Abnormal items take a toll


The S&P/ASX 200 index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has climbed 0.4% to close at 4,288.6, following gains on global markets overnight. Investors appear to be hoping that the European Central bank is close to taking action on the region’s debt crisis.

Closer to home, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has left official interest rates at 3.5%, as widely expected. The central bank commented that most commodity prices have declined, which has helped to reduce inflation, while China’s growth has moderated to a more sustainable pace. As the inflation outlook is consistent with the RBA’s target, it saw no reason to raise or lower rates.

The Australian dollar is higher against the US dollar, now buying 105.7 US cents.

Company news

Transurban Group (ASX: TCL), a toll road operator, has announced a 51% fall in full year profit, due to a $138m writedown on a 14km toll road in Virginia, US. The company had previously warned the market about the writedown, and shares fell just 1.5% to close at $5.94.

Mining equipment supplier, Bradken Limited (ASX: BKN) has seen its share price rise 11.2%, closing at $5.74 after the company reported a 49% rise in profits over the previous year. Bradken announced that it was seeing continuing growth in mining markets, and their order book continues to be at historically high levels.

Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) also reported its full year results today, with profits falling 68%, thanks mainly to $101.3m of product recall costs. The company was forced to recall its CI500 hearing implant due to a small percentage of units failing. The company’s shares fell 5.1% to end at $63.00.

Construction company Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX: LEI) has also reported a drop in profits, with net income for the six months to June 2012 falling by 69% over the previous period. A $1 billion fall in revenues was partly to blame, along with one-off writedowns on construction projects. The market was pre-warned about the writedowns, and the shares fell just 1.5%, ending at $16.48.

Winners and losers

From the top 50 stocks, BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX: BSL) and Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) rose the most, with BlueScope adding 5.7% to close at 28 cents and Fortescue rising 3.3% to close at $4.40.

Computershare Limited (ASX: CPU) and CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) were the losers from the majors today, falling 3.1% and 1.7% respectively.

Foolish takeaway

As we mentioned in our reporting season preview article, one of the factors that can affect share prices are various one-off items. Whether they are signs of things to come, only time will tell.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in CSL and Leightons. The Motley Fool‘s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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