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Here’s how the largest ASX shares performed last quarter

The first quarter of 2020 was the third-worst quarter for the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) since 1935. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASX 200 has also experienced its fastest correction since it was launched in April 2000. This record first quarter saw the ASX 200 Index drop 24.9% to the end of March.

Here’s how some of the largest ASX shares performed for the first quarter of 2020.

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL)

The global biotech company managed to buck the chaotic market conditions, with the CSL share price closing the quarter 8% higher at $296.68. CSL continues to be one of Australia’s highest quality businesses and has benefited from being one of the largest global manufacturers of flu vaccines.

CSL’s vaccine business, Seqirus, is the only onshore vaccine manufacturer in Australia. The Australian government recently placed the largest order on record for flu vaccines from CSL in an effort to curb the convergence between the flu and COVID-19.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA)

The Commonwealth Bank share price finished the quarter down 21% amid the coronavirus pandemic. Investors have remained anxious about buying ASX bank shares as fears mount over an increase in bad debts, the possibility of people defaulting on their loans, and potential dividend cuts.  

BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP)

The BHP share price finished the quarter down 23% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and lower oil prices. Although BHP shares may have pulled back substantially, analysts are optimistic on the outlook for the iron ore price.

With the spot iron ore price floating near all-time highs and Chinese factories resuming production, iron ore miners such as BHP could see a surge in demand and cash flow. BHP has maintained that the company’s operations in Australia remain resilient to the pandemic. In addition, mine workers in Western Australia are exempt from border control measures, allowing the company to resume operations.

Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW)

The Woolworths share price managed to buck the extreme market volatility and remained relatively flat for the quarter. The company was buoyed by unprecedented demand as consumers stockpiled goods amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic. In order to keep up with the demand, the supermarket giant is one of the few ASX shares hiring staff for its stores and distribution centres.

Despite the surge in consumer demand, the Woolworths share price appears to be lagging behind its competitors such as Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL). This is because as a conglomerate, Woolworths has additional exposure to other sectors, especially hospitality through its Endeavour Group business.

Foolish takeaway

In my opinion, these companies will continue to be great performers over the long-term and present excellent buying opportunities for investors with a long-term investment horizon. However, I think a prudent strategy would be to wait for the market volatility to subside before making an investment decision.

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Nikhil Gangaram has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of CSL Ltd. 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 Scott Phillips.