ALS Soothes Investor Concerns

You can understand why Brisbane-based testing group, ALS Limited will offer shareholders a $175 million buy back, as well as a higher interim dividend after announcing an underlying net profit after tax of $70.1 million for the six months to September 30, 2017. While the company reported a solid underlying result, the after tax result including one offs saw the impact of more impairments on its assets – this time in its coal testing division.

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ALS Rejects ‘Opportunistic’ Bid

Is the takeover offer for ALS a replay of Treasury Wine Estates and the way it fought off numerous approaches from private equity groups trying to buy the company before a turnaround became apparent – a rebound that has seen Treasury shares double from the original offer price?

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ALS Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Laboratory service provider ALS (ALQ) is between a rock and a hard place. The rock is its major clients, the minerals explorers. The hard place is the current downturn in oil and gas drilling activity. The company delivered initial earnings guidance for the first half of FY15 at its AGM recently. It was subdued. Profit guidance for the first half is $74m, 18% below Goldman Sachs’ prior expectations and 26% below the prior corresponding half. The reasons for the downgrade remain the same as have prevailed for the past six months: market volatility, pressure on sample testing volumes, rate reductions in the coal business and oil and gas revenue slippage in the northern hemisphere. Positive aspects were few and far between, but brokers noted life sciences and industrial business segments are improving.

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ALQ – UBS rates the stock as Sell

Target $7.00 (was $7.15). The broker notes the company is looking to buy Reservoir Group to add some oil and gas exposure and further diversify the business away from just the minerals segment. While UBS admits the deal would mainly relate to drilling services, the broker notes it does offer an opportunity to grow into oil and gas laboratory services, which would be a big plus.

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ALS Launches $580m Oil And Gas Deal

Obviously the board of Brisbane-based ALS (formerly known as Campbell Brothers) isn’t too worried about the slump in activity in the mining and resources sector (its key area of interest) lasting too long, judging by the announcement of two purchases in the sector yesterday – including its biggest deal yet – the more than half a billion dollar purchase of a big UK-owned oil and gas services group called Reservoir Group.

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