Dan McCrum: Lessons from the Wirecard scandal
IC deputy editor Dan Jones is joined on this episode by Dan McCrum, part of the Financial Times investigations team and author of Money Men, the story of the Wirecard scandal he helped uncover (now adapted as the Netflix documentary Skandal).
Dan began investigating Wirecard following contact with a whistleblower in 2015, uncovering evidence of widespread fraud, and finally saw the company declare insolvency in 2020.
In this podcast he discusses the process of discovery, fighting accusations of market manipulation, why the warning signs were missed, and much more.
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The Companies and Markets Show: Ashtead, Redde Northgate and the stockpicker resurgence29:05We begin with FTSE 100 equipment renting company Ashtead, which released interim figures in recent days. Jemma Slingo and Julian Hofmann delve into the numbers and explain the background of the issues the company has faced in terms of demand. They also touch on the future of the business in light of the possibility the US government will change hands in the coming year.Jemma also discusses the results of a different rental company, Redde Northgate. The 2020 merger between a replacement vehicle company and an accident management services business means the company still has some legacy issues weighing on it. Mark Robinson shares the standout qualities of the company, but do the drivers outweigh the cyclical risks? Lastly, Alex Newman talks listeners through our latest cover feature ‘Why it’s stockpickers time to beat the market’. He explores why active funds have performed so badly recently and spells out the argument that they might do better in future.
2023 Recap: Lessons and Opportunities in the Aftershock Economy19:49After a 2-year post-pandemic inflation surge, the global economy eases from extensive fiscal and monetary interventions. Central banks reassess recession risks, signalling potential investment opportunities as volatility reawakens
The Companies and Markets Show: Focusrite, XPS Pensions and profiting from the energy switch32:21We begin with Alex Newman who discusses the recent results of music equipment manufacturer Focusrite. The company’s growth and share price rocketed during the pandemic, but like many others, its stock price has plummeted since. Alex explains how the business can spur growth and analyses whether the buy-and-build strategy will help boost its valuation.Julian Hofmann then takes the reigns with consulting and administration business XPS Pensions, which is growing at an exponential rate. Strong fundamental drivers are behind this expansion, but Julian discusses whether its cost control is good enough given the higher expenses seen in the industry.Last but not least, we discuss our latest cover feature on profiting from the energy switch. Author James Norrington explains his motivation behind the piece, China’s dominance of supply chains and touches on the Black-Litterman mathematical model for portfolio allocation.
IC Interviews: Stuart Widdowson of Odyssean Investment Trust37:46In this episode of The IC Interviews, Dave Baxter welcomes back Stuart Widdowson, Managing Partner of Odyssean Capital, the firm that manages Odyssean Investment Trust. The trust was set up in 2018 and is known for its approach of investing in a concentrated portfolio of UK listed companies too small for inclusion in the FTSE 250.The trust applies a private equity mindset to its operations in the public sphere. Stuart discusses the five aspects of the trust’s methodology that make it stand out from the crowd. He also talks about the qualities he looks for in the companies he selects and focuses on a handful of Odyssean’s current holdings. This interview was recorded on 24 November.
The Companies and Markets Show: Avon Protection, the Autumn Statement and quality US shares37:51This week’s episode begins with a dive into Avon Protection’s recent figures with our deputy news editor Michael Fahy. To say the numbers were positive might be a stretch, but things could certainly be worse for the respiratory protection equipment specialist. As there have been many changes at the company in recent years and now activist investors are agitating for a sale, how should investors see the business?Our economics writer, Hermione Taylor, then guides listeners through some of the big changes announced in the 2023 Autumn Statement. The OBR believes the tax change for businesses could increase investment by £14bn over the next five years. But what about the cut to National Insurance? How much will it actually help households? Julian Hofmann also discusses the pension reforms and ponders what it could mean for pension consolidation business PensionBee. It’s then onto our lead feature this week, which shines a light on four quality US companies, as highlighted by our US High Quality Large Caps screen. We focus in on the qualities of tool supplier Fastenal, its ‘Blue Team’ culture, and discuss the attractiveness of its current valuation.
Lee & the IC: A store of value | Episode Three31:17This episode centres around property, in all its shapes and sizes. The pair begin discussing a well-known self-storage stock: Lok'n Store. Lord Lee explains his nearly decade-long involvement in the company and reveals why he still loves commercial real estate.The pair go on to chat about how investors should approach difficult-to-value assets and the pros and cons of investing in property over shares. Lord Lee also answers questions from listeners.
The Companies and Markets Show: Diageo, Reits and Investment Trusts35:24We begin by discussing Diageo, a global leader in premium beverages, who released a profit warning last week. Sales are expected to fall in the new financial year with issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. The market reacted badly, understandably, with analysts also alarmed. But can strength in the US market buoy these negative prospects?We follow on with the results of two commercial Reits: British Land and Land Sec. Given rental growth seems to be better than expected, what have the businesses been doing to protect their businesses during the downturn? Moving on to our 2023 Investment Trust Special, our team gives a whistle-stop tour of some of the trusts that feature in the supplement, the portfolios professionals are cherishing this year and more. We also dive into a bit of the detail of one of the articles, Around the World in Eight Investment Trusts, including two UK trusts that look impressive.The stories mentioned in the show:DiageoBritish Land is cheap, but for a reasonLandsec fails to outmanoeuvre rivalHow to build a super-strength investment trust portfolio
IC Interviews: James de Uphaugh and Imran Sattar of Edinburgh Investment Trust34:36In this episode of The IC Interviews, personal finance writer Val Cipriani sits down with James de Uphaugh and Imran Sattar of Edinburgh Investment Trust, managed by Liontrust.Boasting 50 years of investment experience between them, James and Imran have worked together in various firms since the 1990s, including BlackRock and Majedie. In this conversation, they explore how the portfolio will deal with a period of economic stagnation, discuss holdings including M&S and new addition Admiral, and explain what investors should expect when Imran takes over from James as head of global fundamental in February next year.
The Companies and Markets Show: ABF, Apple, and the ‘winner’s curse’38:04Companies editor Mark Robinson gives us the rundown on Associated British Foods’ (ABF) latest results, which shareholders warmly received. What tactics has management deployed to reach the latest share price high and where can we expect to see the company head in the future? We’re then on to Apple (US:AAPL), this week’s cover story by Arthur Sants, our new US-based reporter. The tech giant’s latest results mentioned a greater focus on the services side of the business, including AI, as its product sales diminish. Arthur explains what’s causing falling sales and what other headwinds the company faces.Last but not least, Jemma Slingo discusses the ‘winner’s curse’, a concept that once a company reaches the top of its industry, it underperforms. Dan and Jemma discuss how companies can sustain growth while tackling new threats.This episode was recorded on the 7th of November. Associated British Foods reveals surprise special dividendCan Apple keep on delivering for investors?When corporate expansion comes at a cost