Red ink for Aussie Inc? This is the last week of the December 30 reporting season and the later we go into the week, the greater the chances of losses and red ink flowing like wine across carefully spun PR statements from apologising managements who are just “sorry”, yes, truly sorry for destroying so much value. Eighty-three major companies release their interim or full-year figures this week with 20 or more on each of Wednesday and Thursday, which will be mad. And the weak results will flow late on Friday afternoon and evening and then again next Monday morning from a long string of smaller miners and other stocks barely surviving at the moment.

A prime example of this will come tomorrow with the release of the interim figures for BHP Billiton, which will be a true worldwide event in business, seeing it is still the leader of the much shrunken group of major miners (middling minors?). BHP’s report will be full of losses, write-downs (we already know it will be more than A$12 billion) and the expected slashing of the dividend.  Unlike BHP, many of these reporting companies have maintained or lifted dividends instead of cutting them as widely predicted by analysts. — Glenn Dyer

Woolies Friday confession, Qantas greed. And in a similar vein, Friday will bring an even larger flood of corporate mea culpas when Woolworths releases its interim results, which will contain bad news on the losses on the Masters hardware misadventure and weak retailing performances. Woolies is looking for a buyer for its hardware operations, as well as the possible closure of dozens of stores and thousands of job cuts. And tomorrow (a few hours ahead of the BHP release), the most cynical of all results — the interim from Qantas with a big profit figure and lots of upbeat talk about how wonderful the airline is, and its CEO Alan Joyce. But really the improvement will be all down to the fall in oil and fuel costs.

Qantas has not been reducing its fares to match the fall in fuel costs and has absorbed the fuel surcharges imposed when prices rose in the decade to 2014. As with BHP and Woolworths, it will pay to look through the upbeat hype from Qantas management and Joyce and look closely at the financial data. The real story will be found there. Qantas is a very, very lucky company as the falling fuel price saves it from itself. Other companies to report include Caltex (watch for spin on their fat profit margins and why petrol prices have “fallen”), Fortescue for the impact of the slide in iron ore prices on its finances — and to see if it keeps up a dividend (which would please big shareholder Twiggy Forrest) — plus some media company results from Nine Entertainment, Prime Media, Southern Cross Austereo and APN. There’s got to be more red ink in there somewhere. James Packer’s Crown Resorts releases its figures on Thursday — the market is hoping for a buyout by Packer, but watch for red ink in these numbers from the black hole that is the 33% stake in Melco Crown in Macau. — Glenn Dyer

Data dump. This week will be the first of 10 days of major data releases leading up to the December-quarter GDP figures a week Wednesday, as well as the early data on January from the Bureau of Statistics. It’s too early to take a guess at the size of the GDP figure. The information in the various reports will stir the galahs to prophecy once again (as we saw after the flat jobs data for January last Thursday). I suppose there should be some sort of prize for the first “rate cut looms” this week after several escaped from custody last Thursday and Friday (notably from the cage restraining Goldman Sachs economist Tim Toohey, who has been a serial “loomer” for quite a while now). This week we get average wages — not much of a rise in the quarter or year on year, but don’t expect business to acknowledge that, weak construction spending, weak investment and weak future investing intentions. In other words, no real change. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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