CBD

Digging dirt pays off for pollster

Digging dirt pays off for pollster

He says it's cost $100 million and years of his life, but pollster Gary Morgan has finally struck gold. Actually, better than gold, "platinum group metals".

Shares in Haoma Mining, which Morgan chairs, soared almost 20 per cent on Wednesday after it announced it found "significant" quantities of PGMs at Bamboo Creek in the Pilbara.

Good news for Morgan, who owns 67.4 per cent of the company and was thus $5.1 million ahead by the afternoon.

"It's a major discovery," Morgan told CBD. "Australia has not got a major PGM mine and we have got one now."

Haoma, which has controlled Bamboo Creek since 2002, now plans to apply for a full operating licence to process about a million tonnes of tailings left over from gold mining on the site.

That means Haoma might soon be able to start paying back the $26 million it owes to Morgan's Roy Morgan Research.

A difficult birth

Finally, the Ultiboost Trimshot has worked its magic on the innards of celebrity-hound vitamins spruiker Swisse.

With a great gurgling, Swisse on Friday discharged its long-overdue 2012 annual report, which was then squeezed through the ASIC's dystopian document processing centre in rural Victorian town Traralgon and made its way into CBD's inbox on Wednesday.

For some time, CBD has been concerned that the financial accounts are overdue (see CBD May 17, July 5, September 3 and September 4), so to see the document finally arrive is a relief of the kind normally only offered by one of Swisse's excellent lotions and potions.

However, Swisse appears still to lack Inner Balance (yes, one of its dizzying range of supplements).

Profit halved, slumping from $8.87 million in 2011 to an anaemic $4.18 million in 2012.

This despite near-doubled revenue, which rocketed from $92.7 million to $173 million.

The culprits appear to be big increases in advertising and marketing expenses, which soared from $16.5 million to $33.2 million. What, you thought celebrity ambassadors like Nicole Kidman, Ricky Ponting, Tom Harley, "Captain of Inspiration" John Bertrand and Timomatic worked for free? Selling expenses, which takes in things such as rebates and any fees Swisse pays to shelve its pills, surged from $8.2 million to $28.8 million, perhaps after downing a bottle of Swisse Professional Men's Vitality Tonic.

Still, it wasn't all stress (why not try Swisse Relax Superfood powder, which "contains the premium quality superfood cocoa"? Yes, chocolate is now a superfood.)

Despite the profit plunge, Swisse managed to scrape together sufficient krill powder (a potent antioxidant, available in Triple Strength or Wild Neptune varieties) to pay $6.6 million in dividends to shareholders Stephen Ring, Michael Saba and Radek Sali.

Swisse's 2012 accounts were late for longer than it takes to have a baby (while dosed to the gills with Pregnancy+ Ultivite, of course).

Its new challenge is to deliver the 2013 accounts on time. They're due by the end of the month, and should disclose more about the $70 million line of credit extended to Swisse by vampire squid Goldman Sachs.

Bleake outcome

No joy over dropped Pies for Melbourne businessman Steven Vouzas, who is $500,000 poorer after losing a court stoush over a failed hotel deal.

Vouzas sued the owner of the Beach Hotel in Albert Park, Bleake House, saying he backed out of buying the pub in 2008 because AFL side Collingwood were not tenants, as advertised.

However, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Cameron Macaulay found Vouzas knew the Pies had already scarpered. Vouzas failed to recover his $500,000 deposit and copped an additional $500,000 damages against him.

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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