The departure, or otherwise, of leading company figures was enough to really push some stocks around at the end of a reasonably positive week on the ASX.
The unexpected departure of visionary TPG Telecom (ASX: TPG) founder David Teoh had the biggest impact, pushing shares in the big broadband provider down sharply, wiping off almost a billion dollars off the company’s market capitalisation as the shares fell 6.7% to $6.41.
While remaining a very private figure, the immediate departure of Mr Teoh after 30 years and his replacement with Hong Kong businessman and long-time board member Canning Fok was a surprise and coincided with the resignation from TPG of his son Shane Teoh after he was earlier convicted of assaulting an Uber driver.
Teoh will remain an influential figure at TPG
Mr Teoh will remain an influential figure at the company, holding a 17.2% stake which can’t be sold until July 2022 at the earliest.
His other son, Jack Teoh, and company secretary Antony Moffatt are also joining the board, which is still bedding-in the merger with Vodafone Hutchison Australia that began just eight months ago.
AMP might lose a Ferrari?
Over at fast shrinking fund manager AMP (ASX: AMP), the non-departure (for now) of AMP chief executive Francesco De Ferrari led to an initial share plunge, trading halt and no fewer than two consecutive daily announcements saying that “there has been no change to the chief executive officer’s position and Mr De Ferrari has not resigned.’’
However, in the very next breath it became obvious that Mr De Ferrari might be leaving as fast as his namesake sports cars with AMP saying that “the board and Mr De Ferrari are working together and constructively discussing the future strategy and leadership of the group, post the completion of AMP’s portfolio review.’’
That and an assurance that AMP will keep shareholders informed of the discussion “as required” left the entire issue as clear as mud, with one clear inference being that it won’t be long until the chief executive officer does depart.
AMP shares added a cent to close at $1.345 on Friday.
Will shareholders invest more than $2 billion of dividends?
The other welcome arrival was more than $2 billion in dividends which popped into investor’s bank accounts this week, with contributing companies including Telstra (ASX: TLS), Coles (ASX: COL), AGL (ASX: AGL), Origin Energy (ASX: ORG) and Evolution Mining (ASX: EVN).
Whether investors choose to reinvest some or all of their dividends is an interesting question, with the market having a lacklustre start to the week but enjoying a three-day winning streak to end with.
The ASX 200 finished the week 1.7% higher at 6824.2 points thanks to a series of modest gains heading into the weekend.
Central to that strong end to the week were healthcare stocks, particularly, blood products group CSL (ASX: CSL) which dropped 0.9% on Friday, but still rose 5.3% for the week as the first locally-made COVID-19 vaccine shots began rolling out of the company’s Melbourne facility.
Telco giant Telstra (ASX: TLS) was another strong performer with investors warming to its simplification plans as it also announced plans to ditch its New Zealand listing, helping it to rise 6.2% for the week to $3.41.
There was little cheery news for the big insurers after heavy rain along the country’s east coast caused widespread flooding and a deluge of insurance claims.
Small cap stock action
The Small Ords index fell a slight 0.21% to close on 3191.5 points.
Small cap companies making headlines this week were:
Respiri (ASX: RSH)
It was a big week for Respiri which collared US Food and Drug Administration approval to sell its wheezo device and technology over the counter with an official US launch scheduled in Q3 2022.
The company followed up the FDA news with strategic appointments to advise its board on the upcoming UK launch, which is pencilled in for the December quarter this year.
Both appointments Dr Andrew Weekes and Dr Mark Levy have requisite experience, knowledge and capability to guide the Respiri board on its entry into the UK and navigating the country’s health system.
K-TIG (ASX: KTG)
K-TIG will develop welding technology to help build Australia’s next generation of armoured vehicles after it secured a deal with international defence manufacturer Hanwha Defence Corporation and Hanwha Defence Australia Pty Ltd.
As one of South Korea’s largest military manufacturers, Hanwha is also the preferred supplier of Australia’s multi-billion-dollar Land 8116 self-propelled artillery project for the country’s army.
K-TIG managing director Adrian Smith said partnering with Hanwha in creating “crucial equipment for Australia’s defence sector” was a “crucial opportunity” for the company that will see it deploy the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of its advanced keyhole welding technology.
Caravel Minerals (ASX: CVV)
WA copper explorer Caravel Minerals revealed reverse circulation percussion drill results from exploration at the Opie deposit.
Opie is about 10km south of the main copper deposits within Caravel’s namesake copper project and was not part of the previous 2019 scoping study or current pre-feasibility study – highlighting additional upside for the project.
Notable assays were 10m at 0.65% copper from 42m, 6m at 0.64% copper from 80m, and 34m at 0.34% copper from 244m.
Vintage Energy (ASX: VEN)
With stable sources of food grade carbon dioxide in high demand, Vintage Energy is hoping to meet some of that gap with its 50%-owned Nangwarry-1 well in the onshore Otway Basin.
Production test activities at the well began on 19 March and have perforated the lower Top Pretty Hill Formation, with gas flow exceeding the company’s expectations and achieving an estimated 12-14MMscfd.
Vintage noted log data had previously indicated the gas flow would be at a lower rate compared to the upper section.
Digital Wine Ventures (ASX: DW8)
A proposed agreement will see Digital Wine Ventures grow its reach further with its online platform WineDepot to sell its products via eBay.
The companies have executed a memorandum of understanding to negotiate a partnership where Australian wine producers will have their products automatically uploaded to eBay via a new part of WineDepot’s platform called Direct.
WineDepot will then pick, pack, and deliver any orders generated on eBay.
Venus Metals Corporation (ASX: VMC)
It was a big news week for Venus Metals which reported positive results from exploration at its 30%-owned Youanmi gold project, while drilling also hit multiple gold zones at its Sandstone project.
Latest assays from Youanmi have extended the gold footprint and confirm mineralisation is present 100m to the south of the Grace deposit and uncovered 8m at 19.9g/t gold from 68m, including 4m at 38.3g/t gold from 68m; and 4m at 5g/t gold from 40m.
On Friday, Venus announced results from stage two drilling at Sandstone which hit 9m at 2.3g/t gold from 15m.
The company also noted another joint venture partner AIC Mines had begun drilling the Curara Well project, near Sandfire’s DeGrussa copper-gold mine.
The week ahead
While Easter is set to reduce the amount of share market trading in the coming week, there is still a lot of data being released for the holiday-shortened week.
Consumer sentiment, purchasing managers’ indexes, home prices, job vacancies, lending indicators, retail and international trade data will all be released before the start of the Easter holiday on Friday, so there is a chance to react before the four-day trading break.
It is not just local economic releases that might move markets, there are some overseas releases to watch out for, particularly US employment figures.
The better than expected 379,000 increase in jobs in February will be followed by March figures which economists expect will show that 580,000 jobs have been added, potentially easing the unemployment rate from 6.2% to 6%.
There will also be a better picture produced of how Chinese growth is shaping up with the release of purchasing manager surveys.