The ASX closed 2.5 per cent lower on Monday as concerns about the economic outlook led to a retreat in sentiment from optimism shown in recent weeks.
The important question for investors is how does COVID-19 change the long-term earnings trajectory for a company, said Ophir Asset Management’s head of research, Luke McMillan.
“First can it make it through, and second will there be permanently altered buying behaviour of customers and how meaningful will this be,” Mr McMillan said. “This second question is what investors also need to be considering.”
Mr McMillan’s comments came as initial reports emerged that Virgin Australia’s management was expected to call in the administrators.
As revealed by The Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk,the airline’s board is scheduled to meet on Monday night to discuss Virgin’s future when the leadership team is expected to conclude the appointment of voluntary administrators is the only option. The company’s shares remained suspended from trade on Monday.
Australian-listed energy companies were the main drag across the exchange as investors responded to oil price falls. Suppressed demand for crude oil because of global containment measures has led to the diminishing of oil storage capacity, with the problem more concentrated in the US.
US crude dropped to prices not seen for more than two decades in early trade, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures dropping below $US16 a barrel as concerns about the supply glut mounted, eroding gains made after the deal to cut production among producers oil.
European oil prices have also fallen but less so than stateside. Last week Brent crude prices fell about 11 per cent, while WTI lost close to twice that amount.
Among Australia’s oil and gas producers, Origin Energy slid 5.4 per cent to $4.89, Woodside Petroleum lost 4.4 per cent to finish the day at $20.15, Santos fell 3.7 per cent to close at $4.13, and Beach Energy dropped 3.6 per cent to $1.34.
Caltex also fell sharply after Montreal-based Alimentation Couche-Tard said it was walking away from its proposed $8.8 billion acquisition of the petroleum products company. Caltex shares dropped 7.8 per cent to close at $21.72.
Metcash shares entered a trading halt after the company said it would seek to raise $330 million from institutional investors at $2.80 a share. Its shares last closed at $3.04.
Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group announced plans to raise as much as $50 million, offering existing security owners the ability to add to their holdings for $2.16 a unit. Its units closed 0.9 per cent higher at $2.26.
Also in real estate, National Storage REIT told investors its revenue has proven resilient, with the self-storage business and property owner telling investors it expected earnings per security of between 8.5¢ and 9¢ this financial year. It ended the day 3 per cent lower at $3.03.
Listed law firm Slater & Gordon announced cost-cutting measures that mean its executive leadership team’s base pay will be cut 10 per cent and the pay of board members by 15 per cent.
The plaintiff law firm said it had completed an agreement with its lenders to extend the maturity date of a senior debt facility from late this year to July 2023. It shares closed 13.4 per cent higher at 55¢.