Eddie Groves settles $3 million dollar Austock claim: Midday roundup

The former head of ABC Learning Centres Eddie Groves has settled a multi-million dollar legal claim against stockbroker Austock.

The case was scheduled to go to trial this morning in the Victorian Supreme Court, but in an announcement to the stock exchange, Austock said it had struck a confidential deal with Groves to settle.

Groves initially claimed Austock should pay him $7.4 million in damages because the broker did not follow his order to sell five million ABC shares in February 2008, about 11 months before the childcare provider collapsed.

The claim was later reduced to $3.1 million.

Toll Holdings profits fall 77%

Toll Holdings has experienced a 77% fall in profits in the last twelve months and does not expect any short-term improvement in external conditions.

Net profit excluding one-off items was $247.2 million, down 6% from $291.1 million in the previous year.

Revenue increased 6% to $8.7 billion.

Brain Kruger, managing director of Toll Holdings said, despite results, he is confident that the company will improve long term.

“The recent new contract wins combined with our ongoing investment in fleet, property and IT will help us support future earnings growth,” he said.

Speciality Fashion reports full-year loss

Speciality Fashion Group has reported a full year loss of $2.81 million, compared to last year’s profit of $14.17 million.

The company owns women’s brands Katies, Millers and La Senza, and reported a 0.3% decline in revenue to $572 million.

Chief executive Gary Perlstein said in a statement the company continues to face a tough environment, including discounting, low consumer sentiment and negative reaction to pressures such as the carbon tax.

Sharemarket slightly higher

The Australian stock market opened slightly higher on the back of new hints at stimulus from the US Federal Reserve.

At the market opening the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.38% higher at 4365.40, while the broader All Ordinaries index lifted 0.39% to 4393.60.

Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, says as reporting season draws to a close Australian investors are likely to pause awaiting the outcome of significant macro announcements in the coming weeks.

“One of these will be any announcement on the nature and timing of further monetary stimulus by the US Federal Reserve,” he said.

“Markets have rallied in anticipation of action by the Fed.

“Friday’s speech by Mr Bernanke may provide some insight into what form the stimulus will take.”

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