Businesses buffeted in sea of uncertainty

Original article by Eli Greenblat
The Australian – Page: 17 & 20 : 17-Mar-20

A growing number of Australian-listed companies are abandoning their recently-issued earnings guidance in response to the coronavirus. They include Cochlear, which has warned that hearing implants will be a low priority for the healthcare sector in terms of elective surgery when the virus is eventually contained. Challenger Limited, Auckland International Airport and oOh!Media are among the other companies that have withdrawn their earnings guidance. In contrast, The Reject Shop has advised that its sales have risen strongly year-on-year amid panic buying by consumers.

CORPORATES
COCHLEAR LIMITED – ASX COH, CHALLENGER LIMITED – ASX CGF, AUCKLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT LIMITED – ASX AIA, OOH!MEDIA LIMITED – ASX OML, THE REJECT SHOP LIMITED – ASX TRS

Nine to give sport, movies the chop

Original article by Lilly Vitorovich
The Australian – Page: 19 : 27-Feb-20

Nine Entertainment Company has reported a 2019-20 interim net profit of $101.9m, which is 41 per cent lower than previously. The result was marred by write-downs totalling $75.2m. The Nine Network’s underlying earnings fell by 36 per cent to $103.5m and revenue was six per cent lower at $531.2m, while earnings from its digital and publishing assets rose by seven per cent to $46.7m. Nine CEO Hugh Marks has flagged cost cuts of $100m at the Nine Network over the next three years.

CORPORATES
NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, NINE NETWORK AUSTRALIA LIMITED

China will act quickly to spur economy: Rio

Original article by Peter Ker
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 15 & 22 : 27-Feb-20

Rio Tinto has reported underlying earnings of $US10.37bn ($15.77bn) for 2019. The result was bolstered by a strong rise in the iron ore price; the group’s average received price was 37 per cent higher than in 2018. Meanwhile, Rio Tinto has warned that both the Chinese and global economies will be adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak in the March quarter. However, CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques expects the Chinese government to pursue stimulus measures, which will in turn boost demand for commodities. Shareholders will receive a final dividend of $US2.31 per share.

CORPORATES
RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO

Slowing sales hit Woolies earnings

Original article by Eli Greenblat
The Australian – Page: 19 : 27-Feb-20

Woolworths has posted a 2019-20 interim net profit of $887m, which is 7.7 per cent lower than previously. The retail giant’s half-year accounts included an $80m hit from its wage underpayments scandal. Woolworths has advised that its wage remediation costs have blown out to $315m, plus $80 million in interest payments. Meanwhile, CEO Brad Banducci notes that the group’s sales have been impacted by the coronavirus, particularly in suburbs that have a high proportion of Asian consumers and students from China.

CORPORATES
WOOLWORTHS GROUP LIMITED – ASX WOW

Whitehaven Coal profit slumps 91pc

Original article by Peter Ker
The Australian Financial Review – Page: Online : 21-Feb-20

Whitehaven Coal has reported a 2019-20 half-year net profit of $27.4 million, which is 91 per cent lower than previously. Despite the decline, it still managed to declare a dividend, although shareholders will only receive a payment of $0.015 per share, compared to the $0.20 per share they received for the previous corresponding period. Falling thermal coal prices were the biggest contributor to Whitehaven’s profit decline, while its coal production was down by 31 per cent.

CORPORATES
WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED – ASX WHC

Investors shrug off weak outlook, virus threat

Original article by David Rogers
The Australian – Page: 27 : 20-Feb-20

Pieter Stoltz of UBS notes that 28 per cent of Australia’s large-capitalisation stocks have exceeded their dividend expectations so far in the February reporting season. He says this may be due to factors such as demand for stable income or limited investment opportunities. Stoltz adds that 31 per cent of large companies have upgraded their earnings guidance, while just 19 per cent have downgraded their earnings guidance.

CORPORATES
UBS HOLDINGS PTY LTD

Forrest’s payout tops $2bn as Fortescue’s profit rises

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 19 : 20-Feb-20

Fortescue Metals Group has posted a 2019-20 interim net profit of $US2.5bn ($3.7bn), which is 281 per cent higher than previously. The pure-play iron ore miner has reported underlying EBITDA of $US4.2bn and revenue of $US6.5bn for the half-year. Fortescue’s shipments totalled 88.6 million tonnes for the period, and its average realised price for the steel input was 73 per cent higher than the previous corresponding period. Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of $0.76 per share, boosting the wealth of founder Andrew Forrest.

CORPORATES
FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED – ASX FMG

Virus fears cloud BHP outlook

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 17 & 22 : 19-Feb-20

BHP has posted a 2019-20 interim net profit of $US4.87bn ($7.29bn), which is 29 per cent higher than previously. Underlying EBITDA rose by 15 per cent to $US12.1bn, with a rise in the price of iron and copper boosting this figure by $US1.5bn. CEO Mike Henry says the coronavirus has had a limited impact on BHP to date, but he warns that commodity exports may be affected if the outbreak is not contained by the end of March. Shareholders will receive a record half-year dividend of $US0.65 per share.

CORPORATES
BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP

From bad to worse for AMP: $2.5bn loss, $6.3bn outflows, more to come

Original article by Joyce Moullakis
The Australian – Page: 19 & 23 : 14-Feb-20

Wealth manager AMP has posted a statutory loss of $2.5bn for the 2019 calendar year, while its underlying profit fell by 32 per cent to $464m. A $2.35bn impairment charge in the first half was the major contributor to the big loss. Meanwhile, AMP’s wealth division recorded net cash outflows of $6.3bn for the year, and CEO Francesco De Ferrari says outflows are likely to be high again in 2020. AMP has advised that its customer remediation program is expected to be completed in 2021.

CORPORATES
AMP LIMITED – ASX AMP

South32 calls for clear guidance on scope 3

Original article by Peter Ker
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 23 : 14-Feb-20

Diversified miner South32 has posted a 2019-20 interim net profit of $US99m, which is 84 per cent lower than previously. The group’s underlying earnings fell 80 per cent to $US131m and revenue was down 16 per cent due to lower prices for its key commodities. CEO Graham Kerr says South32’s focus is on Scope 1 carbon emissions at present, but he argues that all companies will eventually need to address their Scope 3 emissions. He adds that governments must clarify how planning approvals will take Scope 3 emissions into account.

CORPORATES
SOUTH32 LIMITED – ASX S32