The Northern Territory news Fri 24 Mar 2023
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
News Corp Australia
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News Corp Australia
50 BUSINESS Friday March 24 2023 NTNEWS.COM.AU NTNE01Z01MA - V1 Amcal owner Sigma returns to profit AUSTRALIAS biggest pharmaceutical distributor and chemist brand owner, Sigma Healthcare, is back in the black, reporting a narrow fullyear profit while more than halving its debt. Sigma which owns the Amcal and Discount Drug Stores brands has rebounded from a troubled software upgrade last year that had hammered sales, botching deliveries to customers. Chief executive Vikesh Ramsunder said the company had stabilised its new enterprise resource planning system and was now focusing on optimisation. We now have a much stronger operational platform to improve service delivery to customers, which underpins our pursuit of growth opportunities and will incrementally deliver improved financial outcomes for shareholders, Mr Ramsunder said. Sigmas revenue rose 6.2 per cent to $3.7bn, while net profit swung to $1.8m, from a $7.2m loss last year. The company cut its net debt from $149.2m to $67m. It will pay shareholders a dividend of 0.5c a share. Sigma shares rose 0.5c on Thursday to close the session at 62c. Struggling consumers using short-term debt HOUSEHOLDS are slipping behind on credit card and personal loan repayments as they rely on short-term debt to cope with the cost of living. Credit reporting company Equifax says personal loan arrears those 30 days past due returned to pre-Covid levels in January, while credit card arrears are also rising. Equifax says arrears are rising across all age groups but younger generations are struggling the most. Its general manager consumer, James Forbes, said it was mainly younger families with larger mortgages suffering from credit stress. We tend to see unsecured credit which is credit cards and personal loans tick up first in terms of stress on arrears, before you see that flow through to mortgages or autos, he said. People are very keen to ensure that they continue to pay down the roof over their head. However, higher interest rates charged by credit cards and other short-term lending can push people into a debt spiral, with a report last month by the Australian Institute of Credit Management indicating more consumers will need financial assistance in the short to medium term. Average household now 3pc worse off AUSTRALIAN households are 3 per cent poorer than they were a year ago as wealth dropped for the third consecutive quarter amid rising interest rates and falling property prices. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that household wealth fell 0.4 per cent, or $57bn, to $14.4 trillion in the December quarter. The decline was 3 per cent year-on-year. ABS head of finance and wealth statistics Mish Tan said falls in household wealth were largely due to falling residential property prices, as rising interest rates lower demand and household borrowing capacity. The value of residential land and dwellings dropped by 2.7 per cent ($260bn) in the December quarter and contributed 1.8 percentage points to the overall wealth decline. Superannuation assets tempered the quarterly fall in household wealth, rising 3.6 per cent ($120bn). Despite the rise, superannuation balances have lost 6.7 per cent ($247bn) in value since December 2021 as asset prices declined. Household deposits grew by $32.3bn, with a record $623.3m now invested in non-transferable deposit accounts. company Soul Pattinson, lifted its interim dividend by 24 per cent from the prior period to 36c per share after it booked a 38 per cent profit boost to $475.7m. Soul Pattinson shares rose 37c to $28.91. Lindsay Partridge THE chief executive of building products supplier Brickworks has warned that crippling labour shortages are forcing many of his Australian and US plants to run well below capacity and a lack of construction workers will threaten the nations capacity to ease the housing shortage. Lindsay Partridge said his business, which is the biggest brickmaker in Australia and one of the largest in the US, was also suffering from huge cost increases, such as a 100 per cent jump in its electricity Eli Greenblat bill and elevated prices for raw materials that go into its bricks and tiles, with that having to be passed on to consumers. We are running at about 60 vacancies in Australia out of 1200 workers and in America, weve got 50 vacancies in 1000, he said. The labour shortage is crippling and particularly the trade shortage is making it very difficult to maintain our plants. An electrician or a fitter that you might have been pay ing $30 an hour two years ago, we are now paying $90. The bricklayer shortage was almost overcome in most places in Australia other than South Australia, but there was a roof tiler shortage in Brisbane, he said. Mr Partridge said the Reserve Bank should now pause before further pushing up interest rates to see what the impact is on the economy. Interest rates were too low for too long, and they have come up too fast ... and that takes time to work through the economy, Mr Partridge said. Brickworks on Thursday unveiled a near 14 per cent rise in half-year revenue to $583.9m as net profit dropped 38 per cent to $354.4m. The drop in net profit was mostly driven by the impact of the merger between investment company Washington H. Soul Pattinson in which Brickworks is a major shareholder and fellow investment com pany Milton Corp. The first half results were also dented by a $32m impairment to Brickworkss Austral Bricks arm in Western Australia. Underlying net profit from continuing operations before significant items rose 24 per cent to a record $410m. Brickworks declared an interim dividend of 23c a share, up 1c. The market welcomed the news, sending Brickworks shares up 72c to $23.76. Its stablemate, investor Labour shortages threaten capacity to build Housing market at risk LEVANTINE Hill Estate owner and property developer Elias Jreissati believes theres never been a better time to release one of Australias most expensive single vintage white wines. His latest gem, the 2020 Optume chardonnay, will be released on Friday, priced at $600 a bottle. Mr Jreissati said that in all economic conditions there were still consumers willing to spend money on sought-after products and brands. Theres an element of opportunistic buying that comes forward in a tougher time, Mr Jreissati said. So a collector would be looking for an opportune time to collect and our product is pitched at a certain demographic, those demographics have not changed and in fact some of those are on the lookout for more opportunities in a counter cyclical market. Only 55 dozen of the 2020 Optume chardonnay have been produced. It is flanked by the 2018 Levantine Hill Optume shiraz priced at $880 a bottle, with only 82 dozen created. Last year, Mr Jreissati unveiled the first vintage for Optume, releasing the 2017 Levantine Hill Optume shiraz and 2017 Levantine Hill Optume cabernet sauvignon, both selling for $800 a bottle. Both wines quickly sold out. Eli Greenblat Levantine Hill lifts outlook with latest gem Levantine Hill head winemaker Paul Brigeman is taking wine to new heights with release of the 2020 Optume chardonnay. Picture: Jason Edwards