Anton Oilfield adjusting to new situation at PetroChina
We noted last week that Anton Oilfield Service Group suffered a disastrous first half for 2014 with earnings per share down 83 per cent year on year. This Hong Kong-listed stock has been a favourite of the investment community for a number of years having risen 330 per cent in 2012, making it the best-performing stock on the HKEx that year. However, it appears to have been hurt more than other oilfield service companies by the slowdown in exploration by PetroChina. The number of drill holes fell for the first time in 10 years following the arrest of two senior executives at PetroChina Changqing. There were rumours that under Ran Xinquan, the general manager at Changqing, contracts were awarded using a "different" approach.
A piece in the mainland business magazine Caixin in July reads: "In the past, [PetroChina] Changqing rarely organised bidding that was truly open," an employee at Changqing who worked on bidding process said. "It invited certain companies to submit bids, or decided which companies to give contracts to at internal meetings, which left a lot of room for shady deals." As CLSA observes in a recent report on Anton: "We suspect the market has shifted from 'relationship driven' new orders to a more formal and competitive tender based approach and Anton has to make the shift." CLSA nevertheless remains a bull on the oilfield services sector believing that it will benefit from the drive for efficiency by the oil companies. Short term the corruption crackdown is likely to slow order growth as the industry adjusts to the new norms. Analysts are also pretty optimistic on the outlook for PetroChina in the wake of the arrests because it is believed that this will lead to higher levels of free cash flow within the company, which could possibly lead to higher dividend payouts for shareholders in 2015.
Those of you attending the CLSA Investor Forum next week may be pleased to hear that it will be accompanied by its usual sumptuous gala. This year's theme is BOLD, as in bold company (CLSA) and bold young woman in the form of Jessie J who will strut her stuff for well over 1,000 guests. To those, like Lai See that may be unfamiliar with her, she is a singer, songwriter and former mentor on the popular television show The Voice UK.
Jessie J is the first UK female solo artist to achieve six top-10 singles from a single studio album. Songs from her 2011 debut album has topped the charts in 19 countries and she has won 31 international music awards and has had 81 nominations. Her most recent single, Bang Bang, a collaboration with Adriana Grande and Nicki Minaj, debuted at No 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100, the second highest new entry of 2014. Jessie J's third studio album, Sweet Talker, is slated to be released this October. What more could you ask for?
Nude news rules
Interesting to see what our online readers were looking at in the aftermath of Beijing's decision on the arrangements for the 2017 chief executive's election. The five most popular stories for the online edition of the SCMP yesterday were: "Beijing warns UK to drop Hong Kong inquiry as MP says Sino-British deal may have been broken"; "Occupy Central's strategy has failed and support is waning, Benny Tai admits in extraordinary interview"; "Hong Kong election rules could be here to stay, says top mainland official Li Fei"; "A sad day for Hong Kong and democracy: Scholar slams Beijing's reform plan". But the most-read story was: "Nude photos purportedly of Jennifer Lawrence and other stars leaked online after hack attack". It's a funny old world.
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