Growing influence of tech on the ASX

Resources Corner

It’s results season and while the once mighty mining industry is looking decidedly deflated the burgeoning tech sector is offering some rays of light.
 
Seek Limited says strong growth has propelled it to a record first half profit of $182.8 million, but investors weren’t overly impressed as its share price took a hit, and Freelancer Limited unveiled a record performance for the full 2014 financial year with net revenue climbing 39 per cent to $26.1 million over the 2014 calendar year. 
 
With eyes on growth we’ve seen Cloud based accounting company Xero land a $NZ133 million investment from Accel Partners which helped push its cash balance to $NZ285 million along with $NZ14.3 million from current shareholder Matrix Capital management. As well as 1-Page which has raised $9.63 million through a share issuance at $1.07 per share to two long term parties. 
 
Commentary
 
This week Finance News Network spoke to Andrew Bassat, the CEO of Seek.com, about the company’s half year results and how much influence tech will have on the ASX going forward. 
 
As the profits of dominant sectors like the miners are eroded, what role will tech stocks play on the ASX?
 
"Clearly the mining sector’s suffering and it was hoped other sectors would pick up the slack and one of the growth sectors globally is technology businesses. I hope Australia’s pulling its weight, if not punching above its weight, in terms of technology and there are positive signs of that. I think technology can be both a big contributor to the economy and a big employer which should be good for us as well."
 
There’s a tendency for winner to take all in technology, Seek certainly has a lot of market share, what are you doing to stay ahead?
 
"Going back a long way in Australia we built the marketplace first and these marketplaces to tend to be defenseful which means winner does take all. We worked very hard to create the marketplace first in Australia but I think the reality is technology moves fast, we need to continue to sprint forward and do a much better job serving our job seekers and serving our hirers to continue to grow our market as well as to defend our share."
 
What should investors keep their eyes on for the second half?

"We actually thought it was a pretty good result for the first half and we outlined the domestic employment business, the international employment business and the education business would actually be stronger in the second half. And obviously the first half grew from the PCP in the previous second half. We’re seeing continued growth across all three divisions of the business and that’s a nice position to be in."
 
Earnings results
 
Shares in Freelancer Limited (ASX:FLN) rose 7 per cent after unveiling a record performance for the full 2014 financial year. The online job outsourcing company highlighted its record net revenue result, climbing 39 per cent to $26.1 million over the 2014 calendar year. Freelancer attributed an annual net loss of $1.5 million to an accelerated re-investment in future growth following key acquisitions over last year.
 
Seek Limited (ASX:SEK) says strong growth has propelled it to a record first half profit of $182.8 million, up a whopping 64 per cent on the same period last year. Earnings growth across all divisions was a highlight while the company is a clear leader in the jobs advertising market place achieving 22 per cent of placements compared to 2 per cent for its nearest competitor. 
 
Hutchison Telecommunications Limited (ASX:HTA) has booked a full year loss but forecast Vodafone Hutchison Australia’s strong second half to continue into this year. Though Vodafone Hutchison Australia, a 50:50 joint venture with Vodaphone Group, lost a total of 46,000 mobile customers over last year it was less than 1.2 million who left the year before.
 
Shares in Reckon Limited (ASX:RKN) gained after reporting annual financial results and flagging higher revenue growth this year and beyond. The provider of software solutions lifted its net profit by 5 per cent to $17.6 million after excluding the profit on the sale of an investment, but slipped 3 per cent on a statutory basis.
 
Shares in GBST Holdings Limited (ASX:GBT) have surged to the best performer in the All Ords after unveiling first half results. The provider of software and services boosted its net profit by 58 per cent to $6.9 million while revenue rose 14 per cent to $55.7 million.
 
Funding boost
 
Cloud based accounting company Xero Limited (ASX:XRO) has landed a $Nz133 million investment from Accel Partners which helped push its cash balance to $NZ285 million. An additional investment of $NZ14.3 million came from current shareholder Matrix Capital management. The company says it will focus on innovation and expansion with Russel Fukioka appointed as Xero’s US President.
 
1-Page Limited (ASX:1PG) has raised $9.63 million through a share issuance at $1.07 per share to two long term parties. The cloud based HR company says the price is a 4 per cent premium to the weighted average price.
 
Collaboration and growth
 
Cloud based HR company 1-Page Ltd (ASX:1PG) has entered into an agreement with Sears Auto Center for access to its talent assessment platform. Sears Holdings has over 200,000 employees across the US and Canada and is one of the largest retailers in North America. The 1 Page Talent Assessment Platform is an HR tool enabling companies to individually rank and prioritise candidates for positions based on a one-page proposal.
 
Malaysia based iProperty Group Limited (ASX:IPP) will acquire the Thai real estate portal ThinkOfLiving.com for cash and shares worth $8 million. The company says the portal is Thailand’s number one real estate network and will give it access to the Thai market with an immediate leadership position.