Share tips pay dividends

In October, Briefcase chose a basket of shares in local companies likely to benefit from strong oil and gas prices and stepped up activity in the North West Shelf. We struck a few modest gushers.

Scientific Services, the mineral assay concern, gave up gold and base metal miners here as a bad job two years ago. Instead, the company concentrated on Africa, and Asia, and switched its emphasis to servicing the oil and gas industry. As a result, earnings for the first half of this year have jumped from $1.4 million to $3.6 million, and there is an extra tot on the dividend. However, because of a recent acquisition, Expertest will lose Santos as a customer at the end of the year, but the company has found other business. Scientific have climbed from 33¢ to 44¢ and a fully franked yield of 10 per cent sweetens the pot.

The Clough share price has clambered up from 56¢ to 68¢, and is threatening to crack the IPO price of 70¢ three years ago. Clough kicked a goal when it bought 16.8 per cent of listed Mermaid Marine for $3 milllion or 30¢ a share. Mark Bradley, the new CEO, paid the same price for 11 per cent of the company.

The combination of a dose of cash, strengthened management, and renewed buzz of excitement around the Broome, Dampier, Darwin triangle have seen Mermaid bob up to 64¢.

These three shares together are a warrant on the multi-billion spending for years to come in the NWS. They complement Woodside, which belongs in any portfolio with or without Shell.

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