Talk Money with Tony Field – August 21, 2015

A Qantas Airways 747 (AAP)
A Qantas Airways 747 (AAP)

It can be hard to please some people, including some Qantas investors.

The airline's share prices fell 6 percent yesterday after it announced a pre-tax profit of AU$975 million. That profit followed a AU$646 million loss a year ago.

So despite what is a AU$1.6 billion turnaround in profits, some investors decided it was time to exit their investment in Qantas.

Some analysts had been expecting the Qantas profit might be even bigger – possibly over AU$1 billion.

There would also have been some people taking profits. After all, if you had bought into the company less than a year ago it's possible you would have tripled your money by now.

Falling fuel prices played a major role in the profit result. The airline saved AU$600 million in aviation costs.

Qantas is also reaping the benefits of a cost-cutting operation that has seen jobs cut, aircraft orders cancelled and a withdrawal from poorly performing routes.

Its Jetstar subsidiary recorded a profit of AU$230 million. That follows a loss a year ago of AU$116 million.

Qantas did not reveal the numbers for the Jetstar NZ operation, but it is making money.

Qantas now plans to return AU$505 million to shareholders.

This idea has worried some investors, They'd prefer that Qantas use the money to buy back its own shares if the markets become more volatile and the share price slides.

As well as the capital return to investors, Qantas is buying eight new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. That means it can fly new routes that have not been possible with the larger Boeing 747s.

Qantas has also offered staff a AU$3000 bonus. But they must be prepared to accept an 18-month pay freeze.

All this means increased competition for Air New Zealand.

Jetstar will soon announce the four new destinations it is flying to in New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is due to release its profit result next Wednesday.

In December, the International Air Transport Association said it expected airlines around the globe to post a collective 26 percent increase in profit during 2015 to AU$25 billion, largely driven by lower fuel prices and stronger global economic growth.

Here is my talk with Paul Henry about Qantas.

The fall in the Qantas share price shows many investors are not in the mood to take chances. Risk is rapidly going out of fashion.

That was clear on Wall Street today, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered a triple-digit fall. It fell 358 points, or 2 percent, to 16990.

The broader S&P500 lost 2.10 percent and the tech heavy Nasdaq 2.8 percent.

Investors' concerns include a possible Federal Reserve interest rate hike, the slowing Chinese economy, fears that many US stocks are overvalued and concern that America's economic growth may be more modest than expected.

Market darling Disney fell 6 percent after an analyst at Bernstein downgraded the stock from "outperform" to "market perform".

Disney's share price has fallen recently from US$122 to US$100.

Bernstein says Disney is one of the media stocks that will suffer as TV viewers 'cut the cord'. That means that companies like Disney (which owns ESPN and ABC) will receive less revenue from affiliate fees as people abandon cable TV for streaming, or downsize their cable package.

Apple lost 2 percent and the biotech sector was down 3 percent.

West Texas crude oil rose 34 cents to US$40.94, while Brent slipped 2 percent to US$46.18.

Gold hit a five-week high as investors increasingly pick that the Federal Reserve will postpone plans to hike interest rates next month.

US milk production

One of the statistics out of the US today is of particular interest for New Zealand.

The US Department of Agriculture says the country's milk production rose 1.2 percent last month. That was higher than expected.

Monthly production had been above 1 percent up until May, but had slipped to 0.9 percent in June.

Although there is a drought on the west coast, but production in the mid-west and on the east coast is making up for that.

The New Zealand dollar is higher this morning. It's 66.30 US cents and 90.34 Australian.

The kiwi is buying 42.26 pence, 81.83 yen and 59.12 euro cents.

3 News