Bumper profits as records set

A NUMBER of Western Aust-ralia’s largest listed companies have reported strong profit results to the Australian Stock Exchange, as new records were set by the benchmark All Ordinaries Index.Records were also set by WA companies, with the resources sector leading the bullish charge. At the top of the heap, Woodside Petroleum reported a half-year net profit after tax of $512.2 million. Excluding extraordinary items, the more meaningful figure of $448.5 million in the six months to June 30, was 19.7 per cent higher than the previous corresponding period, reflecting stronger production and higher prices, Woodside said. Oil and gas revenue for Woodside was $1.23 billion, up a healthy 30.2 per cent, on production of 29.9 million barrels of fuel oil equivalent (MMboe), a 4.9 per cent increase on the previous corresponding period. As a result of increased contributions from the North West Shelf venture, the start-up of the Mutineer-Exeter oil field and increased equity in the Laminaria-Corallina oil project, Woodside has lifted its 2005 calendar year production target by 2 MMboe to 58 MMboe. Woodside declared a 35 cent fully-franked dividend. Another in the resources sector to record a strong performance was Iluka, which achieved a record half year net profit of $79.3 million to June 30, up 113 per cent on the first half of 2004. Managing director Mike Folwell said the record profit result was underpinned by a strong production performance, increased demand for Iluka’s products and higher overall US dollar prices for zircon and rutile. A disappointing aspect to the result, however, was the slower than expected progress with construction of the Douglas min-eral sands development in the Murray Basin, which meant the project was five months behind schedule, Mr Folwell said.Kerry Harmanis’ Jubilee Mines recorded a net profit of $75.5 million for the year to June 30, which was down on the $95.1 million result in 2004, reflecting the impact of provisions against Jubilee’s investments in junior nickel explorers Falcon Minerals and Northern Star Resources. Excluding these provisions, Jubilee’s annual profit was $90.2 million, with production at its Cosmos nickel mine affected to some extent by a lower ore grade, following a transition to mining in the lower levels of the ore-body and a switch to cut and fill stoping methods, according to Jubilee executive chairman and major shareholder, Mr Harmanis. The miner suffered a $14.4 million write-down on its investment in Falcon, which has performed poorly on the stock market, since January, when Jubilee took a 16.1 per cent interest in the explorer. Jubilee declared a final dividend of 25 cents per share, bringing the total return to shareholders for the year to 45 cents, and representing a 64 per cent payout ratio. Engineering, mining and civil contracting company Macmahon Holdings achieved a record net profit for the year to June 30 of $19.6 million, up 69 per cent. Macmahon has capitalised on the strength of the resources sector, with both its underground and open cut mining divisions reporting over 120 per cent profit increases. Macmahon’s civil division was “disappointing”, in managing director Nick Bowen’s words, however, contributing just $7.4 million to the record profit result, a 51 per cent decline in the division’s earnings from last year. Higher costs were blamed, with short term fixed price contracts preforming poorly in the civil area, despite higher revenues which were up 96 per cent, Mr Bowen said.A highlight for Macmahon’s civil arm was the acquisition of Henry Walker Eltin’s Northern Territory civil contracting bus-iness, which has comple-mented the company’s existing operat-ions well, he said. Macmahon declared a fully-franked final dividend of 1 cent per share, double last year’s payment. The state’s only retail gas supplier, Alinta, which reports its financial results over the calendar year, posted a half-year net profit of $42.3 million, down from $48.1 million in the previous corresponding period. Despite the 12 per cent fall in profit, the market was more concerned with news of the company’s spin-off plans for its $1.6 billion plus Duke Energy assets into soon-to-be-listed entity Alinta Infrastructure Holdings.Ending a busy week of financial reporting, the ASX All Ordinaries Index finished in record territory at 4429.9 points on Friday August 19.

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