MarketLine Blog

Posts written by Chris Bertenshaw

UK Rail Service: Fed up consumers overwhelmingly back train re-nationalization after another price hike

MarketLine

In the first week of 2018, UK rail passengers were made aware of another price hike that hit both season tickets and single ticket fares. The cost rose by 3.4% on average nationally in a country where fares are already close to the worst in Europe, levels of service equally bad and bailouts of failing operators protecting train companies. This has effectively exacerbated the already low levels of confidence in the crucial public transport service causing users to speculate whether only complete nationalization and restructuring of the service might get… Read more

Honda: Company finally makes a serious move into the electric vehicle market

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Falling in line with other manufacturers, Honda has announced its own vision for the electric power train future that it sees on the horizon. At the Frankfurt and Tokyo motor shows two new concept cars were shown off that indicate Honda has decided to conform to the path that many other manufacturers are following, that of the complete adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles. Honda doesn’t expect to drop its conventional engine vehicles entirely; indeed Honda is believed to be the biggest maker of engines in the world, but it… Read more

Norway & Drugs: Scandinavian country moves to decriminalize illicit drugs, rest of Europe likely to follow eventually

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In a first for Scandinavian countries, but unlikely to be the last, Norway has moved to decriminalize the use of illicit drugs. Whilst this is just the starting point for the process of decriminalization and the government still needs to implement the directives from parliament with coherent public policy, the vote represents the current wind of change. In Europe the move towards decriminalization of illicit drugs is an awkward topic; many different countries view this change as a backwards step and even those countries which have pioneered new ways of… Read more

CRISPR Gene Editing: Now the technology is being used on humans, we can and should change the nature of our species

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CRISPR technology is a simple yet incredibly powerful tool for editing genomes, the fundamental building blocks of any organism. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function potentially with no limits or boundaries to what can be done to alter the physical attributes of animals and human beings. The process uses enzymes to cut through sections of DNA allowing new sequences to be added or parts removed. The result is that we can now completely alter genes, therefore the actual structure of an organism itself. Perfected… Read more

Harley-Davidson: Heavyweight brand experiencing big difficulty selling to millennials

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Harley-Davidson’s recent results have been poor and there are some concerning signs that the broader motorcycles market in certain geographies might be suffering currently. Harley-Davidson is attempting to combat some of the problems that it sees to make its vehicles more appealing to younger generations and expand their appeal globally, by updating designs and engines and spending more on marketing. However, there are some fundamental problems that are affecting the motorcycle industry which are yet to be addressed by these changes. Millennials becoming the new largest generation means that companies… Read more

Norwegian: The low cost airline with ambitions to fly long haul

MarketLine

Norwegian Air is a no frills fly service that is looking to shake up the long haul industry. For a number of years the rapidly growing budget airline players have been considering moving into this sector but technical problems, regulatory issues and competitors have got in their way. Norwegian Air however, has found a way and now offers a number of routes from Europe across the Atlantic using the new breed of efficient yet smaller airplanes from Boeing and Airbus. However, this transition is not without issues and availability of… Read more

INEOS Automotive: Chemical giant stepping into the automotive manufacturing space

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INEOS is a private multinational chemical company operating out of the UK, with annual revenues of over $4bn. The company grabbed headlines in 2016 when it announced a serious intention to find some way to continue to produce the iconic British vehicle, the Land Rover Defender. Land Rover had announced the winding down of the long running Defender, citing emissions regulations and the old design of the vehicle as the primary reason and is widely expected to announce a new version of the vehicle in the coming years. However, INEOS… Read more

i9 vs Threadripper: AMD is back in the processor game, launching competitive and keenly priced products

MarketLine

AMD has for a number of years been kicked into the long grass by Intel in producing processors. Whichever way it’s measured, sheer performance, market share, sales figures or reputation, Intel has controlled the desktop and laptop chip processor market. However AMD has been preparing a very significant challenge to fight back. In early 2017 AMD announced the details of its next series of chips and took the market by storm. AMD had found a way to make its chips competitive with the very best Intel chips and even better… Read more

Mega Agriculture: Three huge agriculture acquisitions creating monstrous companies that will control the food supply

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Six of the world’s largest agricultural firms, those that control seed patents, produce pesticides and fertilizers and effectively dominate the worlds agricultural output are about to become three. Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Syngenta, Du Pont, Bayer and ChemChina have deals to absorb each other, further consolidating the industry and firming up their strangle hold on farmers and the means of production. Of great concern to regulators and the agriculture industry alike is that the industry is already very much consolidated and with these three mergers the resulting companies will control over… Read more

Sunseeker Yachts: Good year for British yacht companies on the back of Brexit

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Sunseeker has found a way to return to winning ways. With a good order book increase and healthy return to profit, the company appears to have recovered from a particularly bleak period for the luxury yacht building industry. In recent years the market has been extremely bad for Sunseeker and other British boat builders such as Princess and Fairline which had been restructuring and applying redundancies. The main reason that these businesses seem to have recovered, is due to the pound plummeting after Brexit making prices much more competitive when… Read more

Poland: Kaczynski close to demolishing all remaining democratic oversight in Poland

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Kaczynski’s ruling PiS (Law & Justice) party has, since its election, been rapidly demolishing the process of democracy in Poland. The PiS party has crushed the power of the opposing parties and state institutions that had the ability to stand in its way. In July 2017, the party introduced a bill attacking the independence of the judiciary and despite street protests and chaotic and angry scenes in the house, and this bill has now passed. This bill will mean that judges will be in direct control of the justice minister,… Read more

NATO: Defense spending rises as members look to a future without US leadership

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In a recent meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), between the defense ministers in June 2017, it was heard that almost across the board there has been an increase in defense spending. Despite the target of 2% of GDP that members are expected to meet, traditionally many members have ignored this target in order to grow their economies or recover after recessions, but there are more members now hitting this target. There are multiple explanations for why members are spending more on defense all of a sudden. Firstly,… Read more

HMS Queen Elizabeth: Britain’s largest ever warship launches, but it has some concerning flaws

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The Royal Navy’s largest ever commissioned ship is launched ready for sea trials in June 2017. The Queen Elizabeth Aircraft carrier is over three times larger than the class it replaces the invincible class and has absorbed £6bn ($7.6bn) worth of investment and has taken around 10 years to come to fruition. There are a number of questions that surround the project however and in particular the military procurement process in the UK in general. There are concerns that there will not be enough crew ready to operate her, the… Read more

Car Loan Debt: Consumer debt getting out of control and risky betting on subprime loans

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There are worries of a financial bubble forming in the car finance industry. Both in the UK and USA there has been a growing prevalence for dealers and manufacturers to offer PCP finance deals and this has led to a culture of consumers viewing vehicle ownership as direct debit agreements. This has rapidly increased new car registrations and thereby the amount of consumer credit and house debt that buyers are taking on because the amount of new vehicle sales that are funded by finance options is above 80%. Worryingly many… Read more

UK General Election: Night of upsets points to an enormously difficult period to come for the UK

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A fairly staggering set of results in June 2017 showed that in the UK, the political climate is changing. Almost every poll done in the run up to the election suggested a landslide victory for the incumbent government and the result was that the Conservative Party dropped its majority and only a deal with the DUP would provide them with a minority government. The implications of this result are wide ranging. It looks increasingly likely that there will be a second general election within six months as confidence in Theresa… Read more

Medical Devices: Strong technological innovation is driving the industry, but it creates new vulnerabilities too

MarketLine

The medical device market is growing well and has been posting consistent and stable revenues for a number of years and some market segments are even achieving double digit growth rates. The market is doing so well because the rate of innovation in new products is allowing treatments that were previously unthinkable; devices that can allow patients to see, walk or hear again for instance. These new types of devices may provide solutions for some of the most unsolvable medical problems over the next decade and this means the health… Read more

Greater Manchester mayoral elections: Manchester shows little interest in the predicted Conservative landslide

MarketLine

  The Greater Manchester Mayoral Election during the local election period of May 2017, was a particularly interesting one. Despite strong Conservative gains nationally, this was not reflected in the Greater Manchester vote. The Labour Party win was a white wash and even areas that traditionally had leanings towards the Conservative party did not show a strong Conservative turnout. What was also seen was that, particularly in the case of the Manchester Central district, deprivation or affluence is a very poor indicator of voting intention as both poor and wealthy… Read more

Brewdog: The punk beer company flexes its muscles taking on a private equity partner

MarketLine

BrewDog is the company at the forefront of the craft beer revolution. The trend is that consumers are increasingly interested in premium beer products and BrewDog was one of the very first companies to provide a product in the UK which could capitalize on the trend and do it well. The company’s secret has been to brand the product as an “alternative” product, with much attention devoted to the ingredients and the skill of the brewer, whilst at the same time making use of innovative crowd funding programs and landing… Read more

The New Silk Road: China’s Belt and Road plan the biggest infrastructure program ever

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The Belt and Road initiative is China’s attempt to resurrect the Silk Road, the ancient path linking Europe and Asia. This modern version of the plan wants to unite multiple regions with a monumentally large infrastructure program that could consume close to $1tn by the time it is complete. Comprising roads, port projects, pipelines, trains, shipping lanes and economic zones, the plan stretches from the South Pacific Ocean to Central Europe. The aim on the surface is to boost trading and reinvigorate multiple economic regions. However when the plan is… Read more

Saab: Company is confident about Gripen sales, but 300 units is a tough ask

MarketLine

In a world full of eye watering price tags and ludicrous development times the Saab Gripen fighter jet has been able to carve out a path of its own. For those unable to pay the entry fee for an F-35, F-22 or Eurofighter, there are few other options to maintain a viable air defense system that can compete with dangerous neighbors. For those that can afford it, sometimes it not politically expedient for the west to sell their prize fighter jets to countries they are suspicious of, so they usually… Read more

UK General Election: Prime minister May calls snap GE for 8th June, another big play risks further chaos for the country

MarketLine

On the 18th of April 2017 UK Prime Minister Teresa May announced a snap general election. For months political commentators had been speculating that this might happen, as the opposition parties were weak and the time looked opportune. Conservatives were strong and Prime Minister May needed a strong mandate to help with the exceptional political circumstances that the Brexit vote and subsequent resignation of David Cameron left behind. On announcement the argument provided was exactly this; that the Prime Minister wanted to build on her majority to make sure that… Read more

AMD is Ryzen: Chip manufacturer makes a huge play to shake up the processor market

MarketLine

AMD has for a number of years been kicked into the long grass by Intel in producing processors. Whichever way it’s measured, sheer performance, market share, sales figures or reputation, Intel has controlled the desktop and laptop chip processor market. However AMD has been preparing a very significant challenge to fight back. In early 2017 AMD announced the details of its next series of chips and took the market by storm. AMD had found a way to make its chips competitive with the very best Intel chips and even better… Read more

Uber’s Aggression: Battering both competitors and customers into submission, with questionable business practices

MarketLine

Uber has had an astonishing journey. Even for the technology industry where businesses regularly explode into life, Uber’s success story stands almost unparalleled in speed and scope. Estimates of its value vary but some think $70bn could be a plausible valuation for the company, which would make it bigger than some of the very largest automotive manufacturers in the world. However Uber has become a master of some of the dark arts of business, using courts to get its way, avoiding regulation, removing competitors and encouraging a dog eat dog… Read more

Jaguar Land Rover: JLR breaks its own sales records but company has some large problems looming

MarketLine

In 2016 Jaguar Land Rover reached its highest ever volume of sales. Already Britain’s largest vehicle manufacturer, the company hit sales of 584,313 vehicles in 2016 up by a fifth over the previous year. The company’s strength has always been its Range Rover marque, which is a prestige vehicle commanding high list prices but also high demand and Jaguar has largely been supported by its Range Rover bigger brother. But recently Jaguars steady process of modernization has helped bolster the group’s sales. The group has ambitious plans but also a… Read more

Block Chain Tech The DAO becomes the largest crowd funding campaign in history

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Block Chain technology is seen as the key breakthrough which allowed the development of Bitcoin, the enormously successful cryptocurrency. The Block Chain stands as proof of all the transactions on the network and the block is the live part of a Block Chain which records all of the recent transactions. When completed the individual block goes into the Block Chain as permanent database or ledger. Each block is arranged properly in chronological order and connected to the block next to it. Looking at the banking system for instance, this would… Read more

Airbnb: The sharing economy company encounters resistance in Berlin

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Airbnb is one of the biggest sharing economy success stories of recent years and along with companies such as Uber, Lyft and Task Rabbit, Airbnb has found a new way to use to a widely available resource by applying new smart phone technology. Essentially the program allows apartments, flats, houses and rooms to be advertised for rent, and visitors to a city to have a different experience to what might be provided by a traditional hotel chain. Local knowledge, unusual locations and a homely experience, are some of the reasons… Read more

Tesla Model 3: Highly anticipated affordable vehicle, likely to see off competition

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The enormous success and media interest that Tesla’s previous models have had and the influence and following of its charismatic engineer CEO, meant that the announcement of the new Model 3 in early April 2016 became very highly anticipated. Its Model S premium Sedan has been a triumph for the company with sales of the vehicle trumping sales of comparable sedans from the world’s great auto makers in many key markets. The next move for Tesla was to develop an affordable mass market vehicle which could make a significant impact… Read more

Shimano Inc.: Tour de France ends with another Shimano victory

MarketLine

The bicycling and fishing components giant has had another fantastic year in 2015. With Team Sky’s win for Chris Froome in the sport’s greatest grand tour, comes another win for Shimano, who supplied the team with its top of the range Dura Ace Di2 components for Sky’s hugely successful Pinarello Dogma race bike. This is rather a coup for the company as the exposure from the world’s biggest public race rarely fails to trickle down to direct sales for those companies that have sponsored the most successful teams. With the… Read more

Jaguar Land Rover: Five years of successive growth under Tata’s leadership

MarketLine

Jaguar Land Rover has now reached five consecutive years of growth in 2015, which has been achieved under Tata Motors ownership and investment. This success has emboldened the company to invest in itself and Jaguar land Rover now produces its own engines, has plants in Brazil and China and has brought the Jaguar range right up to date, making the company one of the most important and successful prestige car companies and one of the most recognizable British manufacturers. The company has managed to do this on the back of… Read more

The UK General Election 2015: The Result that nobody expected

MarketLine

On Thursday the 7th of May the UK went to the polls to choose their next government. The previous government had been a compromise between two parties, sharing their seats in order to form a workable coalition. For months and years before last week’s election, the pollsters had been predicting a similar result,  a hung parliament, where no one party would have overall control  and all the signs were suggesting that there would have to be another coalition and no one knew for sure which parties that might contain and… Read more