Falls from cruise liners are not rare

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At least nine deaths from people falling overboard or onto decks have been reported in recent years.The disappearance of a woman who fell overboard while on the P&O Pacific Dawn is one of at least nine occasions in the past two years where people have fallen while on board a cruise ship.


* April 12 – A woman falls overboard at 4pm while travelling on the Brisbane-bound Pacific Dawn, 300km west of New Caledonia, with the search called off on April 13.

* April 3 – A 34-year-old Saudi Arabian man is reported to have fallen overboard on the Norwegian Spirit at 2am when it was 30km west of the Spanish port of Cartagena.

* March 6 – A woman falls overboard while taking a ‘selfie’ about 9pm on the Norwegian Epic cruise liner off the coast of the Bahamas. Crew members use a tender to rescue her.

* January 21 – Forty-four-year-old mother Juwanna Brooks goes missing on the second day of a five-day cruise from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico on board the Carnival Triumph. Her mother tells ABC News (US) the cruise was her daughter’s first, a Christmas present from her husband.

* January 19 – A passenger dies on the Carnival Elation after falling from the 14th deck to the 11th deck while it was in the Bahamas.


* October 14 – An eight-year-old girl from Nassau in the Bahamas dies after falling from an atrium balcony onto the deck below while the Carnival Glory is docked in Miami.


* December 23 – A 74-year-old British woman was on a 12-night tour of the Caribbean on the Queen Mary 2 when she went overboard, a day after departing New York. She was never found.

* September 7 – New Yorker Rina Patel, 32, was seen falling off the 11th deck of the Carnival Ecstasy, 43 kilometres southwest of Freeport in the Bahamas.

* May 13 – Samantha Broberg, 33, was on a girls’ weekend cruise from Texas to Mexico when she fell backwards from a rail on the 10th deck of the Carnival Liberty about 2am. Her disappearance was not discovered until after sunrise.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Australian Associated Press

The balance of power

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ENERGISED: Snowy Hydro chief executive Paul Broad believes coal seam gas exploration should have a place in Australia’s energy future.HIGHER power bills for households and commercial users alike are here to stay, the Novocastrian head of Snowy Hydro, Paul Broad, has told the Newcastle Herald.

Mr Broad has also come out against the NSW government moratorium on fracking for coal seam gas, saying it was a cheaper and cleaner source of the thermal energy that the Australian grid would still need, even with the rise of renewables and the building of Snowy 2.0 as a power grid “balancer”.

In a broad-ranging interview,Mr Broad said the outcome of Australia’s power debate had huge implications for heavy industrial users of electricity, such as Tomago Aluminium.

“In my view, Australia’s time of having a cheap energy source as a comparative advantage will be no more,” he said. “Aluminium exists where there is cheap energy. The smeltersmove around the world, and we will no longer have the source of cheap energy we once did.”

Asked why other countries were not in the same boat, Mr Broad said that Canada –a current favourite of the global aluminium industry –had “massive” amounts of hydro-electric power. Canada has about 79 gigawatts of hydro-electric capacity, or 10 times the Australian capacity of 7.8 gigawatts.

While Snowy Hydro 2.0 would add another two gigawatts of capacity to the system, Mr Broad said one of its major uses was to help “balance” the grid by providingelectricity regardless of whether the sun was shining or the wind blowing. It was also an important source of “synchronous” power, meaning it would have a major role to play in keeping the “frequency” of the alternating current or AC power grid at the required 50 cycles per second, or 50 Hertz.

Although there are widely divergent opinions among electricity experts as how to best reconfigure the power grid to make best use of renewables, it may require the building of a new direct current or DC transmission system to minimiselosses from a system that would use hundreds of electricity sources, rather than a handful of coal-fired power stations.

A study led by engineering professor Andrew Blakers at the Australian National University last year created headlines for its finding that Australia had 22,000 potential pumped hydro sites. But as Professor Blakers acknowledged to the Herald, his study put the cost of creating a power grid based on wind, solar and pumped hydro at more than $150 billion, with 40 per cent of those costs coming from the construction of a new DC transmission line running from Victoria to Queensland. While Snowy Hydro wasnot associated with the ANU study, Mr Broad said the power grid would need considerable investment to help Australia meet international obligations.

“It’s no longer about cheap electricity with no other considerations,”Mr Broad said.

“The market has moved, the facts have changed. The Australian government has signed up to the Paris Agreement, whether you like it or not, and that means we have to dramatically reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and in the power industry that means renewables and if you want a stable grid you can’t have that percentage of renewables without having a massive storage capacity and that means hydro.”

While batteries would have their place, Mr Broad referred to comments by Tomago Aluminium chief Matt Howell, who in trying to give people an idea of the amount of energy involved, points out that the world’s largest storage battery –the Tesla set-up in South Australia – could only supply the smelter’s 970 megawatt demand for eight minutes.

As Mr Howell told the ABC’s PM program last year: “For large baseload consumers, such as aluminium smelters, they need base load supply. And practically, that means thermal. It can either be coal or it can be gas.

Paul Broad

“And whilst we’re not ideologically opposed to renewables, wind and solar – they certainly have their place in many applications – but there is no aluminium smelter anywhere in the world that is powered by wind and solar. We need continuity of supply and that means thermal.”

Mr Broad, who ran Hunter Water and Sydney Water before Snowy Hydro, said the National Energy Guarantee was likely to lead to a change in power pricing, whereby wind and solar generators would have to put a “firming product” into their prices.

As an example, he said wind could be profitably generated at $40 a megawatt hour, but another $40 for a firming product –to ensure reliability under the NEG –would take the price to $80.

“Which ever way you look at it, power bills are not going to come down again for the foreseeable future,” Broad said. “I’ve always been a very vocal supporter of the Hunter and its industries, and Australia as a whole has a decision to make here. If we can’t maintain an efficient and robust power grid, then the inevitable result will be a de-industrialised society to whatever degree that takes us.”

Under the Paris agreement, Australia has to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 26 per cent from 2005 levels. The electricity market accounts for about 35 per cent of our greenhouse emissions.

The federal government’s greenhouse gas accounts show a slight fall in seasonally adjusted emissions from 2007 to 2013, with a trending increase since then.

The most recent figures, for September 2017, show overall emissions rising by 0.8 per cent in the year to September, with emissions from the National Electricity Market or NEM falling by 3.1 per cent over the same time.

On fracking, Mr Broad said there was clear evidence to show the risks could be managed to provide a cleaner source of energy than coal.

“When I ran Sydney Water we had methane coming up naturally out of the basin,” Mr Broad said. “The moratorium is killing us as far as an energy source is concerned.”

Councils’ choice�0�2on�0�2new rules�0�2for rock fisher�0�2life jackets

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COASTAL councils will be given the option whether or not to enforce mandatory use of lifejackets for rock fishers under state government measures geared towards stemming a tide of deaths in the sport.

Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant announced on Friday that councils will be allowed to choose whether they want the rules to apply in their area.Those who opt in will receive up to $30,000.

The recommendation follows a year-long trial in Randwick local government area, after which an independent evaluator presented the government with recommended options.

“The decision to adopt the law will be one for each council,” Mr Grant said. “This is consistent with other water safety measures, including signage and lifeguard services.”

Troy Grant, NSW Minister for Emergency ServicesMs Catley said the legislation was lacklustre given a further eight deaths, including one at Snapper Point and another at Bar Beach’s Susan Gilmore beach, had occurred during the Sydney-based trial.

She said the government had failed to take responsibility on the issue.

“First we had a trial, then we had an extension of the trial, and now we have the government saying councils can choose whether or not they want the legislation to apply,” she said.

“The government is passing the buck back to councils to avoid having to actually make a call.”

Both Port Stephens and Newcastle councils said they would review the detail of the act before making a decision.

“It may well be the case that Newcastle City Council will use its new powers to make life jackets mandatory for rock fishing,” Newcastle City Council chief executiveJeremy Bath said.

“We will review the legislation over the coming weeks to ensure it’s as straightforward as it sounds.”

City’s wake-up call on barriers

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FOR nearly a decade, scientists have told city and state officials that New York faces certain peril: rising sea levels, more frequent flooding and extreme weather patterns.

The alarm bells grew louder after tropical storm Irene last year, when the city shut down its subway system and water rushed into the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan.

As New Yorkers awoke to submerged neighbourhoods and water-soaked electrical equipment, officials took their first tentative steps towards considering major infrastructure changes that could protect the city’s fragile shores and 8 million residents from repeated disastrous damage.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state should consider a levee system or storm surge barriers and face up to the inadequacy of the existing protections.

”The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level,” Mr Cuomo said.

”As soon as you breach the sides of Manhattan, you now have a whole infrastructure under the city that fills – the subway system, the foundations for buildings” and the World Trade Centre site.

The Cuomo administration plans talks with city and federal officials about how to proceed. The task could be daunting, given fiscal realities: storm surge barriers, the huge sea gates that some scientists say would be the best protection against floods, could cost up to $US10 billion.

But many experts say, given what happened with the latest storm, that inertia could be more expensive.

After rising roughly 2.5 centimetres per decade in the past century, coastal waters in New York are expected to climb as fast as 15 centimetres per decade, or 60 centimetres by mid-century, according to a city-appointed scientific panel.

”Look, the city is extremely vulnerable to damaging storm surges just for its geography, and climate change is increasing that risk,” said Ben Strauss, director of the sea level rise program at the research group Climate Central in Princeton, New Jersey.

”Three of the top 10 highest floods at the Battery [southern New York] since 1900 happened in the last 2�0�5 years. If that’s not a wake-up call to take this seriously, I don’t know what is.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is known worldwide for his broad environmental vision. But one former official said it had been difficult to move from theoretical planning to concrete actions, and it was hoped that the storm this week would change that.

A state report on rising sea levels, issued on the last day of governor David Paterson’s administration in 2010, suggested that erecting structural barriers to restrain floodwaters could be part of a broader approach, along with relocating buildings and people further from the coasts.

”A fair question to ask is, have we been as focused as we need to be for emergency preparations?” said the former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ”We’ve just been lucky. We need hardening for the risk we’ve always faced. Until things happen, people aren’t willing to pay for it.”

The answers all in good time

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Archie Panjabi won an Emmy for her portrayal of Kalinda Sharma in The Good Wife.ARCHIE Panjabi has an intriguing theory. What if the ”good wife” behind the title of the excellent US drama series The Good Wife is not Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick, but rather Panjabi’s own cooly dexterous investigator Kalinda Sharma? Four years into the role, it’s a concept Panjabi has begun to seriously mull over.

The early episodes of the fourth season, which Channel Ten has been airing swiftly after the US, has seen the introduction of Kalinda’s husband, Nick, played by British actor Marc Warren.

The interplay between the reunited couple has been as jarring as it is odd. There’s some brusquely explicit sexual interactions and surprisingly violent altercations. Yet even for a leather-clad character who frequently indulges in both, their raw primal nature is almost shocking to watch.

The Good Wife has always crossed genres: those of the case-of-the-week procedural, political thriller, romance and legal drama. Presumed ”good wife” Ms Florrick was humiliated by politician husband Peter (Chris Noth), who was caught cheating on her with prostitutes.

As the show began, Noth’s character was in jail and Florrick returned to the workforce, joining the law firm Lockhart/Gardner. With the exception of Alan Cumming as Eli Gold, the show has quickly become centred on its outstanding female cast, led by Margulies and Panjabi.

The London-born Panjabi says the initial (uncomfortable) direction of this season was written with the intention of giving the audience an intimate insight into a toxic relationship.

”In typical Good Wife fashion, all the loose ends will be tied up. Everything will eventually connect. It’s not obvious at first.”

The aggressive nature of the scenes, she says, was to provide insight into the most intimate relationship the bisexual, sexually promiscuous Kalinda has had.

”They have taken risks with Kalinda from day one,” she says. ”The storyline with Nick, which is so intense, is a big risk, but I think eventually, as things start to unravel, you will get an insight into why Kalinda is the way that she is. A lot of unanswered questions that have been building up in the show will eventually start to get answered.”

When the show began, Panjabi says, the part of Kalinda was deemed a minor role.

”The impression I got was her strength in getting people to talk was to do it by manipulating them sexually. She is a tough woman. Sort of an Eastern Erin Brockovich. But I was nervous because I didn’t want to be a woman who would always undo her button to get something because there would not be much of a life for that character.”

To defuse her own fears, Panjabi submitted a two-page backstory to the show’s writers on how she perceived the character and where she felt her story should go.

”I felt like they took it on board and started to write towards that,” she says. ”That really helped the development of the character.”

Kalinda swiftly became one of the show’s most intriguing elements. She had auditioned for the role while still based in London, having ”overnighted” the producers an audition tape recorded in her kitchen. The next day they called her and offered her the role.

”It all happened really quickly,” she says. ”Normally, you’d be flown to America and be subjected to a few auditions in front of the network and producers. None of that happened to me.”

They clearly made a shrewd choice; Panjabi won an Emmy following the show’s first season.

And there have been fewer more shocking – or satisfying – scenes on network television this decade than when Kalinda took to arch rival Blake’s car with a baseball bat.

”I often will read a script and say to myself, ‘That’s just ridiculous and it will not work,”’ she says. ”When I did that scene, I went completely into character and just trusted the director. Then it went viral online and everybody was talking about it. It just didn’t feel that intense at the time.”

So, back to her theory. How could Kalinda be the ”good wife”?

”After she married and was a wife, it definitely changed the way she is. Was she the good wife? She is the byproduct of living with someone like that for so many years. What has he done to her to make her like this? Or was she always like that? I’m hoping we can look at that relationship and try to understand.”

The Good Wife airs on Channel Ten on Wednesday nights.

BHP aims to dump trucks

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‘It takes 10 to 11 workers for every truck’ says BHP executive Marcus Randolph.TRUCKS could soon disappear from some mines altogether, with BHP Billiton confirming it is investigating technology that could render the dump-truck irrelevant.

Just as the industry was growing accustomed to the notion of driverless and autonomous trucks working the world’s mines, BHP executive Marcus Randolph said the resources giant was investigating mobile crushing and processing equipment that could be moved close to the ore, rather than the other way around.

”The technology has shifted … We have got to a point where we have sizers and crushers of substantial size that you can move in a day or two,” he said.

”We are getting to the point where you can bring your crushers much closer to the face and it is practical to run mines without the truck, where the loading gear loads straight into your bulk mining system.”

BHP and particularly Rio Tinto have invested heavily in autonomous trucks and trains, which are claimed to have lower error rates, better productivity and reduce the costs of employing and accommodating drivers in remote mine sites such as the Pilbara.

But Mr Randolph said even greater savings and efficiencies could be gained if the trucks were removed altogether.

”When you run a truck, it takes 10 to 11 employees for every truck,” he said.

”It takes 4�0�5 to five to run it, all the crews that do the maintenance on it, all the camp people that do the camp cleaning and cooking and everything else.

”If you go autonomous you get rid of half of those. If you go truckless you get rid of all of them. You do this at a time when you see increasing diesel prices, carbon taxes, a number of reasons why getting rid of trucks or using fewer trucks is desirable.”

Mr Randolph said the technology was already viable in mines with soft ground that did not require blasting but he said it could be adapted to also work in mines that did require blasting.

He said the future was likely to have a place for both autonomous trucks and truckless mines, and BHP was ”focused on both”.

The comments came in a briefing with British investors overnight, where BHP discussed at length its plans for its iron ore and coal businesses.

Most notably, BHP said it could get significantly more export capacity for its iron ore within the Port Hedland inner harbour if smaller rivals failed to use their capacity.

Port Hedland Port Authority refused to confirm that such ”use it or lose it” provisions existed, and smaller miners have previously bristled at such a suggestion.

Earlier this year the West Australian government assured smaller miners such as Atlas Iron, Hancock Prospecting and Brockman Mining their port capacities were secure.

But there is believed to be a class of capacity, known as D class, that allows an exporter to opportunistically take advantage of capacity that is not being used for some reason.

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Joyce shrugs off any concern over airline competition

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QANTAS chief executive Alan Joyce has dismissed concerns about an emboldened competitor following Virgin Australia’s move to take control of Tiger Australia and regional airline Skywest.

Speaking a day after Virgin sought to widen its reach, Mr Joyce said Qantas was ”in the best position in all segments that it operates in” regardless of the competition from its rival.

”We’re going to be very competitive, no matter what happens [to the competitive environment],” he told a tourism forum in Canberra. ”I’d rather have the best business airline in the country; I’d rather have the best low-cost carrier in the country; I’d rather have the best regional carrier in the country.”

Virgin’s advances on Tiger and Skywest will require approval from the competition regulator, which has expressed concerns about the creation of a duopoly in the domestic market.

Merrill Lynch analysts said they did not expect an immediate response from Qantas, but the key risk for the incumbent was a quick boost in the size of Tiger’s fleet. ”If Tiger proceeds with expanding its fleet, we expect Qantas will respond by adding capacity to defend its 65 per cent market share,” they said.

Virgin has proposed lifting Tiger’s fleet from 11 aircraft to 35 within the next five years, which could up the budget airline’s share of the domestic market to 10 per cent. A larger Tiger threatens to lower returns for Qantas and budget offshoot Jetstar, as they will be forced to respond to retain market dominance.

Macquarie Equities analysts said Virgin’s plans to buy a 60 per cent stake in Tiger would give it an ”additional lever to tackle Qantas at both ends of the market with a lower cost base in each”. But the analysts said investors’ main concern for Virgin would be the time it would take to turn around Tiger, which has only made a profit once in the past 10 quarters.

”Strategically the acquisitions … improve Virgin’s domestic platform, providing it with a comprehensive product portfolio,” they said. ”However, turning around Tiger will be a significant task.”

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Tabcorp bets on itself for the future

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TABCORP is pushing for New South Wales to keep its wagering licence exclusive next year, but backed itself to beat the competition whatever the outcome.

”The last jurisdiction to review its off-course licensing arrangements was Victoria and that state determined that a sole retail wagering licence was the optimal model,” Tabcorp chairman Paula Dwyer told investors at Wednesday’s annual meeting.

”We are hopeful that the NSW government will come to a similar conclusion when reviewing the best model for funding its racing industry.”

Tabcorp recently reported a 2.9 per cent rise in revenue to $488.9 million for the first quarter, with wagering revenue down slightly due to less favourable terms governing its new wagering licence in Victoria.

But the company said it had increased its share of the overall wagering market, demonstrating the success of its strategies.

”We are competing well,” Ms Dwyer said. ”We have increased our share of wagering turnover to 44 per cent … so we’ve increased it in a period of heightened competition. We’ve invested in our channels to market so we believe we have got the most competitive offering.”

Ms Dwyer offered little news on the company’s $687 million legal action against the Victorian government over the loss of its poker machine licence this year.

She said the company would not put a limit on legal costs. The matter was before the court and Tabcorp would continue to evaluate the case.

Ms Dwyer said the case could take years.

All the company’s resolutions were passed with strong support from shareholders, although there was contention about whether it was appropriate to have Tabcorp’s former chief executive, Elmer Funke Kupper, on the board.

A representative of the Australian Shareholders Association said it was ”poor governance” for a former CEO to serve on the board and look over the decisions made by current chief executive David Attenborough.

The ASA did not believe Mr Funke Kupper could efficiently serve on the board of Tabcorp as well as being chief executive of the Australian Securities Exchange.

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Telstra reveals Defence deal win, growth strategy

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TELSTRA has won a communications contract worth about $150 million a year with the Department of Defence, and outlined a growth strategy for the next year at its annual investor day.

Shares reached a three-year high of $4.14 during the briefing, the highest price since the government announced it was building a national broadband network and ending Telstra’s monopoly over fixed communications in Australia.

Shares went up even though Telstra will no longer guarantee a fully franked 28�0�4 dividend. It would instead announce dividends at financial results every six months, chief financial officer Andrew Penn said.

Management would focus on growing the business so it could ”increase the dividend over the long term”, he said. ”We recognise very much that what our shareholders want is good returns from Telstra. One of the ways we can deliver that return is through a dividend.”

But Mr Penn would not commit to a dividend payout ratio, which would ensure Telstra shareholders get a set amount of the annual profit.

Meanwhile, Telstra would enter negotiations this week to supply all of Defence’s terrestrial communications after being named as preferred tenderer, chief operations officer Brendon Riley said.

While Telstra would not say how much the contract was worth, Defence told bidders that it spent $156 million on terrestrial communications in 2008-09, according to a briefing document.

The contract is to upgrade, replace, standardise and rationalise Defence’s existing network, which contains about 70,000 desk computers, 15,000 laptops and 600 BlackBerries and is spread across 330 locations in Australia.

Chief executive David Thodey outlined five strategies for Telstra in 2013-14 including: maintaining its lead in the mobile market, winning fixed-broadband customers, taking out more costs, growing the business and creating a ”customer service culture”.

He told investors that Telstra had ”no god-given right that it will be successful” and that its success would depend on executing plans to grow the business while the NBN is built.

”NBN [deal] is done. I have moved on. Yep, there are some fights ahead of us, but I think we are more about positioning ourselves for those fights and how to be really a good competitor in the market and do well,” Mr Thodey said.

These include a push to exploit Telstra’s undersea international cable network to provide managed services to global companies. Mr Riley said Telstra would focus on selling a full telecommunications service to Australian and other companies setting up in Asia.

Mr Thodey also announced Telstra would trial NBN Co’s fixed wireless NBN services with a view to launching them in mid-2013 and was ”considering our options for satellite services”.

And asked whether Telstra would oppose Foxtel selling broadband services – a strategy that has helped pay TV operators grow customer numbers overseas – Mr Thodey said there was ”nothing in the relationship between Telstra and Foxtel that prevents them from reselling telecommunications services”.

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Capital management adds value if well executed

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CAPITAL management is much talked about among Australian companies but rarely executed with much panache. Properly used, capital management can create tremendous value for shareholders.CSL Limited (CSL)

THE joys of a big health company being able to borrow at 4 per cent have created a beneficial cycle for CSL. The company recently announced a $900 million buyback of its stock, making it the fifth buyback the company has undertaken in recent years.

At the end of last year, CSL organised about $1.5 billion in debt with the combination of a private issue in the US and a new facility with its bankers. Analysts assume the money has been borrowed at an average of about 4 per cent. If this is the case, the company, in theory, can buy its own stock up to a price-earnings multiple (P/E) of about 25 times. It sounds incredible, but that is the case.

At $46.60 a share, CSL is trading on a historical P/E of about 25 times and a prospective P/E on 2013 earnings of closer to 21 times. If the company buys the whole $900 million worth of stock in the next 12 months, it will purchase about 6 per cent of all shares traded. If we assume it will need to pay $50 a share over the year, it will buy 18 million shares at an average P/E of about 23 times. This is pushing the limit, but analysts point out that with earnings projected to grow strongly in 2014, it will be earnings-per-share accretive in that year – two years from now.

While CSL’s buyback announcements support the share price, there is a strong argument the company should ditch its buyback and issue shares for an acquisition or give the excess cash back to shareholders, even though dividends would be unfranked. For investors, they should be concerned if CSL continued to buy shares above the $50 market, because it requires earnings to grow strongly into the medium term. That is always a dangerous assumption.Devine Limited (DVN)

AT THE other end of the scale to CSL is Queensland-based property group Devine. Like most companies that rely on property for its earnings, Devine has fallen on hard times. More recently, though, the company’s share price has spiked from a low of 53�0�4 in August to 71�0�4 this week, with investors a little more excited about the story in a lower interest rate environment.

Devine’s earnings were clobbered in 2012 because of the benign activity in all forms of property in the Queensland and Victorian markets, and the share price has fallen to about 35 per cent of the group’s stated asset backing. Ideally, Devine would jump in and start buying its own shares, just like fellow Queensland group Sunland has done recently. Every share Devine would buy at this level would increase its net asset backing.

Unfortunately for Devine, its balance sheet, with gearing sitting around 30 per cent, is not in a position to buy back its shares and pay a dividend at the same time. If, however, the board believes the carrying value of its assets, the company should seriously consider putting the company up for sale to realise the value. Another approach is to sell some of its assets for near book value and use the funds raised to buy back shares.

If there are no buyers for the overall company, Devine, with 14,500 land lots, is a great leveraged play into a recovery of the Queensland and Victorian property markets in 2014. Over the fullness of time the share price could easily double even if asset value is written down 20 per cent from current levels.Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (BEN)

HISTORY tells us that it is dangerous to own banks in the November to February period because they generally underperform the broader market. However, for those obsessed with franked dividends, it might pay to have a closer look at Bendigo Bank. The company had its annual meeting earlier this week and despite talking about a tough environment there was no downgrade forthcoming.

There is a lot to dislike about Bendigo, with its paltry 9 per cent return on equity and a hefty cost-to-income ratio of 59 per cent topping the list. If you can overcome these sickly numbers, it might be worth switching into the stock once Westpac, NAB and ANZ go ex-dividend in November.