Today is the last day of the 2008-09 profit season and what a shocker it has been. Never before have we seen so many losses driven by $47 billion in write-downs, but the stockmarket has been remarkably buoyed by the developments as the All Ords pushed through 4500 in morning trade.

The last day of any profit reporting season usually turns up the corporate dross — companies which are either too disorganised, close to going under or run by cynics who deliberately seek to avoid attention by hiding their red ink in the last-minute deluge of figures.

However, after four hours surveying the last day dregs, it doesn’t appear that today will get anywhere near the extraordinary events of Friday, February 27, 2009, when almost 200 companies reported losses exceeding $1 million for the half year.

The full list from that fateful day is documented here and there were a staggering 16 companies that managed losses exceeding $100 million. On February 27 we had three companies join the $1 billion-plus loss club — GPT with $3.25 billion, Oz Minerals with $2.4 billion and Babcock & Brown Capital with $1.43 billion.

We’ll probably get through the day with only a single $1 billion-plus loss from the ING Industrial Fund, which at 9.57am revealed a $1.174 billion full year loss after slashing property and equity investment values.

The ING Industrial Fund board, chaired by Sydney Swans president of the past 15 years Richard Colless AM, have probably still got more to go because claimed net assets were only cut from $2.09 to 96c a unit, still well above the current market price which jumped 5c to 51c in morning trade.

Amcor’s teetering spin-off Paperlinx should have declared a 10-figure loss but only managed to come up with a bottom line figure of $798 million at 8.56am. The write-downs were certainly on the light side given the Paperlinx board, which in June flogged its paper manufacturing assets to Nippon Paper for $600million to stave off financial disaster, is now claiming to have net assets worth $1.27billion. That looks over-optimistic when compared with the market capitalisation of only $420 million, even after the stock leapt 4.5c to 70c in morning trade.

Sir Ron Brierley’s London-based corporate raider GPG was the other candidate to produce a $1billion-loss but it stoically refused to hack into balance sheet values and only claimed $40million had been dropped when the figures finally appeared at 8.20am. Other notable contributors today included the old Everest Babcock & Brown Alternative Investment Trust which has been re-badged but still dropped $45.23 million for the year.

CBH Resources almost joined the $100million loss club with $96.6 million worth of red ink, whilst Keybridge Capital made the grade with a $129.14 million loss.

However, it wasn’t all bad news. Allco Finance Group’s two founders, John Kinghorn and David Coe, continue to serve on the RHG board and the RAMS Home Loans run-off business isn’t going too badly at all after an impressive $120 million profit for the full year.

We’ll be tracking all the earnings announcement today — profits and losses — so keep an eye on this page throughout the day.

Peter Fray

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