Ron Delia says China and emerging markets are a ‘long-term game’ for the company. Photo: Paul JeffersThe boss of packaging giant Amcor remains “bullish” about China, despite increasing fears the country’s economy is slowing much faster than expected.

Concern about the health of the world’s second biggest economy has rattled global financial markets, souring views of other emerging economies.

But Amcor chief executive Ron Delia said while the company had a “difficult year” in China – with lower volumes in the second half of 2015 – he was upbeat about the country’s long-term prospects.

“Clearly growth around the world is below trend and I think nowhere is that more evident than in China,” Mr Delia said.

“But emerging markets in general for us are a long-term game.

“There is obviously going to be volatility, and slower than trend growth at the moment, but we believe in these markets, particularly in China.”

Mr Delia declined to weigh in to criticism that the Chinese government was doing too little to manage the country’s economic slowdown as well as deliver on its pledge to stabilise share markets.

“We focus on what we can do and taking care of our customers in China,” he said.

“[Government] policy will take care of itself. We will be agile and adapt to policy shifts around the world, including China.

“We have got a really good mix of big multinational customers … and big regional customers in China who values the same things as the multinationals – product safety, good quality and reliable supply and innovation to help them spur their own growth.”

Mr Delia’s upbeat assessment came after Amcor’s net profit firmed 0.4 per cent to $US680.3 million ($947 million) for the 12 months ending June 30, beating analysts estimates who were expecting $US670.4 million, according to Bloomberg.

Excluding currency swings from a strengthening US dollar, net profit jumped 7.2 per cent.

Revenue, however, dipped 3.5 per cent to $US9.61 billion.

Mr Delia expected higher earnings in the next 12 months. He said the company had a strong balance sheet and it had completed 60 per cent of its $US500 million buyback.

Investors welcomed the result. Amcor’s closed 4.3 per cent higher at $13.05

“Despite the challenge of lower than trend growth in many of the market we operate in, we are delivering strong profit growth and cash flow,” Mr Delia said.

In the 2014-2015 financial year, Mr Delia said the company’s flexible packaging and rigid plastics divisions delivered record returns of 25.5 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

He attributed the gain the flexible packaging business to “growth in emerging markets, product mix improvements, better operating efficiencies and contributions from acquisitions”.

Continued growth in North and South America fuelled the gains in the rigid plastics division, with higher volumes in all the main product segments, Mr Delia said.

Mr Delia also said the company would continue to be based in Australia, despite it representing less than 5 per cent of its business and it moving half the staff at its head office to Switzerland.

He cited Amcor’s dominance in flexible packaging in Australia and New Zealand as well as its ASX listing for why the company would continue to operate from Melbourne.

“We have got a head office here which has less than 50 roles in total and about half of those roles will move to Switzerland.

“We trade on the ASX, which continues to be a great source of equity capital for the company. It’s a deep liquid market and has allowed us to raise capital very quickly.

“We see no reason to shift the listing of the company to any other place. Australia will remain very important to us.”

Amcor will pay a final dividend of US21¢ a share on September 30.

As the daylight hours lengthen and the temperatures begin to warm, many gardeners think about springtime plantings.

Thoughts turn to the wonderful tomato which comes in so many shades, colours and shapes. There are thousands of varieties around the globe and Australians can now source a very good range of seeds from specialist suppliers.

Home-grown tomatoes can be one of life’s pleasures. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin A, C and E, high in antioxidants and have plenty of fibre. Tomatoes have a high sugar content and so are best eaten soon after harvest. They are also rich in glutamates which partly explains the wonderful flavour when tomatoes are sprinkled with salt (with its sodium).

Many growers will be planting their selected varieties in propagation trays in the hope of winning that race to pick one’s own delicious tomatoes by Christmas. They are a warm climate plant so do not plant your seedlings out into the garden until early November, when the frosts are finished and the night temperatures have risen.

At this time of the year, you can get a head start by planting tomato seeds just five millimetres deep in shallow trays.

Use good quality seed raising mix with plenty of well broken down organic matter. You can transplant into individual garden pots when they have produced their second pair of leaves.

Keep the pots in a warm, sunny location. Provide ample cover at night to keep the tomato bushes warm. The overnight temperature is so critical to good growth and fruiting of tomatoes.

From little things, big things grow. Photo: Getty Images

Good preparation of the garden bed is essential. Also remember to avoid planting in any bed that has been used in the past three years for any of the solanum family vegetables (tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant and potato). It is vital to provide a clean, fresh bed for this wonderful summer crop. When grown with care and attention, tomato bushes can yield between five and 10 kilograms of fruit.

Dig in generous quantities of organic matter before planting out tomato seedlings. The roots of tomato plants will go in search of nutrients. Allow spacing of 50 centimetres between plants. Provide good drainage and hammer in a wooden stake at time of planting for all the tall varieties.

Mulch well and keep the tomato patch well weeded. Sprinkle some additional pelletised organic fertilisers around the plants when they begin to flower and set fruit.

Water regularly during the hot summer days. Avoid overhead watering because leaf spot and leaf blight diseases can be spread quickly. Blossom end rot is a sign of irregular watering. With good, regular watering many of your tomatoes will grow to 1.5-2 metres tall and require regular tying up to the stakes

Breeding of tomatoes has taken many twists and turns across the world in the past two hundred years.

Italians have developed tomatoes with few seeds that can be used in cooking and making pastes, including the Romas and beefsteak tomatoes. Russia to the east have developed a number of black tomatoes, with fine flavour. French breeders sought to produce fine flavoured, round tomatoes. And even Australia can claim a number of “home grown” varieties. Beefsteak tomatoes

There are quite a number of excellent, highly productive varieties of the large, flattened, slightly ribbed fruit known collectively as beefsteak tomatoes. They tend to have few seeds, have wonderful flavour and are a firm tomato that will slice well. Top restaurants love them for the same reasons. Red and Pink Ponderosa, and Mortgage Lifter hail from the USA. Hungarian Giant and the French Rouge de Marmande​ are top quality European beefsteaks. The dark pink  Gregori’s Atlai is from the Atlai mountains on the edge of Siberia. Black tomatoes

For exotic rich flavours, you can grow the group of Russian bred dark red to maroon coloured tomatoes for rich flavour. Black Krim which originated in the Crimea is a large beefsteak type, with chocolate brown flesh that has a distinctly smoky taste. Black Russian and Paul Robeson are smaller round tomatoes with a similar distinctive rich taste. Nyagous is round and medium sized, with a sweeter aromatic taste. Oxheart tomatoes

I make special mention of this family of tomatoes for three reasons. They will grow well in cooler regions, such as in Canberra. They are one of the first large tomatoes to ripen. And the firm thick flesh of these tomatoes’ along with few seeds mean that they can be used in many ways, for slicing to make sauces and more. Medium-sized tomatoes

There are so many good, round tomatoes that it is worth considering growing a selection. Two of my favourites are from France. St Pierre is a medium sized, red tomato with meaty flesh with superb flavour. Jaunne Flamee is a bright apricot coloured tomato with a rich, sweet taste. It produces a big crop quite quickly and will produce well in heavier soils and cool summers. Olomovic is an early maturing, globe-shaped tomato from the Czech Republic that grows well in cooler regions. Its firm flesh makes it ideal for sauces, bottling and drying.

Three excellent Australian varieties are the early maturing Break O’Day, medium sized Burnley Bounty which grows well under cooler conditions, and the larger sized College Challenger. For long time growers, Grosse Lisse is well known bearing good sized, juicy tomatoes. It was first marketed in 1900m by the French seed company Vilmorin but it is believed to have originated in America.

I have found the best Roma type tomatoes to be the larger San Marzano red and the yellow Roma. Good size, very productive and excellent for salsa, paste, sauces and soup making. Small tomatoes

There is such a range of small cherry and pear shaped tomatoes. I have found the fastest maturing one to be the Gold Nugget tomato, supplied by Vilmorin (and available at Hall Rural Supplies and Stockfeeds). Camp Joy and Cherry Fox are two good sized, heavy cropping red cherry varieties. Cherry Yellow Honeybee and Lemon Drop are two very productive yellow coloured varieties.

Bruschetta with parmesan. Photo: Getty ImagesRecipeBruschetta with parmesan

6 thick slices Italian bread, 8 Roma tomatoes, ½ red Spanish onion, 2 cloves garlic, 80g butter, 2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated, 2 tsp olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper.

Grill or toast the bread until crisp and golden brown. Crush the garlic and mix with softened butter. Brush onto the top side of the bread.

Dice the tomatoes, finely chop the onion and shred the basil leaves. Combine in a medium sized bowl. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and ground pepper to taste. Evenly spoon the mixture over the toasted bread and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place under a hot grill for one minute then serve. This week in the garden

* Enjoy the warmer days by cleaning up your garden beds and removing any remaining dead plants. Chip out the winter cover of weeds and dig in generous supplies of well finished compost.

* As well as planting tomato seeds in propagation trays, plant capsicums, eggplant and basil. Keep the trays in a warm, sunny location.

* Plant out mixed open leaf lettuces (such as cos, romaine, oakleaf and mignonette) bok choy, rocket and mitzuna.

* Plant your first rows of carrots and beetroot. Do not add fertilisers or manures as that will cause root forking.

Owen Pidgeon runs the Loriendale Organic Orchard near Hall.

Hefty line-up: Controversy Corner’s Col Pearce, Alan Clarkson, Rex Mossop, Ferris Ashton and Noel Kelly. Photo: Ann Marie Arena Hefty line-up: Controversy Corner’s Col Pearce, Alan Clarkson, Rex Mossop, Ferris Ashton and Noel Kelly. Photo: Ann Marie Arena

Hefty line-up: Controversy Corner’s Col Pearce, Alan Clarkson, Rex Mossop, Ferris Ashton and Noel Kelly. Photo: Ann Marie Arena

Hefty line-up: Controversy Corner’s Col Pearce, Alan Clarkson, Rex Mossop, Ferris Ashton and Noel Kelly. Photo: Ann Marie Arena

Vale Clarko: Roy Masters’ tribute

Alan Clarkson was a gentleman journalist and a rugby league institution.

Clarkson, who was best known for his work at the Sydney Morning Herald and television appearances over three decades on the panel of Controversy Corner alongside league greats Ferris Ashton, Rex Mossop and Noel Kelly, passed away on Monday night, aged 85.

Former colleagues Ian Heads and John Brady, who worked on rival newspapers, paid tribute to Clarkson as journalist and a friend.

“Clarko was a gentleman sportswriter at a time when that meant something and there was a level of trust that he had with people, which was very deserved,” Brady said. “He was the ying to Bill Mordey’s  yang. Clarko would bet $2 on a horse and Mordey would bet $25,000 and they would be cheering in the same race. He was passionate about his family and he was happy.

“He was an institution in the game and in sports writing in this town and he deserves enormous respect.”

Clarkson started with The Herald in 1954 and was the chief league writer from 1967 to 1989 after the retirement of another in Tom Goodman.

“Clarko probably modelled himself on Tom Goodman’s gentlemanly approach and he presented well, he had that resonate voice that was good for television and radio,” Heads recalled. “He was the last of that generation of Ernie Christensen, Bill Mordey, Tom Goodman, Phil Tressider and those sort of blokes.

“Rugby league was still a part of his life right until the end, he would still sit down and watch it. He had gone to school with Clive Churchill and had a close relationship with him as a player and coach so it gave him a kick to see Souths win the grand final last year.”

Clarkson covered five Kangaroo Tours, a tour of New Zealand in 1969 and the World Cup in the UK in 1970, and was awarded an OAM in 1990 for services to sport in journalism. He also covered three Olympic Games, and countless Davis Cup and major tennis tournaments.

His reputation was built on accuracy and the unsensational presentation of the news.

After predicting that State of Origin would not succeed, Clarkson wrote that he had been wrong after the opening match in 1980.

His last active involvement with the game was to attend an Origin dinner at ANZ Stadium the night that NSW finally ended Queensland’s eight year winning streak last season.

The NRL extended its deepest condolences to Clarkson’s family on Tuesday following his death overnight.

“Alan Clarkson was a legend in the field and will always be remembered fondly for the role he played in the game,” NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said.

This is is a time to selectively buy. Photo: Regis Divignau

On Tuesday morning before this market bounced, BHP Billiton shares were down almost 18 per cent for the year, and trading on a dividend yield of 9.4 per cent .

Rio Tinto shares were down almost 19 per cent in 2015, and trading on a dividend yield of 9 per cent. Telstra was offering a dividend yield of 7.6 per cent, NAB was on a yield of 9.4 per cent, ANZ was yielding 9.55 per cent, CBA was yielding 8.2 per cent and Westpac shares were yielding 8.84 per cent.

For investors prepared to buy and hold, yields that good are difficult to resist, even though China’s share market dive continued.

The Hangzhou Composite index fell another 7.6 per cent during the day to be almost 21 per cent down in five trading days, but our S&P/ASX 200 index rose 2.7 per cent. Northern hemisphere market futures were volatile, but were predicting solid rises in Europe and on Wall Street on Tuesday night.

The bounce that value hunters deliver will only be sustained in the medium term (say a year) however if there are not deeper problems in the markets and the economies that underpin them – and concerns on that score are not yet resolved.

Citigroup’s top global strategist Robert Buckland updated a checklist of bear market signals overnight, and the results were not overly discouraging

He assigns red lights (worrying), amber lights (perhaps worrying) and white lights (not worrying) to various indicators in  March 2000 when the dot杭州夜网m bull market cracked, in October 2007 when the global crisis began emerging, one year ago, and now.

Global market measures that were flashing red lights in 2000 and 2007 that are white lights now include share price versus book value of assets, dividend yield, equity risk premiums over fixed interest alternatives, and capital expenditure, which is not roaring ahead as it does at the top of a bull market.

Analysts are also bearish, which is a contrarian positive sign. Analysts are most optimistic when a bull market is at its unrealistic peak, and ready to crack.

There are five red lights on Buckland’s bear market checklist, compared with 15.5 in 2000 and 12.5 in 2007.

Buckland says that is monitoring the markers closely, but that so far it looks like we are still in a mature bull market rather than a new bear market.

Here’s a few of the key indicators that Buckland covers.

Global corporate gearing is as high as it was before the global crisis: as a side note, it is still significantly lower than it was ahead of the global crisis in this market.

Global merger activity is also in red light territory, albeit not yet at the highs seen in 2000 and 2007. That is another top of market signal, but again, this indicator is better here, where so-called animal spirits have been weaker, and fewer takeovers have been announced.

I would offer one other comment. So far, this selloff has basically been ring-fenced to the sharemarket. The big risk in a global downturn is that global credit markets will be infected, drying up sources of debt funding. High yield or “junk” debt is being pressured, but there are no signs of the general credit market contagion that was the really big problem in the global crisis yet.

The Chinese share market’s continuing slide on Tuesday was a reminder however that this downturn is not just about valuation. There are more elemental concerns that China’s market downturn is a symptom of a deeper economic problem in China that China’s government is either unwilling or unable to fix, and they remain unresolved.

The Chinese share market roared higher in 2014 and until the middle of June this year. China’s government deliberately pumped up by increasing the price and availability of credit.

Analysts knew that the bull market was being induced – the government was basically manufacturing demand and creating a weight of money surge – but they also saw it as more proof that the government of Xi Jinping was thinking strategically, in this case for example by creating a bull market that could be avenue for the privatisation and deleveraging of state-owned enterprises.

This latest downturn is now being taken as evidence that China’s attempt to stabilise the market in June and July failed. Crucially, it also undermining trust in willingness or ability of Beijing to intervene.

There is double jeopardy involved. If China fails to intervene or intervenes unsuccessfully as it did in a half hearted way on Monday, the selldown could intensify. If it intervenes successfully, many observers will argue that it has just delayed the inevitable.

There’s another, longer term issue. China’s share market was in a bubble. It’s now correcting, big time.

But in recent years we have seen a series of asset price bubbles develop around thew world, and then get corrected. They are emerging because central banks still have interest rates at record lows: investors are paying more for shares, property band other assets than they normally would, to lock in yields that they cannot get from safer fixed interest investments.

It’s a bubble and rinse cycle for the markets that will continue until economic strength is good enough to allow interest rates to begin rising to a point where they are once again a decent place for investors to stick their money.

One irony is that this share market turbulence has probably delayed the normalisation process. The odds on the Federal Reserve leading the way with a mid-September rate hike in the United States are lengthening because of the share market wobbles.

American long distance runner Molly Huddle raised her arms triumphantly in the air as she won a bronze medal in the women’s 9,999m race at the IAAF World Championships.

The only problem for Huddle was that she had another metre to go.

The premature celebration was an embarrassing stuff-up for Huddle, who like all the other athletes in the race has trained her entire life to be where she is. 

Huddle turned to her right just a metre from the line expecting to see an Ethiopian runner coming up beside her, but after crossing the finish line, the sight of American teammate Emily Infield dipping her chest would have made Huddle sick to the stomach.

“Emily slipped on the inside as I eased up a bit, she got this once-in-a-lifetime moment,” Huddle said in an interview on Universal Sports after the race. “I feel like it kind of slipped through my fingers, so it’s frustrating.

“In that last half step, I just let up too much. Emily [Infield] was right there the whole time with just more momentum. She got that bronze. It’s going to take a long time to get over.

“I just didn’t want to mess up on the last lap – and I did. I don’t know when that chance will come again.”

Huddle slowed down so much that Infield beat her by nine tenths of a second and in doing so became the first non-African born woman to win a world championship medal in the 10,000m since fellow American Kara Goucher won bronze in Osaka eight years ago.

“I just ran through the line,” Infield said. “I feel a little guilty because I feel like Molly let up a little.

“I don’t think she realised how close I was. I was just trying to run through the line. I’m really thrilled.”

Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya won the gold medal ahead of Ethiopian Gelete Burka in second place.

Nike crew: Rafael Nadal, Madison Keys, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Nick Kyrgios, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, John McEnroe, Genie Bouchard, and Pete Sampras. Photo: FilmMagic Nike crew: Rafael Nadal, Madison Keys, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Nick Kyrgios, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, John McEnroe, Genie Bouchard, and Pete Sampras. Photo: FilmMagic

Nike crew: Rafael Nadal, Madison Keys, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Nick Kyrgios, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, John McEnroe, Genie Bouchard, and Pete Sampras. Photo: FilmMagic

Nike crew: Rafael Nadal, Madison Keys, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Nick Kyrgios, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, John McEnroe, Genie Bouchard, and Pete Sampras. Photo: FilmMagic

On the same day controversial Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios was handed his final warning from the ATP, Nike paraded the 20-year-old with a galaxy of tennis stars at a promotional event in New York.

Kyrgios, who needs to stay out of trouble for six months to avoid a $US25,000 ($34,728) fine and a 28-day suspension from the ATP World Tour, joined Nike’s all-star cast of Rafael Nadal, Madison Keys, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova,  Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, John McEnroe, Genie Bouchard, and Pete Sampras at the event in New York.

Not deterred by his recent slips of the tongue, Kyrgios was miked-up for the event in Greenwich Village where he was in a jovial mood as he mixed with current and former tennis champions. He even got a free lesson from tennis legend Pete Sampras when he told him to: ‘behave, young man’.

The world no. 37 will be fined and suspended if he is commits “verbal or physical abuse” before February 24. Earlier this month he was heard on camera making lewd suggestions regarding Wawrinka’s girlfriend Donna Vekic and another Australian player, Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Shane Tritton Stables, Majors Lane, Keinbah. Shane Tritton with Suave Stuey LomboSHANE Tritton will have the chance to equal a NSW record for winners trained nationally in a season when he continues his Victorian campaign with two runners at Stawell on Wednesday.

Although his hopes of a maiden state title appear gone, the Keinbah trainer will look to close on another piece of history when I Asked Nicely and Just Stopandstare compete in the first and third races respectively.

Tritton has 194 wins in NSW to trail defending champion Steve Turnbull by 10 with just six days remaining in the season, but he looks set to challenge the Bathurst trainer’s record on a bigger stage.

Turnbull had 217 winners in total for 2013-14 to finish with the most in Australia by a NSW trainer in one season.

Tritton sits on 215 victories for 2014-15 and has only a handful of meetings to surpass Turnbull’s national mark.

His hopes of winning the three-year-old fillies Breeders Crown final with Katy Perry on Sunday at Melton suffered a blow on Monday when she drew poorly in nine.

Katy Perry was an impressive second in the semi-finals on Saturday night but will start from gate two on the back row in the $174,000 final. Semi-final winners The Orange Agent and Ameretto drew 10 and one respectively.

Meanwhile, Anthony Butt will drive I Asked Nicely and Jaimie-Lee King will steer Just Stopandstare on Wednesday at Stawell.

Another chance for Tritton this week in Victoria is Marty Monkhouser from gate two in the group2 Graduate Pacers Free For All on Friday night at Melton.

Back home, Tritton will race Burning Cash at Menangle on Saturday night, but his best hopes of going past 217 winners will likely come at Newcastle.

Tritton will cap his sixth consecutive Newcastle premiership with runners at the track on Saturday night and on the last day of the season on Monday.

Tritton’s partner, Lauren Panella, will wrap up her maiden NSW drivers’ premiership with 167 winners despite being sidelined since a fall on June 13 left her with a broken hand. Robert Morris is next best on 133.

Panella and Tritton last season became the first people from the Hunter to win NSW metropolitan premierships.

AT least $1 million will be on offer each year for community infrastructure projects such as boat ramps and cycleways through a new fund to be established off the back of the long-term lease of the Port of Newcastle.

Planning minister Rob Stokes will announce on Wednesday that the fund will be set up using revenue earned by the leaseholder, Port of Newcastle Investments.

“As we experience strong growth in Newcastle, it is vital the community reaps the benefits of this progress,” Mr Stokes said.

“This funding will be available for a range of projects, including those with an environmental, recreational or tourism focus, and I encourage organisations such as community groups, not-for-profits and the local council to apply for a share of this money.”

The projects must be within the ‘‘environs of the port’’, and be worth between about $10,000 to $500,000. They could include boat ramps, pollution mitigation measures, car parks, cycleways or landscaping.

But the government is also open to other suggestions. The existing Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund board will assess applications and recommend which projects should get the money.

A ‘‘call for projects’’ process will begin within weeks, run through the Hunter Development Corporation.

Applicants need the the land owner’s consent for the project. Most of the land near the port falls under the lease.

The cash is an annual contribution required of Port of Newcastle Investments, under the lease arrangements.

The government said it was a contracted payment calculated on 1per cent of the port’s navigation services charge that is levied on large vessels, which was not increased as part of the lease deal. That money must be topped up, if need be, to tally at least $1million for the community. Before the port privatisation, the Newcastle Port Corporation also provided support for community programs.

Construction and mining services group Watpac has worked to rehabilitate its balance sheet and will look to the year ahead with a share buyback and new projects.

As the last piece of the repair, the group reported a $9.1 million impairment to residual industrial property assets, which took the statutory profit to $11.5 million for the 2014-15 year, down 35.4 per cent on the previous year.

This was offset by the stronger contracting business, where the group has won a number of projects including the York & George apartment and retail project in central Sydney and the Melbourne Park redevelopment.

Watpac’s contracting revenue was $929 million, up from $857 million, while revenue from mining and civil revenue was $284 million, down marginally.

No distribution was paid.

Watpac managing director Martin Monro said its better balance sheet meant the group was “backing” itself with a buy back of 10 per cent of its issued shares.

“This was seen as the most efficient approach to provide shareholder value,” Mr Monro said.

“We will continue to explore capital management initiatives to enhance shareholder value, with flexibility to consider other strategic options maintained with the on-market share buyback.

“There are signs that NSW has got its mojo back in term of new construction and infrastructure projects and Victoria is also in good shape. Queensland remains tough, but showing positive signs in the past few months.”

Mr Monro said Watpac had a total construction forward order book of almost $1.2 billion across a number of sectors, while the mining and civil business continued to deliver profit despite difficult conditions, and had recently converted several contracts.

“The focus for us will be more of the same in the coming year, but we do see genuine and sustainable signs of improvement and robustness emerging across the country,” he said.

“There is $150 million in net cash which gives us new-found health in the balance sheet, to be able to pay debt and return equity and bid on new projects.

“We remain confident of our strength in contracting, and we will continue to explore opportunities in the resources sector as they come to market.”

Josh Kerr of Tweed Heads, winning in Round 4 of the Billabong Pro Tahiti with a heat total of 13.20 points (out of a possible 20.00) to advance in to the Quarter Finals at Teahupoo, Tahiti on 24 August 2015. Picture: © WSL / CestariPhotographer: Kelly CestariAUSTRALIAN surfers have shone in the fourth round of the Billabong Surf Pro in Tahiti, with Owen Wright and Josh Kerr earning direct advances to the quarter-finals.

Owen triumphed over Filipe Toledo and fellow Aussie Kai Otton with a score of 8.17, while Kerr trumped Wiggolly Dantas and giant-killing Spaniard Aritz Aranburu to qualify directly for the final eight.

Aranburu had earlier eliminated second-ranked Mick Fanning in a shock third-round victory.

Defending Tahiti champion Gabriel Medina and 11-time WSL champion Kelly Slater also held off stiff competition to snare the other two automatic quarter-final spots.

Earlier, a perfect-10 wave score from lowly ranked American CJ Hobgood thwarted Julian Wilson’s chance to leap to the top of the standings.

The Australian world title contender was eliminated after losing his third-round battle 13.60 to 9.50.

The world No.36 pulled a rabbit out of a hat in the last five minutes of an otherwise uneventful heat, emerging faultlessly from a barrel that looked to have swallowed him up.

It was the first ‘‘perfect-10’’ of the tournament.

Hobgood then lost to Slater in round four and will now compete for a quarter-final spot with Aranburu.

Wilson joins Fanning as Australians to have missed an opportunity to capitalise on the elimination of Brazilian ratings leader Adriano de Souza.

Australia’s Joel Parkinson (14.60) was also bundled out earlier by French competitor Jeremy Flores. AAP