Coles shares are up over 10 per cent this month as consumers stockpile basic goods. Image by (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

stocks

Some companies shine amid market carnage

2020-03-25 15:06:48

The coronavirus crisis has hammered Australia’s share market but there are a handful of companies that have managed to thrive despite the turmoil and lockdowns.

Shares in Auckland-based Fisher & Paykel Healthcare is up nearly 30 per cent since the start of the year and 11 per cent on the month as it ramps up manufacturing output.

“As an essential service, we are continuing to focus on meeting the global demand for our respiratory products that are directly involved in treating patients with COVID-19,” managing director and chief executive Lewis Gradon said on Monday.

IGA supplier Metcash’s shares meanwhile have gained 24.5 per cent on the year and 29.5 per cent this month as consumers stockpile toilet paper and other basic products.

Coles is up 6.7 per cent on the year and 11.2 per cent on the month, and while rival Woolworths’ shares are down 3.0 per cent since the start of 2020, but have performed far better than the 27.6 drop suffered by the ASX200 during that time.

“The trend towards cooking at home, of course working at home, has seen the staples sector shine,” said Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir. 

“Sales are up dramatically.” 

Gold miners Silver Lake Resources, Saracen Minerals, Evolution Mining, Gold Road Resources and Northern Star are all up between 1.5 per cent and 15 per cent as the price of the safe haven asset has hit seven-year highs during the crisis.

Shares in Australia’s largest ASX-listed company, global biotech firm CSL, are still down just 0.7 per cent since the year began, despite losing about 20 per cent from their $342.75 high set when the market peaked on February 20. 

While CSL isn’t directly involved in the fight against the coronavirus, Australian Stock Report senior advisor Ben Le Brun says he expects to see their global influenza immunisation business see an uptick because of the pandemic.

“You can just imagine how many people are going to be lining up for a flu vaccine this year,” he said.

Shares in battered agribusinesses Elders and Costa Group are also up on the year – 11 and 13 per cent, respectively – but Ms Amir said that was likely to do with a perceived normalisation in rain after the prolonged drought.

One of the biggest winners has been New Zealand’s Zoono Group, which has seen its share price rise 116 per cent so far this year as demand for its antimicrobial hand sanitisers and wipes surges.

Zoono says its hand sanitisers have been tested against a feline coronavirus that’s accepted as a surrogate for Covid-19 and proven to be more than 99.99 per cent effective against it.

The company’s shares rose another 7.1 per cent on Wednesday after it announced it had signed a multi-million-dollar deal with Al Rabban Capital to distribute its sanitisers in the Middle East and Africa.

Shares in Biotron are also up more than 50 per cent on the year after the Sydney biotech announced February 6 that it would test its HIV and hepatitis drug candidates for efficacy against the 2019-nCov coronavirus.

Biotron says it has 30 different compounds that show good activity against a range of coronaviruses, including the one that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak.