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ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) gains as reporting season gathers steam: REA Group (ASX:REA) drops on costs

The local market was buoyed by another strong day of reporting by Australia’s largest companies, with both the All Ordinaries (INDEXASX: XAO) and S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) gaining 0.3 per cent on Thursday.

It was led by a 1.2 per cent gain in the technology sector, along with 1 per cent from the utilities sector as AGL Energy Limited (ASX: AGL) posted a stronger than expected result. Tech darling and real estate marketing platform Rea Group Ltd (ASX: REA) dropped 4.2 per cent after REA Group flagged concerns about higher operating costs in 2024.

AGL Energy share price

Management announced a 16 per cent increase in the dividend after profit jumped 22 per cent to $250 million as the property market remains stronger than expected.

It was the opposite story for REA Group’s largest investor, News Corporation Class B Voting CDI (ASX: NWS), which added 6.3 per cent and closed at a record high. The group posted another 95 per cent increase in quarterly profit to US$183 million as the digital media business goes from strength to strength.

Cochlear rallies on upgraded guidance: Charter Hall to sell assets

Shares in hearing implant manufacturer Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) gained 4.4 per cent after the group increased earning guidance for 2024 again, predicting 26 to 31 per cent growth on 2023 numbers.

Cochlear share price

This confidence came after delivering 25 per cent growth in revenue in the final six months of 2023 to $1.113 billion, and profit that was 7 per cent ahead of expectations.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Charter Hall Long WALE REIT (ASX: CLW) which announced a cut to it dividend as higher interest cost hit the bottom line. This was not unexpected, with the positive sentiment reflected in a 3.2 per cent jump in CLW shares.

Management, however, announced intentions to sell as much as $500 million in assets in order to fund the reduction of current debt levels and to increase flexibility.

AGL Energy boosted the utilities sector, jumping 10 per cent, after AGL Energy booked a massive turnaround from a $576 million loss to a $1.1 billion profit in the second half of 2023.

Records near as S&P 500 hits 5,000: Disney outperforms

The S&P 500 (INDEXSP: .INX) neared a long considered untouchable level of 5,000 points on Thursday, as another day of strong earnings results supported the market strength.

Ultimately only closing 2 points higher, 5,000 points is in sight, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX: .DJI) gained another 0.1 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ: .IXIC) 0.2 per cent.

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly And Co (NYSE: ELI) has moved passed Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) to become the world’s 8th largest business, while shares in Arm Holdings PLC – ADR (NASDAQ: ARM) surged by close to 50 per cent in a single session as the semiconductor seller smashed expectations. Arm Holdings reported another 11 per cent in sales growth while its licensing business also grew 18 per cent.

Tesla share price

Walt Disney Co’s (NYSE: DIS) turnaround has continued, gaining more than 11 per cent after Walt Disney beat expectations by delivering sales in line with 2023 and a renewed focus on cost cutting.

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At the time of publishing, the author or their clients may have a financial interest in some of companies or securities mentioned.

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Wattle Partners is a financial advice firm, servicing clients around Australia, specialising in retirement planning (pre and post retirement). 

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