Here’s why these 4 shares smashed the market today

The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) headed decisively down today, losing 1.4% to 5,113 points.

A number of shares managed to outperform however, and here’s why:

ALS Ltd (ASX: ALQ) rose 5% to $4.41 as investors continue to revalue the company in light of its most recent announcement, which detailed a significant reduction in debt, as well as recent rises in commodity prices. ALS has applied the proceeds of a capital raising conducted last year to its debt, reducing debt by A$183m to A$488m. Unfortunately ALS also had to write down the value of intangible assets in its oil and gas services business. ALS finishes its financial year on 31 March, and investors can expect its annual report to be released on 30 May.

ALS shares are down 16% in the past 12 months.

Cover-More Group Ltd (ASX: CVO) rose 5% to $1.50 as investors look for a bargain in the wake of the company’s recent falls. The company looks conventionally expensive on a Price to Earnings (P/E) basis, although its exposure to Asia is among the best of Australian insurers and could position it to benefit from rising tourist numbers for many years. Travel insurance is a competitive industry however, and investors will want to watch that Cover-More’s expansion thesis unfolds as expected.

Cover-More shares are down 22% in the past 12 months.

Capitol Health Ltd (ASX: CAJ) rose 6% to $0.132, possibly also as a result of bargain hunting following the stock’s ignominious exit from the S&P/ASX 300 (INDEXASX: ^AXKO) (ASX: XKO) as a result of its shrinking market cap in recent weeks. Capitol Health currently labours under a pile of debt, and recent changes to the diagnostic imaging co-payments are expected to impact further on revenues and profits. More pain could also be forthcoming, with the government’s Medicare Benefits Schedule review expected later this year.

Capitol Health shares are down 87% in the past 12 months.

Praemium Ltd (ASX: PPS) gained 6% to $0.36 following the stock’s inclusion into the All Ordinaries index last week – shares are up nearly 20% since that time. On the downside, Praemium’s shares are already highly valued by the market, with recent interim profit after tax of $1.3m only a fraction of the company’s $130m+ market cap. Revenues and profits are growing rapidly however, up 30% and 50% respectively compared to the prior corresponding period. Fortunately the portfolio administration and investment industries have strong tailwinds, although Praemium still appears to command a ‘praemium’ price tag.

Praemium shares are up 8% in the past 12 months.

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Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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