The Border Watch : April 22nd 2014
Business Woodside has no time to waste PERTH: Woodside Petroleum could be forced to move quickly on a growth project in Canada after agreeing a three-year land use deal. The company has signed a land access agreement with the British Columbia government to conduct feasibility studies to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Grassy Point on the north-west coast of Canada. “The agreement is for three years and is subject to Woodside meeting milestones, including making annual payments, obtaining an export licence and commencing environmental approvals processes,” Woodside said yesterday. The Perth-based oil and gas giant said work had started on technical, economic and consultation activities to meet its obligations under the agreement. The company was still assessing the feasibility of building an LNG plant in Canada, a year after submitting an expression of interest. Macquarie analyst Adrian Wood said the tight timeframe for land access would put pressure on the company to make a decision. “That’s certainly shorter than I was expecting and that will, perhaps, foster a greater sense of urgency than, perhaps, the market was expecting,” Mr Wood said. “If it’s going to go, it’s going to go in the next three years.” He said Woodside’s greater plan for the region was still unclear and a capital injection would not be required as yet. The company has slated billions of dollars for two major growth projects, including the stalled Leviathan natural gas project deal in Israel. Meanwhile, Woodside said its second major growth project, Browse in north-western Australia, would be in a position to consider entering front-end engineering and design in the second half of the year. AAP Dick smith sees brighter future Electronics retailer says shareholders will soon see positive results SYDNEY: The head of electronics retailer Dick Smith says the company is continuing its turnaround, with stronger sales and earnings on the horizon, even though shareholders are yet to see any benefit. The company’s share price has traded around or below its $2.20 list price for most of its first four months on the market, but chief executive Nick Abboud says the company’s turnaround strategy is working. Sales were up 1 per cent in the three months to March 31, an improvement on a 5 per cent slide recorded during the final six months of 2013. “This result hopefully demonstrates the momentum we’ve got within some support behind the Dick Smith share price.” Mr Abboud wants to increase the number of stores Dick Smith has in “I can’t control the share price, all I can do is deliver the result to the market.” the business,” Mr Abboud said. “I can’t control the share price, all I can do is deliver the result to the market. “So we’re going to continue to do that and at some point there will be operation from 368 to 400 by mid-2015 and says the company is continuing to cut costs in its head office and supply chain. “We’re taking a number of costs out of the business as well as growing the business through new stores, so next year we are going to have a lower cost of doing business and a higher sales volume,” he said. “So we’re well-placed for an ongoing growth story.” The company’s takeover of David Jones’ electronics departments was also paying off, with sales up around 50 per cent since October, he said. “You’re talking a big improvement from when we took it over.” The arrangement worked for Dick Smith because of its stronger buying power, he said. New car affordability at 38-year high SYDNEY: New car sales should remain high this year due to the strong Australian dollar and healthy competition between manufacturers. New car sales dropped by 0.3 per cent in March, seasonally adjusted, with 92,168 cars sold across the country, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. Over the year to March, sales were down 2.8 per cent. Despite the recent fall, new car sales remained healthy, driven by strong sales of sports utility vehicles which were up almost 5 per cent, CommSec economic Savanth Sebastian said. “Via a combination of a strong Australian dollar, rising wages and price competition between car manufacturers, car affordability stands at the best levels in 38 years,” Mr Sebastian said. “With cheap car finance In demand: New-car sales are tipped to remain high this year. Inflation tipped to pass RBA target SYDNEY: Inflation is expected have risen above the Reserve Bank of Australia’s target range in the first months of 2014 but that alone won’t spark an interest rate rise. The consumer price index, the key measure of inflation, is forecast to have risen by 0.8 per cent in the March quarter, for an annual rate of 3.2 per cent, a survey of 12 economists shows. That is above the RBA’s 2-3 per cent target range. The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the inflation figures next week. The high headline inflation figure is unlikely to concern the Reserve Bank because it’s likely to be a oneoff, National Australia Bank senior economist Spiros Papadopoulos said. “For a central bank that has historically been quite hawkish and consistently talked up the inflation risks to the economy, the RBA’s forecasts suggest few inflation fears,” he said. 8 - The Border Watch, Tuesday, April 22, 2014 Picture: AAP readily available and the job market still in decent shape, Aussie consumers haven’t been reluctant to update their rides. Car sales should remain historically high over 2014.” Santos sales revenue jumps 28 per cent MELBOURNE: Santos has increased first quarter sales revenue from a year ago by 28 per cent despite a flat production performance. Australia’s second-largest sole producer of oil and gas collected $913 million in sales revenue in the three months to the end of March, on the back of higher third-party crude oil sales. However, it only lifted sales AAP volumes by 6 per cent to 13.8 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe). Its production rose by 1 per cent to 12.2 mmboe. It maintained guidance for full-year production in the range of 52 mmboe to 57 mmboe. Santos’ realised average oil price was up 13 per cent from the preceding three months to $128 a barrel. However production, sales and revenue were all weaker than in the December quarter. A major contributor to that fall was weaker quarterly crude oil production of 2.5 million barrels, down 15 per cent. AAP AAP in BrieF Flight Centre appeals $11m fine BRISBANE: Travel agency Flight Centre has appealed against an $11 million fine for anti-competitive behaviour. Federal Court judge John Logan imposed the fine last month after the court ruled in December that Flight Centre had threatened to stop selling flights on several airlines in order to be able to offer the lowest fares. In a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Flight Centre was found to have induced Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Emirates to stop offering international airfares that were lower than fares offered by the travel agency. Linc Energy to face court over UCG plant BRISBANE: Linc Energy has vowed to fight criminal charges for causing environmental damage at its underground coal gasification plant in Queensland. The resources company faces fines of more than $2 million after Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection charged it with four counts of causing serious environmental harm at its Chinchilla plant, in the state’s south-west. Business confidence still high, says NAB SYDNEY: Things are getting better for Australian businesses, with confidence still at elevated levels and trading conditions on the improve. The National Australia Bank business survey for the March quarter found business confidence fell two points to six points. A reading above zero indicates optimists outweigh pessimists. Despite a dip in confidence in the first three months of the year, it was still a positive result, NAB chief economist Alan Oster said. AAP Market enjoys third straight day of gains SYDNEY: The share market has posted a third straight day of gains, led by the property, finance and consumer sectors. At yesterday’s close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 33.9 points, or 0.63 per cent, at 5454.2 while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 32.2 points, or 0.59 per cent, at 5444.8. On the ASX 24, the June share price index futures contract was 40 points higher at 5447, with 24,726 contracts traded.
April 18th 2014
April 23rd 2014