Myer profit falls 19.8% in first half: Midday roundup

Department store Myer has warned of poor trading conditions after announcing a 19.8% decline in first half profit to $88 million.

The company said sales from ordinary activities fell by 1.7% to $1.7 billion, with same-store sales down 3%. In the second quarter, sales were down 0.4% to $1.02 billion, down .17% on a comparable store sales basis.

In a statement, Myer said that 2012 sales were likely to be below 2011 levels, “or at best flat”. Net profit is expected to be “no worse” than 10% below 2011 levels, of $162.7 million.

“Assuming no further deterioration in trading conditions, we continue to anticipate fiscal 2012 net profit after tax to be no worse than 10% below fiscal 2011”.

Chief executive Bernie Brookes said the company has been impacted in the electrical category, with more “planned category exits and rationalisation” occurring.

Personal finance commitments rise in January

The number of personal finance commitments rose in January, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Total personal finance commitments rose by a seasonally adjusted 4.3% to $7.43 billion, up from the upwardly revised $7.12 billion in December.

Business lending fell by 1.1% to $32 billion, while finance for owner-occupied housing rose 0.1% to $14.15 billion.

Lease finance increased 9.4% to $473 million.

Shares flat on weak offshore leads

The sharemarket has opened flat this morning after weak leads from offshore markets, as investors in the United States become more convinced there won’t be another round of monetary stimulus.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 10.1 points or 0.2% to 4277.1 at 12.00 AEST, while the Australian dollar remained at $US1.05c.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 16.4 points or 0.1% to 13,194.

Carbon tax has constitutional issues, Abbott claims

The Government’s carbon tax may be unconstitutional, opposition leader Tony Abbott has claimed.

“I certainly think there are some constitutional issues,” he told Fairfax Radio this morning.

“Normally the Commonwealth can’t tax the states, for instance, and this is going to be a tax that’s paid by state governments.”

This comes in response to comments made by billionaire Clive Palmer that he would mount a High Court challenge against the tax.

However, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told Sky News he is confident the tax is constitutional.

“The legislation relies on a number of powers under the constitution,” he told Sky News.

“I think this is another foray by Mr Palmer, who’s got more money than sense really.”



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