Bottom line on Aussie earnings: Not too bad
Australia's corporate earnings season is virtually done and dusted and the results have not been as bad as analysts feared, putting Aussie stocks on track to end the month on a firmer note than most of their peers.
About 39 percent of companies reporting have exceeded analyst expectations against 27 percent that missed expectations, analysts said.
"The best way to look at earnings season down in Australia is that you could probably give it a score of 6/10 and some people would say I'm probably being generous," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at trading firm IG.
"The reason I think it has done okay is that if you look at how the share market has performed over the four weeks of August compared with the S&P 500 stock index, Australian stocks have outperformed. So, we have some better-than-expected earnings and that has helped the market pick up," he said.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country's biggest lender by market value, posted a record annual profit earlier this month, while shares in national carrier Qantas jumped 7 percent on Thursday after the airline said it doubled its underlying annual profit.
The outperformance in Australian shares also comes at a time when stock markets globally have been hurt by worries about a possible unwinding of U.S. monetary stimulus, turmoil in emerging markets and most recently, jitters about the prospect of U.S. military intervention in Syria.
(Read more: If August was bad for stocks, September may be worse)
According to Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital in Sydney, 64 percent of companies have seen their profits rise from a year ago and 60 percent have increased their dividends while 12 percent have cut them.
"While corporate outlook comments have been subdued, the fact they haven't been too gloomy is a good sign," he added. "Consequently, we haven't seen the earnings downgrades some had feared."
IG's Lucas said that one clear trend to emerge is consolidation among corporates, with many companies cutting back costs.
"There has been a lot of cost cutting, winding down of non-essential spending and non-essential assets to make sure that the earnings are ticking on," he said.
"That theme has got stronger with the earnings season. If you look at Qantas results, it's about consolidation. It was the same with [miner] BHP Billiton which said that capex [capital expenditure] would be lower next year; it was the same with Woodside Petroleum," Lucas added.
Woodside Petroleum, Australia's biggest oil and gas firm, last week reported a 1.5 percent fall in its underlying net profit.
The theme of ongoing cost control reflected weakness in Australia's economy, analysts said.
The Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates by 25 basis points to a record low of 2.5 percent earlier this month to support the economy.
"Australia's is doing okay. We've got very low interest rates and for the first time in a number of years, we're starting to see some growth and that is good news for us," Gerry Harvey, chairman of Harvey Norman told CNBC.
The furniture retailer on Friday said falling sales in Australia and Europe contributed to a 17.5 percent fall in annual profit.
— By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; follow her on Twitter @DharaCNBC