Comment: Aggreko could be the bright spark after Sandy

Terry Murden
Terry Murden
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EARLY estimates put the cost of insured losses from Hurricane Sandy in excess of $20 billion (£12.4bn). The final tally is almost guesswork, but the job of getting back to work begins today.

Wall Street reopens with the likelihood that stocks and sectors exposed to industrial, insurance, logistics and transport will see large falls.

European markets posted strong gains yesterday on the back of robust blue chip figures and, not surprisingly, there were some winners from the Sandy storm.

Glasgow temporary power company Aggreko usually benefits from natural disasters and budgets for up to $10 million in annual sales from these events. Analysts believe that after its recent profits warning, the company could see as much 2 per cent added to pre-tax figures.

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Katrina three years earlier gave Aggreko a huge lift in storm-related revenues. Sales of £13.9m and £17.7m were booked with trading profits of £6.9m and £8.9m respectively.

BP bouncing back in style after Gulf disaster

Following the Gulf of Mexico spill, there was talk of breaking up oil giant BP. Cast as the villain of the energy sector, it was struggling to retain both its reputation and its status as one of Britain’s biggest companies.

Yesterday’s strong third-quarter figures, following the sale of its stake in Russian joint venture TNK-BP to Rosneft, have confirmed that it is back on track and focused on core operations.

A surprise hike in the dividend has particuarly encouraged analysts and investors alike who were fearful of the cost of retribution from those affected by the oil disaster.

The shares have been trading at a discount to asset value but are now seen as a buying opportunity, though there are certain caveats; there has been an expectation that the company will reach a final settlement on the Gulf compensation, but the total amount remains uncertain and there was no update yesterday.

Even so, chief executive Bob Dudley has fought some tough battles since taking over after the Gulf spill and has restored faith in the company with two quick-fire announcements that should enable BP to move forward with some confidence.

High street showing first signs of hope

JUST in time for the important Christmas shopping season it seems retailers are reporting a little more optimism, although no-one should get too carried away with the latest figures.

Nearly half of retailers surveyed by the CBI said sales volumes were up on a year ago, which is seen as an indication that consumers are heading back to the high street.

But volume is not the same as value. If shops are selling twice as many goods at half the price they are not making any progress at all.