Keep an eye on these companies this reporting season

February is half-year reporting season for many companies listed on the ASX. A few results are already out, though market activity could be relatively subdued until February 7, when index heavyweights Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) report.

The Big Four banks have underperformed so far in 2018, so a strong result from CBA could be the catalyst to send major bank shares higher.

Resources have been widely tipped to support the Australian economy and share market in 2018, so diversified miner Rio Tinto will provide some insight as to how the sector is travelling.

We’ll get further bank information on February 8 when National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) publishes its first quarter trading update and I’m also looking forward to Tabcorp Holdings Limited’s (ASX: TAH) half-year results on the same day. Tabcorp acquired lotteries giant Tatts Group in December and I’m keen to get an update of what’s changing.

On February 12 of note is Ansell Limited (ASX: ANN), which sold its sexual wellness division in 2017 and is undergoing a strategic transformation program, and JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX: JBH), which is having to contend with the arrival of Amazon.

Amcor Limited (ASX: AMC) will publish its half-year results on the 12th as well. The global packaging company has been under some selling pressure lately, probably due to the strong Australian dollar and higher industry costs. Amcor’s performance will likely have implications for the share price of Orora Ltd (ASX: ORA), which itself reports on February 14.

Challenger Ltd (ASX: CGF) will announce half-year results on February 13, when I expect to read about continued growth of funds under management and an update on how the business is performing in Japan.

February 14 will be a busy day, with Insurance Australia Group Ltd (ASX: IAG) the first of the general insurers to report and Suncorp Group Ltd (ASX: SUN) closely follows on the 15th. Insurers generally perform better when interest rates rise and subsequently write more business, though QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX: QBE), whose results are out on February 26, has already warned the market to expect a $1.2 billion loss.

Healthscope Ltd (ASX: HSO) shares have been in decline since September 2016, as the company comes to terms with higher healthcare costs. Healthscope reports on February 15, while shareholders in industry-leader Ramsay Health Care Limited Fully Paid Ord. Shrs (ASX: RHC) will have to wait until February 28.

Private health insurers Medibank Private Ltd (ASX: MPL) and NIB Holdings Limited (ASX: NHF) report on February 16 and 19 respectively, and may experience further political and public pressure if their margins are seen as excessive. The health insurers have done well over the past few years, perhaps too well given the industry receives large government subsidies and will raise premiums in April by more than twice the rate of inflation.

Half-year results from BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and Vocus Group Ltd (ASX: VOC) are out on February 20, and shareholders will no doubt be hoping to see signs of a turnaround for the embattled telecommunications company.

A2 Milk Company Ltd (ASX: A2M) is a hot stock on the ASX and many will be eagerly awaiting its half-year results set for February 21. The company will need to post some strong numbers to support the current share price, which has risen almost 300% over the past year.

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Motley Fool contributor Ian Crane owns shares of Amcor Limited, Challenger Limited, National Australia Bank Limited, and Vocus Communications Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Challenger Limited and Vocus Communications Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of A2 Milk, Insurance Australia Group Limited, and National Australia Bank Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended NIB Holdings Limited and Ramsay Health Care Limited. 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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