Bellamy's Australia has launched a baby formula with twice the omega-3 of its rivals, making it a likely winner with mothers, helping to boost sales and earnings. Chief executive Andrew Cohen has been looking to rebuild the business and regain investor trust after several tumultuous years that almost led to the collapse of the organic baby food and formula maker. Mr Cohen believes he has laid the foundations for a stronger business, aiming to hit $500 million in revenue by financial year 2021, a model supported by product innovation such as new cereals like pumpkin baby rice, an exotic fruits range of pouches and new packaging. A soft launch of the formula has targeted Coles, with Woolworths and Chemist Warehouse to follow. Bellamy's said the formula would be stocked once the old formula had sold through, and a more formal launch would be likely after Lunar New Year when supermarkets had fully stocked the product.
Macquarie Group Ltd (MQG):
Two of Macquarie Private Wealth's most senior executives are leaving the bank. Head of wealth management Bill Marynissen and executive Rob Johnston are "retiring" from the firm. according to a group-wide announcement on Friday. Marynissen will be replaced by executive director Sean West. The departures follow Macquarie's shift in gear last year to merge its private bank and private wealth businesses and focus exclusively on wealthier clients after the Hayne royal commission revealed industry-wide troubles in the retail advice sector. The news prompted a 'mass exodus' of Macquarie's private wealth advisers to other firms.
National Australia Bank Ltd (NAB):
National Australia Bank will embark on a global search for a new chief executive after Andrew Thorburn’s resignation, although chairman Ken Henry said internal contenders would feature in the board’s deliberations. Dr Henry, who will retire once a new CEO is chosen, said NAB was a “globally important company”, and shareholders would expect an extensive search. “Having said that, the board is very confident there are a number of high-quality executives on the executive leadership team who would make great chief executives,” he said. “We expect to have a number of strong candidates from which to select the next CEO.” The leading internal candidates include former NSW premier and chief customer officer of consumer banking Mike Baird, and the head of the business bank Anthony Healy, who previously ran the New Zealand business that has been the incubator for NAB’s past two CEOs.
NEWS CORP (NWS):
News Corp posted a 13 per cent jump in December quarter earnings helped by a surge in revenue during the period, largely due to the consolidation of its Australian television operations Foxtel as well as strength in the media company’s digital real estate and book publishing operations. News Corp booked a 21 per cent increase in revenue to $US2.63 billion ($3.70 billion) for the three months ended December 31. Second quarter pre-tax earnings of $US370 million were up from $US328 million a year earlier. News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said the results across the company’s television, newspaper and digital publishing businesses highlighted “the power of premium content and authenticated audiences in a fact-challenged world that craves credibility”.
Qantas Airways Limited (QAN):
Qantas has discovered it has been underpaying more than 50 workers, and overpaying about 160 others for up to several years in an “embarrassing” administrative error. The error in the terms and conditions of about 220 employees working in digital marketing and campaign analytics, was identified as part of a role review process. The mistake meant the roles were wrongly classified, and had been offered to employees under individual contracts rather than the relevant enterprise agreement. As a result, about three-quarters of the roles had been paid an average of $12,000 a year more than the enterprise agreement, and one quarter were paid less by about $8000 a year on average. The average remuneration of the roles affected was $90,000 a year. Qantas Group executive of people and culture Lesley Grant said there was “never an intention to underpay people, as shown by the fact three-quarters of the people affected are financially better off”. “This is an error, plain and simple,” Ms Grant said.
REA Group Limited (REA):
Online real-estate classifieds company REA Group said its first-half net profit fell by 98 per cent after it booked a hefty impairment charge and felt the sting of fewer listings and housing starts in Australia. REA, which operates websites including realestate.com.au, posted a net profit for the six months through December of $2.3 million, down from A$132.4 million a year earlier. The result was dragged down by a $173.2 million goodwill writedown against its Asian business. “This is an exceptional start to the year and I’m pleased with the strong growth we have delivered, despite the tough conditions we faced in the Australian market,” said Chief Executive Owen Wilson, delivering his first results since replacing long-time leader Tracey Fellows. But looking ahead, it said the slowdown in the housing market would take its toll in the second half with a lower rate of revenue growth expected. REA said residential listings were down 11 per cent in January with Sydney down 19pc and Melbourne down by 13pc. “As previously advised, the rate of revenue growth is expected to exceed the rate of cost growth for both the second half and the full year, however, this will not be the case in the third quarter,” REA said.
Westpac Banking Corp (WBC):
Westpac chief economist Bill Evans says the Reserve Bank’s downwardly revised view on the economy has narrowed the gap with his forecasts by he remains “more downbeat”. “Even so, our weaker forecasts have not been weak enough to warrant forecasting a rate cut,” Mr Evans says. “Accordingly, even if the RBA moves further towards Westpac’s current view it seems likely that rates will remain on hold.” He says the threshold for policy is whether “spillovers knock the labour market off course”. His current forecasts “do not incorporate that prospect but we acknowledge downside risks.” Market pricing this week has moved to imply a rate cut by February 2020, but Westpac is maintaining its long forecast of steady RBA monetary policy through 2020. The RBA’s quarterly statement on monetary policy is due at 1130 AEDT, but the RBA has already flagged onlymodest downgrades to its economic growth and inflation forecasts.