Australian shares surged ahead this week, delivering one of the best weekly results over the last six months. The gains came as investors shook off uncertainty around the prospect of a court-contested presidential election outcome, while also welcoming the RBA’s latest efforts to support economic growth. The ASX 200 closed trading on 6,190.20 points, 4.4% higher than the same time a week ago.
Which shares excelled?
Shares in Tabcorp Holdings (ASX: TAH) soared on Friday amid speculation of a potential takeover. Media reports suggested that private equity firms were considering lobbing a bid for the wagering business. While the company hosed down the speculation by advising the market that it was not aware of, nor had it received any proposal from suitors, traders placed their own wager on the company being acquired, sending the stock up 24.6%.
Travel stocks had a standout week as news emerged that the border between New South Wales and Victoria is scheduled to reopen in a little more than two weeks’ time. Leading the pack were Flight Centre (ASX: FLT), which also reported continual improvement in its cash burn and operations at its annual general meeting on Thursday, as well as Webjet (ASX: WEB). Both stocks delivered shareholders a return of more than 20% across the week.
With gold prices climbing firmly higher following the uncertainty of a court-decided election outcome, there were strong moves by stocks in this sector to round out the week. This included Bellevue Gold (ASX: BGL) and Ramelius Resources (ASX: RMS), which were two of the best-performing mid-cap shares across the market.
Eagers Automotive (ASX: APE) advanced 16.5% this week, with the company acquiring its ninth property in two months. On Wednesday the business informed the market that it would be using its financing facility through Toyota to purchase a property in Sydney that it currently leases, for a total of $76.25 million.
The local retail real estate sector also had a win this week, with sentiment building as COVID cases are suppressed right across the country. Vicinity Centres (ASX: VCX) and Scentre Group (ASX: SCG) both delivered positive trading updates, which helped their shares leap 15.7% and 14.3% respectively. In the case of Scentre Group, its rent collection rate hit 96% in October as retailers reopened their shops. Stockland (ASX: SGP) also caught some interest on the back of the move, as did other real estate trusts.
Finally, Pointsbet Holdings (ASX: PBH) and Inghams Group (ASX: ING) delivered impressive performances, with shares in the latter buoyed by a rebound in sales and flagged cost-cutting measures.
Which shares dragged on the market?
A sour trading update from Fineos Corporation (ASX: FCL) at its annual general meeting meant the SaaS provider finished the week down by 11.3%. Management indicated that the US election, as well as the impact of COVID-19 have resulted in delays to new deals, while clients tightening their budgets also put a strain on services revenue.
Delivering a subdued report of its own, Pendal Group (ASX: PDL) was in the doghouse this week as the stock shed 8% of its market cap. Cash net profit after tax was 10% lower than the prior corresponding period due to lower fee revenue, a factor that in turn squeezed statutory profits by around 25%. Management’s decision to cut the company’s final dividend also weighed on the overall mood of shareholders.
Meanwhile, despite a notable rebound on Friday, Treasury Wine Estates (ASX: TWE) was still one of the few large-cap stocks that suffered a decline this week. Although the company reported demand growth throughout Asia in the September quarter, and some resilience in other markets too, these factors were overlooked amid other concerns.
First, the decision to ‘pause’ the demerger of its Penfolds brand. Secondly, what some observers have described as increasing risk associated with tariffs in China, especially in light of revelations that the China Alcoholic Drinks Association has effectively petitioned China’s Ministry of Commerce to consider retrospective tariffs for wine importers.
Last but least, two other high-profile names were on the outer over recent days, with Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX: URW) both stuttering.
We’ll be back next week with another Weekly ASX Trading Wrap Up – until then, have a great weekend!
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