As the price of aluminium breaks new records, closing in on $US3000 a tonne, global giant Rio Tinto must be having a quiet chuckle to itself.
Only a year ago it was threatening to close the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, consigning it to the scrap heap with the loss of 700 jobs, directly, and another 1600 indirectly. For Southland’s economy it would have been a mortal blow.
At that time, aluminium was fetching only $1800 a tonne.
Rio Tinto said the smelter was uneconomic because the price of electricity was too high. In July last year it said it would close the operation because of high costs and a challenging market.
The decision to close the smelter had disappointed politicians and local power firms as it came when the COVID-19 pandemic began to cripple the economy.
Some economists argued NZ should let it go and divert the Manapouri electricity, the cheapest in the country, to other uses. Continue reading “Soaring aluminium prices look likely to encourage Rio Tinto to press for extending its Tiwai Point sweetheart deal”
We wonder if there is a need for our Minister of Building and Construction to arrange for a chat with the Minister of Transport and whoever else might help in getting building supplies from the place where they are stored to the places where they are needed.
We ask because on Tuesday we spotted a headline that advised:
Building materials shortage: Tradespeople unable to offer fixed prices due to shortages
Two days later we were drawn to the news that…
Warehouses in Auckland ‘completely full’ with building materials
The first story said housebuilders are being deterred from offering fixed prices on jobs by escalating prices and critical shortages of materials. Continue reading “Untangling the packed warehouse problem – dare we suggest it? – might solve the building materials problem”
New Zealand’s tech sector’s growth into a major economic force has been timely for NZ Inc, particularly as Covid has struck down the international education and tourism sectors.
And then there have been standouts like Rocket Lab, which just last week had a smooth landing on the Nasdaq stock exchange with its shares quickly settling at a price that values the space launch company at US$5.2bn (NZ$7.4b).
For the boy from Invercargill, Peter Beck, the Nasdaq quotation was the culmination, on the financial side, of a long march that matched the technical success of his rocket venture.
Who among his fellow pupils at James Hargest College would have envisaged their colleague would be directing a venture planning the launch of a mission to Mars?
It’s a story to be celebrated not just by Southlanders (ever proud of their own, including sometimes their duds) but all New Zealanders — although some on the Mahia peninsula might be slow to join in. Come to think of it, the Ardern government has managed to contain its excitement. Continue reading “Rocket Lab launches on the Nasdaq – but Green MP is aiming to bring the company back to earth”
The latest Covid lockdown has delivered a sharp jab to many NZ businesses, but not what they had been encouraged to think our wellbeing-focused government was planning for them. It has taken the gloss off what might otherwise have been regarded as a strong reporting season for NZX-listed companies.
The spike in coronavirus cases has led to NZ falling 26 places in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Rank.
We had been the longest-running first-ranked country on the Bloomberg watch-list, since the inception of the ranking in November 2020. The plunge follows the spread of the Delta variant in Auckland and Wellington, which (when we checked yesterday) has resulted in 347 people testing positive for the virus across Auckland and Wellington.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says lockdown is starting to work and she insists she is acting on the “best advice” in keeping the whole country locked down until Wednesday, when there will be a slight easing with the rest of the country south of Auckland moving to level 3.
NZ is now ranked 29th on the Bloomberg ladder, two places above Australia which announced 1000 new cases on Thursday – Australia’s worst day of cases since the pandemic began. Continue reading “Ports of Tauranga deserves plaudits for its performance in Covid-troubled times”
The emergence of new Covid-19 variants has sent shock waves around the world, even in countries with high rates of vaccination. In the US, with 50% of the population vaccinated, Florida (for example) has had 10,000 cases in a day.
But while Covid in its different guises has done no favours for the global economy, it has possibly been a shot in the arm for one of New Zealand’s companies, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. In its last financial year the company’s net profit surged by a remarkable 82% to $524m, largely because of the demand for its Optiflow product and Airvo systems at the height of the pandemic.
F&P Healthcare has become renowned for its products in the health field, and last year its Optiflow technology treated an astonishing 7m patients.
But as the Covid pandemic appeared to be loosening its grip, the expectation had been that demand for F&P Healthcare’s hi-tech products would fall back. That was the rationale for the market knocking down F&P Healthcare’s share price by 15% soon after it had announced its result in May – a result which, because it was 82% up on its previous best, might have been expected to boost its share price. Continue reading “F&P Healthcare gets a shot in the arm (it seems) as Covid-19 reappears in different guises”
For New Zealanders whose lives have been dominated for 18 months by Covid-19, Dunedin’s renaissance may not have registered on their radar. Yet quietly the southern city has sprouted some of NZ’s fastest-growing hi-tech businesses.
Once a city that was home to some of the country’s biggest companies, Dunedin had several decades during which many of its brightest and best migrated north and its life appeared to revolve, as the rest of NZ saw it, about its university (and the Highlanders).
Whereas once it had been the country’s financial capital, home to the head offices of many of the NZ’s leading companies, it ceded that title first to Wellington and then to Auckland.
But almost mysteriously, it has found a new life and suddenly the rest of NZ has woken to the new era which is enveloping the city. It is somewhat like the gold rush which promoted it to be at the front edge of NZ’s first wave of prosperity more than 150 years ago.
Just last week global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts announced it is acquiring a majority stake in Dunedin-based tech company Education Perfect, in a deal that values the enterprise at $435m.
A month previously cloud software firm Timely was sold for a sum reported to have topped $100m. Timely offers cloud software services for appointment management, often used by those in the beauty or fitness industries. Continue reading “Dunedin’s modern-day gold rush – and business resurgence – has been triggered by a swathe of high-tech developments”
Auckland-based medical equipment manufacturer Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has posted a record full-year result, as the pandemic drove unprecedented demand for its products.
Its net profit for the year to March rocketed 82% to $524m, as sales increased by more than half to $1.97bn.
It is proving one of the country’s most successful business enterprises.
But even its founders, including the legendary Sir Woolf Fisher, would have been astonished at its latest remarkable performance.
Led by its outstanding CEO, Lewis Gradon, the company’s latest result was driven by an 87% increase in sales of its hospital products, including its Optiflow and Aviro systems, which have proven to be effective in treating people who have Covid-19.
Sales of its hospital hardware and consumables continued to track Covid-19 hospitalisation surges in countries around the world.
The pandemic had also accelerated the company’s expansion into different global markets, with significant growth in the North America, Europe, Asia Pacific regions.
The strength of the result saw the company look to reward all of its staff with a profit-sharing bonus of $29m. Continue reading “Investors respond perversely to F&P Healthcare’s record profit and booming sales – but staff will benefit from the cheering result”
One of the busiest companies on the NZX, investment company Infratil, has underlined that not all of the sharpest operators in NZ business have deserted Wellington for the brighter lights of Auckland.
This week the company announced it has executed a conditional agreement to acquire between 50.1% and 60% of Pacific Radiology Group, a comprehensive diagnostic imaging business, from its existing doctor shareholders for a total consideration of up to $350m.
Pacific Radiology is the largest private diagnostic imaging service provider in NZ, operating 46 clinics in the South Island and lower North Island and employing 90 radiologists.
The acquisition enterprise value of $867m implies an EV/EBITDA multiple of 12.6-13.3x.
Infratil chief executive Jason Boyes says the Pacific Radiology acquisition, if completed, will sit well with Infratil’s other high-performing, high-quality assets, and builds on its investment last year in Qscan Group, a leading diagnostic imaging business in Australia. Continue reading “The bid for Infratil from Australian Super was a fizzer – and now we can see why that’s been great for shareholders and NZ”
Technology is leading NZ’s economic growth and the tech sector could be on track to become the country’s biggest export industry, according to some familiar with the breadth of the industry here.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Covid-19 travel restrictions levelled the playing field for Kiwi tech companies as companies around the world were forced to communicate online.
Authorities within the sector say companies in the industry have been growing faster than ever and profitability which grew three-fold between 2018 and 2019, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), is still accelerating.
Again, Covid-19 has been a factor, particularly for Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, whose technology has been in heavy demand., as a result of the pandemic. Continue reading “Covid-19 has helped Kiwi tech companies – but could they become our biggest export sector?”
Learning Māori is first and foremost about having fun, according to Precious Clark, director of Maurea Consulting LTD, in a Newshub report on learning te reo Maori and embracing tikanga.
“It’s about giving people the tools so they can pronounce our words correctly and it’s about giving them the confidence to give it a go,” she said.
But getting it right isn’t always easy, Newshub’s Mike McRoberts pointed out.
His report recalled the recent experience of a Canadian brewery which apologised after making a beer with New Zealand hops which it called the Pale Ale Huruhuru.
“The strict translation means feather, but it’s more commonly used to describe pubic hair.
“After being called out by language watchdog Te Hamua Nikora, the brewery apologised.”
The beer company wasn’t alone. A leather shop in Wellington apologised, too, after coming under fire for unwittingly taking its name from the Māori word “huruhuru”. Continue reading “Firms wanting to use te reo in their branding should check with Te Hamua Nikora as well as IPONZ”