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ASX 200 rises 0.6% today, Afterpay share price hits $75

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) rose by 0.6% today to 5,956 points.

Melbourne entered its first day of a return to lockdowns with another day of well over 100 confirmed cases in Victoria. There were 165 cases reported today.

Afterpay Ltd (ASX: APT) share price steals the show

The Afterpay share price finished the day up 11.4% to $73.50 today. At one point the share price went just over $75.

Afterpay has seen a huge rise in its share price since the March 2020 COVID-19 selloff.

The cause of today’s share price jump appears to be broker Morgan Stanley increasing its share price target for the ASX share to $101. Continued strong underlying sales growth and good credit quality were the two main catalysts for the upgrade.

The buy now, pay later business recently completed a $650 million institutional capital raising which gives the ASX 200 business a war chest to go for more growth.

Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) plans to shut its New Zealand smelter

Rio Tinto has announced that it is going to start planning for the wind-down of operations and eventual closer of its New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) after concluding its strategic review. The Rio Tinto share price rose 3.3% today.

The NZAS business is no longer viable because of high energy costs and a challenging short to medium term aluminium outlook.

In 2019 the smelter made an underlying loss of NZ$46 million. The energy costs it is paying are some of the highest in the industry globally. NZAS has given Meridian Energy Ltd (ASX: NEZ) notice to terminate the power contract, which will end in August 2021 when the wind-down of operations is expected to complete.

The ASX 200 miner tried to secure a cheaper power contract but it wasn’t able to find a solution.

Alf Barrios, the Rio Tinto aluminium chief executive, said: “We recognise the decision to wind-down operations at NZAS will have a significant impact on employees, the community and our customers.

“It is not a decision we have made lightly and without significant careful consideration. It is very unfortunate and we could not find a solution with out partners to secure a power price reduction aimed at making NZAS a financially viable business.”

NZAS employs around 1,000 people directly and also supports a further 1,600 indirect jobs.

Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (ASX: TWE) disappoints

The ASX 200 winemaker updated the market and said its earnings before interest, tax and SGARA (EBITS) is expected to be between $530 million to $540 million, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a significant impact on the company’s trading performance across all geographies in the second half of FY20.

FY20 EBITS has declined approximately 21% for the overall company, with regional declines of approximately 14% in Asia, 37% in the Americas, 16% in Australia and New Zealand and 18% in EMEA.

At the end of FY20 Treasury Wine Estates had cash on hand of approximately $448 million and uncommitted debt facilities of $920 million, providing total liquidity of $1.4 billion. This liquidity position will allow the company to continue with its long-term dividend policy of a payout ratio between 55% to 70% of net profit after tax.

The company is working on lowering its cost base and is also considering divesting some of its wine brands.

Pointsbet Holdings Ltd (ASX: PBH) share price climbs 11%

Pointsbet had another exciting day after announcing another partnership.

It has signed a deal with Betmakers Technology Group Ltd (ASX: BET) to offer fixed odds betting on horseracing in New Jersey after Betmakers secured an exclusive 10-year agreement with New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen Association and Darby Development LLC, the operator of the Monmouth racetrack.

The Betmakers Technology share price rose by almost 8% today in reaction to the news. 

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Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Pointsbet Holdings Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Treasury Wine Estates Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Pointsbet Holdings Ltd. 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.

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