Monday Gloom in the office. Markets are up, but most colleagues are still trying to work out how England lost to Wales in the weekend’s rugby fixture. I think we have to give credit to the Welsh for a terrific second half comeback.
The performance figures for January arrive, showing that most British funds have come through in line with our benchmarks, albeit with falls in overall market value. A satisfactory result given the volatility and that all funds had finished 2007 strongly. Meet the management of Begbies Traynor. This is a stock for the bears as it specialises in business and personal insolvencies. The chief executive tells us that business has been picking up over the past three months.
Tuesday Back-to-back meetings, culminating in Friends Provident’s management coming in to explain their strategic review and how they are going to create shareholder value – the shares have fallen more than 10% since the review.
After work, I swim 50 lengths of the pool at the Broadgate Club before going home. Jo, my wife, wants to watch “Mistresses”, so I opt for an early night.
Wednesday BHP Billiton ups its bid for Rio Tinto from 3:1 [shares for every Rio Tinto share] to 3.4:1. Not enough to get the market excited at this stage, but BHP is staying in the game and hoping Rio will open its books.
Mining has been a successful area for Threadneedle over the past two years, but it is becoming “a big boys game”. There is quite significant upside and downside to Rio’s share price, depending on the ultimate outcome of the bid. The funds I manage have now sold and I don’t have enough conviction to change that view for the moment.
Tonight, it is England against Switzerland, for Capello’s first game in charge of England. He says he is not the Messiah. Well, what are we paying for then?
Thursday Masses of results this morning. Rolls Royce, BG, Unilever, BT, Yell, Smith & Nephew and Glaxo to come, along with an interest rate decision.
At lunchtime, we have the management of BHP Billiton in the office to talk about their results. The ‘supercycle’ in metals is demonstrated by showing the map of the Beijing Metro and the proposed map of what is planned for 2050. Extrapolate this across dozens of cities in India and China and you can believe that Chinese infrastructure demand will continue to drive incremental demand for metals.
Friday A bit calmer after yesterday’s storm. The usual British and European morning meetings start the day. Frank Chapman, chief executive officer of BG, visits the office to talk through the results and it is a suitable reminder of all the reasons that we own the stock. Production growth, replacement record, rising liquified natural gas margins, clean balance sheet and dividend up 30%.
Saturday A beautiful day. I head up to Wimbledon Common for the weekly 5km time trial at 9am, before settling in front of the television to watch Aston Villa batter the hopeless Newcastle United 4-1. Dinner with friends.
Sunday Another glorious day. Dog walking duty on Wandsworth Common before turning attention to downloading music on my new ipod and watching England against Italy. Were it not for Italy’s blue shirts, I would have thought I was watching a re-run of last week’s game – another disappointing England display. Sunday evening I settle in for newspapers and Baftas. I hate Jonathan Ross. Is it just me?
l Chris White is the director of pan-European equity income at Threadneedle Investments. His diary runs from February 4-10.