BHP results disappoint
Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd yesterday reported a lower-than-expected US$3.73 billion half-yearly profit as it warned of a softening Chinese market and growing trade rows. The underlying profit for the six months to Dec. 31 last year was 8 percent lower than the US$4.05 billion recorded in the previous corresponding period, missing market expectations after a series of operational problems at its mines. “It’s a soft result,” Fat Prophets resources analyst David Lennox said, adding that a pullback in commodity prices was also a factor. BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said that a “strong second half is expected to partially offset the impacts from operational outages in the first half.” They included production outages because of a major train derailment at its Western Australia iron ore operations, an outage at its copper mine in South Australia and a fire at a Chilean facility.
HSBC warns of uncertainty
HSBC Holdings PLC said that geopolitical uncertainty in China, the US and the UK has made the prognosis for the year far less predictable after fourth-quarter earnings fell short of analysts’ estimates. Chief executive officer John Flint has also vowed to keep a keener eye on costs after a disappointing quarter capped his first year in charge of Europe’s largest bank. Like its rivals, HSBC, which gets most of its business in Asia, was also hit by the meltdown in financial markets, which pushed investment bank revenues lower. Adjusted pretax profit, which excludes one-time items, fell 1 percent to US$3.39 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31 last year, missing the US$4.4 billion consensus average derived from estimates compiled by the bank. Global markets, which houses HSBC’s investment bank, said adjusted revenue was US$1.1 billion, an approximate 16 percent decline from the final three months of 2017.
Banking to be affordable
The government is betting on financial technology to help lift people out of poverty. The administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced measures aimed at making financial services more affordable in a nation where more than half the population is unbanked. It is planning a digital payments system run and built by the central bank that will allow Mexicans to make and receive payments through their smartphones free of charge. A pilot roll out for the platform, known as CoDi, is expected by next month. “In the future, it will no longer be necessary to have a bank in the sense of a traditional, established bank,” Deputy Minister of Finance Arturo Herrera said. “Mobile phones will become banks.”
ECB signals concern
The European Central Bank’s (ECB) chief economist added to the chorus of policymakers signaling concern on an economic slowdown, saying that officials could push back plans to raise interest rates as a first response against a deeper downturn. “If the euro-area economy were to slow more sharply, we could adapt our forward guidance on interest rates and this could be complemented by other measures,” Peter Praet said in an interview with German newspaper Boersen-Zeitung published late on Monday. “But one thing is clear: The ECB’s Governing Council will always find ways and means of acting if it needs to.”
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
Taipei Times: When do you think the hospitality industry can return to how it was before the COVID-19 pandemic? How does Formosa International Hotels Group (FIH, 晶華酒店集團) fare this quarter and beyond? FIH chairman Steve Pan (潘思亮): The virus outbreak will have a serious impact on business travel, driven mainly by meetings, incentive travel, conferences and exhibitions over the past three decades. For the past six months, many businesspeople have grown used to exchanging information on the Internet, where more people can participate. The trend might sustain for three to five years until people are vaccinated and it is safe to
DIGITAL COMMERCE: In 2016, only 2 percent of orders were delivered in Taiwan, but that has risen to 10 percent, Foodpanda Taiwan Co operations director Nick Yu said Online food delivery platforms have seen explosive growth in Taiwan this year, helped by business opportunities related to the COVID-19 pandemic, company executives said at a digital commerce conference in Taipei yesterday. When the threat of COVID-19 kept people from going out to eat, more people experimented with ordering food deliveries online, Foodpanda Taiwan Co Ltd (富胖達) operations director Nick Yu (余岳勳) said. Foodpanda started operations in Taiwan in 2012. “We experienced 5,000 percent growth in the past 24 months,” Yu said. “That’s more than the previous six years combined.” In 2016, only 2 percent of food orders were delivered in Taiwan, but that