Every day ROB Insight delivers exclusive analysis on breaking business news and market-moving events. Streetwise offers news and analysis on Bay Street and the world of finance. Inside the Market delivers up-to-the-minute insights on market news as it develops.
Here are our editors’ picks of some of the best reads available to Globe Unlimited subscribers this week.
Germany’s cartel capers continue
Three cheers for German watchdogs and a great big boo for the country’s food and beverage sector, which has just completed a trifecta of sorts by having three cartels busted by regulators this year. First up to the plate were sugar producers, followed swiftly by brewers, and now the latest offender – sausage makers. Shenanigans with interbank lending rates and arcane systems of setting precious metals prices may be much more serious, but messing with beer and sausages in Germany takes a pretty big helping of chutzpah. In ROB Insight, Brian Milner, examines the probes and penalties, and explains how cartels can cause serious economic damage far beyond the pocketbook of Joe Consumer.
A Target on its back
The U.S. purveyor of “cheap chic” was launched in Canada with great fanfare last year, enjoying acres of press coverage and building an unusual degree of excitement over its debut. How long ago that seems. The retailer can’t seem to get anything right, with the complaints ranging from too-high prices to empty shelves, and efforts to fix the problems don’t appear to have borne fruit yet. Now some analysts are suggesting the company should consider cutting its losses and limp back across the border. In Streetwise, Marina Strauss examines the challenges Target faces in Canada and the issues that must be addressed if it has any hope of pulling off a turnaround.
Don’t be stupid on health stocks
You don’t have to be a genius to do well with investing, as Berkhsire Hathaway co-head Charlie Munger insists, you just have to be “not stupid.” That means evaluating stocks by a few tried-and-true metrics and steering clear of reaching conclusions about the long-term prospects of any given company. In Inside the Market, Scott Barlow explains the approach employed by Mr. Munger and partner Warren Buffett, and applies the filters to the health care sector to try to ferret out some of its more enticing plays.
A cure-all for frothy housing markets?
A look south across the border at the housing market implosion that precipitated the financial crisis is enough to give anyone the shivers. And with Canada’s property market pretty frothy – downright bubbly, many would say – any proposed solution to the problem of a runaway housing market should be carefully considered. In ROB Insight, Ian McGugan examines a novel approach suggested by two U.S. economists to bring sanity to the market.
Income trusts for a new era?
The much-mourned demise of energy trusts left a hefty hole in the market for investors hungry for big and regular payouts. Now that the energy market is hot again, a new roster of “divcos” has sprung up that could fill that gap. But investors may want to think a bit before they jump, write Tim Kiladze and Jeffrey Jones in Streetwise, where they pore over the players in the sector and the new ones coming to market. Just as with income trusts, there can be a pretty wide variation of quality, and big question marks over the ability of companies to sustain dividends.
Broker waves white flag on fees
The proliferation of online brokerages charging rock-bottom trading commissions has finally prompted Credential Direct to slash its own rates further. Credential used to be known as one of the original discount brokerages back when standard commissions were much higher, but the space has grown increasingly crowded and squeezed even the traditional discounters. In Inside the Market, Rob Carrick compares how Credential now stacks up – but also provides words of caution for investors taking the hunt for the lowest fees too far.
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