Should you invest in ASX Ltd after its $426 million profit result?

Despite a big drop in high-quality new listings ASX Ltd (ASX: ASX) delivered solid full year results culminating in a 7.1% rise in statutory profit after tax to $426.2 million.

During a financial year in which the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) dropped 0.5%, the stock market operator benefitted from increased trading activity as a result of heightened volatility. Not least in the aftermath of the Brexit which ASX chairman Rick Holliday-Smith singled out as a being a key contributor to the strong finish to the year.

Although the number of IPOs increased from 120 in FY 2015 to 124 in FY 2016, the lack of high quality listings meant they raised $23.6 billion compared to $38.9 billion a year earlier.

Thankfully there was a sharp rise in secondary capital raisings that offset some of this decline. Secondary capital raisings from the likes of Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) and the other big four banks led to a huge 10.1% increase in total volume to $55 billion.

Overall total capital raised was $78.6 billion, down 11.6% from FY 2015. But with the rest of the business firing on all cylinders operating revenue rose 6.5% to $746.3 million.

Although today’s result was a beat on the analyst consensus estimate according to CommSec, the market’s reaction hasn’t been very positive. ASX’s shares have been in the red all day and are currently down by around 1%.

This could be down to a mixed performance for the first six weeks of the new financial year. Management has advised that total capital raised through new listings is down 6.2%, though trading was up 4.9%.

Although its shares provide a fully franked 4% dividend at present, I’m not entirely sure it makes for a great investment at 22x full year earnings. Whilst it does have a monopoly of sorts on the Australian market, the mixed start to the year leaves me doubting whether we’ll see the sort of growth that justifies the current premium.

For this reason I would personally sit this one out and wait for a better entry point.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. 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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