Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

Sydney Top Companies 2019

1. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)

Market Cap: $125.63b
FY18 profit: $9.38b
FY18 revenue: $26.1b

Listed: 1991
CEO: Matt Comyn
CEO Salary: $2.85m

Battered and bruised by the Royal Banking Commission, Australia's largest publicly traded company has been on the recovery path since its shares hit five-year lows in October.

Revelations the bank had charged fees to dead customers were perhaps the most scandalous to come out of the hearings, but CBA was also embroiled in a money laundering investigation which cost it a $700 million civil penalty - the largest fine in Australian corporate history.

In November, CEO Matt Comyn admitted the bank had failed to give law enforcement agencies the necessary information in relation to intelligent automatic cash deposit machines (IDMs), which could have led to earlier prosecutions.

Around the same time in October that CBA was taking steps to refund unauthorised fees on deceased estates and rebate grandfathered commissions, Slater and Gordon launched its 'Get Your Super Back' class action against the bank and its subsidiary Colonial First State.

The law firm alleges Colonial First State invested members' retirement savings with CBA at uncompetitive interest rates, and believes the claim could exceed $100 million.

Shortly after, the bank's shares were almost 19 per cent lower than at the start of 2018, and at the time of preparing this list they have risen to levels that are around 9 per cent lower, partly thanks to a less punitive final Royal Commission report than expected.

Like all of Australia's major banks, CBA is reforming in a bid to regain the trust of customers.

All senior leaders now have 20-30 per cent of their performance metrics tied to the company's Remedial Action Program, in theory incentivising both ethics and financial performance amongst executives.

The business model is also changing to stay competitive in a rapidly-changing and very uncertain global marketplace. The group is demerging its wealth management and mortgage brokering businesses, and meanwhile staying ahead of the curve with new technologies.

In August CBA was chosen by the World Bank to deliver the world's first blockchain bond, playfully named 'bond-i', and only recently became Australia's first bank to provide Alipay an essential in-store payments system that has become an integral part of e-commerce for China.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

2. Westpac Banking Corporation (WBC)

Market Cap: $90.6b
FY18 profit: $8.07b
FY18 revenue: $23.6b

Listed: 1970
CEO: Brian Hartzer
CEO Salary: $4.94m

As a sign of the times Australia's second-largest bank printed the following words on its Annual Report last year: "Strength. Service. Trust?"

This unconventional slogan was accompanied by the photo of a customer who had saved thousands of dollars thanks to an intervention from Westpac's digital fraud team.

It's a PR strategy that tackled the public's perception of the bank and the financial sector at large head on in the wake of the Royal Commission.

The company delivered flat earnings for the year, and at the time of writing its shares were down 16.5 per cent on the start of 2018.

"While the economic environment remains supportive, this result reflects the tough operating conditions for banks, with higher regulatory, compliance and funding costs, and increased competitive pressure particularly in the second half," said CEO Brian Hartzer.

The company described the Royal Commission as a "valuable and rigorous process", having revealed confronting stories and examples of poor behaviour from banks that have impacted trust in the industry.

"For me, complaints handling was the most disappointing issue to emerge this year," Hartzer said.

In response the bank chief appointed Carolyn McCann as group executive for customer and corporate relations, with a new division that centralises all complaints handling.

"A particular focus of the Group has been the identification and resolution of long-outstanding customer matters, with our team working to make things right for customers," he said.

"In the short term, the media attention surrounding the Royal Commission, as well as the launch of the new Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), will likely see complaint volumes remain elevated for some time.

"However we are confident that we now have the right level of focus across the company on resolving customer issues and the root causes of complaints.

Hartzer is optimistic about the Australian economy with inflation and unemployment rates relatively low, coupled with government commitment to infrastructure while exports are bolstered by the low Aussie dollar.

Despite the negative publicity, Westpac grew its number of customers by a quarter of a million in 2018, and Hartzer highlights levels of business customer satisfaction improved relative to the major banks.
Westpac Banking Corporation (WBC) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

3. Macquarie Group Limited (MQG)

Market Cap: $42.48b
FY18 profit: $1.3b
FY18 revenue: $5.5b

Listed: 2007
CEO: Shemara Wikramanayake
CEO Salary: $18.9m

In the wake of the GFC, shares in Macquarie Group were worth almost a tenth of what they are now, but since then the company has gone on to become the world's largest infrastructure asset manager with significant global clout.

As it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the company also boasts the title of having Australia's highest-paid female CEO Shemara Wikramanayake.

The market responded positively to the announcement Macquarie would be led by Wikramanayake, who has been with the group since 1987 and was previously the head of its asset management arm.

Net profit was up 5 per cent year-on-year in the first half of FY19, bolstered by the diversity of its business mix and an ability to adapt to changing conditions, according to former CEO Nicholas Moore who stepped down from the role at the end of November.

Wikramanayake's leadership became effective on 1 December, a month that saw "satisfactory" trading conditions according to a recently published operational briefing.

Despite issues around Macquarie's inclusion in a tax investigation from German authorities, management has forecast a 15 per cent year-on-year lift for the FY19 result.

"Macquarie remains well positioned to deliver superior performance in the medium term," the new executive said on 12 February, highlighting the benefits of cost initiatives, a strong and conservative balance sheet and a proven risk management culture.

Macquarie Group Limited (MQG) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

4. Woolworths Limited (WOW)

Consumer Staples
Market Cap: $39.84b
FY18 profit: $1.72b
FY18 revenue: $61.5b

Listed: 1993
CEO: Brad Banducci
CEO Salary: $3.87m

With its $560 million automated distribution centre set to open in Melbourne this calendar year, Australia's largest food retailer is taking the fight to online and discount stores in an unprecedented productivity push.

With its leading competitor Coles (ASX: COL) now independent following its demerger from Wesfarmers (ASX: WES), Woolworths is pulling out all stops to keep its pole position.

The retailer reportedly performed better than Coles over the Christmas period, having lagged somewhat earlier in 1HFY19 as its competitor scored a win with customers thanks to its 'Coles Little Shop' mini collectables.

Woolies' response was the 'Christmas Pop-Outs'. Ideas like this make for novel headlines, but it will ultimately be the retailer's value proposition, store formats and distribution models that determine its success.

Sales from continuing operations rose 3.4 per cent in FY18 with improvements in customer feedback driven by the ease of pick-up services, its fruit and vegetable lines and product availability.

"The rollout of Pick up across the Group was a highlight in F18 with it now available in approximately 3000 sites and it has been a material driver of our strong online growth," CEO Brad Banducci said at the company's AGM.

Woolworths is keeping abreast of changing consumer preferences as well, and has seen double-digit sales growth for its metro convenience store format.

But consumer demographics vary. Following its competitor's lead with the 'Coles Local' format introduction in Melbourne, in December Woolworths opened its own experiential retail play with 'The Kitchen' store in Double Bay, Sydney.

With hundreds of products that are unique to the location, a strong presence of its own 'Macro' wellness brand and kombucha on tap, the retailer will glean insights and ideas from this interesting foray into the organic-hipster-foodie market; hopefully more successful than Woolies' attempts to compete with Bunnings a few years ago.

Serving 29 million customers per week and with retail lines that also include a Big W in turnaround mode, as well as bottle stores BWS and Dan Murphy's, the group will soon have an influx of cash with the sale of its petrol business to the UK's EG Group for $1.725 billion.

In the petrol space the company renewed its ties to Caltex in mid-2018, while the group also owns the country's largest network of pokies through its joint venture ALH Group.

Woolworths Limited (WOW) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

5. Goodman Group (GMG)

Real Estate
Market Cap: $23.42b
FY18 profit: $1.1b
FY18 revenue: $2.67b

Listed: 2005
CEO: Gregory Goodman
CEO Salary: $10.7m

Goodman Group has shot through the ranks of Sydney's Top Companies this year with a solid industrial property portfolio lifting shares by more than 40 per cent.

The real estate owner, developer and manager counts high profile clients as tenants of its $42.9 billion worth of properties, including DHL, Japan Post, Wesfarmers, Kuehne + Nagel, BMW, and Walmart.

But after securing Amazon's first lease in Sydney at the Centenary Distribution Centre, the e-commerce multinational is now Goodman's biggest customer accounting for around 4.5 per cent of net income on a look through basis.

Early this year, the company also secured a leasing deal in Brisbane for one of two massive automated ambient distribution centres to be built by Coles.

With 98 per cent occupancy and a strategy to own properties close to key infrastructure nodes such as roads, rail, ports and airports, Goodman Group has a development work book of 68projects in 12 countries.

Almost 40 per cent of its property value is located in Australia and New Zealand, followed by Asia (China and Japan) at $14.6 billion and Europe at $8.2 billion.

The company forecasts earnings per share to rise 9.5 per cent this year.

"Our customers across all industries are investing in the evolution of their supply chains," says CEO Greg Goodman, who founded the business 30 years ago.

"With more than US$67 billion expected to be invested in robotics by 2025, having high-quality industrial facilities, close to their customers, that are designed to house their investment in technology, is a key component of their strategy," he says.

"With our group's portfolio located where our customers want to be, we are seeing consistently high occupancy, increased rental growth, strong demand for new product and higher valuations in our markets."

Goodman Group (GMG) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

6. Scentre Group (SCG)

Market Cap: $21.21b
FY17 profit: $2.29b
FY18 funds from operations (FFO): $1.34b

Listed: 2014
CEO: Peter Allen
CEO Salary: $8.9m

While the Lowy family may have sold the Westfield Corporation to major French property firm Unibail-Rodamco last year, Australian and New Zealand shopping centres under the brand have remained separate as part of the Scentre Group since 2014.

Scentre has managed to weather the doom and gloom around retail, with more than 99.5 per cent occupancy over its 41 shopping centres.

In a November trading update, CEO Peter Allen highlighted the successful recent opening of more than $1 billion worth of redevelopment works across four Australian states.

"Redevelopments at Westfield Carousel, Westfield Kotara and Westfield Tea Tree Plaza, our first greenfield at Westfield Coomera as well as Westfield Plenty Valley earlier in the year have collectively added 106,000 sqm to the portfolio," he said.

"Each redevelopment has been designed to elevate the customer experience, differentiate our product offering and maintain our position as the premium location for our retailers to succeed."

In the group's full year results announced on 20 February, the company highlighted 3.9 per cent growth in funds from operations (FFO).

"We are very pleased to deliver these strong results, in line with our forecast.  Our results demonstrate the quality of our platform and the implementation of our strategy, which continues to generate long-term earnings growth and value for our securityholders," Allen said.

"Our 41 Westfield living centres are an integral part of the Australian and New Zealand communities they serve, and today's results demonstrate the strength and resilience of our business through economic cycles.

"During 2018, annual customer visitation increased by 5 million to 535 million and annual in-store sales increased by $1 billion to $24 billion. Occupancy across our portfolio continues to be greater than 99% as it has been for more than 20 years."

The Westfield empire was founded by Sir Frank Lowy in 1960, and his son Steve Lowy announced in November that he would retire from the board this April.

"It has been a privilege to serve on the board of Scentre Group since it was established following the restructure of the Westfield Group in 2014," Steve Lowy said.

"It is not easy to leave a position in a business that has been such a large part of my life for over 30 years. I do so knowing that Scentre Group is in great hands and is well positioned for future growth," he said.

In January the company underwent another leadership reshuffle with the announced retirement of chief financial officer Mark Bloom for Scentre's annual general meeting (AGM) in April, making way for Elliott Rusanow who is currently based in the US as Westfield Corporation's CFO.

6. Scentre Group (SCG) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

7. Brambles (BXB)

Market Cap: $17.64b
FY18 profit: US$747.1m
FY18 revenue: US$5,596.6m

Listed: 2006
CEO: Graham Chipchase
CEO salary: US$2.46m

Brambles is one Australia's largest companies, and perhaps one of its most important thanks to the continually growing global supply chain we're more reliant on than ever.

According to Brambles the company helps move goods to people worldwide in more places than any other organisation on earth. It creates the pallets, crates and containers that goods are shipped in 24/7 helping form what it describes as "the invisible backbone of the global supply chain".

Focusing mainly on fast-moving consumer goods, produce, beverages, retail and general manufacturing, Brambles has a share in basically every aspect of modern retail, and the global economy.

During FY18, the company saw a significant boost in revenue reflecting strong volume growth in its key pallet manufacturing business across Europe, Latin America and Australia.

Whilst increases in the company's underlying profit remain below revenue growth, Brambles' CEO Graham Chipchase says the company has commenced implementing initiatives to improve profitability over the medium term.

A more structural aspect of this is the planned separation of the Brambles' reusable plastic container (RPC) business IFCO, which on 25 February the group announced would be sold to Triton and Luxinva for $2.51 billion.

"We are pleased today to announce the sale of IFCO which we believe delivers greater value for shareholders, including a significant return of cash proceeds to shareholders," said chairman Stephen Johns.

"The sale will allow Brambles to focus on our strategic priorities and to pursue continued revenue growth within our core markets, while also reviewing additional opportunities in emerging markets, through product and service innovation and use of technology through the supply chain.

"Our ambition remains to lead the platform pooling industry in customer service, innovation and sustainability."

In FY18 the company's US pallets business returned to historic levels of volume growth and successfully implemented contractual surcharges in response to accelerating rates of transport, lumber and labour inflation in the second half of the year.

By the end of 1H19 revenue had steadied, increasing by 7 per cent, but profit has depressed by 25 per cent to US$321.4 million.

Closer to home, the company's Asia-Pacific business delivered solid revenue growth as the company begins to focus with more discipline on emerging markets like China.

As a key cog in the international economy, the company understands its impact on the environment is sizeable, with Chipchase saying they are working on improvements in the area.

"The fast-moving consumer goods and retail sectors are changing rapidly," says Chipchase.

"Our customers are increasingly under pressure to meet changing consumer demands more efficiently and sustainably. As the leader in sustainable supply chains, we are uniquely positioned to help our customers navigate this evolving landscape by delivering innovative solutions that reduce both the cost and environmental footprint of their supply chains."

Brambles (BXB) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

8. Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG)

Market Cap: $17.17b
FY18 profit: $923m
FY18 revenue: $11.6b

Listed: 2000
CEO: Peter Harmer
CEO Salary: $4.5m

Insurance Australia Group shares fell steadily over the second half of the 2018 calendar year, despite notching growth in its gross written premiums (GWP) a key metric in the sector and a capital management initiative.

The board of the company, which until the early 2000s was known as NRMA Insurance Group, essentially gave a vote of confidence in IAG through a share consolidation.

In late November, stockholders were given $0.25 per share but still kept the same share proportions as before.

The insurer described sound consumer returns and improvement for the Australian business in the first half of FY19, as well as a strong performance in New Zealand.

Allowing for one-off influences, Insurance Australia Group's GWP was up 4.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis for the period while premium growth of 2-4 per cent is expected for the current financial year.

The group is also expected to book a net profit of $200 million from the sale of its operations in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, but the group is still keeping some of its presence in Asian markets.

"In Asia, we completed the sale of our Thailand business and expect to complete the sale of our Vietnam and Indonesia businesses before 30 June 2019," says CEO Peter Harmer.

"We continue to assess options relating to our joint ventures in India and Malaysia."

8. Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

9. Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ALL)

Consumer Discretionary
Market Cap: $15.84b
FY18 profit: $616.9m
FY18 revenue: $3.6b

Listed: 1996
CEO: Trevor Croker
CEO Salary: $4.54m

Poker machine manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure pulled the lever on a big push into digital slots gaming in FY18 and cashed in with a 9.6 per cent uptick in profit.

Early on in the financial year it acquired social gaming company Plarium from Israel, followed by the purchase of casual games platform Big Fish in the US.

The digital segment now contributes to more than a quarter of Aristocrat's profits, while the growth of new games on Product Madness a startup Aristocrat Technologies acquired in 2012 has helped drive a rise in daily user numbers.

"Aristocrat delivered strong, high quality earnings growth over the 2018 fiscal year, against a backdrop of mostly flat markets and increasing competitive pressures," said US-based CEO Trevor Croker after delivering full-year results in late 2018.

"Pleasingly, the result was driven by strong organic growth across our land-based businesses and Product Madness, driven by an increasingly broad and competitive product portfolio together with effective execution and a focus on customers and innovation."

However, a November opinion from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) was made public in mid-January asserting all internet gambling is illegal. It is yet to be seen what kind of impact this may have on Aristocrat.

In February the company is set to have a new chairman at the helm in Neil Chatfield, who is also chairman of integrated fresh produce company Costa Group and a director of toll-road behemoth Transurban.

Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ALL) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

10. Sydney Airport (SYD)

Market Cap: $15.6b
FY18 profit: $860.9m
FY18 revenue: $1.58b

Listed: 2002
CEO: Geoff Culbert
CEO Salary: $4.8m

Location, location, location. Sydney Airport has got just that when it comes to riding the waves of tourism, migration and business travel.

In the year to December, passenger numbers were up 2.5 per cent and growth was higher still for international visitors at 4.7 per cent.

Chinese visitors have been the leading source of overseas arrivals, but growth has been seen from other visitor origins such as well.

"Sydney's fastest growing foreign nationalities in December align with the full year growth trends with American (13.1% Dec, 9.4% 2018), Japanese (10.7% Dec, 7.4% 2018) and Indian (9.8% Dec, 13.8% 2018) visitors, consistently strong throughout the year," said CEO Geoff Culbert.

UBS research has found Chinese residents have put Australia down to fourth place in their most popular tourist destinations from second place six months earlier but just how much impact that will have on growth is still uncertain.

For the moment the operators of this key piece of infrastructure can be content in a record result for FY18, bolstered by strong passenger numbers, efficient capital investment, tightly controlled costs and an excellent performance across its non-aeronautical businesses

The latter includes retail with sales up 8.9 per cent, property and car rental with revenue up 10.9 per cent thanks to new investments in hotels, and car parking and ground transport up 2.1 per cent.

The airport also secured a deal with Origin Energy and Grassroots Renewable Energy to source electricity from a wind farm near Mudgee, which is under construction and due for completion later this year.

Culbert also hailed the September approval of the Sydney Gateway as a "game changer" for reducing congestion around the airport.

"It is exciting to think that soon you will be able to drive from Parramatta to the airport and back without passing through a single traffic light," he said.

"Sydney Gateway will enhance the passenger experience, support the efficiency of our airline and freight operators and ease the commute for the 31,000 people that work at the airport.

"It also provides an opportunity for airport land to be better utilised with improved airside connections which will support growing passenger and freight operations."

In September the group also welcomed ANZ chairman David Gonski AC to its board as a non-executive director.

"David brings with him decades of experience working successfully in business and with all levels of Australian government. We expect he will make a valuable contribution to our board and senior leadership team," Culbert said at the time.

Sydney Airport (SYD) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

11. QBE Insurance Group Limited (QBE)

Market Cap: $15.04b
FY18 profit: US$390m
FY18 revenue: US$15.4b
Listed: 1973

CEO: Pat Regan
CEO salary: $3.88m

Insurance giant QBE has staged a remarkable turnaround following a rough start to 2018 marked by a series of natural disasters during the hurricane season in the Americas.

Before announcing its FY17 results in January 2018, the company flagged a full-year loss of $1.5 billion on almost US$1 billion of one-off costs associated with natural disasters in North America and the Caribbean.

However, on 25 February this year the picture could not have been more different with a net profit after tax (NPAT) of $390 million for FY18.

QBE Group CEO Pat Regan noted the performance could be attributed to significantly improved attritional claims experience across all divisions, coupled with a reduced level of catastrophe claims.

"The actions we have taken to simplify the Group, implement a rigorous performance management framework and upgrade core capabilities in pricing, risk selection and claims management delivered meaningful improvement in the underlying quality of our business and our financial performance in 2018," he said.

During the first half of 2018 the company sold some of its businesses including its Latin American operations to Zurich Insurance Group and its Australian and New Zealand travel insurance business to nib.

The company also commenced the process to exit North American Personal lines operations with a sale to Liberty Mutual.

In October 2018 the company announced it had streamlined its operations by restructuring the company. Now QBE has three arms: International (comprised of its European and Asian operations), Australia Pacific (comprised of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and India) and North America.

QBE Insurance Group Limited (QBE) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

12. AGL Energy Limited (AGL)

Market Cap: $14.45b
FY18 profit: $1,59b
FY18 revenue: $12.8b

Listed: 2006
CEO: Brett Redman
CEO salary: $5.76m

In Federal politics the cost of electricity has become a major talking point.

Whether it's actual rising electricity prices or an attempt to shoehorn coal power and non-renewables back into the national agenda, it's certainly got the PM's gab going.

But all that talk didn't appear to make a dent in AGL's final figures for FY18. In fact, statutory profit after tax was up for the company by 194 per cent in the financial year.

When you've got Canberra demonising you for causing Australians to drain their savings just to get the aircon running, a $1.59 billion profit doesn't really taste too good.

In response AGL's former managing director and CEO Andy Vesey tried to turn the heat down with the introduction of new energy supplies for Australia an investment of $2 billion that he says is "more than any other company in Australia".

This investment is mostly taking the form of renewables, but AGL hasn't completely ditched coal altogether.

The push into new energy sources includes a wind farm at Coopers Gap in Queensland, a new dual-fuel power station at Barker Inlet in South Australia, and in New South Wales the expansion of their Bayswater coal-fired power station.

Most recently AGL completed construction of a new battery storage facility on the Yorke Peninsula, SA. The 30-megawatt battery is set to provide improved power reliability for the region which is prone to blackouts.

Noting political movements nationwide, Vesey put his complete support behind the National Energy Guarantee.

"If the National Energy Guarantee is settled, we anticipate being able to make further progress on new electricity generation projects including potentially additional gas-fired generation and pumped hydro generation, as well as battery storage projects in the long term," Vesey said.

AGL's dedication to investment means FY19's profit is looking about the same as FY18, with the company offering guidance of between $970 million and $1.07 billion.

Vesey stepped down as CEO of AGL at the beginning of 2019, replaced by Brett Redman, AGL's CFO from 2012.

AGL Energy Limited (AGL) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

13. ASX Limited (ASX)

Market Cap: $14.45b
FY18 profit: $445.1m
FY18 revenue: $822.7m

Listed: 1998
CEO: Dominic Stevens
CEO salary: $3.45m

As the backbone behind the largest companies in Australia, it's pleasing when the ASX reports a largely uncomplicated financial year.

Low levels of market volatility in FY18 did cut back at ASX's cash market trading, but ultimately that allowed the company to focus on improving its hardy systems.

Technological progress and upgrades were a key theme for ASX as it maintains pace with the world's largest bourses.

These improvements included replacing CHESS with distributed ledger technology, the evolution of the rules and guidance for listed companies to keep the ASX standards high, and the development of the company's multi-year program to upgrade technology with investments in staff, physical hardware and systems.

CEO Dominic Stevens says the public has expectations of the ASX that it always strives to meet.

"Like all businesses exposed to increasingly complex technology and risk environments, ASX continues to lift its standards to keep meeting the rising expectations of our shareholders," says Stevens.

"We are working constructively with our customers, regulators and the wider community to meet those expectations."

During FY18 there were 137 new entities listed on the ASX, down by 15 on FY17.

ASX Limited (ASX) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

14. Origin Energy Limited (ORG)

Market Cap: $13.49b
FY18 profit: $218m
FY18 revenue: $2.65b

Listed: 1961
CEO: Frank Calabria
CEO Salary: $2.96m

An uncertain political and regulatory environment combined with oil price fluctuations has put Origin Energy under strain, and its share price has fallen by around 16 per cent over the past year.

In its Annual Report released in September, the gas and electricity energy provider and producer forecast a lower energy markets EBITDA outlook for FY19 of $1.5-1.6 billion, down from $1.8 billion in FY18.

In November, the group sought to improve its competitiveness in the eyes of consumers by offering a 10 per cent discount to 230,000 concession card holders, with the policy effective since January.

"We understand many customers have been doing it tough since the sudden exit of two large coal-fired power stations caused electricity prices to spike in 2017, so we are making sure our most vulnerable customers on low incomes get some price relief in 2019," said CEO Frank Calabria.

"However, it's time to look seriously at how more substantial reductions could be achieved for customers.

"This includes following the ACCC's recommendations to look at actions right across the energy supply chain, and through urgent progress on coordinated climate and energy policy that can guide the transition to a low carbon future at least cost to the community."

In a quarterly report released in late January, the energy provider noted record quarterly revenue of $741 million for its Australia Pacific liquefied natural gas (LNG) business.

Origin Energy Limited (ORG) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

15. Dexus Property Group (DXS)

Real Estate
Market Cap: $12.41b
FY18 profit: $52.5m
FY18 revenue: $131m

Listed: 2004
CEO: Darren Steinberg
CEO Salary: $4.9m

While property prices in major Australian cities have been under pressure over the past 12 months, Dexus Property Group has seen the valuation of its assets rise by $405 million, or 3.1 per cent.

"From a capital perspective we are still seeing strong transactional activity and demand for quality properties across the key Australian capital cities driven by global and domestic capital seeking real assets with solid income streams," CEO Darren Steinberg said in a December announcement.

However, profits were down by more than a quarter in the first half of FY19 despite an increase in funds from operations.

"It has been a productive six-month period where we have added value through enhancing our development pipeline and attracting new investors to our funds management business," Steinberg said this month.

The company is also reportedly in the running to potentially buy half of Sydney's MLC Centre after GPT announced plans to divest its share in the office tower in mid-January.

The cashing in of sovereign wealth vehicle the Future Fund has meant Dexus also has a new partner in the form of global investment manager M&G Real Estate for its Dexus Industrial Partnership.

The news came within a month of the company announcing the establishment of the Dexus Australian Logistics Trust (DALT), a $2 billion wholesale unlisted logistics trust as a joint venture with GIV.

Still subject to approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), DALT would include GIV as a foundation investor with a 25 per cent share.

"This new vehicle broadens our relationships, providing a long-term source of capital to invest alongside us through the cycle," said Steinberg.

"We see further opportunities within the logistics sector as businesses seek to drive supply chain efficiencies and preferences for online retail continue to rise."

Dexus Property Group (DXS) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

16. Ramsay Health Care (RHC)

Health Care
Market Cap: $12.09b
FY18 profit: $579.3m
FY18 revenue: $9.2b

Listed: 1997
CEO: Craig Ralph McNally
CEO Salary: $6.2m

Australia's largest private hospital operator expects a "subdued outlook" this year after the share price was slammed to hit a four-year low in October.

Speaking at Ramsay Health Care's annual general meeting (AGM) in November, chairman Michael Siddle admitted growth had fallen short of expectations in FY18 due to "ongoing challenging operating conditions".

He clarified this included a difficult year in the UK in terms of National Health Service (NHS) budgetary constraints and demand management strategies, while Australia is not short on challenges either.

"In Australia, the significant focus on private health insurance and affordability concerns is creating some instability for the sector and, with a federal election looming this is not likely to resolve itself quickly," he said.

"While we expect challenging conditions to continue this year, and we have forecast lower than normal earnings growth, there are some positive signs for future growth particularly in the UK."

Last year the Ramsay board did however approve a record $325 million in capacity expansions and redevelopments for its hospitals in Australia, which is expected to meet growing demand while enhancing the patient care environment.

"As an example, the new stand-alone, purpose-built psychiatric clinic in Sydney's north St Leonards Clinic is a premier facility which will improve the patient experience and replaces our long standing Northside Clinic, which had outgrown its existing site," he said.

Overseas, Ramsay's French subsidiary also recently acquired Swedish health care operator Capio AB for $1 billion, giving the group a foothold in Scandinavia.

Ramsay Health Care (RHC) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

17. Sonic Healthcare Limited (SHL)

Health Care
Market Cap: $11.2b
FY18 profit: $475.6m
FY18 revenue: $5.54b

Listed: 1987
CEO: Dr Colin S Goldschmidt
CEO salary: $5,087,789

In addition to being one of Australia's largest providers of medical care centres, Sonic Healthcare is also one of the world's largest medical diagnostics companies.

With med-tech getting more refined each year, Sonic Healthcare certainly has a hefty amount of competition in Australia and overseas.

However, it continues to stand above the rest as a leader in Australia, regularly securing lucrative contracts and developing cutting edge technologies.

The 2018 financial year demonstrated the company's strengths, seeing both revenue and profit up quite healthily.

The company secured the national bowel screening program in Australia during FY18 as well as UK, Swiss, German, and American outsourcing contracts.

In late 2018 Sonic Healthcare acquired US anatomical pathology business Aurora Diagnostics for $750 million.

Aurora, a leader in its field in the States, has approximately 220 pathologists on staff at 32 different practices.

The company believes its acquisition of Aurora will give Sonic a hefty footprint in the USA.

As such, the company has acknowledged that its US business is tracking ahead of expectations for the 2019 financial year.

Sonic Healthcare Limited (SHL) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

18. APA Group (APA)

Market Cap: $10.95b
FY18 profit: $264.84m
FY18 revenue: $2.39b

Listed: 2000
CEO: Michael McCormack
CEO salary: $5.4m

Back in June natural gas and electricity company APA was in the process of being taken over by a Chinese consortium that was keen for a slice of Australia's energy market.

The $13 billion deal was led by CK Infrastructure Holdings and would have seen shareholders receive $11 per stapled security.

At the time of proposal, the offer was a 33 per cent premium to APA's $8.27 per share price.

However, the deal faced significant scrutiny and eventually was stopped in its tracks by the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Frydenberg blocked CK's takeover of APA on the basis that it would be "contrary to the national interest".

"I have formed this view on the basis that it would result in a single foreign company group having sole ownership and control over Australia's most significant gas transmission business," Frydenberg said on 20 November 2018.

With the deal unable to process the two companies ditched their plans and APA confirmed that its FY19 earnings were unlikely to be impacted as a result.

More recently APA canned its contract with a subsidiary of embattled engineering firm RCR Tomlinson. The deal was for the turnkey construction of APA's Darling Solar Farm.

APA Group (APA) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

19. GPT Group (GPT)

Real Estate
Market Cap: $10.72b
FY18 profit: $1.45b
FY18 funds from operations: $574.6m

Listed: 1971
CEO: Bob Johnston
CEO Salary: $4.5m

With plans to divest its 50 per cent stake in Sydney's MLC Centre for what pundits expect could be more than $800 million, GPT Group is shuffling a property portfolio now worth more than $13 billion.

After undergoing an upgrade to its food court and an extensive re-leasing program with the office tower, the building's income profile has risen in the past few years.

"The Sydney CBD office market has experienced significant rental growth and cap rate compression over the past fiveyears, and the Group's successful repositioning of the asset has generated exceptional returns for GPT," CEO Bob Johnston said when the announcement was made on 16 January.

Proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in GPT's development pipeline, including the Eclipse Tower in Paramatta it acquired last year as well as a new office tower at Melbourne central.

"Parramatta's office market already has one of the lowest vacancy rates for A-Grade office space in Australia and we continue to see strong demand for quality office space," Johnston said.

"The Group will also continue to seek new Logistics development opportunities following the completion of a number of successful developments over the past two years."

In GPT's FY18 results announced on 11 February, the property company highlighted 14.5 per cent year-on-year growth for net profit after tax to reach $1.45 billion.

"Our Office portfolio delivered excellent results and continued to benefit from its exposure to the Sydney and Melbourne office markets which we expect will continue to outperform in 2019," Johnston said.

"The Retail portfolio also delivered healthy growth in income and specialty sales productivity for the year further demonstrating the high quality of the portfolio and resilience of shopping centres that have the right customer proposition."

GPT Group (GPT) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

20. Cochlear (COH)

Health Care
Market Cap: $11.22b
FY18 profit: $245.8m
FY18 revenue: $1.35b

Listed: 1995
CEO: Diggory William Howitt
CEO Salary: $3.9m

Shares in hearing implant manufacturer Cochlear have rebounded since November despite a court ordered patent infringement of USD268 million ($369 million) hanging over its head in the US.

Cochlear has appealed the decision, resulting from a case brought by the Alfred E Mann Foundation and Advanced Bionics, and expects an outcome in around two years' time.

"We are surprised by the decision and do not agree with the reasons given by the judge. We will continue to defend the case and the next step in the litigation process is our appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals," said CEO Dig Howitt on 5 November.

The health technology group has arranged an insurance bond of US$335 million (US$470 million) to stay the judgment pending the appeal. Cochlear has set aside a provision for future costs associated with the issue, of which $19.6 million remains.

The company claims its current portfolio is not affected by the litigation as the patent at issue has expired, and if the appeal is unsuccessful the board is "confident that Cochlear will be able to access debt facilities to fund the existing decision and any award of interest and costs".

Since the judgment Cochlear has signed a new agreement with Danish firm GN Hearing to expand their Smart Hearing Alliance collaboration, along with a $21 million investment in obstructive sleep apnea treatment company Nyxoah S.A.

"By expanding our collaboration with GN Hearing, we're able to bring the latest in connectivity and wireless technology to our implant recipients more quickly," said Howitt.

In the first half of FY19 the group's profit rose 16 per cent to $711.9 million, boosted by growth in its services business including a strong performance in sound processor upgrade revenue.

Meanwhile, Cochlear's signature implant unit sales were up 5 per cent despite the challenge of a competitor launch in the US and health budget constraints in Europe.

"Japan was the highlight with strong demand following the expansion of indications and funding of cochlear implants in late 2017," Howitt said.

"Our emerging markets business had a strong start to the year with units growing by over 15%. Emerging markets provide a long-term growth opportunity as awareness of and affordability for cochlear implants expands.

Cochlear spends around $160 million every year in research and development, and has a workforce of more than 3,500 people worldwide.

The company is forecasting a net profit of $265-275 million for FY19, which would represent a 12 per cent uptick on FY18.

Cochlear (COH) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

21. Mirvac Group (MGR)

Real Estate
Market Cap: $9.47b
FY18 profit: $1.09b
FY18 revenue: $2.8b

Listed: 1999
CEO: Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz
CEO Salary: $5.9m

While property developer and manager Mirvac's CEO Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz expects "passive, secure and stable income growth" for the year ahead, that group's approach to construction is far from conservative.

With the raison d'être of reimagining and redefining cities, Mirvac has $18 billion in assets under management with most of its assets in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

"While there has been a continued moderation in some markets, particularly in the retail and residential sectors, the progress we have made during the first quarter positions us well to deliver on our objectives for the 2019 financial year," Lloyd-Hurwitz said in an update in October.

"The retail landscape has become increasingly competitive, and we have responded to this by reweighting the portfolio to the best and most resilient urban markets, focusing on centres that are located in densely populated, affluent, low unemployment catchments."

So far in FY19 the group has launched the Australian Build-to-Rent Club (ABTRC), with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) committing to a 30 per cent interest as a cornerstone investor.

The initial ABTRC asset Indigo, at the company's Pavilions project at Sydney Olympic Park, is due for completion in FY21.

The aim for Indigo and potentially other projects like it will be to provide a unique rental experience with on-site leasing and concierge, high-quality amenities, a resident program and sustainability features.

"We are proud to be pioneering this new sector in Australia, and we are encouraged by the recent announcement by the Victorian State Government to help establish the build-to-rent sector in their state, and look forward to working with the other states as this emerging sector evolves," said Lloyd-Hurwitz.

"Renting has become a lifestyle choice for a much wider group of people who want to be closer to work and other lifestyle services and amenity. We believe build-to-rent can provide renters with better choice, better quality and better security of tenure."

In Brisbane, Mirvac secured financial services provider Suncorp (ASX: SUN) as a tenant for its building 80 Ann St, for which it announced the sale of 50 per cent in the development to M&G Asia Property Fund for $418 million. The building is due for completion in FY22.

In Melbourne, the group has acquired 383 La Trobe Street in Melbourne for $122 million, and remains on track to reach completion of its office building 477 Collins Street in FY20.

For the first half the group delivered a 26 per cent increase in operating profit to $290 million, with earnings growth of 5 per cent anticipated for the full year.

Mirvac Group (MGR) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

22. Qantas Airways (QAN)

Market Cap: $9.31b
FY18 profit: $980m
FY18 revenue: $17b

Listed: 1995
CEO: Alan Joyce
CEO Salary: $10.9m

Australia's leading airline is spreading its wings to capture a greater share of the fly-in fly-out (FIFO) market through a 19.9 per cent investment in Brisbane-based Alliance Airlines made earlier this month.

Qantas has sought regulatory approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), with a view to taking a majority position in Alliance.

In addition to the target company's charter services in the Asia-Pacific region, its major strength is in FIFO for the mining and resources sectors in Queensland and Western Australia.

"We don't intend to have any involvement in the management of Alliance as a result of this transaction," said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

"Similarly, there is no impact on our own operations or our commercial arrangements with Alliance as a result of this announcement."

"Ultimately, we'd like to take a majority stake in Alliance in order to better serve the resources market."

After wrapping up FY18 on a high with record underlying profit before tax of $1.6 billion despite higher fuel prices, revenue was up 6.3 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of FY19.

"Our record passenger revenue performance for the first quarter meant that we were able to substantially recover higher fuel prices," said Joyce after the announcement.

"Market demand for travel remains fundamentally strong and we're seeing some wind-back of competitor capacity growth.

"When you look across our portfolio, we have a number of factors that help us manage cyclical headwinds impacting the sector. We have a leading position in the domestic market, structural advantages in our international businesses and diversified earnings from Loyalty."

Qantas Airways (QAN) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

23. Stockland Corporation

Market Cap: $9.04b
FY18 profit: $1.03b
FY18 revenue: $1.83b

Listed: 1987
CEO: Mark Steinert
CEO Salary: $4.4b

While the property slump of 2018 put a dampener on investor sentiment for developer Stockland Corporation, management has placed its bets on the group's future through a $350 million share buyback announced in September.

The scheme is set for a two-year period and is now almost a third of its way through, while the company has also been selling off some of its assets in order to recapitalise for more acquisitions.

In November the group sold two retail town centres in Bathurst, NSW and Caloundra, QLD for $113 million, followed by the $202.5 million sale of The Grove residential community in Melbourne.

While the retail centre sales reflected a 5.3 per cent discount to the combined book value, the proceeds are intended for use in reshaping Stockland's commercial property portfolio.

"These asset sales take the total value of our commercial property divestments to $448 million over the past fifteen months," CEO Mark Steinert said in November.

"We are also on track to meet our current retail divestments targets, with a further $290 million expected to be achieved within the next 12-24 months."

Within a month the developer had already achieved more than two-thirds of that target through it's The Grove divestment, a transaction which in contrast to the retail centre sales was at a 59 per cent premium to book value.

"This sale illustrates that there is latent value in Stockland's residential land bank, and is in line with our strategy of recycling capital where expected internal rates of return for divested assets are below our investment hurdle rates," Steinert said.

Stockland is the largest residential community developer in Australia, with 41 active residential communities in growth corridors across the country.

"We have a clear strategy to create liveable, affordable and connected communities in growth areas across the country, located in close proximity to rail-served corridors, jobs and schools," Steinert said.

"We are well positioned in the deepest part of the market with high owner occupier demand currently around 85%, and over 50% of our buyers are first home buyers."

In January, the developer highlighted it was the only Australian property company to be recognised on non-profit global environmental disclosure platform CDP's Climate A-List for 2018.

The list only includes 126 companies, and Stockland has achieved the milestone for three years running.

"I am incredibly proud of how we continue to lift the benchmark among strong competition to be recognised as a sustainability leader on the global stage," Steinert said.

Stockland Corporation | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

24. LendLease Group (LLC)

Real Estate
Market Cap: $7.71b
FY18 profit: $792.8m
FY18 revenue: $1.14b

Listed: 1962
CEO: Steve McCann
CEO salary: $6.37m

Property player Lendlease (ASX: LLC) has reported a disappointing first half of the financial year, with profit diving to $15.7 million from $425.6 million in the previous year.

This 96 per cent plummet has led management to announce a reconsideration of the value Lendlease's underperforming engineering and services business.

The company has determined the segment is "non-core" and no longer a required part of the group's strategy, but how it is offloaded is yet to be decided.

Group CEO and managing director Steve McCann says he is disappointed with the performance of the group's engineering business and its impact on the company's results.

"This was a difficult period where cumulative issues in a number of engineering projects materially impacted the group's overall result," says McCann.

"The management team and I are very disappointed with this underperformance and are committed to working to restore securityholder value and confidence in Lendlease."

"Engineering and services comprises a large, high-quality team with execution skills and experience across a broad range projects. We're considering a range of options to provide clarity for our people while seeking to optimise securityholder value."

The total cost of the restructure of Lendlease will be between $450 million and $550 million before tax as a preliminary estimate.

When it comes to property however, Lendlease diversification means the group doesn't need to be as concerned with the rocky east coast property market as some competitors in the sector.

With plays in the UK, the US, Europe and Australia, this aspect of the business has been quite steady through 2018 and into 2019, with its development pipeline up 31 per cent to $74.5 billion and funds under management having grown by a fifth to $34.1 billion.

During FY18 the company delivered more than 1,300 residential apartment units and generated commercial profits from four office developments.

Lendlease also formed a new investment partnership to deliver residential for rent options in London and in the US.

In Europe the Sydney company secured four major urbanisation projects including Euston Station, Silvertown Quays as well as High Road West in London, and Milano Santa Giulia in Milan.

With the addition of the four major projects in Europe the company now has 18 major urbanisation projects on the go.

LendLease says its construction segments was impacted by the underperformance of its Australian Engineering business, however this was partially offset by a strong performance of its building businesses globally.

LendLease Group (LLC) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

25. Caltex (CTX)

Market Cap: $7.36b
FY18 profit: $558m
FY18 revenue: $21.74b
Listed: 1980

CEO: Julian Segal
CEO Salary: $5.2m

A strong underlying performance for Caltex's fuel business was more than offset in 2018 by poor margins from its Lytton oil refinery in Queensland, where an unplanned outage also cut into profits.

In the company's results announcement on 26 February, CEO Julian Segal highlighted solid growth in Australian wholesale volumes and strong growth in the international business.

Value has also been delivered through Caltex's Woolworths partnership and the rollout of Foodary retail outlets.

"Our Convenience Retail team has made great progress in the transition of franchise sites to Company operations and developing our convenience offer, including our strategic partnership with Woolworths," Segal said.

The result coincided with the announcement of an off-market share buy-back valued at around $260 million, which pushed shares upwards.

In 2018 Caltex also acquired a 20% interest in Seaoil in the Philippines, and benefited from full year's earnings contributions from Gull New Zealand; two acquisitions which together with the Ampol trading and shipping business in Singapore have underpinned growth internationally, according to Segal.

A Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) investigation that began in 2016 has also prompted the group to shift away from the franchise model towards owning its retail outlets. In March, the FWO found more than three quarters of Caltex's franchise sites were non-compliant.

Over the course of its investigations the watchdog encountered the non-payment and underpayment of wages, cash payments made off the books, false records and threats of termination or visa cancellation for workers who complained.

"In light of this alarmingly high level of non-compliance across its retail fuel outlets, I am not surprised by Caltex's announcement to the ASX last week that it will transition franchise sites to company operations," Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said.

"FWO's report shows Caltex Australia has been presiding over a non-compliant and unsustainable operating model."

In December, Segal highlighted that not only had the retail division been impacted by rising crude and product prices throughout 2018, but the ongoing transition away from franchising had also had an effect.

"The ongoing transition of franchise sites to company operations is on track, with agreements in place that will see Caltex control over 98% of our network by the end of 2020," he said.

More recently the board has undergone a reshuffle, with Kara-Lyn Nichols resigning as a company secretary in November while Lyndall Stoyles continues in the same role. After 23 years, Simon Hepworth will retire as CFO, making way for former Rio Tinto exec Matthew Halliday to replace him in mid-April.

Caltex (CTX) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia

26. WiseTech Global (WTC)

Information Technology
Market Cap: $6.82b
FY18 profit: $40.8m
FY18 revenue: $221.6m

Listed: 2016
CEO: Richard White
CEO Salary: $1m

With former music industry executive and founder Richard White at the helm, logistics software specialist WiseTech has surged its way up the ranks of Sydney's Top Companies since listing on the ASX in 2016.

In a business environment where remuneration is under increased scrutiny, White sticks to a fixed salary, but it's really the long game that incentivises him. After all, as of 30 June he held 142.5 million shares which at the time of writing were worth around $2.8 billion.

The company itself handles around 54 billion transactions each year, boosted by its CargoWise One platform that is used around the world to help lift productivity in the logistics sector.

WiseTech Global is a true tech unicorn story, having grown from a small team in White's basement in 1994 to becoming a global leader in its software field with 1,600 staff and 40 offices around the world.

The group delivered 44 per cent revenue growth in FY18, while in the second half of that fiscal year WiseTech earned more than it did in a full year 18 months prior.

In White's AGM address in November, he said the expectation was to lift revenue again by 44-50 per cent ov

WiseTech Global (WTC) | Sydney Top Companies 2019 | Business News Australia