Thursday 22 March 2018

All eyes on mortgages for Bank of Ireland's AGM

Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

It will be a busy week for business hacks, with a raft of performance updates and AGMs ahead.

It is due to kick off with Petroneft's EGM today; this meeting was supposed to take place last week but was postponed with the agreement of activist investor Natlata Partners, which is seeking the removal of several members of Petroneft's board.

AGMs for Kerry, Glanbia, CRH, FBD, Fyffes and Bank of Ireland will take place later in the week, though BOI calls it an "annual general court" rather than meeting. Last year's "court" featured an appearance by Brian O'Donnell of Gorse Hill fame, who handed the keys to his former home to Richie Boucher. This year, all eyes will be on mortgage lending, with the bank fighting to grow this part of its business in the face of a housing shortage and strict Central Bank mortgage rules.

If you can't lend them, buy them, appears to be the strategy - it recently bought a large lump of home loans from private equity group Lone Star.

FBD's AGM on Friday at the Irish Farm Centre in Bluebell, Dublin, should also be interesting. FBD made headlines recently when it was revealed that former chief executive Andrew Langford is being paid €16,300 a month to advise the business this year, despite receiving a six-figure sum in lieu of notice when he left the group last July.

FBD shareholders will be asked, among other things, to raise directors' mandatory retirement age from 65 to 70.

Turning to the wider world, the US Federal Reserve is set to join the ECB in holding policy steady when it meets against a calmer market backdrop.

The Fed, which lifted its benchmark overnight interest rate in December for the first time in nearly a decade, meets on Wednesday, the day before Washington publishes its first estimate of first-quarter economic growth.

The key question is whether Wednesday's statement will give any indication that a June hike is being seriously considered.

The Bank of Japan also reviews policy this week. Reports suggest a push for yet more stimulus could resume in Tokyo, loosening already ultra-loose monetary conditions.

A slew of US internet companies also report quarterly results this week.

Apple will announce a quarterly fall in iPhone sales for the first time ever on Tuesday with the release of results for the first three months of the year.

The world's most valuable company took a blow last week, with reports that its online entertainment services are being blocked in China.

Apple executives have flagged its growing services business as a potential source of revenue as sales of the company's flagship devices level off, upping the stakes for success in China.

Facebook, the world's largest social network, is expected to report a rise in first-quarter adjusted profit on Wednesday that will beat analysts' average estimates.

Investors and analysts will be looking out for user metrics on its WhatsApp messaging platform and Facebook Messenger, as well as information on the initial sales performance of its much-hyped virtual reality arm Oculus Rift.

On Thursday, is expected to report a rise in first-quarter revenue above estimates.

Analysts expect Amazon's successful Prime programme and faster delivery networks to help the company strengthen its already tight hold on the e-commerce market in North America.

Initiatives such as same-day delivery and digital offerings like its video streaming service are also expected to spur growth. Performance of Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud computing business, will also be keenly watched.

The week ahead


Petroneft EGM


Malin AGM

First annual ECB macroprudential policy and research conference in Frankfurt, Germany


Dalata AGM

Glanbia AGM

Kerry AGM

Kennedy Wilson Europe AGM


Bank of Ireland AGM


Tullow Oil AGM

Hostelworld full year results


Fyffes AGM


Irish Independent

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