Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 2/19/14

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By Tom Piotrowski, CommSec Market Analyst | February 19, 2014 2:27 PM EST

Mid Session Report
(12:00 AEDT)

Local stocks continued to grind higher on Wednesday despite an indifferent lead from US markets overnight.
Company results remain the overwhelming focus for local investors.

Reuters
Asian Shares Bounce from 4-week low (Reuters).

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Woodside Petroleum ($WPL) announced a 41 per cent fall in full-year net profit to $US1.75 billion. The result was broadly in line with forecasts. The figure was measured against the record profit in 2012 which was boosted by the sale the Browse LNG project in Western Australia. Sales for the full year fell 6.6 per cent to $US5.93 billion, even though output rose to a record 87 million barrels of oil equivalent, a 2.5 per cent increase. WPL declared a final dividend of $1.03 a share. This compares to the final dividend a year ago of US65¢ a share reflecting an increase in WPL's' payout ratio which was announced last year.

Wesfarmers (WES) announced an 11% lift in first half profit driven by a continued strong performance of its supermarket business. Wesfarmers net profit rose to $1.429 billion for the six months to December 31, up from $1.285 billion a year ago. Coles earnings rose nearly 11 per cent to $836 million during the half. Earnings from home improvement business Bunnings rose 8.5 per cent to $562 million. The department store business continued to face headwinds, Target saw its earnings cut in half to $70 million driven by excess inventory.

Bega Cheese (BGA) shares have moved ahead after the dairy concern posted an 18 per cent increase in first half profit to $18.7 million. Overall sales volumes were lower partly due to a decline in milk intake of 8%, however revenue increased by 4% due to strong increases in dairy commodities across the board, with near-record AUD sales values being evidenced for skim and whole milk powder Overall sales volumes were lower partly due to a decline in milk intake of 8%, however revenue increased by 4% due to:• strong increases in dairy commodities across the board, with near-record AUD sales values being evidenced for skim and whole milk powder on major export market indicators

The ABS reported wages rose modestly in the final quarter. Wages excluding bonuses rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7% in the fourth quarter from the prior quarter and rose 2.6% from a year earlier. The wage data was broadly in line with the markets expectations and are unlikely to have a significant bearing on the RBA's view of interest rates despite the Aussie dollar falling modestly following the release of the data.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Asian Shares Bounce from 4-week low (Reuters).
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