GlaxoSmithKline, also known as GSK, is the fifth largest company by market capitalization on the London Stock Exchange, and is also listed in the US. It is the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world when considering its revenue. There is little doubt that you must have heard of its products, and probably used several. Those old enough to remember Beecham’s Little Liver Pills may know that Beecham’s was founded in the mid-19th century, and merged with SmithKline in 1989; meanwhile Glaxo, originally a New Zealand company, merged with Burroughs Wellcome in 1995 to form GlaxoWellcome. The two companies combined in 2000 to become GSK.
The stock price has generally been on a rise for years, with just some setback during the 2008 financial crisis:
GSK appears to have achieved this performance by steady development of new products, and by acquisitions. In fact, GlaxoSmithKline presently has some 35 products which are in Phase III trials, and this includes potential heavyweights like Relovair and heart disease drug Darapladib. The company is focusing on over-the-counter medicines and disposable products which leaves it in a good strategic position. In any case, the healthcare industry is strong even in recession as the products are needed by sick people, and for many are not a discretionary expenditure.
Recently there has been some media interest in GSK because a media executive, James Murdoch, was on the board of GSK and decided to resign. He is best remembered for his involvement in the News of the World phone hacking scandal, which some say has yet to fully play out. His resignation means that any further revelations on his involvement in dubious practices should have little to do with GSK and its value. There has been no suggestion that GSK took any part in the controversy, particularly as Murdoch only joined the board in 2009. Murdoch’s decision to relocate to the USA is said to be the reason for his leaving.
As a large corporation with a steady market, GSK is a good stock to spread bet on. Standard technical analysis should provide you with a good idea most of the time which direction the stock is heading. The only reservation to that is when product announcements are made.
Pharmaceutical products are subject to strict testing and controls, and government regulation can stymie their availability to the public. Usually testing takes place over months or years before a new drug can be approved, and announcement of approval, conditional approval, or denial can have a marked effect on the share price. However, it is a fact that many pharmaceutical companies manage to get their products on the market before all testing is completed, with the promise that results will be issued later, on the basis that the drug is needed as quickly as possible.
So if you feel you have some insight into medical issues, and can predict the acceptability of new drugs to government regulators, you are welcome to spread bet around the time that such announcements are due, and have the possibility of making a good profit if you are correct; but if you are more cautious, or do not feel you have specialist medical knowledge, you will find that such times are dangerous for spread betting. The best policy, even though it has potentially less profit, is to see which way the market is going following an announcement, and then bet with the trend.
Spread Betting on GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline is a major pharmaceutical company, with other health-related products too, such as Horlicks. Healthcare has held up well in the past few years as an industry, for the obvious reason that some health issues cannot be put off regardless of the economy. The current spread betting quote is 1419.6 – 1422.9 for a rolling daily bet on GSK.
When you are spread betting, you are looking for fluctuations in price over days, or at most weeks, and for this you need to use technical analysis much more than examining the fundamentals. If your analysis suggests that GSK is going to fall in value, then you might want to place a short or sell bet for £5 per point. A short bet goes on at the lower (selling) price of 1419.6.
Say that after a week the price had gone up to 1508.2 – 1511.5, and you decided to close your bet and collect your winnings. The short bet would close at the higher (buying) price, in this case 1511.5. You can easily work out how much you won. Your bet gained 1511.5-1419.6 points, or 91.9 points. As you bet £5 per point, you have made a total of £459.50. This is a daily rolling bet, which means there is usually some financial adjustment each night when the bet rolls over to the following day. This is small, and with a short bet you may find your account has been credited, rather than debited.
It is possible to lose when spread betting or financially trading, and you must always figure that into your bet size. You don’t want to lose so much that you cannot afford to keep on betting. One of the things that you must do is close a losing bet as quickly as possible, once it becomes clear that it is not going to make money. Say the price went up to 1430.5 – 1433.8, and you close the bet for a loss.
In this case, the points scored count against you. 1433.8-1419.6 is a total of 14.2 points. At £5 per point, this means you have lost £71.
With most stocks, you can also place a futures based bet which is for a set date some months in the future, and therefore does not have a financial adjustment every night. Despite this, you can close the bet any time you want to up to the set date, either to take your profit or to minimize your losses. The current quote for a futures style bet seven months away is 1425.0 – 1438.0. Assume you place a long bet for £4 per point.
In a few weeks, the price has gone up to 1552.1 – 1564.9, and you decide to close the bet and take your profit. The long bet went on at 1438.0, and it closes at 1552.1, which means you won 114.1 points. For your size of stake, you have won £456.40.
Once again, you might have lost if the price went down. Say you closed your bet when the price went to 1401.5 – 1414.5. You have lost 1438.0-1401.5 points, or 36.5 points. This works out to £146 total lost.