Flash Briefing: Richemont jumps on results; Aussies move Right; Personal Finance hits the Ivy League

By Alec Hogg

Here’s your Biznews Flash Briefing:

  • After being behind in the polls for two years, Australia’s conservative government won a surprise victory in Saturday’s elections, taking over the line voters in resource-rich districts. They turned against centre-left opponents who had put climate change at the heart of their campaign. With most of the votes counted, last night political experts predicted the government would win a couple more than the 73 seats they held going into the election. That’s not quite enough for a majority, but sufficient to continue ruling with the support of smaller right-wing parties. Prime minister Scott Morrison, a devout Christian, described the victory as a miracle. It gives his Liberal-National coalition the mandate to deliver Donald Trump-style tax cuts to stimulate Australia’s slowing economy. After admitting defeat, Morrison’s opponent Bill Shorten resigned as leader of the Labour Party.
  • The share price of JSE heavyweight Richemont rose almost 5% after Friday morning’s release of its financial results to end March. The global luxury group’s sales rose 8% on a like-for-like basis with double digit growth reported for Asia Pacific and the Americas and for the company-owned jewellery and watch-making units. The annual dividend, in Swiss Francs, was increased 5%. At the March yearend, Richemont’s net cash position was down by half to 2.5bn euros because of buying out minorities shares in its now wholly-owned online sales operation YOOX Net-A-Porter, or YNAP, and the acquisition of Watchfinder. YNAP delivered 16% of the group’s 2019 financial year sales of €14bn with the online operations reporting an operating loss of €100m.
  • Personal finance education has gone mainstream in the United States. The Wall Street Journal reports that last month, for the first time ever, Harvard University’s economics department led a series of Personal Finance workshops for undergraduates. Earlier this month Princeton held a well-attended inaugural Financial Literacy Day. The Ivy League colleges are part of a growing trend to teach students about money. In the last decade, community colleges, public schools and state universities have started offering personal-finance programs to meet student demand. Nineteen US states now mandate high schools to educate students on basic financial knowledge before they graduate, up from 17 states in 2018 and 13 in 2011. And where America leads, others tend to follow. South Africa among them.
  • It was a softer end to the week for share prices around the world with South African stocks losing an average of two thirds of one percent, in line with Friday’s drop in the US’s S&P 500 index. Banking stocks were under pressure with FirstRand and Standard Bank both losing 3%; with a similar picture in the food and beverage sectors where Distell, RCL and Pioneer Food gave up some of their recent gains, also losing 3%. The JSE’s global stocks did better with Richemont leading the way with the prices of Mondi and British American Tobacco picking up 2%.