Weekly ASX Share Trading Wrap Up

Weekly ASX Share Trading Wrap Up

Despite a positive lead to start the trading week, the ASX struggled to maintain traction and fell short in its efforts to reach a new all-time high. Local shares were weighed down by a series of downbeat reports from some of the index’s key stocks, including several profit downgrades.

Offshore developments also contributed to reducing investor sentiment. The Federal Reserve indicated its rate cut cycle is likely to pause, while Chinese manufacturing activity remains in contraction.

At the close of trade on Friday, the ASX 200 was sitting at 6,669.1 points – 1% lower than the same time last week. The All Ordinaries retreated 0.9% to settle at 6,779.1 points.

Shares in the health care sector were the best performers of the week, up 1%, whereas financial stocks crumbled 3.1%.

 

Which shares excelled?

One of the week’s best performing shares, Iress (ASX: IRE) gained 11.6% despite the absence of any price-sensitive news. However, the company did start the week by announcing that it has won a contract with Essential Services and State Super for back-office administrative duties.

Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia (ASX: GMA) rose 7.5% as its third-quarter trading update showed strong revenue growth. In addition, the company has renewed its contract to provide mortgage insurance services with Commonwealth Bank.

Meanwhile, gold stocks such as St Barbara (ASX: SBM), Regis Resources (ASX: RRL) and Saracen Mineral Holdings (ASX: SAR) enjoyed a stellar week as the precious metal rallied back above USD$1500/oz.

IRE shares soared throughout the week

Which shares dragged on the market?

ANZ (ASX: ANZ) was one of the leading stories for the week, reporting full-year statutory profits after tax of $4.95bn. The result was down 7 per cent on last year’s figures. Reasons cited by the bank included regulatory changes, slowing economic growth, competition and remediation charges.

For the first time in 20 years, ANZ reduced the franking status of its dividends. A final dividend of 80 cents per share has been declared, partially franked at 70 per cent. Shares have fallen 4.9% since yesterday’s news, and 6.6% for the week, dragging other banks lower.

Elsewhere, shares in Costa Group Holdings (ASX: CGC) plummeted 15.6% throughout the week. The fruit and vegetable supplier came clean on a sizeable profit downgrade and the need to raise $176m. Unfavourable weather was mentioned as responsible for the downturn in most of its segments, particularly declining blueberry prices. The Australian broker industry responded with a series of downgrades, leading to a huge sell-off once trading recommenced.

Lower blueberry prices have hurt Costa Group’s profits

Also flagging poor trading conditions, Bega Cheese (ASX: BGA) slashed its EBITDA guidance. The company has reduced its target to $95-105m for FY20, down from $115m in FY19. Bega management has pointed to competitive forces in the market and lower demand from some of its third party customers. By the end of the week, Bega shares had slumped 17.5%.

Market darling Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) reported quarterly revenue of $31m, 15 per cent higher than last quarter. Similarly, transactions and transaction volumes for the payments platform were both up 14 per cent. The news fell flat with investors, as shares lost 11.8% over the course of the trading week. Another favourite also fell out of favour, as Jumbo Interactive (ASX: JIN) dived 21.2% despite the absence of any news.

Shares in JIN lost more than a fifth of their value this week

Other trading developments

Woolworths (ASX: WOW) was courting the wrong sort of attention during the week, even as its continuing operations showed growth of 7.1% from a year ago. This was overshadowed by revelations that the supermarket giant is facing $200-300m in remediation charges for underpaying staff.

At the other end of the spectrum, one of the ASX’s fastest-growing stocks iSignthis (ASX: ISX) finds itself no closer to a resumption of trading. Shares in the identity authentication provider remain in suspension despite the company responding to a series of ASX queries relating to its former banking relationship with Danish bank KAB.

 

The trading week ahead

Westpac (ASX: WBC) will be in the spotlight first thing Monday morning as it reports its financial results and dividend. Given the dour outlook painted by ANZ this week, trading volume for Westpac shares is likely to be elevated as investors position themselves accordingly.

During the week BHP (ASX: BHP), Boral (ASX: BLD) and Flight Centre (ASX: FLT) will be hosting their annual general meetings. Investors will receive an operations update, with the latter two companies likely to draw scrutiny after both delivered trading downgrades in the last few months.

Finally, while the race that stops the nation is set to garner attention from punters on Tuesday, we also have the small matter of an RBA interest rate decision. Leading economists have tempered their expectations for another cut, which means the markets aren’t pricing in any further stimulus at this time.

 

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

 

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