The Border Watch : February 17th 2015
Business Patties shares plunge after berry recall BRISBANE: Shares in Patties Food have plunged due to the company’s recall of frozen berry products linked to a hepatitis A outbreak. Five people – three in Victoria and two in NSW – have contracted hepatitis A after eating Nanna’s frozen mixed berries. Its manufacturer, Victoria-based Patties, has recalled its 1kg packs of Nanna’s Frozen Mixed Berries and Big profit gain for Aurizon MELBOURNE: Aurizon’s shareholders are set for higher cash returns, with low iron ore and coal prices leaving the rail operator cool on expensive growth projects. The company, Australia’s largest rail freight hauler, said yesterday a hike in shareholder returns was an option. The economic attractiveness of the two multibillion-dollar key joint venture growth projects it is a partner in – a West Pilbara iron ore project and Queensland Galilee Basin coal project – is not strong at present prices. Aurizon still increased half-year net profit despite what it called a subdued market. Profit was up to $308 million – from $107 million – with last year’s result hit by impairments. It lifted its unfranked interim dividend 26 per cent to 10.1c a share and had spent $60 million since November as part of an ongoing buyback of shares. Domain name for Sydney MELBOURNE: Dot Melbourne was the first, but dot Sydney will be a lot bigger. Sydney’s very own top- level domain name, .sydney, will be launched today. All NSW residents and service providers to the state will be able to register a domain name ending in .sydney. Adrian Kinderis, the chief executive of ARI Registry Services, which has been contracted to manage .sydney, said there was a lot more interest in .sydney than there was in .melbourne, which was launched just before Christmas. “We expect the launch of .sydney to be better, bigger, brighter,” Mr Kinderis said. He said the launch of .melbourne had helped boost interest in .sydney, which would also benefit from Sydney’s bigger population and its reputation as the tourism capital of Australia. Bank on it: Bendigo Bank yesterday announced first-half cash earnings were up 17 per cent. Picture: AAP AAP rates ‘can only be cut so low’ Bendigo Bank boss issues interest rates warning to homeowners SYDNEY: Bendigo and Adelaide Bank boss Mike Hirst is warning homeowners there is a limit to how far interest rates can fall. After announcing a 17 per cent lift in first-half cash earnings, Mr Hirst said it was time to talk about how much further banks could cut their rates after this month’s move by the Reserve Bank to a new record low. “There’s a discussion that has to happen with the community about how low rates can actually go,” he said. “Margins have to be made. Home loan rates can’t go to zero.” “Margins have to be made. Home loan rates can’t go to zero.” Bendigo’s net interest Mike Hirst Most banks passed on the Reserve Bank’s February cash rate cut and economists and futures markets are tipping another RBA cut in March. margin – a measure of the profit it makes on loans – was steady at 2.14 per cent during the six months to December 31. That’s a better result than Commonwealth Bank achieved in the same period, when its margin fell two basis points to 2.12 per cent. But Mr Hirst said competition among banks was tough, especially for loans provided by thirdparty mortgage brokers. “That third-party business is really where the competition is hottest because the reality is, other than price, there are very limited levers to pull to attract customers there,” he said. Bendigo’s half-year cash earnings rose 17 per cent to $218 million, while net profit was up nearly 26 per cent to $227 million. Total lending rose 7.5 per cent during the half, which was stronger than the growth recorded by the big four banks in the same period, Bendigo said. Cash Converters breaks lending record SYDNEY: Cash Converters issued $23 million in loans in December, a new record as its online business continued to grow. AAP The spike in loans in the lead-up to Christmas took the company’s Australia loan 10 - The Border Watch, Tuesday, February 17, 2015 book to $116 million as of December 31, up 23 per cent from a year earlier. Earnings from Cash Converters stores, which sell used goods and issue loans and cash advances, also rose, improving 64 per cent in the six months to December 31, to $10.2 million. The company’s bottom line in the six months to December was damaged by charges related to the end of agreements with two financial agents, resulting in a net loss of $5.3 million, down from a $9.9 million profit a year earlier. The company said there was room for further growth in online lending, as almost half of its online customers are new to the company. AAP AAP 300g and 500g packs of Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries. All products are sold nationally in Coles, Woolworths, IGA supermarkets and independent stores. Patties shares dived as a result, closing 10.5c, or 7.66 per cent, lower at $1.265 despite modest gains across the broader market. Chief executive Steven Chaur said quality control tests had not found any contamination, but further testing was being conducted and the recall was made to ensure public safety and confidence. “We have moved quickly to recall all our frozen Mixed Berries until such time as we receive the results of further laboratory tests,” he said yesterday. State and national health authorities are also investigating. Mr Chaur said it was too early to say if the recalls would have any financial impact on Patties. “This aspect of the recalls is also being monitored and the market will be informed promptly and without delay if there are any material developments,” he said. Hepatitis A is spread when traces of faecal matter containing the virus enter a person’s mouth. AAP in Brief Goodman Fielder takeover approved SYDNEY: Chinese authorities have approved the $1.34 billion takeover of Australia’s largest food maker. Goodman Fielder said yesterday China’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau had given the go ahead to the takeover by Singapore agribusiness Wilmar and Hong-Kong investment firm First Pacific. Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board has said it has no objection to the takeover, but the deal still requires approval from Goodman Fielder shareholders and New Zealand authorities. Shareholders are due to vote on the deal at a meeting on February 26. Crowd Mobile says it has room to grow MELBOURNE: Crowd-sourced “micro-job” workforce provider Crowd Mobile says it is well-placed for expansion. Crowd Mobile provides mobile phone apps that link clients with a network of expert researchers who can provide information or advice on jobs that take less than five minutes. Crowd Mobile said in a trading update yesterday the six months to the end of December had been underpinned by continued expansion in markets overseas. Revenue, gross profit, earnings and paid message volume grew. New centres put G8 in great shape SYDNEY: Childcare centre operator G8 Education’s annual profit has soared after buying more than 200 centres. The company bought 203 centres in 2014, taking its portfolio to 455, with a capacity for almost 33,000 children each day. The expansion increased G8’s revenue by 79 per cent and contributed to net profit growth of 70 per cent, to $52.7 million. Managing director Christopher Scott said there were significant opportunities to buy more centres in the year ahead, as the childcare sector remained highly fragmented. New vehicle sales fall in January SYDNEY: New motor vehicle sales fell 1.5 per cent in January after a rise of 2.6 per cent in December. All categories of vehicles recorded a fall in sales in January, with passenger vehicles down 0.6 per cent to 43,554 and sports utility vehicles down 1.6 per cent. In the year to January, new motor vehicle sales were up 0.3 per cent, seasonally adjusted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.
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February 18th 2015