ASX 200 drops, Nearmap plunges, Appen declines

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX:XJO) dropped today. The Nearmap Ltd (ASX:NEA) share price plunged and Appen Ltd (ASX:APX) declined.

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The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) dropped by around 0.5% today to 7,062 points.

Here are some of the highlights from today:

Nearmap Ltd (ASX: NEA)

The Nearmap share price fell by 23% after investors responded to the legal case relating to patent infringement.

Nearmap said that it was made aware on the morning of 5 May 2021 of a complaint filed against its subsidiary, Nearmap US Inc, in the United States District Court (District of Utah, Northern Division).

The complaint alleges patent infringement relating to the plaintiffs’ roof-estimation technology. The allegations do not affect Nearmap’s core proprietary technology and do not affect the surveying of imagery or the delivery of premium content. The business remains unaffected, according to management.

This complaint has been filed on behalf of Eagle View Technologies Inc and Pictometry International Corp. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages and the prevention of alleged further infringement in relation to the plaintiffs’ roof-estimation technology.

Dr Rob Newman, CEO and managing director of Nearmap, said:

Nearmap has always taken the subject of intellectual property rights and patent protections seriously and believes the allegations are without merit. We will vigorously defend against the complaint. The business remains unaffected by the complaint.

It was the worst performer in the ASX 200.

Appen Ltd (ASX: APX)

The Appen share price dropped 21.1% after giving investors an update about operating conditions.

Appen said there’s a lot going on in its market and the AI market in general. In most regards, things are unchanged according to management. However, there were a couple of things that had changed.

The tech business said that its customers are developing new AI products in response to COVID-19’s impact on online advertising last year and regulatory pressures such as anti-trust and data privacy. Appen said this dictates the data they need for product development and impacts their engineering resource allocations and the volumes and types of data they need from Appen. The company said that machine learning is an iterative process, and its customers are switching resources between development projects as they pursue new break-out products. This in turn has impacted a handful of its larger programs.

There was another main element that Appen pointed to. Its competitors outside of relevance are maturing. This is unsurprising, according to management. Appen says the presence and funding demonstrate that it’s an attractive market. Management believe that it is maintaining its leadership position and that it has to maintain its flow of new product features and fight harder to stay ahead.

It was the second worst performer in the ASX 200.

National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB)

NAB announced its FY21 half-year result.

The big ASX 200 bank reported that it generated $3.2 billion of statutory net profit. Cash earnings were up 94.8% to $3.3 billion. Cash profit was up 35.1% excluding large notable items.

NAB finished the half-year with a group common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio of 12.37%. This helped the board declare a dividend of $0.60 per share, double what it was a year ago.

NAB CEO Ross McEwan said:

The rebound in the Australia and New Zealand economies from COVID-19 has been better than expected. This, along with the vaccine rollout and continued strong health outcomes, make us optimistic about the outlook.

But risks do remain. The recovery is not even, and some customers such as those in international travel and hospitality, particularly in CBD areas, still face significant challenges. Longer term outcomes for these customers depend on a number of factors expected to become clearer in coming months. These include the impact of jobkeeper ending, timing of the vaccine rollout and the reopening of international borders. Supporting customers and keeping the bank sake through this period remain our priorities.

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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 Appen Ltd and Nearmap Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Nearmap Ltd. 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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