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ASX Trading Wrap: Leo Lithium resource estimate bonanza

Rene Anthony

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Investors continue to weigh up the impact of further potential rate hikes in the US

Investors continue to weigh up the impact of further potential rate hikes in the US

Key takeaways:

  • Contrasting fortunes swept through the discretionary retail and lithium industries this week

Investors directed their attention back to the Federal Reserve monetary policy outlook, with rate-sensitive stocks feeling the squeeze.

Which shares excelled?

Despite a broader sell-off across retail stocks, Cettire (ASX: CTT) bucked the trend and extended its formidable run. Shares in the luxury retailer have soared 500% over the last 12 months, and the stock is also up 90% year-to-date. Although there was no catalyst for the rally over recent days, there may be some belief among investors that more affluent consumers interested in luxury goods are unlikely to pare their spending if less impacted by rising interest rates.Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX: TLX) hit an all-time high after the radiopharma company announced it will acquire UK-based medical device business Lightpoint Medical. The deal would also see Telix scoop up radio-guided surgery business SENSEI, which focuses on the intraoperative detection of cancer. 

In recent days Telix also announced it has dosed the first patient for its phase II Starburst study. As part of an effort to treat a broad range of cancers, this study is designed to assess how its carbonic anhydrase (CAIX) targets PET/CT imaging agent TLX250-CDx.

A week ago Collins Foods (ASX: CKF) was in the doghouse as investors digested an update from one of the company rivals, but that momentum turned the corner over recent days. 

Investors may be pre-empting a positive update from the quick service restaurant company, with results due by the end of the month. The company operates or franchises restaurants from KFC, Sizzler, and Taco Bell across Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Thailand, and Japan. 

In the critical minerals space, Leo Lithium (ASX: LLL) delivered its shareholders a bumper update. Management announced a substantial increase to the mineral resource estimate (MRE) at its Goulamina lithium project in Mali. In total, resource tonnage jumped by 48.2%, from 142.3 million tonnes at 1.38% lithium oxide, to 211 million tonnes at 1.37% lithium oxide. 

Based on the updated resource estimate, Goulamina is considered the fifth largest spodumene deposit in the world. From here, Leo Lithium will move towards refining its ore reserve estimate for the project by August, with the company hopeful that additional growth may be uncovered as further exploration unfolds.

Strong gains also emerged from Weebit Nano (ASX: WBT), Mesoblast (ASX: MSB), Life360 (ASX: 360), and SG Fleet Group (ASX: SGF).

Which shares dragged on the market?

If Cettire was the exception in the retail sector this week, then Accent Group (ASX: AX1) was the barometer for what was otherwise a torrid time for consumer discretionary names. The footwear and apparel business was among the stocks hit hardest in the wake of a downgrade from industry peer Best & Less, whose sales are down by a double-digit percentage over the last five weeks. 

That follows warnings from other retailers like Universal Store, Super Retail Group, Baby Bunting, and Adairs. The implication here is that cost-of-living challenges, including elevated inflation and rising interest rates, are leading consumers to cut discretionary spending. That view was put forward by investment bank UBS, which has taken a negative view of the sector.

Gold miners also faced heavy selling pressure as the price of the precious metal declined by more than 2%. Naturally, this had the most pronounced effect on mid-tier miners like Ramelius Resources (ASX: RMS), Gold Road Resources (ASX: GOR), Silver Lake Resources (ASX: SLR), Resolute Mining (ASX: RSG), and Chalice Mining (ASX: CHN)

In the case of Gold Road Resources, the company was also dealing with the fallout in relation to a disappointing update on its Gruyere Gold Mine. Management indicated several headwinds impacted ore and waste mining operations during the quarter, including issues concerning the availability of blasting resources, the reliability of production drills, and inclement weather.

Elsewhere, Flight Centre (ASX: FLT) and Corporate Travel Management (ASX: CTD) both drifted lower as investors assess the recovery in the travel sector. Both names were already impacted by the same consumer spending concerns weighing on retailers, but it was Flight Centre strategy update that also prompted a rethink. 

While FLT remains on track in terms of meeting FY23 guidance, and trading conditions are gradually normalising without any major signs of a slowdown thus far, there is some evidence to suggest conditions could be softening. More specifically, total transaction value (TTV) for the Australian leisure segment was recently in line with pre-COVID levels, however, just a couple months back it was actually running ahead of that benchmark.

In contrasting fashion to Leo Lithium, Core Lithium (ASX: CXO) finds itself on the outer at this time. One of the factors weighing on the stock is the fact that it is the second most shorted company on the ASX, with short interest representing 9.5% of all securities on issue. 

Analysts from the likes of Citi and Goldman Sachs are among those with a negative view on Core Lithium. However, the latest leg to CXO sell-off may have been sentiment driven following a dire update from industry peer Lake Resources, which indicated its production goals will be years behind schedule and require significantly more capex.

Finally, the likes of Johns Lyng Group (ASX: JLG), Sezzle (ASX: SZL), and IDP Education (ASX: IEL) round out the week underachievers.

We'll be back next week with another Weekly ASX Trading Wrap Up - until then, have a great week!

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