ASX slips on financial results: Aus shares close flat

Market Reports

by Kathy Skantzos

After opening lower, the Australian share market had a weak day before climbing back up to finish flat by the closing bell.

It was a mixed bag today, but many of the top banks and miners were in the red, while the energy and info tech sectors were tracking higher.

Retail brand portfolio Super Retail Group (ASX:SUL) fell sharply on the back of announcing plans to buy outdoor retail business Macpac for $135 million and reporting lower profits for the half year even though sales increased. We saw a sell-off in Vocus (ASX:VOC) after the telco reported less profits for the FY17 financial year compared to the previous year. Seek (ASX:SEK) and Infigen (ASX:IFN) also fell after reporting their financial results yesterday. In comparison, shares in Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) soared 17 per cent after announcing cost cuts and a profit increase. GWA Group (ASX:GWA) was up almost 10 per cent on the back of its positive financial report it released yesterday. BHP (ASX:BHP) has just released its financial results, reporting a 37 per cent slump in its profit after tax for the half year ending 31 December, falling to US$2 billion, which was below some analysts' expectations. 

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed less than 1 point down, or 0.01 per cent lower to finish at 5,941. On the futures market the SPI is 3 points down. 

The value of trades was $4.8 billion on volume of 673 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP), Woodside (ASX:WPL), and South32 (ASX:S32).

Local economic news

The Reserve Bank of Australia has left the cash rate unchanged at 1.5 per cent, which was widely expected.

The ABS reported the number of active trading business in Australia has increased for the fourth year in a row to more than 2.24 million businesses, up 3.1 per cent to June 2017 compared to the previous year.

Company news

Global construction software company Aconex (ASX:ACX) has reported a net loss of $2.95 million attributable to members for the half year to December 2017 compared to the same time last year, which was an improvement on the prior corresponding period’s loss. Its revenue lifted about 13 per cent to $86.9 million. Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) fell about 37 per cent to almost $2 million. Shares in Aconex (ASX:ACX) closed 0.4 per cent higher at $7.75.

Industrial services group Boom Logistics (ASX:BOL) has reported its net profit after tax rebounded for the half year to December 2017 from a loss, increasing to $400,000. Its revenue jumped 27 per cent to $92.4 million in the first half of the year. Shares in Boom Logistics (ASX:BOL) closed about 6 per cent lower at $0.23.

Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) reported its net profit after tax (NPAT) rose to $100 million for the half year ended December 2017. The company’s revenue fell 11 per cent to $809 million, meanwhile its earnings (EBIT) increased by 7.2 per cent to $159 million.

Outdoor advertising company APN outdoor (ASX:APO) reported its net profit after tax (NPAT) fell 9 per cent to $44 million dollars for the full year to December 2017.

Software design company Altium (ASX:ALU) reported its net profit after tax (NPAT) rose about 51 per cent to US$15 million for the half year to December 2017.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Utilities adding 0.5 per cent to close at 7,834.
The worst performing sector was Telcos, shedding 0.35 per cent to close at 1,237. points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Altium (ASX:ALU), rising 27 per cent to close at $18.88. Shares in Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and GWA Group (ASX:GWA) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Super Retail Group (ASX:SUL), dropping 14.5 per cent to close at $7.03. Shares in Vocus Group (ASX:VOC) and Infigen Energy (ASX:IFN) followed lower.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has dropped 0.9 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.3 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite was flat.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,342 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.82 up at $US62.37 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 79.27 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin has gained about 8.7 per cent to $11,566.
Tether has fallen 0.1 per cent to $1.00.
Ethereum has gained 2.2 per cent to $953. 

Kathy Skantzos

Finance News Network
Kathy presents the Market Outlook and ASX company news. She joined FNN in September 2017. She has been in print and online journalism for over 9 years. She also worked in corporate communications.