In a week where Commonwealth Bank’s (ASX: CBA) earnings report and strong results from Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM) dominated the corporate calendar, the local share market ended the week lower amid a snap lockdown in Victoria. Nonetheless, tech stocks had a good run this week, as did resources stocks. The ASX 200 closed at 6806.7 points today, down 0.5% since last Friday.
Which shares excelled?
Making it three from three, Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) was again leading the way among this week’s best-performing mid-to-large cap stocks. Sentiment in the buy-now pay-later stock has well and truly improved amid strong performances from overseas technology stocks, and the company’s recent trading update, even as some profit taking took hold on Thursday. Shares in Zip surged 24.8% across the week. Sezzle (ASX: SZL) also backed up its own run of form of late, powering ahead 22.8%.
An active takeover target, Vocus (ASX: VOC) shares were lifted 12.8% by news that the company has been approached by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Management (MIRA) with regards to being bought out. It is the third time that the telecommunications company has been on the receiving end of a takeover bid, with this latest non-binding indicative offer priced at $5.50 per share.
In an update to the market on Thursday, Graincorp (ASX: GNC) gave its shareholders a reason to smile as it pointed towards an upbeat earnings guidance for FY21. The company now expects underlying EBITDA of $230 million to $270 million for this year led by “near optimal conditions” during the recent winter cropping season leading to a bumper crop.
Elsewhere, shares in lithium stock Piedmont (ASX: PLL) climbed 8.3% after the business announced the appointment of mining executive Todd Hannigan to its leadership team. It comes as the company, a supplier to Tesla, is changing its primary listing to the US Nasdaq exchange.
Two of this week’s winners amid reporting season were blue-chip names Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG) and Macquarie Group (ASX: MQG), with both delivering results that came in ahead of expectations. For IAG, a modest increase in gross written premiums and lower levels of claims helped its insurance profits grow 33%. Meanwhile, a boom in trading and corporate activity underpinned Macquarie’s update, alongside improved trading conditions in the December quarter.
Other winners this week included Iluka Resources (ASX: ILU), Orora (ASX: ORA), Megaport (ASX: MP1), Champion Iron (ASX: CIA) and NextDC (ASX: NXT).
Which shares dragged on the market?
Turning to this week’s underperformers, and shares in Cimic Group (ASX: CIM) took a battering this week as the construction company disappointed the market with its FY20 results. Underlying net profits after tax were around 25% lower at $601 million, even as statutory profits soared from the previous year’s loss. With revenue also slightly down amid COVID-19, the result led to a 20.7% slide in the company’s share price this week.
Takeover talk surrounding AMP (ASX: AMP) came to an abrupt halt as the company’s suitor, US-based Ares Management, pulled the pin on its $6 billion bid for the wealth management firm. The news overshadowed the company’s return to statutory profits, with AMP shares sinking 16.5% .
Also falling amid a disappointing earnings result, Challenger (ASX: CGF) took a hit this week, sliding more than 10%. While the company showed a sizeable improvement in some core metrics surrounding annuity and life sales relative to the prior corresponding period, half-year earnings were still well down, and the company’s profit and dividend guidance divided opinion in the market.
As Victoria implements a snap lockdown and its residents are locked out of other states, travel company Webjet (ASX: WEB) was caught up in a week-long sell-off, a fate that also flowed through to various other travel-related shares.
Dual-listed Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX: URW) was also a target for sellers this week in light of its results. Although a major drop in net rental income and recurring net profit was largely expected, it is possible that the scale of this drop caught some shareholders off guard. Furthermore, the company’s decision to abandon a dividend for the next couple years, and effectively exit its exposure to the US mall portfolio it acquired from Westfield, marks a change in strategy that some shareholders may not have been anticipating.
Rounding things out, there were also large decreases in the share prices of Nuix (ASX: NXL), Nanosonics (ASX: NAN), Boral (ASX: BLD), Adbri (ASX: ABC) and WAM Capital (ASX: WAM).
We’ll be back next week with another Weekly ASX Trading Wrap Up – until then, have a great week!
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