Iluka gets down to the nitty gritty

The ASX 200's second best performing stock for 2011 has published possibly the second most comprehensive profit downgrade so far this millennium.

The ASX 200's second best performing stock for 2011 has published possibly the second most comprehensive profit downgrade so far this millennium.

The mineral sands concern Iluka Resources yesterday blamed assorted factors for its weakened outlook. These ranged from ceramic production in Turkey and Egypt being "impacted by the aborted 'Arab Spring'," to the sanctions on the world's fourth biggest tile maker, Iran, which had "flowed through to continued fragile business confidence levels".

The weakened Indian rupee had also been a factor, as had the "absence of direct policy adjustments to boost the property sector" in China. There was also the "continuing and more pronounced economic weakness and policy uncertainty into the second quarter in the eurozone".

To make matters worse, there was "some level of thrifting, substitution and application of technology to ceramics manufacturing". "Global and regional zircon demand recovery remains problematic to predict given current global economic conditions," Iluka cautioned as its shares plunged 24 per cent.

Iluka managing director David Robb even noted the "changed commentary by central bankers in the past couple of months".

For some reason, Iluka failed to mention the Gillard communist government's carbon tax, mining tax and policy towards gay marriage on the downgrade.

The most comprehensive profit downgrade for the millennium was made by the now defunct concert promoter Jacobsen Entertainment in 2003. Seven months after listing on the ASX, the Kevin Jacobsen-chaired company blamed its troubles on the drought, terrorism, falling sharemarket, job uncertainty, "corporate profits in general", "stay home" attitude, Iraq war and "erratic" economy for the fall in attendances at its events.

A terrorism threat at a Bruce Springsteen concert in NZ appeared to be the straw that broke Jacobsen Entertainment's back.

Ben to rescue

The Balmain Tigers league legend Ben Elias could soon be referred to as one of the heroes of the global financial crisis, going by the league club's latest newsletter.

Tigers president Kevin Rooney has leapt to the defence of the former rugby league player and Kupang Resources (aka Chameleon) director over his proposed multi-storey redevelopment of the club, in response to a "misleading article" in the Herald last month.

In response to the article, Rooney said the club did not contravene the Registered Clubs Act by selling the club site to Elias's company for $1.

"The site would have been sold either at or below the debt level," Rooney said of the deal, where Elias's company cleared $23.5 million of the club's debts.

He said the decision to sell was "made by members of the club, not by the board or any member of it".

"The Tigers recognise Ben Elias as one of its greatest players, and now one of its greatest supporters, and one who personally took steps to ensure we would return to Balmain at a time when a global crisis was upon us and the financial world was close to complete collapse," Rooney said.

Brokers stock up

The Stockbrokers Association of Australia is offering members a workshop that will help them better understand what it takes to be a corporate crook.

The course will cover "what constitutes market manipulation and other prohibited market conduct".

"The workshop will involve a mix of presentation and scenario-based discussion," says the blurb for the workshop, which will be held in Sydney and Melbourne.

The course will no doubt help stockbrokers avoid inadvertently doing anything naughty. "Different types of market manipulation, including market rigging, false trading, wash sales, pre-arranged trading, pools/churning, 'spoofing'," are among the topics.

"Consequences of market manipulation, including civil, criminal and administrative sanctions," is another area that will be covered in the half-day workshop.

It is believed the easy part of the course is understanding the "surveillance and enforcement activity" of the Australian Securities Exchange and Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

The general idea

The Qantas director and former head of Australia's defence force General Peter Cosgrove does not discriminate on how company directors and military personnel should be governed.

"I don't contrast behaviour in corporate life to military life because they are both sets of Australian people and all of them have a personal dignity and the law should protect them all equally," Cosgrove told a "leveraging leadership" luncheon organised by the office relocation company and talent agency Atlantis.

Cosgrove was responding to a question regarding allegations of sexual assaults at the Duntroon military college, which he said should be referred to the police.

Among attendees were the former surfing world champion Layne Beachley, former Australian rugby captain and Taurus Funds Management operative Nick Farr-Jones, fast bowling legend Jeff Thomson, Ben Elias and Atlantis chief executive Tony Jaggs.

Beware of sharks

The 70-year-old David Jones chairman Bob Savage is not alone when it comes to getting offers from little known overseas spruikers.

"The targets of this sort of crime are primarily Australian men aged over fifty," explained the federal Home Affairs Minister, Jason Clare, yesterday at the launch of a report on serious and organised investment fraud in Australia.

"They're usually highly educated and have high levels of financial literacy," Clare said in describing the common victims who get sucked in to rediverting and losing their superannuation savings to websites run by offshore criminal syndicates.

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