THE NEWS WRAP: BHP Billiton slashes costs as profits slump

BHP Billiton has posted a first-half net profit of $US4.24 billion, down 58% year-on-year, amid falling commodities prices and $US4 billion in pre-tax write-downs on its nickel, aluminium and iron ore assets.


The loss came despite outgoing chief executive Marius Kloppers slashing $US1.9 billion in annual costs, with the cuts predominantly focused on exploration and development spending.


The losses included $US921 million worth of write-downs linked to the company abandoning plans for a Port Hedland outer harbour expansion.


Magazines and websites lead Seven West to $109 million loss


Media giant Seven West has posted a half-year net loss after tax of $109.3 million, down from a $163 million profit for the same period last year.


The result was largely due to $255 million worth of write-downs across the media giant’s magazine and web businesses, including $195.2 million at its Pacific Magazines subsidiary and $60.2 million at online media business Yahoo!7, amid a tough advertising market.


“We’re sorry about the impairments, but the good news is that we didn’t need to take them in television or newspapers. Magazines was expected but we’re a little bit disappointed [group buying website] Spreets didn’t come through,” chief executive Don Voelte told The Australian.


Suncorp’s net profit jumps by nearly half


Suncorp has reported its net profit is up to $574 million for the half year ending December 31, up by nearly half on the corresponding period last year.


However, the Queensland-based insurance and banking giant remains conservative in its outlook following a series of natural disasters through January.


“We are always conservative at the half-year, and ex-tropical cyclone Oswald was a reminder of why our interim dividend might still be slightly lower than you’d otherwise expect given the strong operating performance in the first half and also the strong balance sheet,” says Suncorp chief executive Patrick Snowball.




In New York, the S&P500 was 1% lower to 1514.49. The Aussie dollar is down to $US102.47 cents.


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