Telstra set to axe 10,000 contractors

Original article by James Fernyhough, Max Mason
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 13 & 16 : 5-Jun-19

Telstra CEO Andy Penn has advised that the focus of the telco’s ‘T22’ strategy cost-cutting will shift to its indirect workforce from 2019-20. Telstra boasts about 40,000 indirect workers, who include contractors, call-centre workers and customer service staff. Penn has signalled that the telco will shed about 25 per cent of these workers over the next two years. Telstra unveiled plans in mid-2018 to retrench some 8,000 direct employees over the next several years. The ACTU has accused Telstra of putting profits ahead of people, jobs and service.

CORPORATES
TELSTRA CORPORATION LIMITED – ASX TLS, ACTU, NEW STREET RESEARCH

News Corp not interested in free-to-air TV: Miller

Original article by Max Mason
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 13 : 4-Jun-19

News Corp Australasia chairman Michael Miller says pay-TV operator Foxtel is the media group’s primary broadcasting focus in Australia, and it will not seek to acquire a free-to-air network. The merger between Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media in 2018 prompted speculation that News Corp could bid for the Seven Network. However, News Corp has since launched streaming video service Kayo Sports, which is part of Foxtel’s strategy to compete with digital rivals.

CORPORATES
NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, NEWS CORPORATION – ASX NWS, FOXTEL MANAGEMENT PTY LTD, KAYO SPORTS, SEVEN NETWORK LIMITED, NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, FAIRFAX MEDIA LIMITED, FOX SPORTS AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, TELSTRA CORPORATION LIMITED – ASX TLS, MACQUARIE MEDIA LIMITED – ASX MRN, TEN NETWORK HOLDINGS LIMITED, CBS CORPORATION

News Corp eyes growth but flags job cuts as skills change

Original article by Max Mason
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 29 : 3-Jun-19

News Corp Australasia’s executive chairman Michael Miller says its Australian newspapers will achieve a third successive year of profitable growth in 2019-20. Miller notes that News Corp will be looking to bring in people with new skills to the company, while roles that are no longer needed will be abolished. Miller says that increases in digital subscriptions are reducing the company’s reliance on advertising, while he supports the turnaround strategy being adopted by pay-TV unit Foxtel.

CORPORATES
NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, NEWS CORPORATION – ASX NWS, FOXTEL MANAGEMENT PTY LTD, REA GROUP LIMITED – ASX REA

Woolies to cut specials to restore price trust

Original article by Sue Mitchell
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 & 24 : 31-May-19

Grocery giant Woolworths has joined rival Coles in admitting that it is too dependent on price discounting to boost sales growth. Woolworths’ Peter McNamara says the weekly price discounts strategy is adversely affecting consumers’ trust in prices over the long-term. Like Coles, Woolworths is shifting its focus to an ‘everyday low price’ model rather than large prices discounts that are offered for one week only. Ben Gilbert of UBS expects Australia’s food and liquor market to record sales growth of around four per cent in 2019 and 2020.

CORPORATES
WOOLWORTHS GROUP LIMITED – ASX WOW, WOOLWORTHS SUPERMARKETS, COLES GROUP LIMITED – ASX COL, UBS HOLDINGS PTY LTD, AUSTRALIAN FOOD AND GROCERY COUNCIL

Cut taxes, not rates, says Comyn

Original article by Joyce Moullakis
The Australian – Page: 20 : 29-May-19

The Commonwealth Bank plans to invest some $5bn in it technology platforms over five years, to make them more secure and to improve their functionality. It is part of the bank’s strategy to regain customers’ trust in the wake of the Hayne royal commission. CEO Matt Comyn has also told a business lunch that the bank will close more branches over coming years but it is committed to retaining Australia’s largest branch network. He added that government policies such as tax cuts do more to stimulate the economy than official interest rate cuts.

CORPORATES
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, AUSTRALIA. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MISCONDUCT IN THE BANKING, SUPERANNUATION AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY, RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS PTY LTD

BHP puts foot down on robotic truck drive

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 19 : 27-May-19

BHP may ramp up its deployment of autonomous haulage truck at its iron ore and coal mines in Australia. BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue now operate about 250 automated trucks at their iron ore mines in the Pilbara, and BHP recently said that most of its fleet could potentially be automated by 2023. Its fleet at the Jimblebar mine has been fully automated since 2017, and BHP executive Rag Udd notes that this has resulted in significant safety and productivity improvements. He stresses that such factors are driving the automation push, rather than job cuts, adding that many former truck drivers have been redeployed.

CORPORATES
BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED – ASX FMG

BHP plugs into battery boom, holds line on ore

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 19 : 23-May-19

CFO Peter Beaven has told investors that BHP is unlikely to increase its Pilbara iron ore output to capitalise on reduced supply from Brazilian rival Vale. BHP will also maintain its current annual production target for metallurgical coal. Beaven also indicated that BHP will pursue growth in copper and nickel sulfide production in response to rising demand for electric vehicles and battery storage technology. He added that BHP may be open to nickel acquisitions, after dropping plans to divest its Nickel West division.

CORPORATES
BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, VALE SA, NICKEL WEST, RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, GOLDMAN SACHS AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

Rare earths dispute lifts Lynas

Original article by Paul Garvey
The Australian – Page: 20 : 22-May-19

Lynas Corporation produced 5,444 tonnes of neodymium and praseodymium in fiscal 2018, but it has outlined plans to lift this to 10,500 tonnes a year via a $500m capital investment program. Lynas has also advised that it will undertake the initial processing of ore from its Mt Weld project in Western Australia at a site near the mine, rather than exporting the raw materials to its processing plant in Malaysia. Meanwhile, Lynas share closed 14.4 per cent higher at $2.26 on 21 May, after China flagged plans to cease exporting rare earths to the US amid ongoing trade tensions between the two nations.

CORPORATES
LYNAS CORPORATION LIMITED – ASX LYC, WESFARMERS LIMITED – ASX WES

BHP puts faith in nickel again

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 21 : 15-May-19

BHP intends to retain its Nickel West business, which posted underlying EBIT of $US42m for the first half of 2018-19. BHP had previously deemed its nickel division to be a non-core asset and made several attempts to sell the business in recent years. However, CEO Andrew Mackenzie says that although there are still risks associated with Nickel West, it could potentially regain its status as a tier-one asset. The upbeat outlook is based on factors such as growing demand for batteries and limited supply of quality nickel sulphide.

CORPORATES
BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, NICKEL WEST

Rio Tinto mulls iron ore boost as Vale struggles

Original article by Peter Ker
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 & 24 : 10-May-19

Rio Tinto Jean-Sebastien Jacques says the resources giant will only increase its Pilbara iron ore shipments if doing so makes financial sense. The price of the steel input has rallied in the wake of supply disruptions following a tailings dam collapse at a Vale mine in January, and it was trading above $US94 per tonne on 9 May. Meanwhile, just six per cent of shareholders at Rio Tinto’s Australian annual meeting supported a Market Forces resolution which would have required Rio Tinto to set carbon emission reduction targets for its customers.

CORPORATES
RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, VALE SA, MARKET FORCES, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH, GRANGE RESOURCES LIMITED – ASX GRR, BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED – ASX FMG, ROY HILL HOLDINGS PTY LTD