QBE falls despite profit lift, Inghams weighs on Covid woes: ASX down 0.9% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Aussie sharemarket has tumbled this morning following a wild night on Wall St, amid heightened tensions between Russia and Urkraine. As the reporting season continues, all sectors are lower. Utilities are weighing the most, followed by healthcare, while communication services is shedding the least.

QBE Insurance (ASX:QBE) posted its full year results for the 2021 calendar year. The insurer reported a net profit after tax of US$750 million, compared to a loss of US$1.5 billion in 2020. The insurer said the turnaround result reflected strong premium growth, up 22 per cent. Chief executive Andrew Horton said the industry environment remains uncertain around inflation and low interest rates. QBE will pay a final dividend of 19 cents a share, taking the full year dividend to 30 cents per share, up from 4 cents from the prior year. Shares are down 10.7 per cent to $11.29, and is the worst-performing stock.

Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) is the second worst stock, down 7 per cent to $5.73 following its half year results.

Inghams (ASX:ING) posted its half year results for the 25 weeks ending December 25. The poultry producer’s revenue rose 1.8 per cent to $1.39 billion, its underlying net profit after tax climbed 5.9 per cent to 39.7 million and its EBITDA lifted 2.2 per cent to $220.4 million. The company said the improvement reflected the effective management of lockdowns, but it still expects challenges from Covid-19 to impact the second half. The company declared a dividend of 6.5 cents per share, to be paid on April 7 this year. Shares are down 4.8 per cent to $3.36, and is the third-worst stock.

Major banks are lower, led by Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) down 2.2 per cent to $191.40. National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) has declined 1 per cent to $30.53, Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) is down 0.9 per cent to $97.92, ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) has dipped 0.4 per cent to $28.10 and Westpac (ASX:WBC) is trading 0.09 per cent lower at $23.47.

Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) is dragging iron ore players, down 2.4 per cent to $20.00. Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has declined 1 per cent to $118.79 and BHP (ASX:BHP) is trading 0.3 per cent lower at $47.84.

Energy stocks are mixed with Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) up 1 per cent to $1.50, Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) down 0.4 per cent to $27.62 and Santos (ASX:STO) trading 0.1 per cent lower at $7.06.

Gold stocks are higher, led by Northern Star (ASX:NST) adding 3.5 per cent to $9.77. Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) is up 2.7 per cent to $24.49 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is trading 2 per cent higher at $4.16.

Elsewhere, MyState (ASX:MYS) posted its half year results for the six months ending December 31. The financial company’s net profit after tax fell 2.4 per cent to $16.6 million, while its revenue increased 3.4 per cent to $71 million. MyState blamed the profit fall on higher operating costs as the bank continues to invest in marketing and brand building. The board declared an interim dividend of 12.5 cents per share for the half year, in line with the priod corresponding period. Shares are down 6.1 per cent to $4.95.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.9 per cent or 65 points lower at 7,231.

The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 89 points.

Company news 

Sky Network Television (ASX:SKT) has secured rights to broadcast the English Premier League in New Zealand for the next six years, starting with the upcoming 2022/23 season. Shares are trading 0.2 per cent higher at $2.30. 

Incitec Pivot (ASX:IPL) reported an incident resulting from a release of hydrogen at its Waggaman, Louisiana ammonia plant. Shares are trading 4.6 per cent lower at $3.11. 

Best and worst performers

All sectors are in the red. The sector with the fewest losses is Communication Services, down 0.04 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Utilities, down 2.8 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Magellan Financial Group (ASX:MFG), trading 14.7 per cent higher at $21.01. It is followed by shares in Netwealth Group (ASX:NWL) and Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is QBE Insurance Group (ASX:QBE), trading 10.71 per cent lower at $11.29. It is followed by shares in Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) and Inghams Group (ASX:ING).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1898.54 an ounce.
Iron ore is 6.9 per cent lower at US$130.65 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 3.3 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.83 US cents.

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