Tampon company goes from high school idea to ASX acquisition


The founder of organic tampon business Tom Co says the time was right to sell out to ASX-listed Asaleo Care after 15 years growing the firm she first conceived as a high school student.

Aimee Lock (formerly Marks) started Tom when she was just 19, bringing the world’s first organic tampons to market and expanding into underwear, menstrual cups, nappies and baby wipes to reach turnover of $20 million a year.

Aimee Lock first had the idea for Tom Co when she was at high school. Credit:Wayne Taylor

After battling taboos and prejudice early on when she was asked to take down counter displays of Tom products after being told they were inappropriate to advertise next to food, it was a bittersweet moment for Lock to sell Tom for $12.75 million in January to personal hygiene giant Asaleo, which has supermarket staples Libra, Tena and Handee Ultra.

“For me it was just about calling it,” she says. “Knowing that I felt really satisfied and proud of where Tom had got to and it was living up to all the dreams I ever had for the business.”

Over the years Lock has seen the personal hygiene category take off and interest build in ethically run and environmentally sustainable businesses, however, after having three children, the 34-year-old says it was time to take stock on what she wanted next personally and professionally.

“It was literally like twins on the boob, put them down in the cot, run into the office, do a couple of hours, back again, back and forth,” she says. “I think there’s only so long you can work at that rate until it’s time to really take care of your own health.”

Lock says Tom was like a fourth child to her and she wanted to see the business thrive and expand globally so she set about undertaking an 18-month capital-raising process, which is where she first started talking to Asaleo.

“I could see the full potential of where Tom needed to go to next and I knew that was at a scale that would require a certain level of capital and expertise that were probably only accessible outside of the current environment,” she says. “There was never an intention at the beginning of that process for me to fully exit the business. But that was hands down the right evolution.”

According to Lock, Asaleo could have gone off and started its own organic tampon company but the personal hygiene products group was prepared to pay for the nature of the business and the brand she had built.

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ASX up 0.3% as iron ore giants wrestle with the banks



The ASX 200 was holding onto a 0.3% gain at Thursday’s open as the major iron ore miners wrestled with the Big Four banks. Tech stocks and telcos rose.

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ASX set to inch higher despite Wall Street slide


Wall Street stocks are wobbling in afternoon trading on Thursday (US time) as a slide in technology companies is being offset by gains for banks as bond yields stabilise.

The churn within Wall Street also involved energy stocks slipping as the price of oil falls back. At the same time, investors are weighing several encouraging reports on the economy.

It’s been another unsteady day of trade on Wall Street.Credit:AP

In mid-afternoon trade, the S&P 500 has slid by 0.1 per cent in the latest ebb in the back-and-forth trading it’s gone through the last few weeks. The Dow Jones is 0.2 per cent higher while the technology-heavy Nasdaq has fallen by 0.6 per cent.

The ASX is set to inch higher this morning, with futures at 5.12am AEDT pointing to a gain of 2 points at the open.

The market has been mostly tumbling in place recently, with support for stocks coming from expectations that the economy will soar soon thanks to COVID-19 vaccinations and huge amounts of spending by Washington. A quick rise in interest rates has undercut stocks at the same time, though.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks was doing better than most of the market with a 0.9 per cent gain.

Stocks of energy producers dropped to the market’s sharpest losses after the price of US oil slumped 4.9 per cent to $US58.21 per barrel. Diamondback Energy fell 1.3 per cent, and Halliburton dropped 1.7 per cent.

Oil’s price was giving back a big portion of its 6 per cent jump from a day earlier, when it climbed above $US61 per barrel after a skyscraper-sized cargo ship wedged itself across Egypt’s Suez Canal and raised worries about supply disruptions.

Yields in the Treasury market also continued to ease after the 10-year yield spiked above 1.70 per cent last week, its highest level since before the pandemic started. The 10-year Treasury yield, which helps set rates for all kinds of loans, remained unchanged at 1.61 per cent from late Wednesday.

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ASX ends 0.66pc up, energy and health top


Australia’s share market has closed higher and ended a run of three consecutive days of losses.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up by 44.3 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 6752.5 on Monday.

The All Ordinaries closed higher by 35.4 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 6995.

The results were the market’s biggest gain in more than a week.

There were gains of more than two per cent in the energy, utilities and health sectors.

The Australian dollar was buying 77.24 US cents at 1619 AEDT, lower from 77.44 US cents at Friday’s close.

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ASX down for week, inflation fear persists



Australia’s share market closed lower for a third consecutive day and the week, while US financial leaders will next week have another chance to persuade investors jittery about the prospect of inflation.

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ASX set to slide lower as tech stocks weigh down Wall Street


Stocks were mostly lower in afternoon trading on Thursday (US time), as another tick up in bond yields once again pulled down shares of technology companies and the energy sector.

In mid-afternoon trade, the S&P 500 index was down 0.8 per cent, the Dow Jones was flat and yhe technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite was 2.1 per cent lower.

Wall Street is lower on Thursday, setting up the ASX for falls this morning.Credit:AP

Bank stocks were among the best performers as investors bet that higher interest rates would translate into higher profits. Industrial stocks also made solid gains.

The market touched new highs a day earlier after the Fed said US economic growth should rebound to 6.5 per cent this year — the strongest since the 1980s — and inflation will climb above 2 per cent for the first time in years.

“Early in a cycle you’re going to see higher inflation and higher interest rates and demand as global activity picks up,” said Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

Bond yields ticked higher again, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rising to 1.73 per cent, near levels not seen since January 2020.

Big technology stocks continued to be volatile and move mostly downward, as the tick up in bond yields has made expensive technology stocks less attractive. Apple shares fell 2.4 per cent, Tesla was down 4.4 per cent, and Microsoft fell 2.1 per cent.

Investors have worried that if inflation picks up, central banks might respond by raising interest rates, which would cool economic growth. But Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments at a news conference appeared to reassure them. Fed officials have said they would let the US economy “run hot” to make sure a recovery is gaining traction.

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Market Close 18 Mar 21: ASX lower for second successive session



The Aussie market has faltered for a second day in a row with the dovish stance by the US Fed & surprise boost in local employment unable to give the ASX 200 a rise. The index fell 49 points or 0.73% to 6,746 as financials & healthcare weighed most

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ASX set for gains as Wall Street advances; Powell set to speak


Stocks are mixed on Wall Street on Wednesday (US time) as another surge in bond yields caused big declines in technology stocks. Investors are cautiously awaiting remarks from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, who is expected to speak later in the day on inflation and what the central bank may do to combat it.

In mid-afternoon trade, the S&P 500 is 0.1 per cent higher, the Dow Jones is up 0.5 per cent while the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite was down 0.2 per cent.

Markets will be glued to Powell’s comments.Credit:AP

The ASX is set for a positive start to its session, with futures at 5.10am AEDT pointing to a gain of 16 points, or 0.2 per cent, at the open.

Bond yields moved upward again, after being relatively stable for more than a week. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note hit 1.67 per cent versus 1.62 per cent the day before. It’s now the highest since January 2020.

Rising bond yields gave banks a boost. They rely on higher rates to charge more lucrative interest on loans. Wells Fargo rose 1 per cent. Industrial stocks also made solid gains, with Caterpillar rising 2.6 per cent.

“What we’re seeing is very much aligned with what you would expect in a recovery trade,” said Brian Levitt, global market strategist at Invesco. “We were coming from pretty beaten up places.”

Investors are betting big that the economic malaise will dissipate as spring arrives and more Americans get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The $US1400 ($1802) stimulus checks the Biden administration began sending to individuals last weekend is also helping. But faster economic activity could also translate into some degree of inflation.

Investors are awaiting the Federal Reserve’s economic and interest rate projections, expected later in the day. Economists expect Powell will try to convince jittery financial markets that the central bank can continue providing support without igniting inflation. Those worries have recently pushed bond yields higher.

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ASX set to slide as Wall Street’s winning streak ends


Wall Street indexes are closing mostly lower on Tuesday (US time), shedding some of their recent gains after coming within striking distance of matching Wall Street’s longest winning streak of the year.

Investors continue to closely watch the bond market, with even minute changes in bond yields causing stocks to fluctuate. They are also working through economic data that showed Americans cut back on spending last month.

The S&P 500’s winning streak ended on Tuesday in New York. Credit:NYSE

The S&P 500 slid 0.2 per cent lower after wobbling between small gains and losses most of the day. The benchmark index is coming off a five-day winning streak. The Dow Jones closed 0.4 per cent lower while the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose by 0.1 per cent.

The Australian sharemarket is set to drop this morning, with futures at 7.59am AEDT pointing to a drop of 30 points, or 0.4 per cent, at the open.

The big technology names that rose sharply in 2020 were once again on the rise. Apple was up 1.5 per cent, Google’s parent company was up 1.7 per cent and Facebook rose 2.6 per cent. Tech stocks have moved in tandem with the bond market, so as bond yields ticked lower on Tuesday, it moved technology stocks in the opposite direction.

Americans spent less last month, partly due to bad weather in parts of the country that kept shoppers away from stores, and partly due to their December and January stimulus payments running out. Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 3 per cent in February from the month before, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday. February’s drop followed soaring sales in January as people spent $600 stimulus checks sent at the end of last year. In fact, the Commerce Department revised its January number upwards to 7.6 per cent from its previously reported rise of 5.3 per cent.

Meanwhile severe winter weather pushed industrial production down a sharp 2.2 per cent in February, reflecting a big decline in factory output.

“We’re still in the midst of getting back to a more normal environment,” said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at Glenmede. “Given the lumpiness of government stimulus payments, we’re going to see numbers jumping around.”

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ASX set to edge higher on back of soft Wall Street lead


Stocks were mixed in afternoon trading on Monday (US time) as Wall Street continues to eye the bond market, where yields pulled back a bit from Friday’s sharp increase.

The S&P 500 index was down less than 0.1 per cent in early afternoon trade as rising technology and consumer discretionary shares were offset by declines in banks and energy stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is 0.1 per cent higher while the Nasdaq Composite has added 0.2 per cent.

Rising interest rates continue to be a key concern for investors following the sudden jump over the last month in bond yields.Credit:AP

It sets up the Australian sharemarket to edge higher this morning, with futures at 5.03pm pointing to a gain of 9 points, or 0.1 per cent, at the open.

Investors’ focus remains on the recovery of the US and global economies from the coronavirus pandemic. The $US1.9 trillion ($2.5 trillion) aid package for the US economy has lifted investors’ confidence in a strong recovery from the pandemic in the second half of the year, but also raised concerns about a potential jump in inflation.

President Joe Biden also laid out a plan, in a prime-time speech last Thursday, to expand vaccine eligibility to all Americans by May 1, which should also translate into faster economic growth.

Rising interest rates continue to be a key concern for investors following the sudden jump over the last month in bond yields. Rates are not yet at a concerning level, and both the markets and economy can easily digest them, said Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist at BMO Wealth Management.

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“The question ultimately becomes how well markets can digest and stay the course on the idea that these increases are temporary,” he said. “As well as coming to terms with the idea that temporary might be three or four quarters.”

Bond yields ticked mildly lower on Monday, with the 10-year US Treasury note falling to 1.61 per cent from 1.62 per cent on Friday. The mild drop in yields was impacting bank stocks the most, where investors have placed big bets that higher yields would translate into banks charging borrowers higher rates. Bank of America was down 1.2 per cent, Wells Fargo was down 1.2 per cent and Citigroup fell 1.6 per cent.

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