ASX 200 rises, Appen drops, Reject Shop discounted

It was another positive day for the ASX 200.

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The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) rose by another 0.5% today to 7,295 points.

Here are some of the highlights from the ASX:

Appen Ltd (ASX: APX)

The Appen share price fell 6.3% today after news came of the sale of shares by a member of the leadership team.

The CEO and managing director of Appen, Mark Brayan, has sold 109,430 shares. This sale was to satisfy tax obligations arising from the vesting of 173,153 performance rights in March 2021.

Appen pointed out that Mr Brayan continues to hold 482,032 shares of the ASX 200 company directly and indirectly and has 294,033 performance rights available subject to meeting vesting conditions.

Reject Shop Ltd (ASX: TRS)

The Reject Shop share price fell around 6% after giving a trading update to the market.

Since the release of the half-year result, trading activity has continued to be challenging. The company’s stores in CBD locations and large shopping centres, typically in metro areas, continue to trade well below pre COVID-19 levels.

Preliminary and unaudited comparable sales for the first 48 weeks ended 30 May 2021 were down 1.4% compared to the comparable period in FY19. To contextualise this result, comparable sales at CBD locations and large shopping centres, amounting to 47 stores, were down 12%. The rest of the portfolio, comprising 290 stores, saw comparable sales up 0.9%.

In addition to the above, Reject Shop continues to incur materially increased supply chain costs, particularly higher international shipping costs as well as costs associated with holding inventory due to international shipping delays.

Management have been working to offset these headwinds through cost reduction. Reject Shop is expecting full-year sales for FY21 to be in the range of $776 million to $778 million. Pre AASB-16 earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is expected to be in the range of $8 million to $10 million.

Reject Shop said that it continues to look for new locations, particularly in regional Australia, where it can more conveniently serve more Australians. The national store footprint has increased to 359 stores, up from 354 stores at the half-year result announcement. The company expects to progressively open a further two stores in June and nine stores in the first quarter of FY22.

Reject Shop concluded by saying that it’s focused on cost reductions. However, it has achieved substantial progress during the ‘fix’ phase of the turnaround strategy. The company said its balance sheet remains strong and is expected to support the growth strategy.

Primewest Group Ltd (ASX: PWG) and Centuria Capital Group (ASX: CNI)

It was announced today that the Primewest founding directors John Bond, David Schwartz and Jim Litis, who with their associates together own around 53% of Primewest, have accepted the takeover bid from Centuria Capital Group.

As a result of this, shareholders that own around 76% of Primewest shares have provided acceptances to Centuria.

Centuria has declared that the offer is now unconditional.

Primewest investors who have accepted the offer will receive $0.20 in cash as well as 0.473 Centuria securities for each Primewest security they own, within five business days.

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Motley Fool contributor 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 and has recommended Appen Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Appen 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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