Sunday, August 31, 2008

Confusing everybody

I've arrived in England now where things are beginning to look a touch misty and autumnal. Kids in this country go back to school tomorrow. Heathrow was altogether less chaotic than predicted yesterday. Something not quite right there.

Something not quite right as well with the world's perception of the China financial information stocks. Once again, supposed experts (harumph!) have confused China Finance Online (JRJC) for a serious company and the two listed arms of Xinhua Finance for one another.

This time, it's the Motley Fool, rarely more wisely named. Maybe because JRJC is listed on NASDAQ they think it must be important. If Xinhua Finance (which is also in the financial information business) weren't listed on the oddly named Tokyo Mothers' Board, maybe it would earn more of the attention it deserves. Instead, that wonderful East Coast arrogance assumes that NASDAQ-listed subsidiary, Xinhua Finance Media (XFML) must be more important than its parent. Surely, the thinking must go, these nice folk over in China must realise New York is more important than Japan, that actually little of importance in the world takes place outside the Five Boroughs, except of course when the Yankees are playing away games...

XFML actually has little to do with financial information and is more a general China media play. Xinhua Finance is a much bigger company and altogether more convincing than JRJC, but don't tell the Motley Fool because they think "You can think of the company [JRJC] as analogous to the finance arm of Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), or to MarketWatch, part of the Dow Jones family of services at News Corp". It's not, but if they can get the ill-informed but opinionated investment advisors to think that, good for them.

Friday, August 29, 2008

It'll be alright....

I'm in Cologne for UFI's Intenational Summer University programme and, at dinner last night in the Chocolate Museum (where, by the way, peppery black chocolate makes an interesting alternative to peanuts with cocktails), I heard again the general relief and, to some extent, suprise in the trade fair industry that it's so far doing OK.

There was a lot of nervousness at the beginning of the year that economic downturn would mean that 2008 was a really flat year. In most markets, so far, this hasn't really been the case. It's at worst solid and, in some cases, doing really well. Hmmmm. Will this last. That's now the question and I can sense the corporate types already rehearsing their budget padding speeches for the upcoming 2009 reviews. "Worst is yet to come boss"....

Meanwhile, Alibaba has reported a 136% surge in first half net profits. Revenues are up just 48% though, so I guess the collective Ali-belts have been tightened in the last six months. Mind you, given the generally skinny waists up there in Hangzhou, there can't be too many notches left to tighten.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Swinging back into action

I haven't been on holiday this whole time...honestly. Firstly, it was an unexpected trip to Cyprus for an interesting little project. Then I was admittedly, on holiday (sailing in Croatia a real highlight). But, the blog has, I'm afraid, taken a long summer break. Sorry to our regulars about that.

World economic downturn notwithstanding, this has been a very busy month or so for us. I'm now back on the road again, this time in Germany. T-mobile has equipped the country's nifty ICE trains with wireless broadband. So, I'm writing this at something like 150 km/h between Frankfurt and Cologne.

It's hard to know what to write about first; CMP's little spot of bother with feisty jewellers, Alibaba's Jack Ma telling his staff to prepare for economic winter or a little flurry of acquisition activity by Guangzhou-based Global Markets (including acquiring Tradeeasy for $1.5 mn).

The events businesses including the not-for-sale Reed Exhibitions are all reporting decent growth despite fears of a bad year.

We'll try to get back to regular posting even as this trip takes us through Germany, the UK and the US, where we'll end up at the FIPP/ABM B2B conference in New York City.