— Finance

Australian sharemarket breaks closing, intraday records as company reports impress investors amid more M&A

The ASX goes from strength to strength, sending previous records tumbling as company earnings reports impress and takeover action rises. The Australian share market hit another new record high on continued positive earnings reports and mergers and acquisitions. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished 0.5 percent stronger at 7431.4, while the All Ordinaries Index rose 0.44 percent to 7704. OMG chief executive Ivan Tchourilov noted the S&P/ASX 200 also reached an all-time intraday high of 7447.9. It comes after fresh record closing highs on Thursday and Friday.

CommSec says the S&P/ASX 200 index has been gaining ground for ten months, up 12.8 percent this calendar year and 1.6 percent in July. The mining sector was yet again a significant contributor to the gains. “The common theme of the earnings reporting season so far has been strong performance in the materials sector,” Mr. Tchourilov said. “Oz Minerals, BlueScope, and BHP were among the big leaders today, with international demand for iron and steel outweighing a slowdown in domestic construction work due to Covid lockdowns.”

OZ Minerals surged 6.53 percent to $23.48 after its June quarter report showed a rise in gold and copper production while costs fell. BlueScope leaped 6.4 percent to $24.43 after booking a record preliminary unaudited second-half result, with earnings beating its guidance. BHP gained 2.79 percent to $53.36, while rival Rio Tinto appreciated 1.8 percent to $132.47. “The materials sector performance was eclipsed today, however, by monumental gains in aged care companies such as Japara Healthcare, Regis Healthcare, and Estia Healthcare,” Mr. Tchourilov said.

Australian sharemarket

Japara rocketed 18.46 percent to $1.38 after backing Calvary’s improved takeover offer of $1.40 cash per share, also known as the Little Company of Mary Health Care. “This represents a significant premium on yesterday’s close at $1.165,” Mr. Tchourilov said. “Shareholders of closely correlated peers Estia and Regis Healthcare have been direct beneficiaries of Calvary’s show of confidence in the aged care industry.” Estia advanced 8.64 percent to $2.39, while Regis soared 12.57 percent to $2.15. Imugene, which is developing therapies that seek to activate the immune systems of cancer patients to treat and eradicate tumors, went into a trading halt pending an announcement about a capital raising.

Takeover target Oil Search dipped 0.5 percent to $3.93 despite its second-quarter report showing it was on track to deliver full-year production and capex guidance. Ord Minnett said the report showed a strong quarter, with production, sales, and revenue exceeding expectations. The information did not mention suitor Santos, which revealed that the Oil Search board had disregarded its merger proposal last week. RBC Capital Markets maintained its outperform rating for Oil Search. Oil and gas analyst Gordon Ramsay said it had a standout long-term growth profile in the Australian energy sector, partly driven by its proposed Pikka oil development in Alaska.

Gemma Broadhurst
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