Investment Matters

What matters this week: not much

A blend of school holidays and a short week in Melbourne meant a quiet week on the ASX.  Until Thursday, when the oil price jump caused a strong rally in energy stocks.

Of the 20 Leaders, only QBE stood out, falling about 4%.  AMP was down 2%.

Elsewhere, AGL Energy bounced 9.5% on a forecast of increased profit, higher dividends and a share buy-back.  But AGL's shareholders rejected the proposed compensation package for its CEO, Andy Vesey.  

AGL

Expert proxy adviser ISS said that Vesey's base pay is well above his peers in the utility sector and that he and other executives were awarded pay rises that were not consistent with market conditions or general salary inflation of 2%.

ISS also noted a high weighting (65%) of the short-term incentive scorecard was attributed to non-financial measures, including "team effectiveness", "individual effectiveness" and "strategic effectiveness", which does not offer sufficient transparency, is not sufficiently "at-risk" of not being achieved (where the CEO achieved 84%), and are considered to form part of an executive's job for which substantial fixed remuneration is received.

This aspect of 'non-financial' bonus objectives has been commented upon in W&D this week.

In addition, part of Mr Vesey's pay was linked to 'underlying earnings', conveniently ignoring the $700m in asset write-downs.

Elsewhere, ANZ's woes continued.  It has taken a $145m writedown in relation to a dispute with a prominent Indian couple, the Oswal's, following the collapse of Burrup Fertilisers.  Brokers are downgrading...

To end the week the OPEC oil cartel surprised the market with an agreement to cut output (which has the effect of supporting the oil price).  Energy stocks thus rallied strongly as a result, >5% today.