The S&P / ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has close up 1% higher, ending at 5,016.2, driven by the energy sector up 4.1%, while consumer staples added 2.1%. Materials and gold sectors dragged on the market, down 1.2% and 2.8% respectively, on the back of weak Chinese production data.
The Australian dollar is lower against the US dollar, fetching 102.4 cents.
These three stocks were the best performers in the top 20.
Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) climbed 9.7% to close at $37.96, after the company announced that it will pay a special dividend of US 63 cents, fully franked, and revised its dividend payout ratio to 80% of net profit for the foreseeable future. Investors obviously like the news on two fronts. The first being the payout to shareholders, the second being that the company was less likely to spend its prodigious cash flows on a bad acquisition.
Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB) added 3% to close at $8.65, with ongoing speculation about the pallet manager’s demerger of its information management division, Recall. Brambles is expected to update the market on sales tomorrow, and investors are likely pricing in some more positive news about the demerger and potential distribution to shareholders from the proceeds of the Recall sale. Some analysts have estimated Recall could be worth anything from US$1.9 billion to US$2.7 billion.
Santos Limited (ASX: STO) rose 3% to close at $12.27, likely buoyed by the news from fellow oil and gas producer Woodside. Santos could see cash flows jump in the next two years as two of its large LNG plants come on stream, which should see gas production explode. PNG LNG is on track for first LNG in 2014, while Gladstone LNG is over 50% complete and scheduled to produce its first gas in 2015.
With its legendary, fully franked 28 cent dividend, Telstra is the darling of Aussie investors. Chances are even if you don’t own Telstra shares directly, your superannuation fund does. But with its share price skyrocketing over the past year, is Telstra past its prime? Click here for our brand-new report: Buy, Sell, or Hold Telstra?
The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Click here now for your free subscription to Take Stock, 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. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Woodside.