ASX 200: CSL briefly Australia's biggest company & market hits new record

Major Australian companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange including Qantas, Coles, BHP and Wesfarmers opened their books in a busy week of half-year results, while CSL briefly became Australia’s biggest company.
CSL in ASX 200 update 24.02.20
CSL, an ASX 200 stock, is a biotechnology company that has developed vaccines to prevent influenza. Image source: HQuality (Shutterstock).

The ASX 200 struck another record high of 7,164.6 points during the week, to regain all its coronavirus-linked losses from this year. It has slipped in early trading this morning, however, on the back of falls in offshore markets and the coronavirus news coming out of South Korea.

It ended the week at 7,139 points, up 0.13% on the previous week and higher than January’s record peak.

Rio Tinto, Woolworths and Virgin to reveal their half-year results

Gloomy international markets and data are expected to influence the Australian market today. It was expected to open lower, following the US and European share markets and renewed fears about the spread of coronavirus over the weekend.

As part of the fourth week of half-yearly reporting this week, miner Rio Tinto, retailer Woolworths Group, airline Virgin Australia and buy-now, pay-later leader Afterpay will reveal to the market how they are going.

Economic data on construction activity and business capital spending will also be released. These are tipped to be lower than in the last quarter, following the catastrophic summer of bushfires Australia has endured.

Investors seemed pleased with last week’s company reports overall. They bought in and sent the ASX 200 up 0.13% to 7,139 points by Friday’s close. According to CommSec, of the 99 companies that have reported their results, more than half gained value on the day.

The broader All Ordinaries index also rose slightly, to close at 7,230 points.

S&P and All Ords Movements (14/02/2020 to 21/02/2020)
  Closing Points % Change
S&P/ASX 200 (XJO) 7,139 0.13%
All Ordinaries (XAO) 7,230 0.05%
Prepared by Canstar. Points taken as of Monday open to Friday close.

CSL briefly Australia’s biggest company

Vaccine maker CSL (CSL), which was privatised by the Australian Government in 1994 for $2.30 a share, briefly overtook the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) to become the Exchange’s biggest company by market capitalisation when its stock price hit $342.75 last Thursday. And the share price of medical device company Cochlear (COH) jumped after it reported an increase in its net profit after tax.

It pushed health care up to be the week’s highest-performing sector, with a 0.77% gain, and added the most gains to the ASX of any company.

Sector Movements (14/02/2020 to 21/02/2020)
  Closing Points % Change
Consumer Discretionary (XDJ) 2,873 -0.40%
Consumer Staples (XSJ) 13,474 0.53%
Energy (XEJ) 10,876 -0.13%
Financials (XFJ) 6,494 0.12%
Health Care (XHJ) 47,922 0.77%
Industrials (XNJ) 7,229 0.33%
Information Technology (XIJ) 1,495 -5.78%
Materials (XMJ) 13,875 0.33%
Telecommunication Service (XTJ) 1,342 -0.74%
Utilities (XUJ) 8,377 0.38%
Prepared by Canstar. Points taken as of Monday open to Friday close.

The consumer staples sector also grew 0.53% as a sector after shoppers’ ongoing love for Bunnings, Kmart and Officeworks items grew the revenue for Wesfarmers (WES) by 6% to $15.2 billion in sales in six months. Its share price rallied after their reports were released. Its former subsidiary Coles Group (COL), on the other hand, shed 5.9% to be one of the biggest losers of the week. Both companies’ updates included admissions they had underpaid staff over a period of several years.

The Flying Kangaroo Qantas (QAN) announced a 2.8% increase in revenue but said as the coronavirus continues to impact global travel, it will temporarily reduce flights across Asia.

ASX 200 – Top 5 Market Capitalisation Losses (14/02/2020 to 21/02/2020)
Rank Company $ Change in Market Cap Closing Share Price % Change in Share Price
1 Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) -$3,876,824,520 $88.80 -2.4%
2 Wisetech Global Ltd (WTC) -$3,109,922,075 $19.28 -33.6%
3 Coles Group (COL) -$1,333,929,696 $15.98 -5.9%
4 BHP Group Ltd (BHP) -$1,266,716,099 $38.22 -1.1%
5 Tabcorp Holdings Ltd (TAH) -$972,137,028 $4.17 -10.3%
Prepared by Canstar. Prices taken as of week to week close.

Wisetech drags down IT and the Commonwealth Bank goes backwards

The ASX was held back by CBA’s share price easing to $88.80, a decline of 2.4% for the week, after it broke through the $90 mark the week before.

Volatility continued for software company Wisetech Global (WTC), which plummeted in value by more than 33%.

Despite a positive jump in revenue – announced in its half-year results – the logistics IT provider lowered its forecasts for the year ahead due to the impact of coronavirus.

ASX 200 – Top 5 Market Capitalisation Gains (14/02/2020 to 21/02/2020)
Rank Company $ Change in Market Cap Closing Share Price % Change in Share Price
1 CSL Ltd (CSL) $2,364,727,236 $336.40 1.6%
2 ANZ Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) $1,786,791,776 $27.24 2.4%
3 QBE Insurance Group (QBE) $1,279,295,613 $15.13 6.9%
4 Macquarie Group Ltd (MQG) $978,092,653 $151.34 1.9%
5 Lendlease Group (LLC) $818,493,268 $19.28 8.1%
Prepared by Canstar. Prices taken as of week to week close.

Cleanaway Waste, AMP and Southern Cross Media win the week…

Strong forecasts for the year ahead propelled most of the biggest-gaining stocks last week.

Cleanaway Waste Management (CWY) grew 20.3% to $2.31 on the news its underlying net profit after tax was up 13.7%.

Financial firm AMP (AMP) regained some of its previous losses with a 12.9% increase over the last week to $2.06. The wealth manager announced a $2.5 billion loss earlier this month and a “reset” of its business.

Resources contractor NRW Holdings (NWH) announced a 55% jump in revenue in its results, sending its share price up 12%.

And radio station operator Southern Cross Media (SXL) received a market boost of 9.8% after announcing a cost-cutting drive amid lower incomes and profits.

ASX 200 – Top 5 Share Price Gains (14/02/2020 to 21/02/2020)
Rank Company Closing Share Price % Change
1 Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd (CWY) $2.31 20.3%
2 AMP Ltd (AMP) $2.06 12.9%
3 NRW Holdings Ltd (NHW) $3.18 12.0%
4 Viva Energy Group (VEA) $1.89 11.2%
5 Southern Cross Media Group (SXL) $0.84 9.8%
Prepared by Canstar. Prices taken as of week to week close.

…but coronavirus continues to concern investors

Wisetech Global had the worst losses of the week and its share price fell to $19.28. The company has experienced significant price fluctuations since last October’s release of a critical report by short-sellers – traders who bet on stocks to go down.

Wisetech (WTC) wasn’t the only stock to suffer last week, however. EML Payments Ltd (EML) and Altium Ltd (ALU)’s share prices also suffered double-digit declines (18.2% and 17.7%, respectively) amid the release of their results, which both also cited the potential impact of the coronavirus on global trade.

Investors also moved away from coal miners New Hope Coal (NHC) and Whitehaven Coal (WHC), whose prices fell double digits.

New Hope released a positive quarterly report, but a story in the Australian Financial Review suggested a major shareholder was selling its stake.

Whitehaven revealed drops in revenue, profits and production, including a 91% fall in its net profit after tax.

ASX 200 – Top 5 Share Price Losses (14/02/2020 to 21/02/2020)
Rank Company Closing Share Price % Change
1 Wisetech Global Ltd (WTC) $19.28 -33.6%
2 EML Payments Ltd (EML) $4.63 -18.2%
3 Altium Ltd (ALU) $34.41 -17.7%
4 New Hope Corporation (NHC) $1.60 -16.1%
5 Whitehaven Coal (WHC) $2.24 -10.4%
Prepared by Canstar. Prices taken as of week to week close.

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