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High voltage: Queensland battery maker's market surge to rival Afterpay

Business

A little-known Queensland battery maker has had a remarkable six months with its share price booming to Afterpay-like levels despite the collapse of the global economy.

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Novonix, headed by Tony Bellas and Philip St Baker, has grown 783 per cent since the March 19 market collapse brought about by the nation-wide lockdowns. By comparison, the market darling Afterpay has grown 796 per cent.

The Novonix surge has added $491 million to its market capital.

The company has what it claims to be a breakthrough technology for its batteries but its share price really only took off after a capital raising and restructure was completed in early June.

Not far behind is market minnow Fiji Kava which has announced new deals giving it access to China. Its shares have grown 633 per cent, but from a low base of 3 cents a share to 22 cents.

But it is far from alone in the booming end of the market. Queensland’s small but impressive technology sector is now worth about $13 billion and has seen impressive growth since the COVID-19 collapse as the economy increasingly shifts online.

NextDC, which owns data centres, has jumped 63 per cent, Megaport is up 143 per cent and Change Financial is up 170 per cent.

Brisbane based lottery operator, Jumbo Interactive is now changing rapidly from a website that hosted lotteries to a fully fledged tech company with its own operating platform, which it is now marketing to other lottery operators. Its share price has grown 67 per cent.

Internet company Superloop is up 120 per cent. IT service provider Cosol has jumped 174 per cent and Megaport 143 per cent.

Tech companies have not been the only standouts. Corporate Travel Management, which was the subject of some serious shorting before the pandemic, has jumped 231 per cent. Its rival, Flight Centre, is up 47 per cent since March 19. Both are still significantly below their highs.

Food has also been a big winner on the markets. Collins Food Group is up 121 per cent and Domino’s is up 89 per cent.

Alliance Airlines has also done well after it announced a potential expansion into the major domestic routes. Its shares are up 254 per cent.

Very few of Queensland’s listed companies have fallen dramatically since March 19.

In the state’s economy, Toowoomba and central Queensland have been the best performers, according to economist Gene Tunny.

He said the performance was probably driven by agriculture and mining and their supply chains to the economies of these regions.

“Queensland, thankfully, doesn’t have any regions in the bottom 20 across Australia, a sub-set which is dominated by Victorian regions for obvious reasons.

“Overall, in terms of total employment, Queensland has been more resilient than most other states and territories which I suspect is partly related to primary industries making a larger contribution to our economy than they do in most other states and territories.

“I should note that, despite Queensland’s apparent better performance regarding jobs than the rest of Australia, Queensland had the highest unemployment rate in Australia in July according to the ABS Labour Force Survey.

“This would be partly related to the fact we had an unemployment rate over half a percentage point higher than the national average pre-COVID, and it also probably reflects sampling error in the ABS Labour Force Survey. Right now, it’s pretty clear Victoria is the worst performing economy in Australia.”

Conus Consultancy economist Pete Faulkner said any thoughts of a snap-back, V-shaped recovery in the Australian economy were long gone.

“With Melbourne only half-way through a second wave, six-week lock-down the third-quarter GDP data may be negative, although our model is still projecting a modest quarter-on-quarter gain, and are sure to do little to reverse the sharp decline that the second-quarter numbers will confirm next Wednesday,” Faulkner said.

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