Terry Smith has mayo on his mind — and presumably on his sandwiches and salads. The investor is annoyed that Unilever’s management spends its time pondering the “purpose” of Hellmann’s mayonnaise instead of making more money.

You can see why Smith is upset. His Fundsmith platform has delivered stellar returns to retail investors since inception. But a long streak of outperformance was broken last year thanks to a handful of weak stocks.

Unilever, where Fundsmith is the 10th-biggest shareholder, was one of the culprits. Smith complained in his annual letter this week that the company’s management was “obsessed with publicly

Read More

Asos said it would move to the main market of the London Stock Exchange after 20 years on Aim, as the online clothes retailer reported sales growth despite supply chain challenges.

The seller of party clothes said demand had been “volatile” in the four months to December 31 as a result of Covid but sales grew by 5 per cent in line with guidance.

Asos, which listed on the Alternative Investment Market in 2001 and has been one of AIM’s largest companies, said it planned to move to the main market by the end of February 2022, as it seeks

Read More

US consumer price growth is expected to have risen at the fastest pace in nearly four decades in December, as the Federal Reserve worries about the threat of elevated inflation and its consequences for the economic recovery.

The consumer price index (CPI) is estimated to have increased at a 7 per cent annual clip last month, a step up from the 6.8 per cent rate registered in November, according to a consensus forecast compiled by Bloomberg.

However, month-over-month price gains are expected to have moderated to 0.4 per cent between November and December, down from 0.8 per cent in the

Read More

The Wellcome Trust will boost spending on research to £16bn over the next 10 years as the UK’s largest charitable donor focuses on funding second and third generation vaccines while the world prepares for Covid-19 to become endemic.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome and former Sage member, said he believed there would be another coronavirus variant in 2022 after Omicron, adding that the country should not be complacent that future strains of the virus would be less severe.

The UK needed to prepare for Covid-19 moving from pandemic to endemic, he said, adding that the virus was “a

Read More

Russia has warned the US and Nato to make concessions or face a worsening security situation in Europe, as it downplayed the potential for progress in talks between Moscow and Washington aimed at averting an invasion of Ukraine.

Russian and US officials are meeting on Monday in Geneva for high-stakes negotiations on Ukraine and wider European defence. The talks were prompted by Russia’s deployment of about 100,000 troops close to its border with Ukraine and its warnings of military action if the west ignores demands for new guarantees that would reshape Europe’s security architecture.

Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign

Read More

International business groups in Hong Kong are pleading with the government to restart flights as a rating agency warned that a ban on foreign travel would deter companies from using Hong Kong as their regional headquarters.

Executives who travelled home for Christmas have been stranded outside the Asian financial hub after authorities suspended flights from eight countries, including the US and the UK, to guard the city from the Omicron coronavirus variant.

David Graham, executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong, said the “unfortunate” flight ban had taken many by surprise.

“It will inevitably cause considerable

Read More