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Market Update

BHP Net Plunges 47%, QBE Insurance Net Rises 39%


Author: Marcus Jacob
ticker.com
Last Update: 8:58 AM ET February 24 2015

5:30 PM Sydney Australian stocks gained at close and investors focused on earnings. BHP Billiton earnings plunged 47% and announced a cut in capital spending. QBE Insurance said first-half revenues rose 25%. Flight Centre Travel net declined. Breville Group net fell.

Australian stocks closed higher in active trading and investors focused on earnings announcements from BHP Billiton, QBE Insurance and Oil Search.

Australian dollar closed at 77.75 U.S. cents and in stock trading turnover jumped to 904 million shares worth $6.1 billion.

ASX 200 Index gained 19 or 0.3% to 5,927 and broader All Ordinaries Index rose 17.60 to 5,890.

In commodities trading, gold slid US$1 to US$1,205 an ounce and light crude oil declined US$1.36 to US$49.45 a barrel.

Brent crude slid 0.10 cents to close at US$58.80 a barrel.

IPO

Martin Aircraft Company Limited surged 10% after the jet pack developer priced its initial public offering at 40 cents. Stock opened at 60 cents and closed at 44 cents.

Australian Stock Movers

BHP Billiton Limited climbed 2.9% to $33.06 after the diversified natural resources company reported revenues in the first-half ending in December declined 11.9% to US$29.90 billion from US$33.95 billion a year ago period.

Net profit in the period tumbled 47.4% to US$4.27 billion compared to US$8.11 billion and diluted earnings per share dropped to 80 cents from US$1.52 in the same period a year ago.

The company said it reduced capital and exploration expenditure in the period by 23% to US$6.4 billion and plans to invest a total of US$12.6 billion in the fiscal 2015 and to US$10.8 billion in the fiscal 2016.

The company added net debt in the period dropped to US$24.9 billion, a decrease of US$847 million compared to the net debt position at the end of June 2014.
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BHP announced interim dividend to increase by 5% to 62 cents per share.

Breville Group Limited slid 1% to $6.98 after the kitchen appliance maker said revenues in the first-half ending in December dropped 5.6% to $293.94 million from $311.28 million a year ago period.

Net profit in the period slumped 4.9% to $29.66 million compared to $31.18 million and diluted earnings per share decreased to 22.80 cents from 23.97 cents in the same period a year ago.

The company said it expects mid-to-high single digit earnings growth during the second half.

Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd surged 12.1% to $39.50 after the wholesale and corporate travel company reported revenues in the first-half ending in December jumped 4.9% to $1.08 billion form $1.03 billion a year ago period

Net income in the period plunged 9.5% to $100.3 million compared to $110.8 million and diluted earnings per share slipped to 99.6 cents from 109.9 cents in the same period a year ago.

The company forecasted underlying pre-tax profit for the fiscal 2015 between $360 million and $390 million.

The travel services provider announced the same interim dividend as in the period last year.

Oil Search Limited rose 0.1% to $8.29 after the oil and gas explorer reported total revenues in the year ending in December soared 110% to $1.61 billion from $766.3 million a year ago period.

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Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc