Broker: Aus shares to soar

JARED LYNCH
Last updated 07:21 07/01/2014

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Australia's sharemarket is tipped to rocket to more than 5800 points by the end of the year from 5324.9 on Monday as consumer confidence rebounds and low interest rates spur housing growth.

Stockbroker Morgans said despite recent volatility, it expected cyclical stocks to lead the recovery.

In a note to investors, Morgans said it was looking at companies leveraged to the improving domestic economy, fuelled by rallying consumer confidence and discretionary spending, and a falling Australian dollar.

Amcor leads its top stock picks for 2014 after the multinational packaging company spun off its $2 billion Australasian packaging and distribution division, Orora, last month.

Harvey Norman made it to the list, considering an improving retail and housing market. Sonic Healthcare was also a top pick, with Morgans saying it was well positioned as the world faces rising healthcare costs driven by an ­ageing population and diseases such as diabetes and obesity reach epidemic proportions.

Morgans said Sonic would benefit from US health reforms, known as Obamacare, which will expand health services to 50 million Americans, 15 per cent of the population.

BHP Billiton was also a top pick, being a ''major beneficiary'' of any improvement in the outlook for global growth, commodities demand, including China, and risk appetite.

Casino operator Crown was another top pick, despite potential risks to earnings at its Perth operations brought on by the end of the iron ore capital expenditure cycle.

''With its growing Australian footprint and exposure to Chinese gambling in Macau, we are positive on Crown's ability to generate strong returns both domestically and internationally,'' Morgans said.

National Australia Bank's convertible preference share (CPS II) offering rated a mention.

''Investor appetite remains high for listed hybrid securities and this was clearly illustrated by the strong demand for the NAB CPS II offering,'' Morgans said.

''We view the pricing of the security as attractive relative to other ­major-bank-issued convertible preference shares.''

Australia's biggest building material supplier, Fletcher Building, rounded off the large cap picks. Morgans said the Christchurch rebuilding and cost-outs after multiple earthquakes in New Zealand's South Island would provide several years of earnings growth for Fletcher.

''While we view valuations across the sector as relatively full, Fletcher's FY14 price earnings multiple of 14.7x provides the most attractive value across the sector, in our view.''

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- AFR

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