Daily Archives: Feb 4, 2013

As expected, a dreadful fourth quarter for Yum! Brands following furor over a food safety scare in China.

Like-for-like sales growth in China – a market that now accounts for half of total group revenues and profits – fell 6 per cent for the quarter, compared to the 21 per cent increase seen during Q4 of 2011.

But the worst is yet to come. The company said it expects same-store sales in China to fall “approximately 25 per cent for January and February combined”. Read more

Seek and ye shall find … even if it is not what you were looking for.

That, at least, is what has happened to US-Chilean company, Darmatal, in Paraguay. As interest increases in Paraguay’s hydrocarbons potential, Darmatal was exploring for oil. Instead, it found ironRead more

Poland’s slowing economy is driving people to their keyboards – not to waste time playing games but to save money by buying over the internet.

Although only about 40 per cent of Poles shop online, the number is growing by about 30 per cent a year, which makes Poland, along with the Czech Republic, the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the EU, according to Ecommerce Europe, an industry lobby group. The continent as a whole saw e-commerce grow by 21 per cent last year to €310bn. Read more

As Beijing offers to broker a peace agreement between Myanmar and the Kachin rebels, the recent fighting is threatening to destabilise China’s rich and volatile border with Myanmar. The FT’s Ben Marino reports on the challenges Beijing faces as it tries to continue to extend its influence in Myanmar amid political reform and a recent wave anti-Chinese protests.

Some striking figures about air travel and Turkey’s place in the world were released on Monday. Istanbul’s Ataturk airport is growing at a pace unrivalled by any of the other big European hubs.

With 44m passengers passing through its gates last year, Ataturk is now the continent’s sixth biggest airport and judging by monthly data from Airports Council International Europe is poised to overtake Madrid and, soon after that, Amsterdam. Read more

South Africa has lots of good intentions about black participation in industry – but there are still many practical hurdles.

For instance, the country’s ambitions to give black coal mining companies a greater share of procurement deals seems to be still be a long way off as they continue to battle capital funding hurdles and ‘mind-boggling’ red tape, as a senior industry figure described it. Read more

HTC, once the new phone darling on the mobile scene, is struggling. The company’s Q4 2012 results weren’t pretty, the stock has dropped 48 per cent in the last 12 months, and it is losing ground to Apple and Samsung. Shares were down on Monday by 1.55 per cent.

So what to do? Focus on emerging markets, of course… Read more

By Emre Deliveli of Hürriyet Daily News

Turkish inflation figures, announced on Monday, showed a 1.7 per cent month-on-month increase in January, much higher than market expectations of 1.1 per cent. In a striking jump, annual inflation rose to 7.3 per cent from 6.1 per cent in December.

A big contribution came from an unexpected big increase in food prices: Turkish food inflation is volatile and hard to predict. Read more

Insert your own green light / accelerating away / high speed metaphor here.

Vehicle sales in South Africa grew by 14.1 per cent in January (year on year) according to numbers released on Monday – a rare piece of positive economic data from a South African economy which has been showing signs of slowing growth. Read more

The Middle East and North African nations fall into two categories that make their economies vastly different: some are wealthy oil exporters, the rest are net importers. But they have one thing in common: subsidies, writes Ayesha Daya.

With oil prices expected to drop this year, amid sluggish global growth and unexpected supplies coming on stream in non-Opec countries, MENA’s richer nations may have to join the poorer ones in tightening their belts. Read more

Photo: Bloomberg

Moscow’s stock exchange on Monday published the terms of its planned stock market flotation: it proposes to raise around $500m for the company and for the selling shareholders, putting a total value on the business of up to $4.6bn.

One striking point is the dividend pledge – “no less than” 30 per cent of the net profits for the year to December 2012, 40 per cent for 2013, and 50 per cent for 2014. Clearly the Russian authorities’ pressure for bigger payouts is yielding results. Read more

By Georgina Adam

The Chinese art market, which in 2011 was reported to have leapfrogged the US to become the largest in the world, took a severe battering in 2012 and may have already lost its number one position, according to the front-page story in February edition of The Art Newspaper.

According to the publication, sales at China’s two largest auction houses, Poly Auction and China Guardian, have plummeted by more than half. Poly, part of a conglomerate which also includes the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, saw sales drop from $1.9bn in 2011 to $965m in 2012. China Guardian reported $1.8bn in 2011 but just $820m in sales in 2012. Read more

* Amplats plunges to an annual loss

* HSBC sells $7.4 billion Ping An stake to billionaire Dhanin

* Emerging stocks rise to two-week high on China data; MISC surges Read more

By Gábor Takács of Nézőpont Intézet

Lifting the EU excessive deficit procedure (EDP) against Hungary was one of the major topics discussed at the meeting between Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, and José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, last week.

Orbán’s critics were quick to argue that by lifting the EDP, Brussels would give up the only effective method to exert pressure on the “unorthodox” leader from Budapest. Read more

Lee Myung-bak’s approval ratings remain painfully low as he prepares to step down as South Korean president next month. But he might hope for a belated popularity boost in 2018 when his country hosts the Winter Olympics – one of a series of major international events that South Korea won during his term.

The past week has given an early taste of the festival that awaits in five years’ time, as the South Korean ski resort of Pyeongchang hosted the Special Olympics World Games. Read more

Monday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: LatAm investors risk mispricing political interference; the Chinese government is wary about workers’ collective action; South African miners are increasingly radicalised; Myanmar’s first literary festival is a sign of the changing times; why the west will struggle to contain AQIM; plus, why Yum! deserves a China haircut. Read more

Anglo American Platinum, the world’s top producer of the precious metal, on Monday announced a loss in the financial year to the end of December as the struggling company counts the cost of two months of wildcat strikes at its South African operations, writes Andrew England in Cape Town.

The company, which is part of Anglo American, posted a headline earnings loss of R1.47bn, compared with a profit of R3.57bn in 2011, with Amplats saying it had lost 305,600 ounces of equivalent refined platinum ounces because of the industrial rest, which erupted in August. Read more

How have emerging market currencies fared at the start of the year compared with 2012? Foreign currency investors say that the grip of so-called risk on, risk off trading has faded this year and that fundamental reasons for buying or selling a currency are dominating investment choice.

But the rise of currency wars is also playing a major role in determining which currencies rise or fall, as investors respond to rhetoric from central bankers and place bets on which countries are most likely to take action to weaken their currency this year. Chart of the week takes a closer look. Read more

India’s Department of Telecommunications, which saw disappointing take-up at its recent spectrum auctions, must have been looking on enviously. The rules of austerity rarely apply to sport, and cricket is no exception.

The Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 2013 Player Auction took place on Sunday. Forget these straitened times – the IPL has once again bowled a googly. Read more

Saudi Basic Industries Corp, Saudi Arabia’s biggest publicly-traded company, has a very non-Saudi problem: striking workers.

The Riyadh-based petrochemicals behemoth is facing the wrath of the labour unions – not at home in the kingdom where such groups are banned but at its Chemicals Geleen plant in the Netherlands. Read more