The best of the brokers were
opening their wallets for charity last night at the Australian
Stockbrokers Foundation annual awards – an event that’s raised some $4
million in its dozen years – with competitive instincts adding to the
total.

Aside from the inevitable auctions, raffles and
donations, the evening features a stocks Calcutta that provides a
potentially lucrative insight into what the brokers really think the
winners might be.

The firms bid for their choice among eight
stocks. Half the bid money goes straight to the Matthew Talbot Hostel,
the other half is the prize for picking the share that appreciates most
over the next year – but that prize is inevitably donated back as well,
as Brent Potts’s Southern Cross Securities did last night.

Your
correspondent was roped in last year to help present the Calcutta and
was impressed with how well the smart money performed. This year the
list was an eclectic mix of mining stocks. The top two bids were for St
Barbara Mines and Kagara Zinc – both bought by Southern Cross.

St
Barbara (the patron saint of miners) has had a colourful history but
achieved credibility with its new management and purchased the Sons of
Gwalia gold interests from the administrators. Brent Potts sees it as a
leveraged gold play – heavily dependent on the gold price doing the
right thing of course, but worth a punt at present prices.

Well
if you have to pick up at least one tip from dinner with a few hundred
brokers… think I’ll grab a few for the super fund just in case.

Peter Fray

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