Metcash jumps, Bapcor falls: Aus shares 0.2 per cent lower at noon

Australian shares have been mixed on Monday morning with the market opening lower by around 20 points or 0.03 per cent before moving higher to be in positive territory. It has slipped lower again as it heads to lunchtime.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.2 per cent or 15.90 points lower at 7225.30. The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 24 points.

Bapcor was 8.5 per cent lower at $6.23 before recovering to $6.46 after the Board forced the early retirement if its CEO, ZIP Co was 7.66 per cent lower at $4.46 and CSL was $6.85 lower at $290.95.

Metcash has jumped 5.57 per cent to $4.16 on news of a 31 per cent increase in its dividend to 10.5 cents.

IPOs

Australian Bond Exchange Holdings (ASX:ABE) has listed on the ASX today. Their shares issued at $0.65, started trading at $0.70 and are currently at $0.64.

Newmark Property REIT (ASX:NPR) has also listed on the ASX today. Their shares issued at $1.90, started trading at $1.93 and are currently at $1.95.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Consumer Staples, up 1.9 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Information Technology, down 2.5 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Silver Lake Resources (ASX:SLR), trading 5.8 per cent higher at $1.63. It is followed by shares in Metcash (ASX:MTS) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Zip Co (ASX:Z1P), trading 7.6 per cent lower at $4.46. It is followed by shares in Redbubble (ASX:RBL) and Bapcor (ASX:BAP).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1782.60 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.2 per cent higher at US$98.50 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 3.79 per cent.
The Australian dollar was nearing an 18-month low on Monday morning following a sharp drop on Friday due to fears about the new Omicron strain of Covid. It was trading at midday at $.7016 US cents.

Company news

Boral (ASX: BLD) to sell North American Fly-Ash Business

Boral has agreed to sell its North American Fly Ash business for $US755 million (A$1 billion) to Eco Material Technologies. The net proceeds from the sale will add to surplus capital with the Boral board saying it will determine the most appropriate way to return surplus capital to shareholders at an appropriate time.

The transaction completes Boral’s portfolio realignment and strategic focus back on its construction materials business in Australia according to chief executive and managing director Zlatko Todorcevski.

Boral has owned the fly-ash business in the US for more than 40 years.

The transaction is expected to complete in the 2022 financial year, subject to customary conditions precedent and allowing for the regulatory approval process.

Boral shares were last trading at $6.36,  up 3.08 per cent.

Metcash (ASX: MTS) announces a 31% increase to its interim dividend

The 10.5 cents dividend per share was revealed in the half-year results announcement this morning. Group revenue rose 1.5% to $8.5bn with EBIT growing 13.9% to $146.6m.

Group CEO, Jeff Adams said: “It has been a very pleasing first half for both Metcash and our independent retailers as we continued to build on the very strong prior corresponding half.”

“The preference for local neighbourhood shopping and shift from cities to regional areas helped our independent retail networks all deliver ‘like for like’ sales growth in the half. IGA Supermarkets were up 18.8%, IBA stores in Liquor were up 27.0%, Independent Hardware was up 17.7% and Total Tools up 51%.”

Metcash share at were trading at $4.16 up 5.57 per cent.

APRA approves Challenger Limited (ASX: CGF) buyer

In July 2021, US retirement services group, Athene Holding Limited, and its strategic partner, Apollo Global Management, agreed to buy 15% of Challenger from an existing shareholder, 3% of which was subject to regulatory approval from the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority.

That approval has now been given and today they will acquire the additional 3%.

Challenger shares were last trading at $6.54 up 0.54%.

Combram Estate Olives Limited (ASX: CBO) in capital raising

Olive oil producers Cobram Estate Olives is in a trading halt ahead of a proposed equity raising to be conducted by way of an institutional placement. It is believed the company is seeking to raise $50m at $2 a share.

Cobram Estate Olives is Australia’s largest producer and marketer of extra virgin olive oil and owns 2.4m olive oil trees planted on 6500ha in Victoria.

The company which last traded at 42.05 on Friday expects the trading halt to last until the commencement of trading on December 7.

Magellan Financial Group Limited (ASX: MFG) increases FUM

Magellan Financial Group’s funds under management rose in November from $114.8 billion to $116.4 billion. Retail FUM dipped slightly however this was offset by a 2.0% rise in institutional inflows to $86,184 million.

Sigma Healthcare (ASX: SIG) cuts profit guidance

Sigma Healthcare has cut its earnings guidance for the 2022 financial year (ending January 2022), saying it now expects underlying EBITDA to be down around 10% compared with FY21. It was only in September that the company said it had been expecting growth of 5% compared with FY21.

The company said the downgrade reflected a challenging second half of the financial year, which has been impacted by

Short-term operational issues resulting from the roll-out of its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) have hit the second half of the year while these issues were compounded by the protracted COVID-19 impacts.

Sigma’s interim chief financial officer Jeff Sells said “A total ERP upgrade is a significant change management program for any company, and whilst we reached go-live on this project broadly on budget and on time through a pandemic, we have faced additional challenges in the context of completing implementation through the height of COVID-19 restrictions”

“Unfortunately, this has had some significant impacts on our customers and we are rectifying these issues as quickly as possible.” Mr Sells also warned the issues had affected sales in FY22 and would likely flow through to FY23 sales.

Sigma shares were 6.67 per cent lower at midday at $0.49.

Bapcor (ASX: BAP) announces CEO succession

Bapcor Limited today announced that its Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Darryl Abotomey would retire on 28 February, 2021. This follows on from his deteriorating relationship with the Board. An executive search firm has been engaged to find a replacement.

The market did not like the news and the stock trading down to $6.17 before recovering somewhat to $6.42, down 5.45 per cent on the day.