Suncorp CEO John Mulcahy is talking up the banking and insurance hybrid’s results this morning but the bottom line is that net profit only grew by four percent for a finance company based in one of Australia’s two boom states.

Profit from the second half was $462 million, beating analysts forecasts and therefore winning a share price rise. Insurance claims turned out not to be as bad as feared, even with Cyclone Larry.

At least one analyst reckons Suncorp’s insurance business still isn’t up to scratch though and doesn’t excite would-be predators. QBE et al would only be interested in picking up what might fall off the back of a bank-led takeover bid.

And talking of Queensland and banks, Richard Gluyas in the Oz has an interesting yarn about ongoing difficulties between the Bank of Queensland and at least some of its NSW franchisees. All is not sunshine south of the boarder. BoQ is relying on the self-funding franchisee model to spread its brand and won’t be enjoying this sort of attention. Serves them right for no longer sponsoring the Queensland Reds.

Showing everyone how to really lift profits is Cabcharge – $38 million in the latest year, up 37%. That’s the ill-gotten fruit of its 10% customer rip-off for using its Cabcharge dockets or credit cards when paying for a cab – the sort of thing you can get away with when you enjoy a monopoly. Roll on the Macquarie Bank competition.

And speaking of a spanner in the works, Ford has Aston Martin up for sale as well as Jaguar, Land Rover and anything else that isn’t nailed down as the US car maker struggles in a sea of red ink.

“As part of our ongoing strategic review, we have determined that Aston Martin may be an attractive opportunity to raise capital and generate value,” said chairman and chief executive Bill Ford.

Alias, anyone want to buy a used car brand? A new car? Anything at all?

Peter Fray

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