Short-selling helped push shares in Transfield Services to a record low following an earnings downgrade that was coupled with 113 jobs being axed.
Transfield was the latest in a list of mining services companies to warn of tough times, after WorleyParsons, UGL and Coffey International last week, with Boart Longyear and Fleetwood shares dumped on Tuesday.
The focus is also on other key players in the sector such as Swick Mining, Downer EDI and Monadelphous, with concerns over the outlook for others such as ALS.
Downer EDI shed another 39¢ to close at $3.75, extending its decline from $5, with Monadelphous down 81¢ to $16.60 after trading around $21 earlier in the month.
Before the start of trading on Tuesday, Transfield cut its year-to-June profit forecast to $62 million to $65 million, from $85 million to $90 million. It cited the downturn in mining-sector spending and cost cutting by clients.
Before the downgrade, outstanding short-selling positions in Transfield had ballooned to more than 12.6 million shares, from 4.6 million as recently as February, leaving the share price heavily exposed to Tuesday’s bad news.
The shares were dumped, hitting a record low of 96.5¢ before closing at 97¢, after opening at $1.11.
The selling has slashed the market value of the company to less than $500 million. It had been around $1 billion just over 12 months ago.
With earnings faltering as clients slash costs, Transfield said it would curtail planned capital spending, as part of a series of moves to boost cash, which include taking greater control of its debtors.
Capital spending in the year to June 2014 is to be cut to $80 million, from $150 million this financial year, while it is also putting a number of unwanted divisions on the block as it drives a further $26 million in costs out of the business.
‘‘It’s a tough sector to be in at the moment,’’ one analyst who covers the stock said. ‘‘It has done its best to explain the changes under way, the moves to improve debtor collection and lift visibility.
‘‘But the cycle is against you, you can’t get the costs out fast enough, and there is no fat on the balance sheet to give it head room.’’