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Hi, Gemma! and welcome to edition #281 of Honey by Freetrade, a round-up of everything that's happening in the markets.

Fact of the day

A confectioner, chocolatier and jam maker raked in the most pet food dollars worldwide in 2020. Mars Petcare pulled in over $18bn. That’s a lot of Whiskas.

Leading pet food companies worldwide in 2020, based on revenue /$m. Source: Statista, WATT Global Media, 2021.

What’s been happening?

Tensions might be easing on the surface somewhat but they’re still high on the Ukraine border after a week when politicians talked, but the tanks kept rolling. 

For investors, this all feels a bit familiar though.

Russia’s grievances about NATO’s eastern creep and supposed broken cold war promises have resulted in conflict twice in recent memory: South Ossetia, Georgia in 2008 and Crimea, Ukraine in 2014.

We don’t want to play down geopolitical events, they can have huge consequences for peoples’ lives. But when it comes to stock markets, frankly, they tend not to matter in the long term.

Commentators love a narrative to explain short-term stock market moves, it’s their job after all. But narratives die as fast as they are born and the market, more often than not, loses interest. 
Brent crude oil price

Source: Koyfin, 15 Feb 2022.

Of course, things could always get ugly and a major conflict would be damaging for market sentiment. But investors need to keep two things in mind at this point.

One is the cold hard fact that stock markets are made up of individual companies. And their stock prices, in the long run, are determined mostly by their profit growth. 

Ask yourself whether you think the Ukraine situation will be damaging for Apple’s iPhone sales or Microsoft's cloud business for example.

Secondly, there is a lot of focus on oil. Russia is a member of OPEC+ and a reasonably important player in the global energy markets. But commodity prices are set by the laws of supply and demand.

Where demand goes, supply usually follows, and prices tend not to go in one direction for too long.

Just take a look at the oil price chart and spot where the Crimea war broke out. 

Let's hope calm heads prevail, but unless we see a major escalation in the situation, we have a sneaking suspicion market commentators and investors will soon be moving onto the next set of headlines, whatever those may be.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

Source: Koyfin, as at 15 Feb 2022. Basis: bid-bid in local currency terms with income reinvested.

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Buzzing 🐝

TikTok and climate activism are the hallmarks of a new generation but whatever happened to a Friday night with your mates at Frankie & Benny’s, and a film at the Odeon?

Maybe even a McFlurry in a carpark after.

Well, that’s pretty much a scene from the history textbooks now. While Covid’s halted nights out recently, it’s not just the UK’s rapidly-ageing 30-somethings pining after those halcyon days of 10p texts and endless Anchorman quotes. 

The Restaurant Group (RTN) has seen those spending habits change among UK consumers more than most. 

The Wagamama-owner occupies that middleground between fast food outlet (no cutlery or glasses) and destination restaurant (both glasses and cutlery).

It’s a space that served it well alongside Pizza Express, Zizzi, Prezzo (anything with a ‘z’ really) until overexpansion into a saturated market forced it to start closing sites in 2016.

And it hasn’t had much to shout about since, which is why a recent anticipatory burst in share price performance will be welcomed by shareholders.

The firm’s chains have been crying out for a complete reopening of the economy - anything to reverse a £50m operating loss in 2020 - but it now has an inflationary environment to contend with too.

With less spending power in our pockets as we head back out into shopping precincts and high streets, RTN will be hoping we think the novelty of getting out to eat is worth paying a bit more for.

If not, it could be yet another act in the mid-range dining sector’s drawn out death scene.

Got stung 🚑

It got a bump yesterday but it’ll take more than that to get CVS Group (CVSG) back on track.

The vet network soared over lockdown as the nation frantically moved out of London, bought a house with a garden and put a pet in said garden.

The stock is maybe an unlikely late-pandemic waner but that’s more to do with staffing than us falling out of love with our pooches.

Training up the nation’s newest vets is harder than it looks.

It’s an industry-wide struggle to hire vets, and when you have over 500 sites to manage, a dearth in what are highly-skilled professionals can really stall progress. 

To ease the strain, CVSG employed its highest ever intake of new grads last year but that still comes with a lag as they train the newbies up.

And the sooner the better, if Mordor Intelligence is to be trusted. The LOTR-themed research firm predicts the UK veterinary services market will be worth $2.4bn by 2026, up from $1.4bn in 2020.

In the news

Important Information 

This should not be read as personal investment advice and individual investors should make their own decisions or seek independent advice. This article has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication.

When you invest, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

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As always, get in touch with any feedback or even just to say hi.

Dan & Paul

Honey by Freetrade
Boring, but important:

Freetrade is a trading name of Freetrade Limited, which is a member firm of the London Stock Exchange and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales (no. 09797821).

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