Some of the ASX 200 companies that drove Australian exports to record levels

ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) companies have aided Australia’s record $8.1 billion trade surplus in February. Let’s look at some of them here.
The post Some of the ASX 200 companies that drove Australian exports to record levels appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

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ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) companies have undoubtedly aided Australia’s record $8.1 billion trade surplus in February. The figure, courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), represents 3 consecutive months of an $8 billion+ trade surplus.

Both imports and exports grew by 2% in the period. The value of imports rose by $577 million, mainly due to an increase in road vehicles, especially eclectic vehicles. Increasing car sales are seen by some as a reflection of growing consumer confidence. The value of exports increased by $502 million. The main driver of this was metals other than iron (up 38%), cereals (up 14%), meat (up 39%), petroleum (up 28%), coal (up 5%), and textile fibres (up 112%).  A boom for ASX 200 companies.

Cereal exports equalled $1.3 billion for the month. The agricultural product represented 4% of total exports and the figure is the highest on record.

Export growth was heavily offset by iron ore, which declined by $833 million, or 6%. Iron ore exports to China decreased by $1.2 billion alone. Logically, this means iron ore exports to other nations increased by roughly $400 million.

According to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), the decrease in exports to China, once adjusted for the Lunar New Year, are only down 0.9% on the previous month. Total exports to China declined by $990 million, or 8%.

Compared to February 2020, however, iron ore exports are up 60%. Cereals are up a whopping 153% over the 12 months. In total, exports rose 17% in a year.

While the statistics reflect the economy as a whole, a strong influence on them are undoubtedly ASX 200 companies. Let’s examine some of the largest companies in these booming export industries.

The largest ASX 200 companies in the growing export industries

BHP Group Limited (ASX: BHP)

BHP, with a market capitalisation of $209.3 billion, is Australia’s largest miner and largest exporter of iron ore.

For the 6 months ending 31 December 2020, BHP recorded revenue growth of 15% compared to the prior corresponding period (pcp) to total $25.6 billion. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) jumped 21% to US$14.7 billion.

Cash flow was up 39% on the pcp to equal $5.2 billion.

Despite the fall in iron ore exports in February, its price has been at record highs recently. Driven mostly by ever-increasing Chinese factory output, the iron ore price is sitting at US $160 a tonne, almost double from 1 year ago. As of writing, shares in the mining giant were steady with a price of $44.68. Its value is 43% higher than this time last year.

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL)

Woodside is Australia’s largest ASX 200 petroleum company with a market capitalisation of ($23.7 billion).

In its full-year results for the calendar year 2020, Woodside posted a net loss of US $4 billion. Revenue was down 26% for the year, driven by a 33% decline in the average price of oil per barrel oil equivalent (boe). For 2020, the average boe price was US $32. At one point last year, the price of oil crashed below zero to minus US $40 boe. Oil demand was (and continues to be) severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, crude oil is trading at around US $60 boe. Its price jumped 5% over the last few days due to a cargo ship running aground in the Suez Canal.

As of writing, shares in the petroleum company are up 1.45% and trading for $24.55. Its share price has increased by 41.32% over the last 12 months.

Newcrest Mining Ltd (ASX: NCM)

The large increase in non-iron metal exports was driven largely by gold. The largest gold miner in the ASX 200 is Newcrest Mining. It has a market cap of $20.6 billion.

In its half-yearly results for FY21, Newcrest declared a statutory profit increase of 134% on the pcp. It was $553 million for the period. Underlying profit, also $553 million, was 98% higher.

Revenue of $2.17 billion was up 21%, while earnings per share (EPS) increased 121% over the first half FY20 results.

The stellar results for Newcrest were driven by historically high gold prices. At current, gold is trading in the commodities market for US $1733.58 an ounce. In July last year, the price of gold peaked at US $2068.90 an ounce – it’s highest price in at least half a century.

Currently, the Newcrest share price is $25.21 – up 0.64%. Its value has decreased 2.59% since this time last year.

Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC)

Whitehaven is the largest coal producer in the ASX 200. It has a market cap of $1.9 billion.

In its half-year results for the financial year, Whitehaven posted a loss of $94.5 million. In the pcp the company made a net profit of $27.4 million. The company attributed the loss to the COVID-pandemic and its effect on coal prices.

Revenue was $699.3 million – down 21%, while EBITDA crashed 79% to $37.2 million.

The price of coal has somewhat recovered since its lows of last year. Currently, it is sitting at US $91.50 a tonne. Australian coal is currently being embargoed by China, but there are signs China may ease the total ban on the energy resource from Australia.

At present, the Whitehaven share price is down 0.83% and sitting at $1.795. The share price is 1.79% lower than 52 weeks ago.

GrainCorp Ltd (ASX: GNC)

GrainCorp is the largest agricultural focused business included in the ASX 200 with a market cap of $1.2 billion. It is the largest publicly listed cereals exporter in the country.

2 days ago, GrainCorp announced it was forecasting EBITDA to reach $240 million by 2023-24. Last month, the company updated its earning guidance to indicate it expects to make a net profit between $60 million to $85 million. In FY20, it made a $16 million loss.

The largest cereal exported by Australia (and GrainCorp) is wheat. As of writing, wheat is trading for US $622.25 a bushel on the commodities market. Its price is down 5% over the past month and 2.85% for the year to date.

GrainCorp’s share price is currently up 2.4% and swapping hands for $5.12. Its value is 76.55% higher than this time last year.

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Motley Fool contributor Marc Sidarous has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

The post Some of the ASX 200 companies that drove Australian exports to record levels appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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