ASX 200 dips lower, Webjet drops, REA bids for Mortgage Choice

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX:XJO) dropped 0.4% today. One highlight of today was the REA Group Limited (ASX:REA) bid for Mortgage Choice Limited (ASX:MOC).

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The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) fell by around 0.4% today to 6,800 points.

One of the main highlights, or lowlights, of the day was the latest lockdown implemented in one of Australia’s largest cities.

These are some of the might news stories of the day:

ASX travel shares drop

The ASX travel sector saw a bit of a decline today after it was announced that the Greater Brisbane region would be going into a three-day lockdown to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Coming up to Easter, this is just the news that businesses linked to tourism didn’t want to hear.

The Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB) share price dropped 2.8%, the Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT) share price fell 3%, the Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) share price dropped 0.8%, the Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD) share price fell 1.6% and the Helloworld Travel Ltd (ASX: HLO) share price fell 2.7%.

REA Group Limited (ASX: REA) and Mortgage Choice Limited (ASX: MOC)

The Mortgage Choice share price shot higher by around 62% today after it was announced that REA Group wanted to buy the mortgage broking business. However, the REA Group share price fell 1.9%.

REA Group has entered into a scheme of arrangement to buy Mortgage Choice at a share price of $1.95 per share. The offer represents an enterprise value of approximately $244 million.

It has a loan book of $54 billion and settlements of $11 billion in the 12 months to December 2020. Mortgage Choice reported net revenue of $22.2 million and net profit after tax of $4.1 million for the six months to 31 December 2020.

REA Group said that this aligns with its financial services strategy, it would provide a compelling opportunity to establish a leading mortgage broking business with increased scale and it would complement the existing Smartline broker footprint resulting in greater national broker coverage.

The proposed transaction is expected to be immediately earnings per share (EPS) accretive for REA Group with the potential for future cost and revenue synergies.

Mortgage Choice Chair Vicki Allen said:

This is a fantastic milestone for Mortgage Choice. Joining the REA network creates a significant opportunity to leverage its deep digital capabilities and expertise, combined with access to a large and engaged consumer audience.

REA Group is going to fund this deal with its debt facilities. The board of Mortgage Choice have unanimously recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the takeover.

Synlait Milk Ltd (ASX: SM1)  

The Synlait share price fell more than 4% today after the dairy manufacturing business announced its FY21 half-year result. It suffered a significant decline of profit.

Revenue grew by 19% to $664.2 million. However, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) went down 29% to $47.7 million and net profit after tax was down 76% to $6.4 million.

Synlait said that it’s continuing to experience significant uncertainty and volatility within its business. As a result of that, particularly because of ongoing uncertainty with A2 Milk Company Ltd (ASX: A2M) demand, the company’s current outlook suggests a broadly breakeven FY21 net profit result.

The Chair of Synlait, Graeme Milne, said:

Our first half was challenging, and we continue to find ourselves in a period of significant uncertainty and volatility as Synlait faces into several headwinds. This is impacting our short-term operations and will impact our full year 2021 financial result.

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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 Helloworld Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended A2 Milk, Corporate Travel Management Limited, and Webjet Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Flight Centre Travel Group Limited, Helloworld Limited, and REA Group 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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