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From funeral parlours to milk producers, these are the Australian companies profiting from the coronavirus outbreak

Jack Derwin

The market might be down, but these companies are making a killing.

Despite the coronavirus sparking a broad selloff across the entire sharemarket, some companies are now only holding their ground, they're actually profiting from it.

As investors guess what stocks stand to gain from the potential pandemic, these stocks are defying the downturn.

A2 Milk

On the face of it, A2 Milk perhaps seems like an unlikely candidate to prosper from a pandemic. However, as the coronavirus begins to spark anxiety about the supply and availability of certain products, it makes sense that China, a key market for the milk company, would be looking to stock up on its products, especially its infant formula.

"The company is currently experiencing stronger than expected sales due to the Coronavirus [and] we have upgraded our forecasts," stockbroker Morgans said in a research note supplied to Business Insider Australia.

The ASX-listed company has seen its stock price soar 10% since the beginning of the month as a result of profits jumping more than 20%. The share price ha even continued to lift this week, despite the broader ASX losing more than 7%.

Funeral companies

While the mortality rate for the coronavirus is low, it's obvious it is more likely to claim lives among the older demographic.

Perhaps a little morbid, but the fact that coronavirus may lead to an increase in deaths is one investors are clinging onto, as a wave of buying pushes funeral stocks higher.

InvoCare, which owns funeral 'brands' including White Lady Funerals and Simplicity Funerals, has seen its stock price jump nearly 13% on Tuesday and has hovered around that level since. Interestingly, while crematorium company Propel was trading higher, its share price has now returned to below where it began the month.

Make of that what you will.

Health care stocks

Australian biotech giant CSL was the first major stock to appear to do well from the coronavirus, announcing earlier in the month it was pushing into the new area, separate to its work already with influenza.

"Coronavirus is quite different to influenza virus so it is not a core area of focus for CSL or Seqirus. However, we have investigated possible adjacencies in expertise, technologies and facilities that might be able to contribute to the global effort and are pleased to advise that we have partnered with the University of Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine development program," it said in a statement issued earlier this month.

However, CSL cautioned it wasn't a money-making exercise at this point in time.

"In the pre-clinical development stage, this is a humanitarian effort, not a commercial one, and CSL is contributing its support to our partners due to the critical need of this public health emergency," it said.

It didn't stop the market eating up the news, with the stock price climbing around $30 in February before slipping this week.

Other health care stocks that have done well include Fisher and Paykel, which manufacturers respiratory gear. Many however have followed CSL's lead and begun selling off at the end of the month as investors exit equities altogether.

Gold companies (kind of)

You'll often hear when markets take a turn that investors rush to 'safe haven' assets. Chief amongst which is gold.

As the price of gold soars inversely to the stock market, so typically does the stock price of gold companies with it.

Some of Australia's biggest gold miners including Northern Star and Evolution have seen their stock prices rise this month as a result.

However, it's interesting that this week, while the stock market is getting wiped, so too are gold stocks. Newcrest, Australia's largest gold miner, is actually trading at its lowest point since May last year.

The coronavirus, in other words, is causing chaos, on and off the market.