The S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) is heading for a flat open on Friday according to the latest SPI futures. Here’s what ASX investors need to know.
Market falls flat, AMP offer pulled
The ASX 200 fell 0.1% on Thursday as reporting stepped up another level. The IT sector fell 2.1%, giving up recent gains, whilst Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) fell 0.9%, sending the consumer staples sector lower as the rotation into more cyclical sectors continued.
AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) was a major detractor, falling 11.0%, after reporting full-year results and revealing asset manager Ares Capital has abandoned their $1.85 bid for the company. According to management, they remain interested in the AMP Capital business but likely see too much work in fixing the wealth management division.
AMP’s CEO has committed to a cultural transformation and remains focused on costs, but this wasn’t enough to offset the 32.6% fall in profit to $295 million. Wealth management and financial advice delivered a $110 million profit, down 43.6%, with net cash outflows of $8.3 billion a further acceleration. The AMP North platform gained $3.7 billion whilst AMP Capital remains the core profit driver, delivering $139 million in profit for the year. Unfortunately, the dividend remains on hold and with the takeover now all but off the cards, the turnaround is likely to take longer than expected.
Meanwhile, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield CDI (ASX: URW) took the extraordinary step of cancelling all dividends until 2023 as it focuses on repaying debt, shares fell just 3.9% on the news.
Telstra confirms dividend, Magellan and Transurban report
Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) delivered for investors, confirming its 16 cent per year dividend, sending the share price 2.5% higher. The dividend came despite reporting a 9.7% fall in revenue to $10.98 billion and a 2.2% fall in net profit to $1.13 billion. CEO Andy Penn highlighted the path to underlying growth beyond the NBN, and after several years, investors seem to be coming around. He has delivered a further $201 million in cost reductions, including a reduction in staff numbers, and is now targeting annual earnings of $7.5 billion to $8.5 billion.
The telco’s revenue guidance was slightly reduced but the structural separation appears to be on track. Some experts are now suggesting that the company’s telecommunications towers could be worth as much as $5 billion given the huge demand for digital infrastructure.
Vita Group Limited (ASX: VTG), which runs a number of franchised Telstra stores, fell 27.6% after the company announced it would be bringing all stores in house.
Magellan Financial Group Ltd (ASX: MFG) reported a 3% increase in profit for the half-year to $202.3 million and assets under management increased to $100.9 billion, despite a 70% fall in performance fee receipts to $12.4 million as the flagship funds struggled in 2020; shares fell 3.9%.
Toll road operator Transurban Group (ASX: TCL) fell just 0.7% despite reporting a 476% fall in profit to a $419 million first-half loss. Revenue also fell 21.9% and despite the positive outlook as traffic conditions return to normal, a recovery seems to be already priced in.
US markets muddling along, Bumble goes public
US markets finished generally positive, the S&P 500 up 0.1%, able to overcome a weakening of the financial sector, whilst the Nasdaq continued to power ahead, up 0.4%, breaking three days of losses.
Jobless claims fell slightly for the week, giving further hopes to the market but also sending the 10-year bond yield to 1.15%.
AstraZeneca (LON: AZN) reported results, revealing sales growth of 12% to US$7 billion for the final quarter, sending annual sales up 10% to US$25.8 billion. Management highlighted the step-change that had occurred for the business in 2020, and despite the COVID-19 vaccine effectively being a profitless product, it evidenced the ability to quickly evolve and turnaround new products.
Dating app Bumble (NASDAQ: BMBL) joined the list of loss-making IPOs, jumping 63% on listing overnight. Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) is set to report earnings after the market closes, whilst back home on the ASX, expect earnings from the likes of Mirvac Group (ASX: MGR) and Baby Bunting Group Ltd (ASX: BBN) today. You can get all the latest from Rask Media’s ASX reporting season calendar.