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Grenade attack kills 13 audience members in Pakistani cinema as Taliban peace talks continue

15/04/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Ruthless … A blood-stained shoe of a victim lies on the ground at the site of a grenade attack on a crowded cinema that killed 13 and wounded many others in Peshawar, Pakistan. Photo: AP PhotoPeshawar, Pakistan: Assailants threw grenades into a crowded movie theatre in north-western Pakistan, killing 13 people, officials said, in an attack that shows the challenges as negotiators face off in talks between the Taliban and the government.
Nanjing Night Net

One of the grenades blew up the main door, and two more exploded inside the theatre as about 80 people were watching a movie called “Yarana,” which means friendship in Pashto, officials said. The floor of the cinema was streaked with blood while some of the seats were torn from the force of the explosion.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred in Peshawar, a city near restive areas on the Afghan border that are home to Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked foreign Islamic militants. Many militant groups view movies and other forms of entertainment as obscene Western influences.

The manager of the cinema, Fayaz Khan, said he hadn’t received any threats from anyone and urged the government to provide protection for them in the future.

Police official Kamal Khan said the investigation was continuing, and it wasn’t clear how many attackers were involved. Another official Ijaz Khan gave the death toll and said some 20 people also were wounded.

The attack comes days after Pakistan began peace negotiations with Taliban militants fighting in the country’s northwest to end the violence that has killed more than 40,000 people in recent years. The Pakistani Taliban, formally called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, is separate from the Taliban fighting NATO-forces in neighbouring Afghanistan. Although the two groups share similar ideology, the Pakistani Taliban has focused its fight against the Pakistani government.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made negotiating with the militants a centrepiece of his new government elected last May. That policy has many supporters in Pakistan who are tired of the seemingly unending suicide bombings and shootings and view the war as being imposed on Pakistan by the US after the invasion of Afghanistan. But others say the militants have already broken previous agreements.

After some initial stumbles, the government’s efforts have picked up steam in recent weeks with both sides naming people to represent them in the talks.

Members of the Pakistani Taliban’s negotiating team flew to the North Waziristan tribal agency over the weekend to meet with the militant organisation’s leadership at a secret location. North Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan to the west, is considered a stronghold for the militant organisation as well as other groups like the Haqqani network.

On Tuesday, they met with negotiators representing the government to discuss their trip. Speaking after the meeting, Pakistani cleric, Maulana Samiul Haq, who heads the Taliban’s negotiating team, said both the militants and the government have recommended a cease-fire as a confidence-building measure.

He said the Taliban had given other recommendations as well and had sought some clarification on the government’s stance but he did not reveal what those were.

But attacks like Tuesday’s show just how difficult it would be to implement a cease-fire.

The Pakistani Taliban have distanced themselves from the recent violence and in some cases issued outright denials.

But analysts say the TTP is an amorphous organisation where many of the factions act on their own, sometimes even in conflict with the group’s leadership.

“That is going to be the problem because even if by any chance some kind of agreement is reached, several of the factions may not accept it,” said Zahid Hussain, a Pakistani security analyst.

APNormalfalsefalseEN-AUX-NONEX-NONERiaz Khan And Munir Ahmed

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Shaun White misses out on medal

15/04/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

No medal: Shaun White. Photo: ReuterCold war mentalityAustralian finishes fourthTorah’s mum speaks out
Nanjing Night Net

When two-time defending champion Shaun White spotted Iouri Podladtchikov during qualifying for the snowboard halfpipe, they hugged.

“I love you man,” the American told him. “But you’re making me nervous.”

The words proved prophetic as Podladtchikov, the Swiss who had once competed for Russia, stormed to the gold medal with a score of 94.75.

Japan claimed the other medals, with 15-year-old sensation Ayumu Hirano (93.50) and Taku Hiraoka (92.25) peeling off superb runs.

Australian 18-year-old Kent Callister also had a night to remember, before a heaving crowd at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, finishing ninth with a top run of 68.50.

“That is the best contest I’ve ever been in,” Callister beamed. “It is the best day of my life, too. I had so much fun riding with everyone. The pipe’s alright, so it was a good experience.”

Like American hope Danny Davis, Callister appeared to lose speed in the flat section of the pipe, which has been heavily criticised in recent days.

“The pipe held up alright,” Callister said. “It could’ve been better but I did my best so I am happy with that.”

White was attempting to become the first American to win three gold medals in the same event at the Winter Olympics.

He had bombed his third trick on his first run, and then sent a scare through his camp when he landed on the base of his spine while attempting a final trick just for show.

The contest came down to final run of the night, but when White failed to nail the tricks needed early on in his run, it was clear the man nicknamed “iPod” was going to claim gold.

“They were pretty tough,” White said of the conditions. “The hard part is not practising but it was the same for everyone.

“I was looking for four (gold medals). I was hoping to do slopestyle, too, but it didn’t pan out. Tonight was just not my time.

“I am disappointed. I hate the fact that I nailed it in practice, but it happens. It’s hard to be consistent.”

White pulled out of the Olympic slopestyle event because of safety fears.

White, who won the halfpipe at the 2006 Turin Games and retained his title in Vancouver, had voiced concerns about the condition and difficulty of the slopestyle course during training runs.

Earlier, Nate Johnstone just missed the cut for final after China’s Yiwei Zhang bumped him out on the last run of the semi-final.

Scotty James, 19, missed out on progressing through to the semi-finals by just 1.25 points, finishing in 10th spot.

Scott scored 68.50 from his first run – a result some in the Australian camp believed should have been more – before crashing in his second run.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Are you happy?

15/04/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

When entering or leaving China, each passport control booth has two buttons you can press. One has a smiley face and the other a frown. When your passport is handed back you can choose which button to press based on whether you are satisfied with the immigration officer’s service or not.
Nanjing Night Net

HappyOrNot, a company based in Finland, has a similar idea. It has taken the same concept, refined and beautified it, and taken it mainstream by selling it to a broad range of businesses around the world.

HappyOrNot is a small display of four buttons mounted on a pedestal that can be placed anywhere on the premises of a business, government office or retail store. If it’s a small retail store for example, it might be located at the checkout or exit. For a larger establishment like a department store, a HappyOrNot installation could theoretically be placed in every department.

Each of the four buttons on a HappyOrNot display has a different emoticon face corresponding to “very happy”, “a bit happy”, “a bit unhappy” or “very unhappy”. The customer pushes the button that most represents his or her impression of the shopping experience. The responses are tallied, diced by variables such as time of day and location, and streamed to management in analytical reports.

Despite the simplicity of the HappyOrNot concept from an analytical standpoint, it has a lot going for it.

First, it sends out a highly visible message to customers that this business or government entity genuinely gives a hoot about what they think. That can be reassuring.

Second, it provides customers with an outlet to express their opinions in a non-confrontational manner.

Third, it provides an incentive to staff to do their best.

Fourth, for the management, it offers a useful indicator of where it might have strengths and weaknesses. A department store, for example, may find it is doing OK in women’s shoes on Saturday morning and wretchedly in handbags on Friday afternoons. This is clearly actionable information, if only to alert the retailer to where a more focused diagnostic and remediation program is required.

A particularly useful feature of HappyOrNot is that the question can be changed to gather different information from customers. They can be asked about their satisfaction with the general shopping experience, with the merchandise on display, with the service, or any other aspect of their visit.

Most businesses are interested in customer feedback but in many cases they are unsure how to gather the information. Often, it’s just a case of waiting to see if the customer comes back. After all, the cash register doesn’t lie. This is not a particularly effective way of finding out how you are doing.

Traditionally, customer surveys have been the preferred method and there are some very simple ones. In a 2003 piece for the Harvard Business Review, Fred Reichheld introduced the “Net Promoter Score” (NPS) that was based on customer responses to just one question: “On a scale of zero to 10, how likely are you to refer our company to a friend or colleague?” The responses are divvied up into three groups – the “detractors” who gave a rating of zero to 6, the “passives” who rated the company 7-8 and the “promoters” who rated it 9-10. The NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

Reichheld’s NPS became popular and widely used. However, it has since been embellished by a technology company called ForeSee, which added a second question to the one posed by NPS. This was: “How likely are you to discourage others from doing business with our company?” ForeSee then subtracts the percentage of 9-10 ratings given in answer to the second question from the percentage of 9-10 ratings given in answer to the first. That is, it subtracts the “likely to discourage” people from the “likely to recommend” people. The result is called the “Word of Mouth Index”, or WOMI, and is now also widely used.

If your company relies heavily on word of mouth to bring in new business, the WOMI Index may be one useful tool to find out how you are doing with existing customers. Like any diagnostic tool though, it should be used in combination with others. Although such tools offer useful insights, they don’t usually get you to a clear understanding of why you are doing well or poorly.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

What do millionaires regret?

15/04/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Every businessperson makes mistakes. David Yuile’s cost him $1.3 million in a day.
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The chief executive of telecommunications company AAPT jointly started a CRM consultancy in London in the mid-1990s.

They decided to sell to Interliant, a US-listed company, in a deal including thousands of shares.

“We sold in 1997, just before the tech-wreck when our shares were worth $US12 each,” Yuile recalls.

Over the next few months the then-27-year-old watched his shares price skyrocket. He became a paper millionaire.

“It went up and up and up, reaching $US70 a share at one point and putting my shareholding’s worth between £2.5-3 million, but I held too long, the stock market started crashing, I lost £700,000 in one day and ended up selling for five cents a share.

“The good thing is I was young and starting businesses at that age means you can pick yourself up and do it again … I kept my house, I just wish I could have been a bit richer.”

Yuile’s other regret happened when he was boss of Powertel, which was later sold to AAPT.

Today AAPT, a division of Telecom New Zealand, turns over about $400 million annually.

“We were trying to build an ESL broadband-to-homes business and you had to have pretty good coverage to work because people were pretty spread all over Australia,” he says.

“We were doing things incrementally to boost our coverage; 10 more [coverage] areas here, 12 more there. Then, nine months later, rival company TPG rolled out and we were left going ‘oh bugger’.

“In the end it wasn’t even a tortoise and the hair race as they barrelled past us with about 300 coverage areas to our 70 or 80.

“Looking back I should have been so much more of a believer and pushed harder to expand our network.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, TPG becomes AAPT’s owner from February 28. “The cycles of business,” Yuille quips.

Foodco Group boss Serge Infanti says what doesn’t ruin you makes you stronger – if you accept and learn from mistakes.

“Any businessperson who claims to know it all and see the future with absolute clarity is kidding themselves,” says the managing director and part-owner of the Australian owned company, which today has more than 450 franchise outlets worldwide trading through the Muffin Break, Jamaica Blue and Dreamy Donuts brands.

Infanti started as the franchisee of a Muffin Break outlet in Queensland in 1990.

He says his only business regret is he didn’t fast-track the group’s launch in Asia. Foodco currently has 26 outlets in China, two in Singapore and expects to launch in Malaysia this year.

“Of course there is a graveyard of many Australian businesses that went overseas and failed, so we had to temper our plans. But if I had my time again I would have found some money to accelerate expansion to China, which has this huge rising middle class with aspirations and desires of a Western lifestyle and coffee drinking is very much a part of that,” he says.

“We went into the UK market and in the early 2000s started due diligence for China but we started with a very conservative approach and should have seen opportunity to push the button faster, been more entrepreneurial in finding more money to roll out more quickly because the speed of China’s migration from tea drinking to coffee has been quite astounding.”

A start-up founded on a gentleman’s handshake dealt Leon Lau his biggest business lesson.

“I don’t have any standout regrets but, if pushed, it would be an experience that is a lesson for all people starting up a business with a partner or partners,” Lau says.

The executive chairman of Asia Pacific IT&T recruitment giant Peoplebank Group began his business in the early 1990s. It was a 50/50 partnership with a friend.

By the late ’90s the two partners had differing views on the direction the company should go, which led to a “stalemate at the top”, leading to a dysfunctional company “going nowhere”.

“Our mistake was no shareholders agreement was put in place and everything was done on a handshake.

“Factions within the company evolved and it broke out into ‘open warfare’, almost crippling the company and losing the company two to three years’ growth,” Lau says.

Lawyers and litigation eventually resolved the matter and a shareholders’ agreement was signed.

“An exit mechanism was included in the agreement and I bought out my partner. Lesson learnt ‘get important matters documented’.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Food rating: Fiona Nash, chief of staff intervened to have website removed

15/04/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Federal politics: full coverage
Nanjing Night Net

A senior government aide, who demanded a new healthy food rating website be taken down, is married to the head of a lobbying body that works for the junk food industry.

Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash said in Senate question time on Tuesday that both she and her chief of staff, Alastair Furnival, had personally intervened to insist health department staff pull down the new “health star rating” site on the day it was launched.

Mr Furnival was previously a chairman of Australian Public Affairs, listed on the lobbyists’ register as representing the Australian Beverages Council and Mondelez Australia, which owns Kraft, Cadbury and Oreo brands, among others.

In question time, Senator Nash also said Mr Furnival was married to the company’s sole director and secretary, Tracey Cain. Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show Mr Furnival was also previously a director of the company.

Labor health spokeswoman Catherine King has demanded an explanation of the actions of Senator Nash and Mr Furnival.

“The government has a responsibility to act in the best interests of all Australians,” she said. “It is for Senator Nash to explain how her actions and those of her office demonstrate this.”

Public health and consumer groups are furious the site was taken down after two years in development, and have accused the government of bowing to the interests of the junk food industry.

The site, which set up a system for food manufacturers to label their products with easy-to-understand nutritional information, was launched about midday on Wednesday last week, only to be pulled by 8pm.

On Friday, Senator Nash did not respond to questions from Fairfax Media about whether she or Mr Furnival had intervened to have the site removed. But on Tuesday, she told Parliament Mr Furnival had approached departmental staff on her direction.

Labor senator Penny Wong asked whether Senator Nash and Mr Furnival had read and complied with ministerial standards relating to conflicts of interest.

Senator Nash called her line of questioning ”unworthy”.

“The health star rating system is not yet in place – it would have been extremely confusing for consumers had that website remained,” she said. “My chief of staff has no connection with the food industry and is simply doing his job.”

The Public Health Association of Australia and consumer group Choice have condemned the decision to take the website down.

Public Health Association head Michael Moore said the move was inappropriate. ”The disappointing thing to me was that it was a unilateral decision that over-rode a decision of the food ministers.”

He said the food industry had supported the site, until it became clear the Coalition would probably gain power at the election.

The Food and Grocery Council says it is only pushing for a cost-benefit analysis to examine the effects of the system on the industry, something supported by Senator Nash. She told Parliament the process had not yet concluded.

A spokeswoman for Senator Nash said Mr Furnival had met all the requirements of employment and of the ministerial staff code of conduct.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

China and Fed join local profits to lift shares

15/03/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Shares rose for the fifth consecutive day on some strong local earnings reports, stronger than expected Chinese trade data and after global markets cheered new United States Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen pledge to take a ‘measured’ approach to cutting stimulus.
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The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 55.6 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 5310.1, while the broader All Ordinaries Index added 1 per cent to 5319.8, buoyed by a slew of half-year earnings results that met or beat expectations while a number of company’s said the outlook for the second half of the year is improving.

Local shares had a strong lead after all major equity markets in the United States added more than 1 per cent. Global investors were cheered after Dr Yellen pledged in a highly anticipated speech to continue taking “a measured approach” to the process of reducing the central bank’s monthly stimulus – currently $US65 billion per month down from $US85 billion per month in December.

Major markets in Britain and Europe also moved higher on Tuesday night, while Asian shares provided further support in afternoon trading on Wednesday.

But Angus Tulloch, a senior portfolio manager for Edinburgh based funds manager First State Stewart warned the withdrawal of US central bank stimulus is likely to remain a source of concern for investors for the duration of the year.

“Stockmarkets will continue to be difficult while the US Federal Reserve continues to taper its asset purchases. Most investors have probably underestimated just how much volatility and selling that will cause in 2104,” Mr Tulloch said.

A bumper result from the biggest stock on the local stock exchange was good for sentiment. Commonwealth Bank of Australia beat high expectations to post a record half-year profit of $4.27 billion, up 14 per cent on the previous corresponding period. CBA also pleased investors by lifting its interim dividend more than anticipated, up 12 per cent from the previous half to $1.83 per share. The stock added 0.4 per cent to a three-month high of $76.20.

ANZ Banking Group lifted another 1.4 per cent to $30.98, after its quarterly a trading update delivered on Tuesday met profit growth expectations and showed a bigger than expected reduction in bad debts.

Among the rest of the big four banks, Westpac Banking Corporation and National Australia Bank each rose 0.8 per cent to $32.50 and $34.15 respectively.

The biggest resource stocks lifted after a report from China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed Australian exports to China grew 41.5 per cent last month compared to January 2013, as the world’s second largest economy imported increasing volumes or iron ore, grain and liquified natural gas.

Resources giant BHP Billiton did the most to lift the bourse, rising 1.8 per cent to $37.20. Main rival Rio Tinto added 2.2 per cent to $68.10 despite the spot price for iron ore, landed in China, extending into a third week of declines at $US120 a tonne.

Telstra Corporation gained 1.2 per cent at $5.11 ahead of reporting its half-year results on Thursday.

Information technology was the best-performing sector, up 5 per cent, as Computershare and Carsales each climbed more than 6 per cent on solid half-year results.

Digital share registry service provider Computershare climbed 6.4 per cent to $11.80 as chief executive Stuart Crosby announced his resignation from June 30 and named chief information officer Stuart Irving as his successor. The announcement was made as Computershare showed half-year net profit jumped 47.4 per cent from the previous corresponding period.

Online automotive advertiser Carsales jumped 6.6 per cent to $10after showing a 17 per cent jump in interim net profit from the previous corresponding period.

Copper, gold and silver miner Oz Minerals was the best-performing stock in the ASX 200, soaring 12.7 per cent to $3.83 despite reporting a full-year loss of $294 million. Analysts endorsed a decision by managing director Terry Burgess to resign and investors were cheered that the company maintained its dividend payout ratio while lifting production guidance.

“Although reporting season has just begun, it is already clear that the market is not going to be able to deliver strongly on the much desired growth in company earnings until 2015,” Celeste Funds Management analyst Paul Biddle said. “Expect to see overall analyst expectations for the market’s growth in earnings per share to be trimmed by up to 5 per cent at the end of February.”

Labour hire contractor Skilled Group climbed 9.6 per cent to $3.09, after showing half-year net-profit after tax declined 24.7 per cent but saying things were set to improve this half. The result was in line with expectations given the well documented slowdown in demand from mining investment.

Fast food chain Dominos Pizza Enterprise advanced 12.4 per cent to $19.25 after lifting its earnings forecasts and plans for new store openings in 2014. The pizza maker reported a 38.8 per cent rise in net profit for the period ending December 31 following its acquisition of Domino’s Japan.

Stockland Property Group lifted 4.8 per cent to $3.90 after an uplift in residential sales helped buoy statutory profit by 34 per cent compared to the first-half of 2013. The developer also lifted its forward earnings guidance.

The uptick in housing construction also helped building materials supplier Boral show a 73 per cent rise in underlying half-year profit, despite reporting a $26.3 million net loss for the period. The result was in line with expectations after the company updated its guidance last week. Boral shares gained 9 per cent to $5.45.

The Westpac/Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index unexpectedly dropped 3 per cent in February to 100.2, marginally above the line that shows optimists outweigh pessimists. Economists said people might have grown more cautious ahead of expected cuts to the Federal Budget.

Healthcare was the worst-performing sector, down 2 per cent, as CSL and Primary Health Care both fell despite reporting profit growth.

Plasma and vaccine manufacturer CSL fell 3 per cent to $67.75 after beating analyst expectations to show a 3 per cent rise in interim net profit to $715 million. The company said its more recent foray into products used to stem bleeding during surgery would continue to be a source of growth.

Medical centre and pathology clinic operator Primary Healthcare fell 2.4 per cent to $4.81, despite showing a 8.6 per cent rise in half-year net profit.

Packaged foods distributor Goodman Fielder was the worst performer among the top 200 stocks, shedding 7.4 per cent to 63 cents after reporting a $64.8 million half-year loss, in part due to pressure from record milk and rising wheat prices. Significant earnings improvement was forecast for the current half-year period.

Retail electricity and gas supplier AGL Energy rose 3.2 per cent to $15.66 after announcing a $1.2 billion equity raising to fund a $1.5 billion takeover of Macquarie Power Generation. The deal is still subject to approval from the competition regulator.

Embattled resources sector services contractor Forge Group, which has been one of the most volatile stocks in the index over the past quarter, announced it has appointed an administrator.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Telecom NZ might be worth a punt

15/03/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

NEW ZEALAND . AFR . 000506 . PIC BY VIRGINIA STAR . Saved In News . 000516 . *******FIRST USE AFR!!!!!!!*******Generic Pic Of Telecom New Zealand Public Telephone Box . Telecomunications . Phone .***afrphotos南京夜网*** Photo: Virginia StarWhat’s new
Nanjing Night Net

Telecom Corporation of New Zealand (Telecom) recently announced the sale of the AAPT assets to TPG Telecom for $450 million. While the decision to divest the business was not surprising, what was perhaps a pleasant surprise was the price extracted, as the market consensus prior to the transaction was for AAPT to fetch around $300 million. The question now is what Telecom will do with the cash from the sale, and this will probably be more fully answered at the company’s upcoming first-half results to be unveiled later this month.


We believe the deal is yet another important step on the turnaround path that the company has embarked upon — one that is set to reinvigorate earnings growth over the next few years in our view.

Telecom still has a 10 per cent stake in mobile business Hutchison Telecommunication Australia, which could be on the block, as could the 50 per cent interest in cable link provider Southern Cross Cables and the 60 per cent interest in the Cook Islands’ biggest phone and internet phone provider. All these non-core holdings could well generate proceeds of up to $NZ450-500 million, thereby, deleveraging the balance sheet and raising the prospect of further capital returns to shareholders.

Just as importantly, Telecom has suffered from wandering somewhat aimlessly from a strategic perspective in our view. The AAPT divestiture, together with the potential sale of the other non-core interests mentioned above, will further restore much-needed focus on, as well as facilitate investment in, the company’s higher-returning core assets in New Zealand.

In the meantime, management is actively taking costs out of Telecom’s businesses in a bid to return earnings back on a growth trajectory.


Telecom’s stock price has performed solidly, edging up 8 per cent and 11 per cent over the past six and 12 months, respectively. The gradual ascent shows that investors are warming to the recovery potential in New Zealand’s largest telco and the potential upside from the deleveraging that is occurring on the balance sheet.

Worth Buying?

We continue to be encouraged by the turnaround that is taking shape at Telecom Corporation of New Zealand. The company is sensibly reducing costs, exiting non-core business stakes at full value, and reinvesting in its higher returning assets at home.

This is beginning to have a noticeable impact on the company’s prospects, balance sheet and investor sentiment. The shares currently trade on around 13 times fiscal 2014 consensus earnings estimates which we regard as a modest valuation, and come with a forecast un-franked dividend yield of almost 7 per cent. Consequently, we believe the stock is worth buying at current levels.

Greg Smith is the head of research at Fat Prophets sharemarket research.

Interested in Dividend Stocks? Click here to receive a recent Fat Prophets Report.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Time to shop around for cut-price credit

15/03/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

How long until rates rise?If you have a home loan and are waiting for interest rates to fall further, don’t count on the Reserve Bank to help out.Want to switch to a better home loan? Find the best deal via Money’s Tools and Guides here.
Nanjing Night Net

Governor Glenn Stevens last week gave his clearest signal yet that official interest rates will probably remain at their record low of 2.5 per cent for quite a while. Financial markets reckon that when they finally change, they will rise, rather than fall.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no way to save on borrowing costs.

After all, what you pay the bank for money is affected by other factors well out of Stevens’ control.

And, fortunately, banks are competing fiercely to sign up more customers in anticipation of stronger credit growth. This means many are offering cut-price credit.

However, you’ll probably have to shop around to make the most of this heightened competition.

Many are sceptical about how much the big banks in Australia really compete. They have an 80 per cent share of the market for new home loans, compared with about 60 per cent before the global financial crisis, after swallowing rivals such as St George, BankWest, RAMS and Aussie Home Loans.

Right now, however, there’s evidence the banks are indeed competing to lend households money. Citi, HSBC and Bank of Queensland have all recently cut certain variable rates for new customers. Westpac and National Australia Bank have cut fixed rates, with NAB’s four-year fixed-rate mortgage now at the lowest level in more than 20 years.

And, more subtly, banks are offering bigger discounts off their advertised rates, also to new customers.

A recent survey from JP Morgan analyst Scott Manning said the average discount off standard variable rates has risen by about 10 basis points to 85 basis points in the last couple of months – near 2012 peaks. On a $300,000 mortgage, an extra 10-basis-point discount is equal to a saving of $18 a month.

So what’s the catch?

Well, the better deals are only for new loans. That means the vast majority of people with mortgages probably won’t benefit from this competition.

After all, banks aren’t doing this to be nice. They’re competing more fiercely because they want to steal business from rivals.

This means the discounts will only really go to customers who are taking out new loans, or to those prepared to shop around.

To take advantage of the competition, you may have to threaten to switch banks and see if your lender can match it. As the banks know, most of us don’t do this. Changing transaction accounts is enough of a hassle in itself. With a home loan, you may also need to have the house valued, or arrange a new lenders’ mortgage insurance policy.

Just how reluctant are we to switch banks? The Australian Institute has reported that only 3 per cent of us switch each year. With that degree of inertia, banks can compete more fiercely for new customers without inflicting much damage on the bottom line.

To really take advantage of the current wave of competition, borrowers may need to confront the messy process of switching, or at least make their bank think they are prepared to leave.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Technology can deliver big returns

15/03/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Software is sexy from an investment perspective because for very little cost, you can get access to billions of people. Photo: josephine huynhSmall caps are all about leverage. When you are small, you get a bigger bang for your buck, and nowhere is this more the case than in technology.
Nanjing Night Net

Just look at the 163 per cent growth in first half net profit of Objective Corp, announced in late January. This company has a market cap of $56 million, yet it is winning contracts with big corporations and governments. It builds software that helps the Australian Government track documents, ensuring that emails go to the right person.

Software is sexy from an investment perspective because for very little cost, you can get access to billions of people. One of Radar’s favourites, eServGlobal, has more than tripled since we first tipped it in 2012, and much of this is based on the potential of its HomeSend technology, which allows the diaspora of the world to send money back to their homes via their mobile phones. This business isn’t even profitable yet!

eServ is one of a number of software developments centred around mobile payments companies. Many of these stocks are hot property as investors see the use of smart phones and tablets grow.

But there is also a great deal of risk in software developers of all types. The reality is that many will fail because of the big initial spend on research and development and the uncertainty over whether people will pay for it.

It is not just the small companies where there is risk. Xero has had massive success with its online offering of accounting software. It has a market cap close to $5 billion, but it is a number of years away from making a profit.

“Xero is in a customer grab at the moment and because capital markets open, it’s not worried about raising money to fund [these losses], but ultimately you have to generate capital internally to have a sustainable business,” says Nick Harris, the technology analyst at Morgans Stockbroking.

A safer bet could be the IT services sector, which is the sector’s biggest contributor to the ASX by market capitalisation (outside of telecommunications).

Their business model is to have an army of contractors who charge hourly rates and do project-related work. These companies make platforms like Microsoft and Salesforce talk to each other.

After fast growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the sector has stuttered as companies reduce their spending on IT. Traditionally IT spending increases at about 5 per cent a year, but in the past five years in the wake of the financial crisis, this has reduced to 2 per cent.

Harris believes that spending on the sector will increase from its historic lows and consequently advocates buying SMS Technology UXC and Oakton.

Whether or not you decide to invest in IT, there is no doubt the sector has a massive impact on your life.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Stocks with a top edge

15/03/2019 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

First XI of stocks.The cricket has got me thinking about what a First XI of stocks would look like. They’d have to always make the grade and hang in there even when the market gets bowled over.
Nanjing Night Net

A bank and a health stock would be must- haves, according to my selection committee of some of the best professional investors, but then what? You might be surprised.

One of the most blue chip stocks Telstra, for instance, misses the squad. Though to be fair that’s more because it was always mentioned as an afterthought rather than with any enthusiasm. And remember fund managers aren’t all that impressed with dividends – Telstra’s only delivery – preferring growth instead.

So here are the stocks most nominated for a First XI. Oh, and they’re in alphabetical, not batting order.

1. ANZ

You don’t need me to tell you about ANZ or any of the other big banks. Record profits despite next to no growth in lending, and delivering some of the best dividends going. Even so, fund managers are becoming less smitten as the big four have become pricey, though ANZ still has some fans. Based on its price-earnings ratio, which shows how many years of profit it takes to recoup your investment, making it a handy measure of value, it’s the second cheapest, beaten by NAB which is less fancied because it has one foot in the quagmire of the UK economy.

ANZ ticks all but one box: a big bank in an oligopoly, record profits, cutting costs, a juicy dividend that comes with a 30 per cent tax rebate from franking, giving it a 7 per cent annual return and (the clincher) it’s building an Asian business. The missing box is price. All the banks are expensive but when the next economic upswing hits they’ll probably have seemed a bargain now.

”You want the big four banks because they’re diversified financials,” says George Boubouras, chief investment officer of Equity Trustees.

2. ASX

If you’re optimistic about the sharemarket, as you should be if you’re prepared to be patient, there’s something to be said for having shares in who runs it. Especially when it makes its profit not from where the market is heading, but how many are going along for the ride. The more shares that tick over, the more commission ASX makes. Speed trading, where institutions buy and sell in a nano-second, must be a godsend.

While it’s not quite a monopoly – brokers can also trade on Chi-X and other stock exchanges are becoming more accessible – it isn’t exactly challenged either. ”It faces increased competition,” says Geoff Wilson, who runs listed share funds through his listed Wilson Asset Management. ”But trading in shares has been growing at two or three times the rate of inflation and its costs are fairly fixed. As volumes grow by 8 or 9 per cent then a significant percentage of its income will fall to the bottom line. And it has a good cashflow.”

3. BHP Billiton

Come in spinner. As we’re one of the biggest producers of iron ore, coal, nickel and natural gas, a resources stock would have to be in the Australian First XI. Since BHP Billiton is in all these and more, it would be a brave fund manager to overlook it, though its inclusion wasn’t unanimous. There are those who wouldn’t touch a resource stock at the moment. But then it’s almost unAustralian not to select it, even if strictly speaking it’s only semi Australian. As John Abernethy, chief investment officer of Clime Investment Management says: ”I don’t see how you can ignore BHP when Australia relies on its resources output. If it doesn’t perform, then there’s not much hope for the broader Australian economy.”

4. Breville Group

Bet there’s a Breville thermo-this or extractor-that somewhere in your kitchen. Or a kettle. Breville is an icon brand and the stock was chosen by Don Williams, chief investment officer at Platypus Asset Management because ”it has a very good long-term profile and high-quality innovative products”. Breville designs and sells products it has made cheaply offshore and collects a nice margin on them. The stock isn’t cheap, but has runs on the board.

5. CSL

As a world leader supplying vaccines, plasma products and pharmaceuticals, it’s no surprise CSL was selected by more fund managers than any other stock for the First XI. Williams says ”despite being in a mature industry and already a very large company its growth rate is still a pretty respectable 10 per cent. And it has a good R&D pipeline”. For research house and fund manager Lincoln’s chief executive, Elio D’Amato, CSL is simply ”a global leader. The world’s population is growing and its services are directly aligned to this growth. It’s a must-have”.

6. Invocare

There isn’t a delicate way of putting this but let me try. Australia has an ageing population and Invocare runs cemeteries, crematoriums and funeral parlours – sorry ”funeral homes” as it calls them, the best known being its White Lady Funerals – if you get my drift. Or as Kieran Kelly, whose Sirius Fund Management caters for well-off investors, put it ”come hell or high water, this business isn’t going away”.

Invocare has been returning an average 20 per cent a year for 10 years. Strewth, that’s even better than the banks. Then again, it’s a lot dearer than them based on its price/earnings ratio.

7. Magellan

There are lucrative pickings for those charged with managing our super, which is worth $1.6 trillion and still counting. And for once the banks don’t have it all their own way, thanks to the growth of DIY funds, competition from smaller and more nimble fund managers, and growing interest in overseas shares. Unlike banks, fund managers don’t borrow either – the money is more or less given to them. Magellan Financial Group, which runs six global investment funds, is in the team courtesy of Sebastian Evans, portfolio manager of Naos Asset Management.

”It’s already grown to $20 billion [of funds managed] and its aim is $50 billion. Its global equities funds face very little competition, apart from Platinum. Its managers are well regarded and their distribution [I.e. sales network] is excellent – you don’t just want performance. The lower dollar will be good for it too,” he says.

8. Sirtex Medical

Biotechs are the stocks of the future but apart from a CSL or Cochlear (a surprise omission from the First XI, almost certainly because it’s facing tougher competition and lower returns), choosing the right one is no easy challenge, starting with understanding what it does. Two fund managers selected Sirtex, which has a treatment for liver cancer using radiotherapy through a microcatheter. It’s one of the few biotech stocks that makes money.

”It has a fantastic management team and a net cash balance sheet. There’s only one competitor in radioactive spheres. In two to five years its market size could quadruple. It’s had 25 to 30 per cent compound growth in the past five years and it’s a beneficiary of the lower dollar,” Evans says.

9. Sydney Airport

”Infrastructure has got to be a cornerstone” of any share portfolio, says Kelly, who suggests the owner of Sydney Airport, our international gateway, fits the bill. At first glance it looks like a googly since a federal government finally seems poised to nominate a site for a second airport in Sydney. But it’s not widely known that Sydney Airport, which recently escaped the clutches of Macquarie Bank, is in the cockpit for a second airport.

”It has the first and last right of refusal to build and operate a second airport,” Kelly points out. It’s the number of passengers on a plane, and where they go, not how much they paid for their airfare, that determines Sydney Airport’s take. And thanks to bigger planes it’s getting more fees with no extra flights. Oh, and did you know Sydney-Melbourne is the world’s second busiest air route? Just remember it’s an infrastructure stock so carries a lot of debt.

10. Wesfarmers

As the owner of Coles, Bunnings, Target, Kmart, Liquorland and companies you’ve probably never heard of in resources, chemicals and who-knows-where, Wesfarmers has overcome fund managers’ normal aversion to conglomerates. ”It’s well managed with a great consistency in delivering results. The multiple businesses are well co-ordinated and Wesfarmers ticks all the boxes for predictability, sustainability and good management,” David Bryant, general manager investments at Australian Unity says.

The 11th man

When you put fund managers on the spot to pick their First XI the problem is that the more of them you ask, the more likely one will come up with a stock the others would never select. Which is why an all-rounder is called for. Having the entire market would bring too many duds, so how does getting the top 200 stocks in one hit sound?

That’s possible with an exchange traded fund such as SPDR’s S&P/ASX200 – it has its own ASX code (STW) and trades like any other share – which has the 200 biggest stocks in proportion to their size.

After a small fee it will return exactly what the market does.

If you want to do better than the market but without going to an unlisted managed fund, you could try a listed investment company where the resident experts select the best stocks. ”You get market performance and a bit more with an expert manager,” Wilson says, suggesting the Australian Foundation Investment Company.

This gives you a range of stocks, with 82 per cent comprising the top 25, all bought at lower prices, but then the stock is also trading at more than they’re worth.

@money potts

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.