The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) is expected to drop when the market opens on Thursday. Here’s what you need to know.
ASX finishes flat, Temple & Webster shares smashed
The ASX 200 battled to a flat finish on Wednesday, adding 0.1%, with gains in energy and financials offsetting weakness in the consumer sectors.
Retail sales results were released with every state apart from the NT falling in September, while national sales were down 1.5%. This was the second straight month of contraction, suggesting consumers may be tiring of online spending and beginning to save once again.
It wasn’t good news for Temple & Webster Group Ltd (ASX: TPW), which fell 17.2% despite reporting sales were 138% higher in the financial year to date. The company is up fivefold in the last 12 months despite delivering earnings of just $8.6 million in FY20.
There is a long list of similar e-commerce companies seeking to list on the ASX before the end of the year, clearly capitalising on the popularity of anything ‘online’. Be wary.
Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) and Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) both fell after the retail sales result, down 1.3% and 1.5%, respectively. Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci suggested that online sales are only set to grow for Woolies in the year ahead.
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Westpac fine approved, Orora shares rally
The financial sector added 0.9% as investors prepare for quarterly updates next week. National Australia Bank Ltd(ASX: NAB) was the leader, rising 1.6%. Meanwhile, the Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share price finished 1.0% higher despite the record $1.3 billion fine being approved by the Federal Court.
Bottle manufacturer Orora Ltd (ASX: ORA) was the highlight of the day, increasing 8.0% after providing a trading update. Management indicated that Australian volumes were in line with 2019 levels but that the US was ahead of expectations. Having followed the company for some time, the rally was a surprise given the 2019 US result was well below expectations at the time.
Atlas Arteria Group (ASX: ALX), which owns toll roads in the US and France, showed signs of normality. Traffic on average was down 4.7% in the third quarter but the Washington Dulles asset is still 44% off its 2019 level. With lockdowns expanding in France, it looks like another tough period ahead. Despite the weak result, toll revenue was only down 4.0% on 2019 levels, but in my view, it still seems a little early to be rotating back into these highly leverage assets.
Wall Street flat, Netflix disappoints
US markets finished broadly flat with renewed hopes of a stimulus package from the Democrats, but the focus has been on reporting season. The S&P 500 managed to finish 0.2% lower, while the Nasdaq fell 0.3%.
Streaming service Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) was the biggest drag after reporting just 2.2 million new subscribers, well off the 2.5 million forecast. Asia Pacific remained a highlight, growing 46%.
Netflix’s result is evidencing two things in my view. The first is the sheer speed at which this company and many similar ones continue to grow, and the second is the somewhat unrealistic expectations placed on quarterly earnings estimates. Netflix stock closed 6.9% lower.
Staying the technology sector, digital payments leader Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL) led the market, finishing 5.5% higher after announcing it would allow users to trade bitcoin on its platform at no cost. The sector is an important part of the Munro Global Growth Fund we interviewed yesterday on our podcast.