The week in investor relations: Analyst bias, robo-voting and trading hours
– Sell-side analyst recommendations feature a cultural bias, according to an article in the Economist. Analyst recommendations tend to be less favorable toward companies based in countries that their home nation is ‘biased against’, explains the article. ‘Northern Europeans disproportionately distrust southern Europeans. The same is true the other way round,’ it reports.
– Major asset managers regularly ignore the advice of proxy advisers such as ISS and Glass Lewis, reported the Financial Times (paywall). A study by ShareAction, a charity focused on responsible investment, finds that three quarters of the time investors voted differently from proxy adviser recommendations on resolutions related to the environment, social issues and political lobbying.
– The FT also noted that more investment firms have backed a cut in UK trading hours and at other European exchanges. BlackRock, Standard Life Aberdeen and Schroders have said they will back the proposals to bring trading hours in line with the shorter working days found in North America and Asia. The London Stock Exchange is currently running a consultation on the issue.
– European stocks hit record highs this week despite the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, according to Reuters. The STOXX Europe 600 Index, which covers around 90 percent of free-float market capitalization in Europe, was marginally up as investors bet the long-term impact of the virus would not hamper the global economy. The number of confirmed cases of the virus rose significantly this week after China brought in a new method for counting infections.
– Vivendi, the French media giant, plans to float Universal Music Group on the stock market amid high investor interest in the music industry, reported the BBC. The move follows the announcement last week that rival Warner Music Group would also list shares. Vivendi is the majority owner of Universal while Chinese tech company Tencent bought a 10 percent stake at the start of 2020.