The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO)(^AXJO) is expected to open higher today, the USA’s S&P 500 Index (.INX) went up 0.47% on Tuesday.

Australian Dollar ($A) (AUDUSD): 72.33US cents

Dow Jones (DJI): up 0.63%

Oil (WTI): $US53.71 per barrel

Gold: $US1,315 per ounce

ASX Sharemarket News

In ASX sharemarket news, big bank Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) has reported its half year result to 31 December 2018.

For most investors, the key statistic to know is that the interim dividend has been held at $2 per share, the same as last year. Continuing operations cash earnings per share (EPS) increased by 0.34% to $2.652.

CBA CEO Matt Comyn said: “CBA continued to deliver strong core business outcomes in a challenging period

We will continue to take action to address issues, earn trust and be a better bank for our customers, as we strengthen risk management, invest in core business growth, and deliver long-term sustainable returns for shareholders.”


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Elsewhere, industry giant Insurance Australia Group Ltd (ASX: IAG) has reported its half year result to 31 December 2018 as well.

Its insurance profit fell 33.4% to $496 million and cash earnings declined 49.4% to $319 million. The cause of the huge hit to profit was the net natural peril claim cost outcome of $110 million above the allowance after the December Sydney hailstorm.

As a result, IAG cut its interim dividend by 14.3% to 12 cents per share.

Some of the silver linings from the report were that GWP (gross written premiums) increased by 4.1% to $5.88 billion and the underlying insurance profit margin grew by 320 basis points, 3.2%, to 16.2% from 13%.

IAG said its optimisation plan is progressing to plan, with a net reduction in gross operating costs of around $40 million in the half.

IAG CEO Peter Harmer focused on the positives in the report, “IAG’s underlying performance has continued to improve over the half and was broadly in line with expectations.

“Top line GWP growth was largely driven by premium increases and included a positive exchange rate effect in respect of New Zealand.”

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Home furnishings retailer Nick Scali Limited (ASX: NCK) has also reported its half year result to 31 December 2018.

Nick Scali reported that its revenue grew by 10.3% to $141.1 million, net profit after tax (NPAT) increased by 8% to $25.4 million and the dividend was increased by a whopping 56.3% to 25 cents per share. However, like for like sales growth was 0%.

Nick Scali Managing Director Anthony Scali said: “The result demonstrates that even during periods of low, flat or marginally negative same store sales growth, our company is geared to deliver profit growth.” 

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Disclaimer: Any information contained in this article is limited to general financial/investment advice only. The information has not taken into account your specific needs, goals or objectives, so please consider consulting a licenced and trusted adviser before acting on the information. Please read The Rask Group’s Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information. This article is authorised by Owen Raszkiewicz of The Rask Group, which is a corporate authorised representative No. 1264179 of Strawman Pty Ltd (ACN: 610 908 211) (AFSL: 501 223).