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ASX finishes flat as Victoria prepares for lockdown

Daily Market Update

Here we go again, ASX flat as lockdown begins, Costa Group tanks, AMP sued

The ASX200 (ASX: XJO) added just 2.4 points on Thursday after the Victorian Government sent the entire state into another lockdown.

The news is expected to hit the economy to the tune of $1 billion but the market remains immune, with the IT sector once again leading the charge, up 1.9%.

  • Link Administration Holdings Ltd (ASX: LNK) looks to have finally received the offer it was seeking, with private equity firm KKR teaming up with Domain Holdings Australia Ltd (ASX: DHG) to lob a bid for the property settlement platform PEXA, which values the entire business at $3 billion.

    LNK shares moved 1.2% higher with the ~$1.3 billion valuation of LNK’s 44% share nearly half its current market cap. The group has set a deadline of 30 May to accept the offer, with DHG shares jumping 2.1% on the news.

    AMP Ltd (ASX: AMP) was the top performer on Thursday, jumping 8.5% despite being lodged with court proceedings from ASIC in relation to their charging of deceased customers in the past. AMP is said to have already repaid over $5 million in remediation.

    Fisher & Paykel struggle with expectations, Costa smashed, Ramsay doubles down on the UK

    Avocado and berry producer Costa Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: CGC) was one the worst-performing companies on the ASX on Thursday, falling 24.1% on a trading update after what had been a strong run in 2020.

    The sell-off came despite management suggesting second-half performance was ‘marginally ahead’ of the first half.

    The international business, including China and Morocco, is beginning to perform well but it was the domestic business struggling with a mixed performance from tomato and citrus farming spooking investors.

    Ramsay Health Care (ASX: RHC) couldn’t overcome the Victorian shutdowns with a strong acquisition in the UK.

    Shares fell 3.5% as the company announced the $1.82 billion acquisition of UK competitor Spire Healthcare (LSE: SPI) as it doubles down on a European recovery.

    The deal was at a multiple of 11 times earnings and is expected to deliver significant cost savings with greater scale.

    Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp Ltd (ASX: FPH) fell 6% after releasing FY21 results, announcing an 82% increase in profit to NZ$524 million on 56% revenue growth.

    The company refused to provide guidance for FY22, which given its major products including breathing apparatus, was of concern. The dividend was increased 42% to 22 cents per share.

    Value rally continues as fourth straight positive month beckons, Salesforce.com smashes expectations

    The value rotation continued on Wednesday in the US as unemployment claims hit another pandemic low and the GDP growth estimate was confirmed at 6.4%.

    Once again, the industrial, financials and commodity-focused Dow Jones outperformed adding 0.4%. The Nasdaq and S&P500 ultimately ended flat.

    Small caps continued to close ground, the Russell 2000 jumping 1.2% with some ‘meme’ stocks contributing to the rally once again.

    Customer relationship management platform Salesforce.com smashed expectations again overnight.

    As more businesses moved online, Salesforce reported a near fivefold increase in profit to US$469 million despite revenue increasing ‘just’ 20%.

    “This marked the ‘best quarter in our company’s history”, said CEO Marc BenioffCRM shares fell 1.7% on the report but jumped 4% after hours.

    Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HP) saw a similarly strong period with sales 27% higher to US$15.9 billion, US$1 billion ahead of expectations.

    A surge in demand for laptops and printers, which grew 72%, was behind HP’s strength, shares were 0.6% higher.