CIMIC boosts dividend as profit grows

Construction and contract mining giant CIMIC has rewarded shareholders with a 25 per cent increase in dividends as revenue growth in all of its core businesses contributed to a 22 per cent rise in half year profit.

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The company involved in major road projects including Sydney’s WestConnex and the widening of Melbourne’s CityLink made a net profit of $323 million in the six months to June 30, up from $265 million in the same period a year ago.

CIMIC, which is 73 per cent owned by Germany’s Hochtief, increased its fully franked interim dividend by 12 cents to 60 cents per share.

A substantial increase in the company’s net cash position had allowed CIMIC to better reward shareholders and more efficiently allocate capital, executive chairman Marcelino Fernandez Verdes said.

CIMIC confirmed its guidance for a full year net profit of $640 million to $700 million, an improvement on the previous year’s $580 million.

Chief executive Adolfo Valderas said the company was achieving strong profit and cash flow contributions from its construction, mining, services, and public-private partnership operations.

In the six months to June, CIMIC increased its work-in-hand by $8.9 billion to a total of $35.2 billion, equivalent to more than two years of revenue.

Important contract wins included stage 2 of design and construction works for the Sydney Metro rail project, mining services work at the Solomon iron ore mine in Western Australia and the Mount Pleasant coal mine in NSW, and the construction of Hong Kong’s East Kowloon Cultural Centre.

CIMIC said its growth would be supported by nearly $50 billion of tenders over the rest of 2017, and $320 billion of projects coming to the market from 2018.

Its shares were up 70 cents, or 1.8 per cent, at $39.07 at 1325 AEST.

CIMIC LIFTS PROFIT AND DIVIDEND

* Half year net profit up 22pct to $323 million

* Revenue up 28pct to $6.3 billion

* Interim dividend up 12 cents to 60 cents, fully franked

Port old and young behind AFL rise: Ebert

Port Adelaide’s return as an AFL contender can be traced to the club’s youngest and oldest, midfielder Brad Ebert says.

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After missing the finals the past two years, the Power sit in fourth spot entering Saturday’s game against Melbourne at the MCG.

Ebert says he’s among Port players being inspired by young talent such as Sam Powell-Pepper, and the selfless leadership of coach Ken Hinkley and captain Travis Boak.

Ebert says he can’t help but be lifted by the feats of Powell-Pepper, a 19-year-old who hasn’t missed a game in his first AFL year.

“It’s an impressive debut season, isn’t it,” Ebert told AAP on Tuesday.

“It’s very similar to what Ollie (Wines) did a few years back when he was just able to consistently back up week after week.

“He might have a couple of lulls here and there but his thirst for the contest has been brilliant and he’s just been so enthusiastic.

“When you get a young guy like that, and a Joey Atley coming in and really just performing their roles … it’s quite infectious.”

While Powell-Pepper has emerged as a blue-chip performer, captain Boak has moved from his customary midfield spot to a roaming half-forward role.

“That is the beauty of what Trav has been able to do as a leader,” Ebert said.

“At the start of the year we saw that there was a gap that needed to be filled and Boaky was happy to do that; he has been fantastic in what he has been able to do.”

Ebert also praised the influence of coach Hinkley for altering Port’s game style.

“Kenny has been brilliant with the way that he has coached this year,” he said.

“He is really trusting the group, he is a really good coach and knows how to work with people.

“So for us players, it’s really trying to make sure that we can repay that trust and get the job the done.”

ANZ fair for all-Sydney AFL final: Ireland

As a matter of consistency, Sydney boss Andrew Ireland believes any AFL final hosted by Greater Western Sydney should be held at ANZ Stadium.

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The Swans’ stunning turnaround has suddenly made a second consecutive all-Sydney final a genuine prospect come September.

Unlike last season’s historic knockout clash when the Swans finished top, a rematch would more likely be hosted by the Giants.

Spotless Stadium has a capacity of only 24,000, much too small to accommodate the 60,000 that turned out at ANZ Stadium last year when the Giants toppled the Swans by 36 points.

And Ireland reminded the AFL that result came after the Swans were forced to cede their home-ground advantage at the SCG in favour of the larger Olympic Park venue.

“It’s a fair way off yet, the only thing I’d say is that last year we were the higher-ranked team and the AFL made a decision it should be played at ANZ and not at the SCG,” Ireland told AAP on Tuesday after the Swans launched the club’s diversity action plan ahead of Saturday’s pride game with St Kilda.

“Because the view was it was going to be a very big crowd.

“If you talk about consistency then I would have thought there’s got to be some consideration about the 40,000 people who might get locked out if it’s played at Spotless.”

The AFL no longer has a contract with ANZ Stadium, with ground management yesterday confirming they’ve had no talks with the league about this year’s finals.

But AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan suggested in February a return to the 83,500-capacity stadium may yet be possible.

Ireland also threw up the controversial option of the SCG, which can hold 46,000, something Swans chairman Andrew Pridham agreed with.

“The SCG would be my pick – I’m being serious,” Pridham said.

The sixth-placed Swans, who’ve won nine of their last 10 games, could yet earn hosting rights themselves if they can erase the two-game and percentage deficit between themselves and the third-placed GWS.

Should the Giants host an interstate side Ireland stressed they should be allowed to remain at Spotless, especially given last year’s preliminary-final loss to the Western Bulldogs did not sell out.

“Hopefully the teams can play at home if they’ve earned that right,” Ireland said.

“But as in Melbourne, Geelong hosts some teams at Geelong but if it’s a big game it goes to the MCG.”

Study finds business confusion on energy

Most Australians want businesses to use renewable energy but the nation’s companies are lagging behind in making the switch.

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Just under half of Australia’s biggest businesses are using renewables, but for most it is a pretty small part of their energy mix, a new study released on Tuesday finds.

The survey of more than 90 of Australia’s biggest public and private companies, undertaken by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Council, finds confusion and misconception around using renewable energy.

The top reason for switching to renewables – even just a small portion – was saving money.

But companies that hadn’t made the change believed it would cost them more to use renewables than existing energy sources.

While several companies were leading the way, including Telstra and zinc refiner Sun Metals, in general Australia businesses were falling behind their global peers.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht argues there are substantial benefits for big business, with consumers more likely to reward those that made the switch to renewables with greater loyalty and a higher tolerance of price fluctuations.

The report found about three in five local companies believed their customers didn’t care whether they used renewables or not.

But four in five Australians surveyed said big business should be using renewable energy.

Almost the same number said they would choose a product or service made with renewable energy over one that wasn’t and two in five said they’d be willing to pay a premium for the greener purchase.

Clean Energy Council head Kane Thornton said public support and the falling cost of renewables added up to a win-win for business.

“If companies stand on the sidelines for too long, they risk falling behind their competitors in terms of saving on energy costs, reaching sustainability targets and meeting changing customer expectations,” he said.

Titans confident of retaining No.7 Taylor

Gold Coast are confident of re-signing halfback Ashley Taylor on a long-term NRL contract, but are in no hurry to complete the deal.

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Brisbane finalised a three-year extension with utility Kodi Nikorima on Monday, potentially bowing out of the race to lure former Bronco Taylor home to Red Hill.

Titans coach Neil Henry is more than hopeful that 22-year-old Taylor will remain at the club beyond his current deal, which ends next season.

Henry refused to read into Nikorima’s deal but reaffirmed that Taylor, who just bought a house on the Gold Coast, was in the club’s long-term plans.

“I really don’t care who they sign up there (Brisbane), all I know is that he’s signed here until the end of next year and there’s been noise of him going to various places,” the Titans coach said on Tuesday.

“But he, and Kane (five-eighth Elgey) the same, are contracted here and we see them as long-term partners in the halves at this club.

“Hopefully we can strike a deal this year for an extension for Ash. He just bought a house and is quite settled here.”

Titans boss Graham Annesley said there was no anxiety to retain Taylor, who produced one his best NRL performances last Saturday in a 30-10 demolition of Cronulla.

“Ash is a priority for us obviously and we’ve had some discussions but we’re not anxiously pursuing it,” the CEO said.

“The plan is to make sure he’s with us long term. However long that takes, it will take.”

Saturday’s trip to Penrith shapes as decisive for both clubs, with the ninth-placed Panthers one win outside the top eight on 20 points, while the Titans are 12th on 18 points.

“It’s going to be a great battle down there; it’s another one of those games we have to win,” Henry said.

“If we drop a couple of games the season won’t be there for us.”

Elgey has been named on an extended bench and did light contact work at training on Tuesday, but is likely to be given another week to make his return from a sternum injury.