The S&P/ASX 200 index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has climbed 0.9% to 4,370.1, on the back of strong profit results from local companies and news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced her support for a long-term sustainable solution to the euro zone’s debt crisis.

The Australian dollar has fallen slightly against the greenback, currently buying 104.7 US cents.

Company News

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) has posted an underlying profit of $4.5 billion for the nine months to June 2012, up 5.5% compared to the same period last year. The company also announced that it was freezing the wages of its top executives again this year. Shares in the bank closed up 2.8% at $24.56.

Ex-Fosters wine business, Treasury Wine Estates (ASX: TWE) saw its shares pop by 3.6%, after delivering a 9.2% increase in earnings for 2012, but has forecast a fall in the financial year 2013 due to lower earnings growth.

Shares in APN News and Media (ASX: APN) have been crunched, down 10.6% to 42 cents, after the company announced a $485m impairment charge on its New Zealand publishing business, and a net loss of $319m for the first half of 2012. Ouch!

Santos Limited (ASX: STO) has reported a 20% jump in underlying net profit for the first half of 2012, beating analyst expectations, thanks to 11% higher oil and gas production, and higher oil and gas prices. The company’s shares added 3.2% to close at $11.78.

Meanwhile, QBE Insurance Group (ASX: QBE) has lifted its six month profit by 13%, but investors appear to have been spooked by the cut in the first half dividend from 62 cents to 40 cents, and forecasting a drop in its insurance margin from 13% to 12%. Shares in the insurer fell 4.5% to close at $13.05.

Winners and Losers

From the majors, Santos and ANZ were the best performers, while GPT Group (ASX: GPT), Wesfarmers Limited (ASX: WES) and Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) all posted strong rises.

QBE Insurance and ASX Limited (ASX: ASX) were the biggest losers, falling 4.5% and 1.7% respectively.

The Foolish bottom line

It appears that company results in the main, aren’t as bad as investors had been expecting. Which serves as a reminder for Foolish investors to focus on individual companies and long term, and ignore the daily ructions of the market.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in QBE. 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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