Webster buys cropping rights for $10m: Aus shares 0.8% lower over week

Market Reports

by Katrina Bullock

It has been a flat day of trade for the Australian share market. After opening in the black the local bourse lost ground at 11am, had a valiant rally this afternoon but eased off over the last hour of trade bringing the index 0.04 per cent lower at the close. At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 3 points lower to finish at 6,336. Webster (ASX:WBA) has acquired cropping rights to walnut orchards in NSW for approximately $10 million and Fonterra Shareholders' Fund (ASX:FSF) has seen a significant monthly production decline in their Australia and New Zealand markets.

Over the week, the market has lost 50 points or 0.8 per cent - the Energy, Utilities and IT sectors proving to be the biggest drags on the market.

Broker moves

Citi has maintained its buy position for National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) shares and has upgraded its 12 month price target from $25.70 to $29.50. This follows the release of NAB's half yearly results which Citi says showed 'unquestionably strong capital'. Cash earnings were in line with Citi estimates and the consensus.

Futures market

Dow futures are suggesting a rise of 32 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a rise of 6 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a lift of 31 points.
Back home the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 6 point fall on Monday morning.

Economic news 

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that the number of dwellings approved in Australia swung into negative territory. Following a 19.1 per cent rise in February, March saw a 15.5 per cent decline in seasonally adjusted terms which missed the mark compared to the consensus expectation. This was driven by falls in New South Wales of 27.4 per cent and Victoria of 27 per cent. The decline was led by private dwellings excluding houses which fell 30.6 per cent, while private house approvals decreased 3.2 per cent.

AiGroup also released service sector figures for Performance of the Services Index, which rose by 1.7 points to 46.5 in April – a fourth month of contractionary conditions for the services sector.

Company news

Agribusiness Webster (ASX:WBA) has acquired cropping rights to 422 hectares of walnut orchards in NSW for approximately $10 million. The rights are currently owned by investors in two AGW Managed Investment Schemes and are currently maintained and operated by Webster on behalf of the schemes. The schemes were managed by AGW Funds Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Webster. The acquisition will be funded from Webster’s existing debt facilities and will bring Webster's walnut orchards to 1,800 hectares. Shares in Webster (ASX:WBA) closed 2 per cent lower at $1.50.

Managed investment scheme, Fonterra Shareholders' Fund (ASX:FSF) has provided a global dairy update for April 2019. Fonterra saw significant declines in production in both Australia which is down 13 per cent year on year and New Zealand which declined 8 percent. Monthly production eased in the US and is holding at current levels in the EU. Exports from Australia, New Zealand and the EU continue to grow with US exports easing off. Shares in Fonterra Shareholders' Fund (ASX:FSF) closed 1 per cent higher at $4.06.

Health company, ResMed (ASX:RMD) released their results for the quarter ending 31 March 2019 showing NPAT up 15 per cent with income from operations at $157 million from last quarter's $136 million.

The Afterpay Touch Group (ASX:APT) has signed a US$300 million receivables funding facility with Citi to support the expansion of their business in the United States.

Computer support and services company, Superloop (ASX:SLC), report that QIC subsidiary QIC Private Capital has made an unsolicited, non-binding acquisition offer for them.

Highlands Pacific Group's (ASX:HIG) scheme of arrangement, which will enable Cobalt 27 Capital Corp. to acquire all of the issued share capital of Highlands that it does not already own, is now legally effective.

Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) today reported a 17 per cent rise in net profit after tax of 2.99 billion dollars for the full year ended 31 March 2019. Following this they plan to pay a final dividend of $3.60, up from $3.20 a share last year.

Noni B Group (ASX:NBL) has appointed Jacqueline Frank as a non-executive director of the company from today.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Consumer Staples adding 0.8 per cent while the worst performing sector was Energy, shedding 1.3 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Resmed (ASX:RMD), rising 9.9 per cent to close at $16.26. Shares in Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and Orocobre (ASX:ORE) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Janus Henderson (ASX:JHG),dropping 12.1 per cent to close at $30.96. Shares in Macquarie Group (ASX:MQS) and Bravura Solutions (ASX:BVS) followed lower.

Markets

Two of the Asian markets were closed for trading today however Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 0.4 per cent.

Wall Street wrapped up our four trading days this week lower: The Dow Jones lost 0.9 per cent, The S&P 500 lost 0.8 per cent and the tech heavy Nasdaq lost 1.4 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,272 an ounce.
Iron ore last traded at $94.17
Light crude is US$2.06 lower at US$61.54 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 69.95 US cents.