24 October 2021
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Fortescue tops this week's list of most traded stocks

Gemma Dale
3 September 2021

The ASX200 closed slightly weaker on Thursday, down half a percent, and is currently flat over five days, as the excitement of reporting season starts to dissipate. The Australian market closed up 1.9% for the month of August, the eleventh positive month in a row, and commentators (including Paul Rickard, in this publication) are asking if it can hit a full year of positive monthly returns. It’s been over a decade, in 2006-07, since the market last posted such a string of gains; that record year was immediately followed by the Global Financial Crisis. Hopefully this time will be different!

The final days of reporting season brought some big names and some big results, with Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) the biggest news of the season for nabtrade investors. While its results were largely in line with expectations as production volumes and the iron ore price are widely known, a net profit increase of more than 100% was still cheering for investors, and rewarded with a rally of over 6% in the share price on Monday. Investors were ready and waiting, trading an astonishing 10% of total (nabtrade) volume in FMG alone, much of it in the first hour of trade. The buy bias was strong on Monday and continued through the week, increasing from over 70% of trades on Monday to over 90% on Wednesday. The next most traded stock remains BHP (BHP), with volumes between a third to a quarter those of Fortescue, peaking on Thursday at more than five times. To say the interest in Fortescue remains strong is a stunning understatement. BHP also remains a strong buy, however buy trades are broadly smaller than average sells.

Volumes remain high after peaking in recent weeks, with investors taking advantage of price movements to reposition their portfolios. Typically nabtrade investors are especially fond of picking up unloved or beaten up stocks at a discount, or purchasing high-yielding shares cum-dividend. While they’re less likely to sell winners, the banks have returned to the top of the ‘most traded’ table, following the big miners, after several months of relative indifference from investors. The strength in nab and CBA shares has led to consistent selling, over 90% of total value on Wednesday for the former. Investors who have clung to the banks for yield may be rotating into the miners as they offer richer dividends than at any point in recent memory. ANZ (ANZ) and Westpac (WBC) were also sold, albeit at a fraction of the volume of CBA and nab. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (BEN) is 10% off its recent highs and has been a buy.

Another recent winner that has seen selling is Aristocrat Leisure (ALL), which is up nearly 50% in the last six months, and up 11% in the last month. Citi has a buy rating on the stock, but with a target price of $46; the current price is $46.03. Investors have also been trimming travel stocks, including Qantas (QAN), Webjet (WEB) and Flight Centre (FLT); after buying in the depths of the Covid collapse in 2020, many investors feel the easy gains have been made.

For those willing to take some risk with a contrarian bet, Mesoblast (MSB) has returned to the lists. As it announced its results this week, it will likely require a fresh injection of investor capital to take its treatment into further trials after it failed to gain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. For long suffering holders, a further dilution of their holdings was too much to stomach, and the stock was sold down over 15%; it is now down nearly 70% over twelve months. A small number of brave punters have been buying into the weakness. For the less speculative bargain hunter, Woolworths (WOW) and Wesfarmers (WES) have weakened since their results, and attracted many investors wishing to add to their holdings. The story on international markets has not changed, as investors continue to pick up weakened Chinese tech giants. Alibaba (BABA.US) and Tencent (0700.HK) both make the top 5, although Tesla (TSLA.US) has returned to the top spot two out of five days. Microsoft (MSFT.US) recently announced price hikes on its flagship Office products which was cheered by investors; nabtrade investors have been buying the stock.

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