Stocks were moved by people stories on both sides of the Atlantic this week, involving companies such as Disney, Shell and Worldcom.
Michael Eisner, who has ruled Disney with an iron fist since the mid-1980s was forced out of the chairman’s role by an unprecedented shareholder revolt led by one of Walt Disney’s nephews.
Bernie Ebbers, former boss of Worldcom handed himself in to the FBI after being charged with the biggest fraud in US history.
Shell Transport and Trading chairman Philip Watts resigned over the missing oil figures he was forced to publish about a month ago.
Amidst the excitement, the FTSE 100 index touched a new 12-month high of 4,566 by this morning, before falling back to 4,546 by midday – still up about 50 points on last Friday.
Shell’s share price gained a tad shy of 3% over the past week, although this was actually more to do with political unrest in Venezuela, one of the biggest exporters of oil to the US, which pushed up the price of crude. BP added just more than 3% in market value.
ITV lost 2% after criticism the company allegedly payed £15m to former Carlton Communications chairman Michael Green, who was forced out of the chairmanship of the new ITV company by institutional shareholders.
Elsewhere, results continued to impact on prices. HSBC reported the biggest ever profit of a UK-based bank, about £7.5bn, but its shares slipped about 3% through the week.
Friends Provident did better on its results. At 8%, its market value gain made it the top gainer in the past 5 days, helped by a rise in full-year profit on the back of rising market share and forecasting a bullish 2004.
Other insurers followed suit: Aviva gained about 5%, Pru about 3.5%, and L&G about 3%.
However, contrast that with Abbey, which dropped 2% after reporting a second full-year of losses and continued difficulties turning itself around.
HBOS the biggest lender of mortgages gained 5% after reporting that house prices were continuing to rise strongly, helping it sell bonds to fund more house loans.
Big results next week include LloydsTSB, Countrywide Assurance, and Royal & Sun Alliance.IFAonline
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