain the case, bears remain in control at the moment.

On the date of publication, Bret Kenwell did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Bret Kenwell is the manager and author of Future Blue Chips and is on Twitter @BretKenwell.

More From InvestorPlace

The post 4 Top Stock Trades for Wednesday: Ethereum, XPEV, DLTR, BABA appeared first on InvestorPlace.


Author: Bret Kenwell

Continue Reading

Trending