Since the middle of November, the S&P ASX 50 Index (ASX: XAF) has fallen 3.1%, closing at 5343 on 15 January. The index recovered somewhat from the 12 December low point of 5174.
During that time, what were the best performing ASX 50 stocks and what outlook do they have in 2014?
Crown Resorts Ltd (ASX: CWN) +7.4% $17.66
In mid-2014 the “City of Dreams” integrated resort in Manila will open, which Crown owns in a joint venture with Melco Crown. Further progress in the application for a second Sydney gambling-venue licence, for the Barangaroo development in Darling Harbour, has also been made.
Also, it will be working towards winning the opportunity to build a new integrated resort in Brisbane. Echo Entertainment Group Ltd (ASX: EGP), which owns and operates The Treasury Casino, the only casino in Brisbane, is also vying for approval from the QLD state government.
Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX: SHL) +5.5% $16.85
The medical diagnostics company reaffirmed its 2014 guidance of 5% EBITDA growth, stating that growth could be substantially higher if the Australian dollar remains at its current weaker levels against the USD and EUR. 2013 NPAT was up 5.9%, from $317.6 million to $339.6 million.
Aurizon Holdings Ltd (ASX: AZJ) +4.5% $4.86
The rail transport company will begin hauling coal in 2014 for Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC). Its agreed a 12-year deal to haul 16 million tonnes annually to Newcastle port.
In late November, it created a proposed arrangement with GVK Coal Infrastructure that would construct a 300km rail line, from the Galilee Basin, to a proposed new coal facility at Abbott Point near Bowen, QLD.
Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB) +3.3% $8.82
In December, Brambles spun-off Recall Holdings Ltd (ASX: REC), the information management solutions business. At the October AGM, it reaffirmed its 2014 guidance for sales growth in pallets, RPCs and containers, and an underlying profit of US$930 million to US$965 million based on $0.92c to the US$ exchange rate. A stronger dollar would benefit the company’s earnings. Stronger consumer spending will also generate more business for this pallet, packaging, and logistics giant.
Already half of January is now history. If the trends are correct, then 2014 could see more sales and discretionary spending as people feel they have extra spending money. The housing market growing at its present rate will have a knock-on effect throughout the economy, with interest rates attractively low for both consumers and businesses.
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