Private Investor: When firms act mean, the share buyers get keen

"Tesco 'riding roughshod' over planning rules, MPs told" ran the headline in The Independent last week. Good news or bad news?

There's a case for a positive interpretation. Any huge concern such as Tesco that still shows an ability to stand its own ground, if you'll pardon the pun, deserves a certain amount of respect.

Instead of thinking: "We're big. Who cares about a few square feet of retail floorspace? Let's keep on the right side of the bureaucrats", Tesco has gone ahead with it s plans for expansion, and obviously attracted some adverse attention as a result. Lots of small shopkeepers, in particular, have been writing to the MPs running an inquiry into the future of the retail sector.

Whatever the merits of the claims and counter-claims against Tesco, "bad" publicity can sometimes help the share price. Some years ago now, when it was still a relative newcomer to the stock market, Stagecoach was accused in a television documentary of deploying some rather aggressive business techniques against its rivals on the buses. As a shareholder, I was terrified of the impact the revelations would have, but rather than being outraged by the allegations, the City took it as a cue to buy the shares.

I have to choose my words carefully here, but something a little analagous might be happening with British Airways. Nothing like sharp practice here, but the new chief executive, Willie Walsh, has, as I wrote last week, made no secret about his determination to take on BA's cost base and make it into an even more efficient operator. That may mean confrontation with the unions, and he seems up to the fight.

I'd rather he could persuade everyone of the need for change without any unpleasantness, but he doesn't seem the squeamish type. So here's a tough man with ambitious ideas, and the frisson of excitement infects the share price, with BA up to 334p mid-week. How I wish I'd bought a few more BA shares when they were trading at about a quid after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The City knows that the pressures on the airlines are only going to increase in this terror-obsessed age. One day, too, there'll be a global agreement that ends the tradition whereby airlines pay no duty on the fuel they use. So BA needs to be in an even stronger position to face those challenges. With Walsh there, there is at least some evidence that BA is going to be able to overcome its difficulties.

Then there's one other component of my portfolio which hasn't had any bad news as such, but which has rather simply not had anything exciting to say about its future. Vodafone, perhaps the greatest British industrial success story of the past two decades, has been hammered and hammered again by the analysts, downgrading it left and right and centre. It has thus woefully underperformed the market. I imagine that if Vodafone had picked up as well as the rest of its peer group, then the Footsie would be safely through the 6,000 barrier.

But the shares seemed for months to be struggling to see 150p and are now nearer to 125p. It's gone ex-growth, they say, and yet it isn't even given the same sort of treatment that a classic utility stock is afforded.

Maybe what Vodafone requires now is some real hard figure to go in there and stir things up. He, or she, may not actually get very far with the cost-cutting or aggressive expansion, but at least the City would like it and it might help us shareholders.

There's no reason why a company such as Vodafone can't be perceived to be entrepreneurial, original and exciting; for some reason it seems to have the same slumbering image as a small British building society or water company. It needs to call for help.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

    Sales Executive

    £20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week