Market Wrap: ASX drops amid earnings deluge

Market Reports

Following soft leads the Australian share market dropped 0.2 per cent amid a deluge of local earnings results. Across the sectors energy surged ahead while materials extended losses on the back of weakness from gold and iron ore miners. 
 
Three weeks of reporting season have now seen about 70 per cent of companies reveal results. Today’s highlights include packaging business Orora Limited (ASX:ORA) soaring almost 12 per cent to the best performer after increasing its annual net profit by almost 45 per cent and forecasting higher earnings ahead. Shares in steel producer BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL) slumped more than 12 per cent to the worst performer after narrowing its annual loss and forecasting similar results into the first half of the current financial year. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 11 points to close at 5,635. 
 
The value of trades was $4.22 billion on volume of 643 million shares at the close of trade. 
 
The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 13 points lower.
 
Reporting season results
 
Shares in Caltex Australia Limited (ASX:CTX) rose after reporting an interim result in line with guidance and revealing another round of cost cuts. The fuel supplier’s first half net profit improved 1 per cent to $173 million and the restructure of the business will result in about 350 job losses. Shares in Caltex Australia jumped 7.44 per cent to close at $27.45. 
 
Shares in UGL Limited (ASX:UGL) were boosted after reporting its net profit rose by more than 70 per cent to $62.1 million in the full 2014 financial year. The engineering group has declined to pay a final dividend but unveiled plans to return capital to shareholders after the $1.2 billion sale of its DTZ property arm. Shares in UGL firmed 0.29 per cent to close at $6.81. 
 
Private health insurer NIB Holdings Limited (ASX:NHF) has increased its annual net profit by 4 per cent to almost $70 million and grown its customer base. 
 
Communications company M2 Group Limited (ASX:MTU) has lifted its full year net profit by 53 per cent to $67.1 million with revenue rising above the billion dollar mark over the year.
 
Cleaning and catering company Spotless Group Holdings Limited (ASX:SPO) has posted a better than expected annual result, narrowing its net loss to $34.7 million and spruiking an upbeat outlook. 
 
Food manufacturer Patties Foods Limited (ASX:PFL) has more than tripled its full year net profit to $16.7 million and forecast growth from new products and packaging.
 
Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector was energy, adding 1 per cent to close at 15,184.
The worst performing sector was materials, losing 1.2 per cent to close at 10,141 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Orora Limited (ASX:ORA), soaring 11.56 per cent to close at $1.64. Shares in Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) and Caltex Australia Limited (ASX:CTX) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL), slumping 12.79 per cent to close at $5.32. Shares in Recall Holdings Limited (ASX:REC) and Lynas Corporation Limited (ASX:LYC) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities
 
Gold is trading at $US1,277 an ounce. 
Light crude is $0.31 lower at $US93.65 a barrel. 
 
Currencies
 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9318.