ASX shares morning update; healthcare the runaway winner

Sydney NSW Australia March 28th 2019 - ANZ Cash Machine in Manly The Corso with a client doing transaction in a sunny day of autumn
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Healthcare the runaway winner, weak open ahead, trade talks back on

The market (ASX:XJO) finished at a six month high, adding 0.7%, as the reporting season went up another gear.

The ASX 200 was supported early after ANZ Banking Group Ltd (ASX:ANZ) offered a peace offering in the form of a 25 cent per share dividend, and CSL Ltd (ASX:CSL) blew away the bears with an earnings beat; more on these below.

Elsewhere, both PM Scott Morrison and CSL exuded confidence that a vaccine would be available by mid-2021, ensuring a risk on sentiment.

A summary of the key reports as follows:

  • WiseTech Global Ltd (ASX:WTC) – The standout, finished 33.9% higher, after reporting a 23% increase in revenue and 17% growth in earnings before tax.
  • Webjet Ltd (ASX:WEB) – Finished 7.6% higher despite profit falling 168% to a loss of $42.3 million as travel slowed and were hit $110 million in additional costs.
  • Vicinity Centres (ASX:VCX) – Fell 5.2% after announcing a 47% reduction in rent revenue and indicating just 47% of June quarter rent payments had been received.
  • The Reject Shop Ltd (ASX:TRS) – Reported an 3.4% improvement in sales as consumers flocked to their low cost staple products, but a lack of online solution sent the share price down 14.0%
  • Tabcorp Holdings Ltd (ASX:TAH) – 4.8% fall in revenue to $5.2 billion, down 14.4% in the second half, $1.1 billion write-down of acquired businesses sent the company to an $870 million loss.
  • Dividend halved and $600 million capital raising announced at $3.25 per share.
  • Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) – Reported an 80.2% fall in net profit to $79.5 million due to mass closures across the country; shares finished 3.3% higher.
  • Revenue down 25.7% after improving in the first half, received $68 million in JobKeeper payments, but dividend cancelled.

And a little more detail on Australia’s biggest companies:

ANZ cuts dividend by 70%, despite a strong finish to the year – ANZ delivered a strong result, cash profit hitting $1.33 billion in the third quarter, as their Institutional Markets division enjoyed a tailwind of activity.

Management saw sufficient strength to declare a 25-cent dividend, a cut of 70% on 2019, but a surprise given Westpac’s (ASX:WBC) decision to cut their own dividend on Tuesday.

Summary: Welcome relief for investors evidencing the growing divergence between the Big Four.

CSL, the gift that keeps on giving – Solidified its position of one of Australia’s true global leaders, delivering profit growth of 17% in constant currency terms for the financial year.

All businesses units except the restructure Albumin drug, delivered double digit revenue growth for the financial year; the most important Privigen and Hizentra lines up 20% and 34% each.

The result was a 9% increase in revenue, 10% increase in reported profits to $2.1 billion and a similar increase in the full year dividend.

Summary: No slowdown here.

Weak finish in the US, recovery in Europe, Target surprises

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both pulled back from all-time highs, down 0.4% and 0.6% respectively, after the Federal Reserve highlighted the long road ahead for the economy.

President Trump announced that trade talks with China are back on after seemingly increasing his bargaining power in recent weeks via a number of aggressive moves against Huawei and Tik Tok.

The Eurostoxx on the other hand rallied 0.9% after the UK Government flagged shorter quarantine measures in an attempt to deal with the second wave in a more practical way.

Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) announcing the largest growth in sales in its 58 year history, 24% year on year, as consumers flocked to their website for electronics (70%) and kitchenware (30%), the share price finishing 12.7% higher.

Look out for Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX:WES) and Origin Energy Ltd (ASX:ORG) reports today.

The market (ASX:XJO) finished at a six month high, adding 0.7%, as the reporting season went up another gear.
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