Economic worries dominated the week's board discussions.
Trouble in Greece
Not surprisingly, the political machinations following on from Greece's election were hot topics this week. A lively discussion was had at Bert's Investor Sanctuary, where avidya's take on it was highly recommended...
"Firstly, today's "will they/won't they" over the €430m foreign law bond payment seems emblematic of the chaos out there - nobody's in charge in Greece right now, so it's virtually impossible to predict developments. Supposedly, the three largest party leaders were going to be consulted on whether or not it would be paid, but I've been told that Syriza said "no" and Pasok and New Democracy weren't keen to be seen to have sanctioned the payment to hedge funds at a time when Greece is running out of cash. So it seems they have absented themselves from the decision and left it to the caretaker finance ministry. The latter will have wanted to pay to avoid formal default, so it looks like, amazingly, it's actually being paid. Just goes to show how unpredictable events there are! And I think it's important to appreciate quite how chaotic politics is in Greece right now..."
What's going to happen in Greece when the country's latest attempt at a general election is held next month? Do join in and offer your thoughts.
Trinity Mirror AGM
We've seen significant shareholder revolts over the past couple of months, with investors in Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) successfully unseating their CEO being just one. In Paulypilot's Pub - Share Ideas, the landlord himself, paulypilot, reported on his visit to the company's AGM...
"My feeling is that a resumption of divis is likely in 2013, and is one of the significant catalysts for a re-rating of the shares. The other catalysts are changes in management - a new Chairman, David Grigson, is due to take over from Aug 2012, and is already on board as a Non-Exec. He's a real heavyweight, with a superb CV, having been credited with turning around Reuters.
Also, shareholder pressure over excessive pay, has forced out the long-serving and seemingly widely despised CEO, Sly Bailey. I think that's a good move, as whilst she has managed the decline well, she has comprehensively failed to come up with a credible digital strategy."
Do you reckon Trinity Mirror is set for a recovery in its fortunes, and is a new dividend on the cards soon? Come on over and tell us what you think.
In these days of low share price growth, investing in companies paying high dividends makes a lot of sense. On the High Yield - Share Strategies board, Degsy67 has been sharing the results of his high-yield portfolio modeling...
"Since starting to build my own HYP back in June 2006 I have tracked the progress of my portfolio against a number of alternate 'benchmark' investment strategies. This isn't an exhaustive list but simply a set of strategies which I think I could just as easily adopt as an alternate to HYP investing. My intention was to compare my performance in running my HYP against these alternates with a view to switching away from HYP if I couldn't beat or at best closely match the performance of these alternates."
If you invest for dividends, it's well worth having a read.
A Home Retail bargain?
Home Retail (LSE: HOME) has seen its share price slump in recent months, largely due to an increasingly poor performance at Argos (though its other high-street chain, Homebase, hasn't exactly been a gold mine either). But are the shares oversold, is there recovery potential, and could there be a predator waiting to launch a takeover attempt? That's what paulypilot was wondering on the Paulypilot's Pub - Share Ideas board, but timpernel had some doubts...
"At the moment, big deals in the retail sector seem to be confined primarily to cherry-picking assets and stores from the portfolio of businesses going into administration - and leaving behind the problems of onerous leases on poor performing stores, pension fund liabilities etc. I can't see anyone snapping up HOME unless they have a very clear plan for how to turn it around - and certainly not WalMart. WalMart already has Asda in the UK and I would have thought that the continued expansion of Asda stores (in space and categories) into the areas covered by Argos in particular is more likely than an acquisition of HOME."
What do you think of Home Retail? A dead dog, or set for a rebound? Do tell.
Is loyalty rewarded?
The UK's supermarkets are always trying to tie customers into this "loyalty" lark, with cards, points and all sorts of sweeteners. But with financial institutions, it seems that loyal customers take a back seat behind offering good deals to attract newcomers. At least, that's what tiangpah found when it was time to renew insurance and compare ISAs. Over on the Living Below Your Means board...
"Got my home insurance renewal through from Churchill, it had gone up 25%, now £366. Rang up and politely asked why? Couldn't tell me, couldn't speak to anyone about it either. Car insurance renewal notice from Churchill came through next day, that was same as last year. So, advised them I wouldn't be renewing either, was offered a paltry 5% off, said no.
Off to Quidco. Signed up to Aviva on home insurance - half price at £185 plus £65 cashback!!! So , net price £120 vs £366 from Churchill - a good result!"
There was little appreciation for customer loyalty at NatWest bank either, as you'll discover if you read on.
Last week's roundup: Investment Trusts Are Foolish
> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.