ASX 200 rises, Airtasker soars again, Westpac considers NZ

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX:XJO) rose by around 0.5%. However, Airtasker Ltd (ASX: ART) stole the headlines with another 66% rise.

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The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) ended the day higher by

It was another breathtaking day for the Airtasker Ltd (ASX: ART) share price as it jumped another 66% today.

Here are some of the other highlights on the ASX:

Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC)

Westpac announced today that it has commissioned two independent reports about its risk governance and liquidity risk management.

The first report will assess Westpac New Zealand’s governance process and practices applied by the board and executive management.

The other report relates to the effectiveness of the actions that Westpac New Zealand has taken to improve the management of liquidity risk and the associated risk culture, following previously identified breaches of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s (RBNZ) liquidity policy and potential non-compliance identified through the RBNZ’s liquidity thematic review.

RBNZ will require Westpac New Zealand to hold additional liquid assets until the RBNZ is satisfied that the previously required remediation work has been effective. The RBNZ said that it is “confident that Westpac New Zealand’s current liquidity and funding positions are sound, and that the bank is well capitalised.”

Westpac New Zealand has acknowledged the importance of liquidity and risk governance obligations and will support the independent reviewers to provide the necessary reports to the RBNZ.

The New Zealand bank said that it has taken a number of steps to improve risk governance but recognises more work is required, and supports the additional oversight that the independent reports will provide.

Separately, Westpac then announced that it is considering whether a demerger of its New Zealand business would be in the best interests of shareholders. It’s only in the very early stages of this assessment and no decisions have been made.

The ASX 200 bank said that its New Zealand division is an important part of the business and has been for over 160 years. It said the business continues to perform well with a strong position in retail and commercial banking.

However, the changing capital requirements in New Zealand and the RBNZ requirement to structurally separate the New Zealand business from Australian operations means that the bank needs to assess the best structure for its New Zealand business.

The Westpac share price dropped around 1% today.

Premier Investments Limited (ASX: PMV)

The Premier Investments share price went up more than 2% in reaction to its FY21 half-year result.

Premier said that its retail division delivered 7.2% growth of sales to $784.6 million, with like for like sales going up 18.2%.

It achieved online sales growth of 61.3% to $156.7 million, which contributed 20% of total online sales.

The Premier retail earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose 88.5% to $237.8 million with the EBIT margin rising 1,308 basis points. Net profit after tax (NPAT) grew 88.9% to $188.2 million.

The ASX 200 business was also able to reach agreements with landlords that reduced the rent to 12.7% of sales, a reduction of 318 basis points year on year.

The board decided to maintain the interim dividend at 34 cents per share.

In the first seven weeks of the second half of FY21, global like for like sales were up 32.1% and the gross profit margin increased by 379 basis points year on year.

Computershare Ltd (ASX: CPU)

Computershare announced a substantial acquisition today. It’s buying the assets of Wells Fargo Corporate Trust Services (CTS), a leading US based provider of trust and agency services to government and corporate clients.

The ASX 200 company is doing a capital raising of $835 million to fund the US$750 million acquisition – the rest will be paid for with debt.

Computershare said that CTS is currently appointed to administer corporate trust services to around 26,000 mandates across a range of securities and bond issuances.

The ASX business said that the acquisition is a highly strategic fit with its existing Canadian and US corporate trust operations and its growth strategy. The combination is expected to accelerate Computershare’s position in the US corporate trust market to a top four position.

Client deposit balances and money market fund balances of over US$60 billion will also transfer across as part of the acquisition.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Premier Investments Limited. 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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