ASX 200 (XJO) morning report – AMC & ASX property shares in focus

The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) is expected to fall when the market opens on Thursday. Here’s what ASX investors need to know.

Three in a row, ASX property shares trade higher

The ASX 200 delivered a third straight day of gains, finishing 0.9% higher on Wednesday, with the rally broad-based but driven mainly by the banking and property sectors, which rose 1.5% and 2.6%, respectively.

The oil price also hit a 12-month high, sending the energy sector to further gains, Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG) a key beneficiary.

Strength in the real estate sector clearly came from the release of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s meeting minutes, with hopes that lower interest rates (all but guaranteed until 2024) will push commercial and other property prices higher.

Shopping centre owner Vicinity Centres (ASX: VCX) and diversified property play Stockland Corporation Ltd (ASX: SGP) were the biggest gainers, adding 3.6% and 4.4%, respectively.

Investors in the sector should be wary, with further valuations from interest rate cuts now limited, I prefer those trading at a discount to their net tangible asset (NTA) value, particularly in the retail sector.

Single-tenant BWP Trust (ASX: BWP) released half-year results, reporting flat revenue at $76.1 million for the first half, with an 11% increase in warehouse valuations totalling $87.1 million the main contributor to $144 million in profit. BWP reported some 41 leases are due to be reviewed in 2021, with tenants likely to push for lower rental income. The dividend was retained at 9.2 cents per share but BWP shares fell 1.6% on the news.

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Amcor upgrades guidance, Pinnacle reports bumper profits

Residential property remains the hottest sector in the country, with low interest rates boosting hopes for double digit returns. Online listing company Domain Holdings Ltd (ASX: DHG) jumped to an all-time on Wednesday, adding 4.1% as activity around Australia continues to accelerate.

Defensive packaging play Amcor CDI (ASX: AMC) reported a 65% increase in first half profit to $417 million despite seeing group sales growth improve by just 3%. Rigid packaging continues to be the growth centre, sales growing 10%, with Flexibles broadly flat but the benefits of scale and cost-cutting seeing earnings grow far quicker than sales.

Management announced a slight increase to the dividend and upgraded earnings growth from 7-12% to 10-14%; this was welcome by investors with the Amcor share price moving 4.4% higher. Amcor is a rare winner from the pandemic, with more packaging required from online shopping and the group generally exempt from lockdowns around the world.

Pinnacle Investment Management Group Ltd (ASX: PNI), which both takes ownership in and partners with fund managers ranging from Antipodes to Coolabah Capital and Hyperion, reported a 120% increase in first-half profit to $30.3 million. The fast-growing group reported $5.5 billion in inflows in its stable of funds, $1.9 billion of which is retail, with growth manager Hyperion nearing the $10 billion in assets under management market.

Big tech flexes muscles, Bezos to step down

US markets finished broadly flat on Wednesday, the Nasdaq going nowhere but the S&P 500 adding 0.1% after big tech once again flexed its muscles. Reporting season has confirmed the end of the earnings recession and the sheer power and thematic dominance of the big tech names.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) reported a 44% jump in quarterly sales moving to US$125.6 billion, leading to another record profit of US$21.3 billion. Whilst e-commerce sales and services remain the core business, Amazon Web Services is the growth powerhouse, adding another 28% in sales during the quarter as its worldwide expansion continues. Jeff Bezos announced he’ll be stepping down from the chief executive role, naming the head of AWS Andy Jassy as his replacement later this year. Amazon stock fell 2.0% overnight.

Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) posted another record profit with Google search and advertising sales leading the way, jumping 17% in the quarter. Corporations are clearly pivoting to video and increasing budgets with YouTube advertising revenue jumping 46% year-on-year, showing the powerful trends supporting this business into the future; shares jumped 7.3% to an all-time high.

There was good news for Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) as well after the Chinese regulators forced ANT Financial to become a properly regulated financial entity, potentially paving the way for an IPO in 2021; shares moved 3.5% higher.

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Disclosure: At the time of publishing, Drew owns shares in Alibaba.

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