NAB normal. After years of being the complexity-ridden outlier among our big four banks, with its underperforming UK and US banking assets (and does anyone remember the multibillion-dollar loss on the Homeside mortgage business in the US 12 years ago?), the National Australia Bank produced the most stable “normal” interim profit today of this week’s reporters (Westpac and the ANZ). Cash profit up 6.5% to $3.331 billion, interim dividend steady on 99 cents (and no sign of strain in doing that, unlike Westpac and its unconvincing 1 cent a share rise, and ANZ, with its cut to its interim and warning of a further cut to the final). NAB did reveal a statutory loss of $1.74 billion — $5.18 billion worse than a year ago as it took the losses on the exit from the UK banking operations. But that was a big positive for the bank as it freed them from what had been a growing millstone. Bad debts fell 6% from a year ago, but rose 7% from the six months to September. NAB confirmed its immense profitability remains intact and has survived its UK adventure. It rose to 14.2%, compared to the cash rate of 1.75% — a sign that nothing much has changed. — Glenn Dyer
CBS’ moment in the light. It’s not all doom and doom for old-style media, as the leading US TV group, CBS, showed overnight that old-fashioned broadcast networks are still capable of generating surging revenues and profits. Of course the March quarter was boosted by CBS’ broadcast of the Super Bowl, which helped boost ad revenues 31%, but even without that extravaganza CBS said its ad revenues rose a very solid 12% in the three months. That’s the sort of increase that any media business would drool over these days (except the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet/Google). CBS boss Les Moonves said advertising revenue growth was CBS’ best “for a long, long time.. Clearly there’s a shift in dollars coming back to network television … Part of this is because of questions about the effectiveness of other platforms.” Surely not cable (in which CBS is a solid operator) or streaming (where CBS has made the most determined effort of all US networks to join the battle against Netflix and its competitors). CBS said overall revenues grew 10%to US$3.85 billion, with net profit leaping to US$473 million from US$394 million. The company’s top-ranked CBS Television Network includes popular shows such as Big Bang Theory and NCIS. — Glenn Dyer
Coal crisis grows. The American coal industry is slowly imploding, as we have seen with multiple collapses, led by the world’s biggest private coal group, Peabody Energy; and China’s coal sector is facing rising pressure to cut staff and costs to survive the continuing price slide. Europe’s problems have been never-ending in France, Germany, Britain, Spain and other economies. But now a major collapse has happened in eastern Europe with the region’s biggest miner, a subsidiary of a London-listed company, filing for bankruptcy this week. London-listed New World Resources says OKD, its Czech mining business, failed to get Czech government support, so it has fallen over. OKD said on Tuesday night it did not have money to cover its liabilities but expected to receive payments from customers in May to keep operations going and pay wages. NWR says OKD will run out of cash this month, and Moody’s last week warned that a default was “highly likely”. The Czech government hasn’t been interested in supporting NWR, which lost 223 million euros in 2015 and has had a meteoric fall from grace. It listed in London in a US$2.2 billion float in 2008, but the shares are now down more than 99% and it was worth less than US$17 million at the close on Tuesday. And you know that this impending collapse, like the US$6.3 billion failure of Peabody Energy, will not register in Canberra or Brisbane, where the belief in coal and all things Indian (Adani) is still at its most Alice in Wonderland. — Glenn Dyer
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