Market Wrap: Aus shares down on economic concerns

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed 0.2 per cent down after a sell off in gold miners and continuing concerns of a China slowdown caused general caution. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 10 points down to finish at 5,337. 
 
The value of trades was $4.44 billion on volume of 753 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 11 points down.
 
Company news
 
Shares in TPG Telecom Limited (ASX:TPM) surged today after the telco surprised the market with a better than expected report for the first half of the 2014 financial year.
 
Net profit for the half was $90.1 million, up 15 per cent on the previous corresponding half. EBITDA rose by 8 per cent to $165.6 million for the half, trumping analyst expectations of around $149 million.
 
TPG signed 36,000 new broadband subscribers during the half year, slightly below analyst forecasts of around 40,000 subscribers. Rival iiNet increased its subscribers by only 16,000.
 
Analysts have said the departure of iiNet founder and chief executive Michael Malone last week has increased the chances of TPG making a successful acquisition attempt on the company.
 
The company did not provide any extra insight on its controversial fibre-to-the-basement network, which will put TPG in direct competition with NBN Co, with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull already flagging doubts of the legality of such moves.
 
TPG will pay an interim dividend of 4.5 cents per share, up from a 3.5 cent interim dividend last financial year. Shares in TPG Telecom closed 7.29 per cent up at $6.18. 
 
David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS) has appointed Macquarie Capital (Australia) as joint investment banking advisors to work alongside Gresham Partners Advisory Limited as the company assesses a possible merger with Myer. 
 
David Jones previously announced on 18 March that it has appointed management consulting firm Port Jackson Partners Limited to assist with the assessment of “potential synergies and strategic benefits that can be created by the merger proposal set out by Myer which was lodged with the ASX on 20 February 2014. Shares in David Jones closed 2.59 per cent up at $3.17. 
 
Australand Property Group (ASX:ALZ) has upgraded its earnings and distribution guidance for its current financial year which ends on 31 December.
 
Improved condition in the residential market mean Australand now expects to deliver 17-20 per cent growth in operating earnings per security in the 2014 calendar year.
 
At the same time the full year distribution, previously expected to be 22 cents per security, is now expected to be 25.5 cents, up 19 per cent.
 
Managing director Bob Johnston said the company's recent quarterly review indicated the residential division's increased contribution drove the increase in expectaions. 
 
Fellow property investors Stockland recently increased its stake in Australand to 19.9%. Shares in Australand Property Group (ASX:ALZ) are trading up 0.24 per cent. 
 
Automotive Group Holdings (ASX:AHE) were placed in a trading halt today as the company opened a bookbuild to finance the acquisition three privately owned entities. The company will seek funds from the market today to purchase Scott’s Refrigerated Freightways, JAT Refrigerated Road Services and Bradstreet Motors.
 
AGH hopes to raise a total of $115 million in equity through the issue of 33 million new shares. 
 
AGH already operates 150 car and truck dealerships in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. It also has a trans-Tasman logistics business and employs about 5000 people. Shares in Automotive Group last traded at $3.60. 
 
AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGK) is battling on with its quest to buy New South Wales power producer Macquarie Generation for $1.5 billion after the ACCC claimed the proposed acquisition will likely result in a substantial lessening of competition for the retail supply of electricity in the state. 
 
The gas and electricity retailer has now lodged an application with the Australian Competition Tribunal, after Australia’s competition regulator rejected the bid earlier this month. 
 
The appeal process could take up to six months and AGL says it decided to head to the Tribunal rather than the Federal Court due to the shorter decision making time frame. Shares in AGL Energy are trading down 0.53 per cent. 
 
The best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Telcos adding 5 points to close at 1,752.5.The worst performing sector was Real Estate Investment Trusts, losing 11 points to close at 1,003.5 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Premier Investments Limited (ASX:PMV) after Solomon Lew's clothing group reported a strong first half profit. Premier rose 11.18 per cent to close at $8.95. Shares in TPG Telecom Limited (ASX:TPM) and iiNet Limited (ASX:IIN) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR), dropping 11.78 per cent to close at $0.60. Shares in Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML) and Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG) also closed lower. 

Commodities

Gold is buying $US1,316 an ounce. Light crude is $0.14 up at $US99.60 a barrel.

The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9136.