After inching within sight of an all-time high, the ASX shed momentum through the middle of the week to end lower. Despite surprising news that the RBA considered cutting interest rates at its most recent meeting, which the market had not priced in, heavy selling in the Big Four banks weighed on the index.
Adding to the pressure were concerns that the long-awaited US-China trade deal could be further away than first thought. The ASX 200 finished the trading week on 6709.8 points, down 1.2%. The All Ordinaries fared similarly, diving 1.2% to 6816.5 points.
Which shares excelled?
A2 Milk (ASX: A2M) headlined the winners this week, with the company announcing better-than-expected operating margins. The upgrade was attributed to a decline in its cost of sales, as well as superior price yields for its leading products. As a result, A2 Milk shares popped 16.6% higher.
Aristocrat Leisure (ASX: ALL) was another beneficiary of ‘AGM season’, as the pokies giant announced its computer games division is experiencing significant growth. With net profit after tax jumping 22%, the result surpassed the market’s expectations. Trading in Aristocrat’s shares saw the stock end the week 9.9% higher.
For the second week running, Appen (ASX: APX) managed to post strong gains, with shares up 9.4% throughout the trading week on the back of an earnings upgrade. The stock initially surged 15.1% before a broad-based sell-off kicked in across the market.
Elsewhere, strong trading in Technology One (ASX: TNE) and ALS (ASX: ALQ) saw each company’s shares rise 13.4% and 5.2% respectively. The former announced that its net profit before tax has risen 50% in the recent half, with Australian brokers upgrading the stock after it initially fell on the news. ALS also delivered above-forecast profits for its first half of FY20.
A2 Milk surged higher during the week
Which shares dragged on the market?
The Big Four banks were the lead story this week. Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) dealt with media scrutiny relating to the conduct of its life insurance business. However, it was Westpac (ASX: WBC) that stunned the market, with Austrac raising an alarm over the bank’s alleged non-compliance with anti-money laundering laws in over 23 million instances.
Just five months after its successful IPO debut, shares in small-business lender Prospa Group (ASX: PGL) came crashing down to earth, plummeting 43.5%. The fall was in response to a downgrade in revenue and earnings the company listed in its IPO prospectus, with Prospa pointing to an above-forecast number of ‘premium’ customers reducing the rate at which it has issued loans.
Also falling severely during the week, but for different reasons, was SmartGroup (ASX: SIQ). With the company’s managing director and chief executive announcing his impending retirement, investors didn’t take too kindly to the news. SIQ shares dropped 15.2% over the week.
Despite reconfirming its EBITDA guidance for FY20, WiseTech (ASX: WTC) shares came tumbling down nearly 7% after providing investors with a trading update. The news was met with another series of critical remarks by J Capital Research, which has recently launched a short ‘attack’ on the company.
Finally, shares in Mayne Pharma Group (ASX: MYX) and Metcash (ASX: MTS) took a late-week plunge. Mayne Pharma sunk 16.4% after it shocked investors with lower-than-expected profits during the opening months of FY20, while Metcash announced that 7-Eleven would not be renewing its supply agreement with the wholesaler, causing its shares to plunge 6.3%.
Various lenders were caught up in a sell-off this week
Other trading developments
In terms of upcoming IPOs, it was a busy trading week as several aspirants put forward their pitch to investors. These developments included:
- Payments processing company Tyro Payments setting a price range of $2.5-$2.75 per share for its $252.7m IPO
- Non-bank lender Xynapse eyeing $85m via shares priced at $2.50 per share
- Software business Nitro Software raising $110.2m in capital via shares at $1.72 each
- Goat milk and infant formula company Nuchev raising $48.7m at $2.60 per share
- Employee-engagement software provider Limeade started its $100m IPO at $1.85 per CDI
- Buy-now, pay-later firm Openpay launched its $50m raise at $1.60 per share
- Hemp and neutraceuticals brand 13 seeds kicked off its $6m IPO at $0.20 per share
Also in the market looking to raise a significant pool of funds was toll-road operator Atlas Arteria (ASX: ALX), which announced a $1.35 billion raise, equivalent to almost one-third of the company’s existing value. Atlas Arteria is looking to use the funds to increase its ownership in French toll operator APRR, one of the largest European players in the industry.
The trading week ahead
Next week is again set to be quiet for local economic news, however, various indicators detailing the performance of the housing sector and the uptake of private credit are scheduled for release.
Beyond this, shares in Amcor (ASX: AMC) and Aristocrat Leisure will go ex-dividend on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, while a late flurry of stocks will host their annual meetings, including but not limited to Seek (ASX: SEK), Harvey Norman (ASX: HVN) and Evolution Mining (ASX: EVN).
We’ll be back next week with another Weekly ASX Trading Wrap Up – until then, have a great weekend!
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