Tag Archives: season

Alcoa profit a positive start to reporting season

Posted January 09, 2013 10:31:00

Aluminium production giant Alcoa has kicked off US earnings reporting season by hitting its profit target.

Alcoa made $230 million in the fourth quarter by cost cutting to help offset a drop in aluminium prices.

That compares to a loss of $182 million in the same period a year earlier.

Sales topped $5.6 billion, beating analysts expectations.

Alcoa says it expects global aluminium demand to rise by 7 per cent in 2013, up from 6 per cent in 2012.

Chief financial officer Charles McLane says the result came against the backdrop of tepid global growth.

“You know its been a challenging environment and we have a relentless focus from all of our employees, days working, capital reduction and disciplined capital spend that allows us to reach these targets,” he said.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, manufacturing, company-news, united-states

Shares rise as US reporting season starts well

Posted January 09, 2013 11:29:43

The Australian share market looks set to break a three-day losing streak with gains across most sectors.

A good start to the US earnings season is lifting the mood.

The All Ordinaries index was 11 points higher to 4,723 just before 11:00am (AEDT), and the ASX 200 index was 12 points stronger at 4,702.

The big four banks are mixed – the Commonwealth Bank continues to be sold down and was trading at $61.08.

Alumina has rallied 5 per cent in early trade after a positive earnings result from its US partner Alcoa.

Most other mining stocks are lower, despite the spot iron ore price climbing yet again overnight.

Fortescue Metals was off 0.6 per cent, while BHP Billiton had eased 0.2 per cent and Rio Tinto was down 0.1 per cent.

The Australian dollar a little stronger was buying 105.12 US cents.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, markets, currency, stockmarket, australia

Qld tourism operators enjoy bumper summer season

Updated January 07, 2013 15:52:07

The Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) says it has been a strong start to the year for tourism operators across the state.

QTIC chief executive officer Daniel Gschwind says the past few years have been tough for many regional tourism operators who have weathered summer floods and storms.

Mr Gschwind says good weather over the summer holiday period has led to a bumper tourist season in Queensland.

“The traditional holiday seasons in south-east Queensland – the beaches, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast – but also further north they have done very, very well,” he said.

“I think it’s right across the state – it’s been a good season.

“It’s not of course peak season in the north, but even they have done rather well under these conditions.”

He says the industry is getting back on its feet.

“It’s been a very difficult couple of years for many operators – they have struggled,” he said.

“They have improved their businesses, they have repositioned their businesses.

“They have to pull out all-stops to remain viable in many cases over the last two years.

“I think it’s a well-deserved break that everybody’s getting a good season hopefully and one that puts tourism back on track.”

Topics: rural-tourism, tourism, travel-and-tourism, activism-and-lobbying, community-development, regional, regional-development, brisbane-4000, bundaberg-4670, cairns-4870, gladstone-4680, longreach-4730, mackay-4740, mount-isa-4825, maroochydore-4558, rockhampton-4700, toowoomba-4350, townsville-4810, southport-4215

First posted January 07, 2013 12:05:51

Cahills Crossing closes as late wet season arrives


The crossing at the East Alligator River, which is a major route to Oenpelli and Arnhem Land, has closed.


Northern Territory Infrastructure Department spokesman Sam Satsangi says the road shuts due to flooding every wet season.


Late rains this year have meant Cahills Crossing has stayed open longer than usual.


He says the crossing, about 230 kilometres east of Darwin, could be closed until April if the weather stays wet.


“The only other way that you can go to Oenpelli is the long way,” he said.


“You have to go to the Central Arnhem Road, you have to take the road to Ramingining and come back from Maningrida back to Oenpelli, which is a fairly long route.


“But it’s the only alternative route available.”

Topics: weather, regional, road-transport, oenpelli-0822, darwin-0800

Cyber Monday starts online shopping season

From their control tower, surrounded by 16 screens monitoring every part of the 2.2m sq ft of warehouse space below, staff at John Lewis’s 58m distribution hub in Milton Keynes were braced for what they hoped would be the busiest online shopping day of the year.


So-called Cyber Monday had already had a sprinting start with 6,000 orders arriving before 6am. By 1pm the sales figures screen jumped as the lunchtime rush kicked in. Now the tally was more than 37,000 orders. Nearly 55,000 online sales were expected by dinner time, but staff were hoping it would be higher and beat last week’s all-time record of 61,000.


Meanwhile in Burton-on-Trent, around 40 Christmas pickers at Argos’s largest warehouse started packing boxes with gifts ranging from Barbie dolls to tablet computers.


Argos was expecting 300,000 Christmas gifts to be processed and dispatched to its regional distribution centres on Monday by the end of the day staff learned the total hit 360,000.

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From regional centres boxes would be shipped to the 764 stores across the British Isles. Over Christmas, bosses expect around 55m items to pass through its 13 distribution centres.


“Kindles are flying off the shelves and there is huge demand for Apple’s iPads and the Samsung Galaxy,” said general manager Neil Brooks.


It was “the year of the tablet”, he said, with 1m gadgets sold this year thanks to the Christmas boost. Other popular lines include the Google Nexus, Argos’s own brand tablet, the CnM, the new Wii U console and the relaunched Furby.


Across the UK, Visa estimated 10,000 was spent online every second yesterday, an increase of 30% on last year, while research firm Experian said it expected 115m visits to online retailers.


Marks Spencer had recruited an extra 800 workers at its distribution centres and doubled the number of employees in its ecommerce call centre. Dom McBrien, multichannel trading director at MS, said: “During the lunch hour window we saw a record number of orders per minute and a threefold increase in traffic compared to Sunday.”


At Asda Direct, bosses expected to sell 50% more products than on an average Monday.


Back at John Lewis, a serious glitch the depot had run out of iPad minis in the early hours. The tablets are expected to be one of the biggest selling items.


Terry Murphy, head of national distribution, walked among the pallets of click and collect deliveries due to be shipped out to stores nationwide. It was not lunchtime yet but he was convinced it would be his busiest day.


He said: “By 10am we have a rough idea of what kind of day we’re going to have and whether we need to bring in extra staff or offer overtime. Today is definitely one of those days.”


By 2pm as the morning shift left for the day to be replaced by the afternoon workers, a sense of calm came over the warehouse, as the nearly nine miles of conveyor belts winding through a space as big as 31 football pitches ground to a halt.


Boxes of shirts, candles, Lego and cameras stopped whizzing past. “It’s the eye of the storm right now. Everything’s going to go crazy soon,” said Murphy.


In a tribute to the efficiency of the 1,000 staff the operation ran smoothly, and they hit their target of 600 items an hour to be sorted for shipment to stores.


Even the iPad Mini disaster was overcome when at 3pm a fresh delivery of the Apple bestsellers pulled into the warehouse and the race was on to get them up online in time for the evening rush.


With next-day deliveries now accounting for 54% of all online orders, it was then all hands on deck at the 44 dispatch terminals.


The average customer will order around three items, with a basket worth around 140, although Murphy revealed the average was 250 on the Friday before last coinciding with so called Black Friday in the US, when shops lure in customers with bargains immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday.


He said: “Black Friday really took us by surprise. We weren’t expecting such a huge rush because we don’t promote it. But because others were, we had to match them on price and the sales flooded in.”


Online sales have become big business for John Lewis, especially its click and collect service, where customers can pick up their items in store the following day.


In the warehouse, pallets set for Oxford Street in London, Cambridge, Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Cribbs Causeway, near Bristol, were filling up nicely, ready to be picked up and shipped to the stores overnight for collection.


James Leeson, head of online commercial at John Lewis, explained that multi-channel shoppers spend more than those who only go to shops and he emphasised just how important Cyber Monday has become.


He said: “Monday is always our busiest online trading day. People go to the stores over the weekend to do their research into exactly what they want to buy, then they use Monday to place their order.


“Cyber Monday is so important because it starts three-to-four weeks of really busy online shopping people have just been paid, they’ve seen the Christmas ads on TV and the new month gets people excited.”


However, not everyone is convinced by Cyber Monday, seeing it as another American import dreamed up by marketing people to compete with Black Friday.


Mothercare chief executive, Simon Calver, who overhauled the company’s website and brought in 24 hour click and collect services said his customers will wait longer than ever before buying their Christmas presents.


He said: “I don’t think Monday will be our busiest online day. I think it’s becoming a bit of a Mexican standoff with shoppers, to see who will blink first. Will the retailers reduce their prices early or not?”


Over at Curry’s and PC World, chief executive of parent company, Dixons Retail, Sebastian James agreed.


He said: “I don’t think Cyber Monday has the same power it may have had. It dates back to a time when you had to wait two weeks for a delivery, but now we do 24 hour delivery and will offer reserve and collect up until Christmas eve.”


Guardian News and Media 2012

PrintEmail a friend More from Technology Deep divide in Dubai at UN talks on Internet ‘We want artists to be able to create music’ Cyber Monday starts online shopping season It’s a good time to be an app developer

Al Bateen records more flights during F1 season

Abu Dhabi: Al Bateen Executive Airport, the dedicated business aviation airport of Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), witnessed a spur in traffic during the 2012 Formula 1 season.

The executive airport recorded 210 total commercial aircraft movements during the F1 race period between October 28 and November 5, with the November 3 and 5 being the peak days.

This growth represents a 38 per cent increase in aircraft movements when compared with the same F1 race period in 2011. The executive airport welcomed aircraft from all over the world carrying VIPs, Formula One drivers and other prominent figures of the international community.

In parallel to this traffic surge, Al Bateen registered a tangible increase in the number of visiting aircraft, which made up 63 per cent of the total aircraft movements at its facility within the race season, and recorded 42 per cent increase compared to the period of 2011 race.

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In addition, the airport marked the November 4, the day of the race, as one of the busiest days for the Al Bateen apron as it registered a 78 per cent increase in number of aircraft on ground compared to last year’s race day, with a total of 32 aircraft either parked or on ground.

In this regard, Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operating Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports Company, stated:

“ADAC had an exciting week during the Etihad Airways Formula One Grand Prix, offering its award-winning services to all of the F1 guests at its international airports, and specifically at its dedicated VIP airport, Al Bateen Executive Airport, which welcomed the “who’s who” of the

Formula 1 crowd. ADAC is glad to always be part of the Abu Dhabi F1 team and jointly celebrate the Emirate’s success during this event.”

US holiday season off to record start

New York: If you make holiday shopping convenient, Americans will come in droves.


It’s estimated that US shoppers hit stores and websites at record numbers over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation on Sunday. They were attracted by retailers’ efforts to make shopping easier, including opening stores on Thanksgiving evening, updating mobile shopping applications for smartphones and tablets, and expanding shipping and layaway options.


All told, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the four-day weekend starting on Thanksgiving, up 9.2 per cent of last year, according to a survey of 4,000 shoppers conducted by research firm BIGinsight.


All told, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the four-day weekend starting on Thanksgiving, up 9.2 per cent of last year, according to a survey of 4,000 shoppers that was conducted by research firm BIGinsight for the trade group. Americans spent more too: The average holiday shopper spent $423 over the entire weekend, up from $398. Total spending over the four-day weekend totalled $59.1 billion, up 12.8 per cent from 2011.


Caitlyn Maguire, 21, was one of the shoppers that took advantage of all the new conveniences of shopping this year. Maguire, who lives in New York, began buying on Thanksgiving night at Target’s East Harlem store. During the two-hour wait in line, she also bought items on her iPhone on Amazon.com. On Friday, she picked up a few toys at Toys R Us. And on Saturday she was out at the stores again.

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“I’m basically done,” said Maguire, who spent about $400 over the weekend.


The results for the weekend appear to show that retailers efforts to make shopping effortless for US consumers during the holiday shopping season worked. Retailers upped the ante in order to give Americans more reasons to shop. Stores feared that consumers might not spend because of the weak job market and worries that tax increases and budget cuts will take effect if Congress fails to reach a budget deal by January.


Retailers, which can make up to 40 per cent of their annual revenue in November and December, were hoping Thanksgiving openings and other incentives would help boost what’s expected to be a difficult holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation estimates that overall sales in November and December will rise 4.1 per cent this year to $586.1 billion. That’s more than a percentage point lower than the growth in each of the past two years, and the smallest increase since 2009, when sales were nearly flat.


Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said retailers can be encouraged by the first weekend of the holiday shopping season.


“Retailers and consumers both won this weekend, especially on Thanksgiving,” he said.


Here were the trends that emerged over the weekend:


- Online wave: According to comScore, which tracks online spending, online sales rose 26 per cent to $1.04 billion on Black Friday compared with a year ago. On Thanksgiving, online sales rose 32 per cent from last year to $633 million. And online sales on Black Friday were up 26 per cent from the same day last year to $1.042 billion. It was the first time online sales on Black Friday surpassed $1 billion.


- Thanksgiving shopping: Many stores, including Toys R Us and Target, opened on Thanksgiving evening this year. No data is out yet about how much shoppers spent on that day, but it appears that consumers took advantage of the earlier start: According to the National Retail Federation’s survey, the number of people who shopped on Thanksgiving rose 23.1 per cent. That compares with a 3.1 per cent increase for Black Friday.


Linda and James Michaels of Portland, Ore., were among those shopping on Thanksgiving. They hit up the big sales on the day and got everything they were hoping for that night.


They picked up remote control cars and some Mickey Mouse items on sale at Toys-R-Us. Then they went a few doors down to Target and scored the last Operation game on sale for $7. They were even able to pick up some pajamas and shoes along the way for the kids. In total they spent about $300.


“I fell lucky that I caught the deals and there was no craziness, no fighting,” said Linda Michaels. “I was nervous.”


ShopperTrak, which analyses customer traffic at 40,000 US stores, plans to release sales data for Thanksgiving later this week, but the firm is estimating that retailers generated $700 million in sales on the holiday.


- Black Friday flop: It appears that the Thanksgiving openings may have hurt sales on the day after.


Black Friday is still expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year, but sales on that day slipped to $11.2 billion, down 1.8 per cent from last year, according to ShopperTrak. That’s below ShopperTrak’s estimate that Black Friday sales would rise 3.8 per cent to $11.4 billion.


Karen MacDonald, a spokeswoman at Taubman Centers, which operates 28 malls across the country, said that Thanksgiving openings hurt business. Based on a sampling of 10 malls, sales growth was unchanged up to mid-single digits on Friday, and unchanged up to low single digit on Saturday.


“It was a different feeling,” she said. “It was a good Black Friday, but I don’t think it was great.”


The disappointing sales on Black Friday may have been the result of shoppers like Miguel Garcia, a 40-year-old office coordinator.


“I can’t deal with all that craziness,” said Garcia, who was at a Target in the Bronx borough of New York City on Saturday. “Compared to what I saw on TV yesterday, this is so much more comfortable and relaxed. I can actually think straight and compare prices.”

Asian markets mostly up, earnings season in focus

HONG KONG: Asian markets were mostly higher Tuesday but gains were limited as traders took a breather from recent rallies fuelled by renewed hopes for the global outlook.

Wall Street provided a weak lead, while the euro held up against the yen after hitting a five-month high in New York following data showing a sharp drop in Japanese exports.

Tokyo rose 0.20 percent, Sydney added 0.30 percent, Seoul eased 0.38 percent and Shanghai was up 0.15 percent. Hong Kong and Bangkok were closed for public holidays.

Global markets have surged in recent months after a string of policy-easing moves in the United States, Europe and Japan as well as last week’s figures indicating a pick-up in China.

But investors are treading carefully as the Asian corporate earnings season approaches, with many concerned that the global slowdown will have a detrimental impact on profits.

A weak yen provided some support to Japan’s Nikkei index after Tokyo on Monday said the country saw its worst September trade figures in more than 30 years, hit by the global slowdown and a territorial spat with China.

The figures added to expectations the Bank of Japan will further loosen monetary policy when it holds its next policy meeting next week.

The euro rose to its highest levels since May against the Japanese currency, buying 104.35 yen, compared with 104.43 yen in New York late Monday.

The dollar stood at 79.90 yen, compared with 79.95 yen. It had hit 79.99 yen at one point in Tokyo, its highest since early July.

The euro bought $1.3066, up from $1.3060.

KSE tad higher ahead of earnings season;

KARACHI: Local capital market closed slightly higher on Thursday but investors remained cautious while waiting for upcoming earnings announcements, traders said.

The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) benchmark 100-share index ended 0.16 percent, or 24.57 points, higher at 15,679.19, on

total volume of 134.62 million shares.

In the currency market, the rupee ended at 95.37/95.44 to the dollar, compared to Wednesday’s close of 95.37/95.43.

Overnight rates in the money market ended at 9 percent compared to Wednesday’s 9.90 percent. (Reuters)

Farmers urge govt to announce wheat support price before sowing season


KARACHI: Farmers have urged government to increase wheat support price and announce it before start of the sowing season in November, otherwise they would look for other crops, as input cost increased manifolds.


Farmer Associates Pakistan (FAP) has convened a special meeting this week to discuss various prospects pertaining to the next wheat crop as the wheat sowing season is round the corner.


The members were of the opinion that because of various detrimental factors it is feared that this year farmers will generally refrain from sowing wheat because of higher prices of agriculture inputs such as fertilisers, power and above all 22 percent increase in the price of diesel since last wheat crop that increased from Rs93 per litre to Rs113 per litre in October.


Dr Tariq Bucha, president of FAP, urged the government to announce new wheat support price immediately to attract and encourage farmers to sow wheat as the sowing season is about to commence.


If the government failed to do so then several farmers might not sow that grain and go to alternative crops, which fetch more price than wheat, he said.


“Last year in October, the wheat support price of 40kg was Rs1,050, though most of the farmers did not even get this announced support price,” he said.


In the present scenario, the international wheat price has reached $290 per ton on FOB Karachi basis. If one calculates the price on FOB Karachi basis in Pakistan, it would reach Rs1,420 per 40kg to the consumer, which was higher than the support price, he said. “This clearly indicates that there has been phenomenal increase in wheat price in the international market, while farmers are being deprived of their rightful earnings by the indifferent attitude and the lack of vision on part of the government.”


The Farmers Associates Pakistan demanded the government to immediately announce wheat support price to be at least equal to the international price, which is Rs1,425 per 40kg.


Wheat growers have always responded positively to the increase in support price, if it is announced before the sowing season as was done in 2008 when the country consequently experienced bumper wheat crop. The FAP president said there is no one to take care of agriculture and its related policies despite the existence of the ministry of food security, which was doing nothing for the sector.


Syed Mehmood Nawaz Shah, secretary general of Sindh Abadgar Board, said that during the last three years wheat support price was increased to Rs1,050 per 40kg from Rs950, which was hardly 10 percent increase, while the input prices increased by 100 percent during the same period.


Three years ago, urea bag was available at Rs900, which is now being sold at Rs1,800, DAP was available at Rs2,200 and now its price is Rs4,400 and the same was the issue with other inputs. Diesel was sold at around Rs75, which is now at Rs113, he added.


“Wheat cost production is highly increased and the support price of Rs1,015 is not appropriate,” he said. “Wheat production is likely to be affected because of increase in the input costs this year.”


Shah said that sowing started in Sindh during November, while support price announcement usually came in December or January that had no impact on sowing. “So, October is the perfect month for announcement of the support price,” he added.

Sweet start to season as first mangoes go south

Posted October 11, 2012 16:45:35

The mango season has officially begun in the Northern Territory and producers are gearing up for what they expect to be a good season of top quality fruit.

The first fruit is now being sent to southern markets.

A cooler dry season has meant about 26,000 tonnes of mangoes are expected to be harvested this year, generating about $60 million for the Top End mango industry.

A record Territory crop of 32,000 tonnes of mangoes last year accounted for about half of Australia’s total production.

In October and November this year, the NT mango industry is expected to employ more than 2,000 people.

The fruit will predominantly sold within Australia but some will also be exported to China.

Meanwhile, a Queensland greengrocer has been crowned that state’s Mango King after forking out a record-breaking $76,000 for the first tray of the season, which came from the Territory.

Sam Coco, of Coco’s Fresh Produce Market, put up the highest-ever bid in 15th annual mango auction on the trading floor of the Brisbane Markets.

The money will be donated to children’s charities.

Topics: fruit, regional, food-and-beverage, darwin-0800, nt, brisbane-market-4106, australia

Oil rigs in preparation mode for cyclone season

Updated October 01, 2012 15:33:17

Cyclone preparation is an annual routine in the state’s north.

Residents clear debris from the garden, refresh the first aid kit, ensure the candles are handy and batteries charged.

The approach of the wet season also has implications for the state’s oil and gas industry, which has billions of dollars worth of infrastructure and thousands of workers located in cyclone hot spots on the northern coast.

In 2007, Fortescue Metals Group learnt the hard way the destructive power of cyclones, when two workers were killed as they sheltered in a work camp flattened by Cyclone George.

So, how is industry able to co-exist with the often violent forces of nature in the north, and how is a cyclone simulator improving rig safety and pipeline stability?

Each year, an average of four to six cyclones cross the WA coast between the months of November and April.

On the wall of the Broome FESA operations room sits a map illustrating with red dots the coastal crossings recorded over the past century.

They’re clustered around the section of coast between Onslow and Broome that forms the hub of WA’s $107 billion a year oil and gas industry.

It’s an area dotted with offshore drilling rigs, export ships and workers camps.

WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy director Nicole Roocke says cyclones are a constant challenge for companies operating in the north.

“Most companies would anticipate a couple of days disruption per year in the North-West region as a result of adverse weather conditions,” she said.

“Industry is well drilled in these issues and always prepared, however, every cyclone presents its own challenges.”

The chamber says production has to be halted every time there is a cyclone threat in the area.

So, what happens on a drilling rig when the Bureau of Meteorology announces a tropical low has formed and a cyclone’s approaching?

Ships and floating oil platforms are often towed out to sea to try and avoid the cyclone’s path.

Ms Roocke says if that can’t be done, decisions have to be made about where workers will be safest.

“Well before a red alert is called, companies will tie down critical equipment, ensure employees are home safely and have had time to secure their property,” she said.

“(Or) if the facility is designed to handle the cyclone, critical staff may stay on the rig.”

While rig workers toil away in the north, it’s in Perth that the bulk of the work’s been done to improve the safety of rigs, including the platforms and pipelines, in the face of a cyclone.

At the University of WA, engineers have developed a cyclone simulator that allows them to test how the storms have an impact on the seabed.

Assistant Professor Scott Draper says the O-tube tests the water and sand pressure on a 20 metre length of pipe installed in a tank.

“Our main aim is understand the dynamic processes of how the sand moves around the pipe which previously has been ignored in stability calculations,” he said.

According to team leader, Liang Cheng, real-life cyclone conditions can be replicated almost perfectly within the tank.

“We actually can simulate the different storm conditions in different water types,” he said.

“So basically we can dial up any desirable storm we want and them simulate the response of the pipe.”

The research has already had tangible benefits for industry.

Professor Draper says one company came to them wanting to know how well a particular section of existing pipe would survive multiple cyclone strikes.

“We wanted to determine if it was going to be stable over the next 40 years, and the facility was used to make a prediction about that,” he said.

“That led to significant cost advantages for the operator involved.

“They were able to use the results from our O-tube experiment to make a prediction about what the pipeline would do and that saved them money on stabilisation costs.”

It’s hoped the improved understanding of how cyclones affect the seabed will also lead to breakthroughs in rig and platform design, and reduce the chances of them toppling over in a storm-front.

Professor Draper says the stability of the pipelines is critical as companies look to expand their operations in the north.

“At the moment, with the way the economy is moving, we’re seeing a significant amount of development on the North-West shelf,” he said.

“[There are] proposals for new offshore production facilities which will see more and more lengths of pipelines put on the seabed in the Pilbara region and perhaps towards the Kimberley coastline too.

“So, there’s definitely a need to improve our design practices and make sure that this increase in pipeline laying is safe.”

The Maritime Union represents hundreds of oil and gas workers in the north, and keeps a close eye on how companies manage the cyclone threat.

Assistant branch secretary Will Tracey says the companies usually know to get their employees out quickly.

“Generally they’ll fly them out to Perth and get them out quick, because as you go from yellow to blue to red alert, they’ll close the airports quite early,” he said.

“There’s no doubt it costly to evacuate a worksite, whether that be a rig or an island like Barrow Island but what cost do you put on loss of life?”

Mr Tracey says the deaths of the two Fortescue workers in 2007 shows how crucial good decision-making is in the days and hours before the storm hits.

In that case, the company was subject to harsh criticism and legal action for failing to evacuate its workers to safety.

In addition to the deaths, dozens of dongas were flattened and more than 20 people injured.

“The reality is on these resource projects, they’ve got an obligation to get people out of harm’s way,” he said.

As companies work to keep their staff safe, the UWA team is aiming to improve the stability of the infrastructure.

Professor Draper says the team is confident their work and the cyclone simulator will have a world-wide impact.

“There are design codes which are going to be updated, and we’ve been in discussion with the publisher to use the findings of our research to update and improve the design codes that are used internationally,” he said.

“I think that’s a massive breakthrough and I think where the far-reaching impact of our work can go.”

Topics: oil-and-gas, cyclone, research, broome-6725, karratha-6714

First posted October 01, 2012 15:30:31

NBC scores among the 18-49 year viewers with season openers

Los Angeles: NBC won US television’s official premiere week with key viewers for the first time since 2003, and swiftly announced full season orders for three of its new shows.

Boosted by “Sunday Night Football” — the nation’s most watched programme — singing contest “The Voice” and futuristic new drama “Revolution,” NBC was first in the 18-49 age group prized by advertisers and showed a 12 per cent increase in that demographic compared to the 2011 TV premiere week, Nielsen data showed.

NBC, which has struggled with shrinking audiences for the past decade, acknowledged in a statement that the network still had much work to do. It said it had ordered full seasons of “Revolution” – the top new drama series with 18-49 year olds — along with its new comedy “Go On”, starring former “Friends” star Matthew Perry.

Ryan Murphy’s comedy “The New Normal,” also got the green light for a full season, NBC said in a statement. According to Nielsen data, NBC was third in average total viewers (8.2 million), with long-time leader CBS finishing top of the pile so far in the new season with 10.7 million.

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NBC, however, said it was the only one of the four main TV networks to increase its average viewers over the same week in 2011, recording a 9 per cent gain. NBC, which is majority-owned by Comcast, has been struggling for years to recapture the bumper audiences it enjoyed with 1990s hit comedies like “Friends,” and “Frasier”.

In a bid to rise from its perennial bottom place, the network ordered an unprecedented 16 new shows for the 2012-13 TV season, and is introducing six of them — mostly comedies — this fall.

NBC’s tactics of moving singing contest “The Voice” to a twice yearly cycle also appears to be paying dividends. The show has beaten its revamped Fox rival “The X Factor” despite the arrival of Britney Spears on its judging panel.

NBC used its broadcasts of the London Olympics in July and August to promote its new offerings, running early previews and offering several comedies online ahead of the traditional late September start of the US television season.

“The strategy for this season was to draft off the promotional platform of the Olympics and then begin our season early and strong. I think we’ve accomplished both of those goals, yet we know it’s a long season and there’s much work ahead of us,” NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said in a statement.

In the 18-49 age group, Fox finished second, followed by CBS, and ABC, according to Nielsen data for the week starting September 24. In total viewers, CBS was first with 10.7 million average viewers, followed by ABC (8.3 million), NBC 8.1 million, and Fox 6.9 million.

NHL cancels beginning of season

5 October 2012 Last updated at 01:59 GMT Yannick Weber in a Swiss National League game Many players, like Yannick Weber of the Montreal Canadiens, are already playing in other leagues The National Hockey League (NHL) has cancelled the first two weeks of its regular season because of an ongoing labour dispute with its players’ union.

The US and Canadian ice hockey league cut 82 games from 11 to 24 October. It is unclear if they will be made up.

The two sides are still far apart on a key issue in the contract talks – how much players should receive of $3bn (£1.9bn) revenue the games bring in.

A labour dispute seven years ago saw the entire 2004-2005 season cancelled.

No future negotiations are currently scheduled.

Without a deal, clashes between the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers, as well as old rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, will be cancelled, the BBC’s Lee Carter reports from Toronto.

Playing overseas

“We were extremely disappointed to have to make today’s announcement,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.

“The game deserves better, the fans deserve better, and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better.”

The players’ union argued that the league had forced a lockout onto the players.

“If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue,” NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said.

A recently expired contract gave players 57% of hockey-related revenue. The NHL would like to have that percentage lower than 50% – possibly as low as 47%.

Many NHL players have decided to stay in North America and play in the American Hockey League, the step below the NHL, while some have decided to find clubs in Europe until any deal is reached.

Wall Street may brace a pullback as US earnings season begins

NEW YORK: Wall Street may be bracing for a pullback as US earnings season begins next week – if the clouds of profit warnings from bellwethers ranging from FedEx to Hewlett-Packard lead to a downpour of lower profits – or even losses.

Thanks to aggressive stimulus plans from central banks around the world, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 5.8 percent over the third quarter. That sharp rally occurred even as companies were struggling. Earnings for that period are forecast to fall 2.4 percent from the year-ago quarter. If that happens, this would be the first earnings decline in three years, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Market strategists and investors say US stock valuations are broadly out of sync with earnings estimates. They forecast a pullback in stocks in the coming weeks as more companies report results and reduce expectations for the fourth quarter and beyond.

Fourth-quarter estimates for S&P 500 companies show a 9.5 percent gain in profit from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data. Analysts say that outlook is too high, given what investors are already hearing from the corporate world.

“It’s a divergence right now where the valuations as far as equity prices (are concerned) have soared, and are really putting in place a stronger economy and stronger fundamentals,” said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc., an investment advisory firm in Toledo, Ohio.

“But earnings will be the telltale sign,” Lancz added. “And if the guidance isn’t particularly strong, the market might be setting itself up for a little disappointment. I don’t see a major correction, but I do see a pullback.”

The earnings season will kick off on Tuesday with results from Dow component Alcoa after the bell. Analysts expect Alcoa’s third-quarter results to show it broke even, down from a profit of 15 cents per share a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo, the first big financial names to report, are also on tap next week.

Nearly half of S&P 500 companies guiding lower for third- quarter earnings blamed weakness in Europe, according to a Thomson Reuters survey. Another 11 percent blamed the weak global economy, 8 percent cited strength in the US dollar, and 6 percent cited the slowdown in China, the survey showed.

Weakness in the US economy hasn’t helped. The final read on US second-quarter gross domestic product last month showed growth of just 1.3 percent, weaker than an expected 1.7 percent.

On Thursday, software maker Informatica Corp issued a profit warning and said business conditions were worsening in Europe. The software company is considered a bellwether because its products are used alongside those made by larger software companies.

“Parts of Europe aren’t just in recession, they’re in depression,” said Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial in Boston. “I think (analysts) underestimated the extent of the global slowdown, and maybe are still underestimating it.”

While estimates have come down sharply in all 10 S&P 500 sectors since the start of the year, technology is one area where the lower expectations are most notable. Slower growth in China is a big factor in that trend.

Earnings growth in the tech sector is expected to be just 2.3 percent for the quarter, compared with a July 1 forecast of 13.1 percent. Apple Inc is a big driver of those gains.

Technology’s profit growth has been crucial for the S&P 500.

Minus technology, S&P 500 earnings are expected to be down 3.4 percent.

The tech sector is where the slowdown in China’s economy is having the biggest impact, Kleintop said.

“They consume a lot of US technology products,” he said.

Recent data shows that the pace of growth in China, the world’s second-largest economy, may slow for a seventh quarter, straining earnings in the tech and materials sectors.

Applied Materials Inc lowered its third-quarter estimates in August, citing China and Europe. On Wednesday, the chip gear maker said it planned to cut its global work force by 6 percent to 9 percent.

FedEx Corp, the world’s second-largest package delivery company, cut its fiscal 2013 forecast on Sept. 18, saying a weakening global economy gives its customers a reason to switch to less expensive and slower shipping options. FedEx said its earnings could drop as much as 6 percent for its fiscal 2013 year, which will end in May.

On Wednesday, shares of Hewlett-Packard Co fell a whopping 13 percent to a nine-year low after it forecast a far steeper-than-expected drop in 2013 profit. The slide in HP’s stock price sharply cut the Dow industrials’ gains for the day.

Weekly Review: Bourse ends flat as earnings season kicks in

Politi­cal tensio­ns and Moody’s downgr­ade keep the market in check. Political tensions and Moody’s downgrade keep the market in check.

KARACHI: 

The stock market remained range-bound ahead of the flurry of corporate results for the June quarter expected to start in the upcoming week. The benchmark KSE-100 index climbed a modest 22 points or 0.2% to close at 14,332 points during the week ended July 13.

The market swung between the 14,300 and 14,400 points level throughout the week and ended with slight gains, supported by foreign buying and increased investor interest in sector-specific stocks. However, the market was gripped by political tensions throughout the week. The upward climb made in the first four days was wiped off with a 69 point fall in the final day following news of Moody’s downgrading the country’s sovereign rating by and corporate results starting on a sour note.

Fauji Fertilizer Bin Qasim started the corporate season on a dismal note by announcing lower than expected profit of Rs664 million in January to June 2012.

The political situation again took centre stage as the Supreme Court issued notices to the new prime minister to write the letters to Swiss authorities against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The refusal to do so by the previous premier Yousaf Raza Gilani, led to his disqualification.

The government, instead of complying with the Supreme Court’s directive, quickly passed the Contempt of Court Bill through the Parliament and the Senate, which would effectively provide immunity to the prime minister from disobeying the court’s directives.

These new developments again put the government and the judiciary on a collision course. All news was not negative, however, as foreign funds continued to flow into the country with foreigners buying $5.2 million worth of equity, following up on the $9.4 million inflow in the previous week. Furthermore, the remittances figure for the fiscal 2012 stood at $13.2 billion, up by 18% over the previous year.

Average daily volumes stood at 95 million shares, up by 3% over the previous week. Average daily values on the other hand declined by 2.1% as more activity was witnessed in second-tier stocks.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2012.