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4 big ASX winners – Atlas Iron, Lend Lease, Fortescue Metals and Bank of Queensland

Since the last reporting season for 2013 results, investors have had time to digest the revenue and earnings ups and downs of the companies in the S&P ASX 100 Index (ASX: XTO), and the market is pricing in its expectations for the coming year.  Which companies have pulled out ahead in share price since then?

#1 grower over the past two months is Atlas Iron (ASX: AG0), the WA iron ore miner with 4 mines in the Northern Pilbara. The share price has been in a downward trend since July 2011, but since its 28 Aug low of $0.78, it has risen about 37% to $1.07.  Increased iron ore production, up 50% since September quarter 2012, in addition to higher per tonne spot prices will see its total revenues rise for this financial year.

Property, infrastructure and housing developer and manager Lend Lease (ASX: LLC) was tied for #2, going from $9 to $11.45, a 27% gain. The share price was no doubt buoyed by Lend Lease’s total development project value of $37.4 billion, including the upcoming Barangaroo South and Darling Harbour developments.

Lend Lease’s retirement dwelling business segment was up 20% in sales compared to the June quarter, and with the general housing market reviving, there is more land development and house construction to be done. It is also planning to expand its US operations now that the real estate market there has recovered since the GFC.

The other tie for #2 was Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG), rising 27% from $4.25 to $5.40. Similar to Atlas Iron, higher spot prices are raising net profit margins, and the company shipped 25.9 million tonnes of iron ore in the September quarter, up 61% compared to the same quarter in 2012.

Fortescue now has a cash balance of $2.8 billion, which it plans to partly use to pay down its $12 billion debt. The company has received $625 million from Formosa, a Taiwanese conglomerate, as part payment for its total $1.5 billion investment it is making in the company.

At #4, Bank of Queensland (ASX: BOQ) went up 21.6% from $9.60 to 11.68. Leaping from a $17.1 million loss in 2012, this year BOQ had a net profit after tax of $185.8 million. It has not recovered as well as the Big Four banks since the GFC, and sank to $6.36 a share in May 2012.

The profit was mostly due to the reduction in bad debts and better credit management practices. BOQ should see more business when the Queensland housing market gets back into full swing.

The Foolish Takeway

Two months is not a very long time for investments, but the share price gains of these companies indicate that the market is expecting better times for each. As ever, the market looks forward, and it’s looking forward to better time for these four ASX 100 companies.

If you’re looking forward, and looking for better stock market returns, you may want to check out The Motley Fool’s favourite income idea for 2013-2014. We give you the name and full research case in our FREE research report, including a full investment analysis! Simply click here for your FREE copy of “The Motley Fool’s Top Dividend Stock for 2013-2014.”

More reading

·    Fortescue to focus on cutting debt rather than growth

·    7% yields on offer from property groups

·    ASX rallies as US makes ‘tremendous progress’

Motley Fool contributor Darryl Daté-Shappard does not own shares in any company mentioned.

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