Investors are beginning to take tentative steps back towards the technology sector, but with many still bearing the scars of the recent slump they are proving extremely selective. Analysts suggest early signs of a recovery remain faint however, with just a handful of local stocks managing to recoup a large chunk of their recent losses, while the lion’s share wallow at steep discounts to recent highs. “Some people were waiting for a setback and are moving in, and others have cleaned out their portfolios and then said ‘Let’s just start again, but this time we’ll be more careful,'” said Brent Mitchell, research manager at Shaw Stockbroking. Those investors who rushed lemming-like to the sector when its rally seemed unstoppable, are now adopting much more stringent policies regarding companies’ management, cash resources, earnings potential and alliances before they invest. “People are looking at the business models, and it’s finally dawned on people that they aren’t sustainable,” Mitchell said. There are about 14 corporations conducting Internet gaming sites within Australia and about 800 worldwide, many of the latter being unregulated organizations originating in the Caribbean.
According to recent welfare system reports, Australia has about 300,000 problem gamblers. Gaming Australian industry estimates also show that Internet gaming is likely to boom after 2013 with Australians projected to be gaming about $3.5billion by that year. Retail trading volumes have taken a recent dive and institutional investors are largely unwilling to stray from the country’s six to ten biggest tech stocks”People’s risk tolerance has come down quite a bit, as they’re not so certain of growth,” said a Sydney based technology analyst who declined to be named. Analysts said the prospects for new issues also remained uncertain, noting the performance of Seven Network Ltd’s B Digital Ltd unit, which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on Tuesday at a 10 percent discount. Recent issues such as GOCORP Ltd and Legalco Ltd are trading at hefty discounts, but there have been some bright spots. Objectif Telecommunications Ltd is now 325 percent above its issue price, while billing software firm Hansen Technologies Ltd is 20 percent above its issue price. Continuing volatility is not deterring other firms from trying their luck however, with communications services firm Optecom Ltd lining up to list on Friday.
“New floats are still difficult, and companies need to have a reasonable track record and good earnings. That’s probably still the bottom line, ” David Perry, research director at Austock Brokers said. “It will stop people losing their homes from their lounge rooms” said Regis Controls chief executive officer, Elik Szewach.”You can never stop the Internet so we’re hoping the government takes the initiative and takes a national regulatory role and does it heavily. “Mr Szewach said one of the exciting aspects of the REGIS system was that it could be set up to control the use of poker machines at casinos, simply by replacing the coin slot with a smartcard unit. The system was well received by the Senate information technologies committee’s Netbets: A review of online gaming in Australia inquiry”, which reported to parliament in March. It’s certainly the best thing I had been able to see. It is certainly better than self-regulation, it’s more certain, “according to a committee member, Tasmanian Liberal Senator Paul Calvert”.
We had all sorts of guarantees from the different casinos involved saying, “We’re going to have a very strict code of conduct”, but (it is better) if you have a smartcard system that only gives you access to online gaming when you have got X amount of dollars in your account”, Senator Calvert said. “The impressive part about it was that if you were a problem gambler once you get to a certain limit it stops. “The Federal Government in May instituted a 12-month moratorium on Internet gaming, which stopped further Australian sites opening. A government spokesman said Prime Minister John Howard was keen to ban online gaming, however, Internet experts say there is no way of stopping people accessing Internet gaming sites, especially those based overseas. Firms such as business software firm MYOB Ltd, which has more than clawed back its recent losses, are hard to find. Larger firms such as smartcard developer ERG Ltd and Keycorp Ltd, an e-commerce and smartcard technology group, are off their recent lows but still languishing way below their 2015 highs. And the future for scores of smaller firms continues to look tough with companies such as Internet firm Spike Networks Ltd trailing over 80 percent below their year highs.