Subscribers have responded well to our call for classic “Did I say
that?” articles from the past. Here are a couple of examples we’ve had
in recent sealed sections, but we’d welcome more suggestions, so keep
the entries coming to boss @crikey.com.au.

Hillary Bray: Did I say that?

Does anyone remember this Hillary Bray commentary from March 2001:

“The Howard Government is all on the rocks. The Nats are in a state
of open
revolt, with the redneck right lacking the guts or the intellectual
honesty
to go and join one Nation, backbench Libs are doing the headless
chook and
the public isn’t being fooled.

The complete overreaction on petrol shows just how nervous John
Howard is.
But punters aren’t taken in by stunts like that – and in the
constant ebb
and flow of petrol prices the only thing that will be remembered is
the PM’s
humiliation.

[…]

The Howard Government is done for. It has been since the last
election. It
simply has too many marginals to let it ride out any sort of swing.
However,
it will be better remembered if it doesn’t vandalise its own
memorials. ”

Hillary Bray, 4 March 2001.

Why Telstra’s a real humdinger

An absolute humdinger appeared in The Weekend Australian on June 26-27
in 1999 under the appropriate headline: “Why Telstra’s a real
humdinger”.

With the government flogging Telstra shares at $7.30 a pop, James Dunn
wrote an article which quoted the telecommunications analyst at broking
firm HSBC Securities, Adam Spowers, saying the following:

“the growth premium you are being asked to pay for Telstra now does not
take into account any of the goodies in the pipeline that are likely to
start appearing over the next couple of years. We have a target price
of $20 on the stock by 2003, but all that assumes is above average
earnings growth and continual expansion in the…price earnings
multiple the market is prepared to pay… The risk/reward profile is
better than you will get anywhere else…and the likelihood of Telstra
outperforming the market over a longer period is very, very good.”

As we now know, Telstra shares have halved from this point.

More recently, what about the March 8-9, 2003, edition of the Weekend
Fin which had the Jim Parker cover story, “SCARED: Why small investors
are fleeing the market”. We just loved this line, “Forget the eternal
homilies about buying and holding as the path to wealth…Investing is
for suckers in this climate”. Of course, early March 2003 was about the
low point from which Australian shares rallied more than 25% in a year
and those who held did very nicely indeed.

Mark Westfield: did I say that?

Here’s another one for the “did I say that?” files – Mark Westfield in
The Australian on April 1st, 2003, right near the trough of the stock
market fall (and right before Baghdad fell to the Americans and Basra
fell to the British):

“For ordinary Australians wanting to know what to do with their savings
or investments, Bush and Rumsfeld can no longer be believed….

Given that the British Army, arguably the best and most experienced
fighting force in the world, cannot take the port city of Basra, one
can only wonder how the more panicky Americans will take Baghdad, a
city four times the size of Basra and where the defence of the country
will be concentrated.

By all reports the hottest video doing the rounds in Baghdad is Black
Hawk Down, the movie of how a rag-tag group of poorly armed militia
repulsed and inflicted heavy casualties on a heavily equipped US force
in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993.

This was a far less complex battle than the test facing the Americans
in Baghdad. Based on how the Americans have gone so far, they cannot
possibly win this war without resort to killing civilians on a scale
which will be unacceptable to the rest of the world….

When will the military tire of being made the scapegoat for their
inability to subdue Iraq and put the blame where it belongs, with the
politicians?

What happens, too, when US investors take their eyes off CNN and start focusing on their sick economy?

The signs point to shares falling against a backdrop of a drawn-out
conflict in which the defenders will stick it out in the belief
political pressures in the Western democracies will force the invaders
to stop bombing before they achieve a military solution.

This will take months, not weeks. Investors have every reason to feel misled.”

dStore – what a winner

The founder of failed dotcommer dstore, David Gold, was quoted saying
the following just before the business was sold to Harris Scarfe for $3
million: “If Coles Myer walked in tomorrow and offered $100 million I
would say no, I am building a billion dollar business here.”

One.Tel’s promising performance

And don’t forget the report into One.Tel released by then Goldman Sachs
analyst Jason Billings. Goldman Sachs initiated coverage on One.Tel
early in 2001 slapping a Market Performer rating on the stock releasing
a report on April 26 titled “Great Start: One.Tel is here to stay”. One
month later One.Tel was no-where to be found.

Billings noted One.Tel was a “successful marketing machine” and was
making a solid transition to a mobile network operator. To be fair he
urged caution on the stock until sentiment changed toward telco
start-ups and wanted One.Tel to meet some more targets.

CRIKEY: Keep the entries coming to boss @crikey.com.au.

Peter Fray

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