The Australian Stockbrokers
Foundation was in awards dinner mode last night to see out the
financial year, raising about $350,000 for various charities, adding to
$3.5 million donated in the past 11 years.

The excuse for the knees-up (aside from the career hedging by raising
serious money for outfits such as Vinnie de Paul’s Matthew Talbot
Hostel) was the annual awards for the best and worst of stockbroking.

In
the Recommendation of the Year category, Hudson Securities, beat off
worthy efforts by half a dozen other firms to win for its August “buy”
recommendation on Knights Insolvency. As the official citation put it:

Shortly afterwards Hudsons placed new shares as well as
assisting executive directors sell down stock at 66 cents that Knights
removed from escrow early. Hudsons also wrote bullishly about the
impact of recent acquisitions, including one in forensic accounting
services. This may prove prophetic, as a few months later a profit
downgrade was announced and, as we know, the first is rarely the last.

Forensics
is usually called for once the patient is dead but, whilst the shares
are now only 3.5 cents, where there’s life there’s hope! How ironic
that an insolvency business has to keep the market informed about its
own solvency position.

Seats Operator of the Year went
to ASX Seats Market Control for botching the extra ten minutes trading
in News Corp on 17 June. That edged out the Macquarie Equities operator
who last September offered 60,000 Altria shares (code AXG) for sale at
21 cents each – some 99.8% down from the last sale price of $69.46.
Macquarie had meant to sell 60,000 AXG Mining (code AXC) instead. The
Altria purchaser, Trimcom, let Macquarie off the hook, forgoing a quick
$4.1 million profit.

Worst Corporate Deal of the Year was won
by Patersons for its July placement of Henry Walker Eltin shares at 84
cents each, resulting in a 100% loss given HWE’s demise. Honourable
mentions went to: ABN Amro Morgans’ Creatable Media IPO at 20 cents in
August, now worth 2 cents; BBY’s Community Life Aid November IPO at $1,
now 18 cents; and Patersons again for Proteome Systems IPO in September
at $1.20, now worth 37 cents.

Most of the year’s IPOs and
placements are in positive territory. Best Corporate Deal of the Year
went to Wilson HTM and Austock for their Austral Coal placement at 48
cents a share, now worth $1.36.

Other awards that brokers
actually want to win were: Best Forecasting of Takeovers: GSJBWere;
Best Forecasting of Profit Warnings: CSFB; Tipster of the Year: David
Spry at FW Holst (for tipping Ion as a “sell” at $1.84 last July);
Private Client Adviser of the Year: the recently retired Bob Thompson;
Dealing Desk of the Year: Macquarie Equities; and Hall of Fame
Stockbroker of the Year: Paul Rickard of Commsec.

Peter Fray

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