More troubles for one of Australia’s busiest chairmen, James Mackenzie of Pacific Brands and property developer Mirvac. Pacific Brands’ worries are well documentedm but this morning Mirvac issued its second dividend warning in five months.
Mirvac says payouts this year will fall another 40%, making the total so far 75%. In fact security holders face the prospect of a miserable few months: no payout in the March quarter and from 0.2 cents to 1.2 cents per unit for the June quarter, and no mention of 2009-10.
Pac Brands woes are well known and Mackenzie and his board haven’t covered themselves in glory. Sunday night Sue Morphett, the embattled CEO of Pac Brands is on 60 Minutes in an arranged profile done through the company’s PP advisers, Cato Counsel. Sue Cato and Matthew Horan from the firm are doing the hard yards.
The advisers arranged last Saturday’s front page profile on Ms Morphett (who actually has a good story to tell) in The Australian by writer, Jenny Hewitt. Pac Brands shares were at 20.5 cents this morning, which is still “in the hands of the banks” territory while investors watch and wait to see what happens to the company and its plans to sack staff and move parts of the business offshore.
This morning Mirvac surprised the market with the new downgrade. The shares had hit a succession of lows earlier this month, but had risen then to close to the $1 level after Mirvac told the ASX there was nothing happening to warrant lows of around 60 cents. Mirvac’s securities ran up with the likes of another basket case, GPT, as punters bought in to the story that conditions in financial markets and at the banks (especially in the US) were on the rise. Mirvac securities fell more than 8% to 86 cents at midday after the update.
Mirvac announced it will cut its dividend by as much as 40% for the 2008-09 financial year.
Mirvac said it would pay 8 to 9 cents per stapled security for the financial year to June 30, down from a previous forecast of 13.4 cents. The cut in dividends was blamed on a need to strengthen its balance sheet.
Seeing it paid around 32 cents a security in 2008, the fall is very sharp 75%.
The release started with an understatement of spin: what it didn’t explain was the dramatic change in the company’s’ fortunes from when it was queried by the ASX 10 days ago, till this morning.
“Today Mirvac has further strengthened its financial position by amending its distribution policy. The revised policy is for the Group to distribute to investors taxable earnings.
“With immediate effect, the Group will reduce its distribution from 13.4 cents to between 8 and 9 cents per stapled security for the FY09 year. Accordingly, no distribution will be paid in respect of the March quarter with the balance paid for the June quarter. For the year to date, 7.8 cents per stapled security has been paid.
“This new distribution policy is expected to change Mirvac’s net cash flow from a forecast negative $110 million to a positive position for the remainder of FY09 and FY10.
“Mirvac’s Managing Director, Nick Collishaw said, “It is considered prudent to preserve capital and continue to increase the strength of the Group’s balance sheet and cash flow position, in the long-term interest of securityholders, at this time of the Global Financial Crisis.”