Shares are a popular investment in Australia. According to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), around nine million adult Australians hold share-market based investments outside their superannuation accounts.
While the Australian share market is home to companies of all shapes and sizes, the most popular stocks are typically large, well-known companies that are profitable and pay dividends. With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 of the most owned ASX-listed shares today.
The most popular stocks for Australian investors
BHP Group Limited (ASX:BHP)
BHP is a multinational resources company that produces copper, iron ore, nickel, potash, and metallurgical coal. Its aim is to provide the world with materials needed for essential infrastructure.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
Commonwealth Bank is the largest bank in Australia. Serving around 16 million customers, it offers a range of financial services designed to help secure and enhance the financial wellbeing of the Australian population.
Rio Tinto Group (ASX:RIO)
Rio Tinto is a multinational mining company. Operating in 35 countries worldwide, it is focused on iron ore, copper, aluminium, lithium, and other materials needed for global growth.
CSL Limited (ASX:CSL)
CSL is a healthcare company that develops products to treat and prevent serious human medical conditions. It is focused on three main areas of healthcare – rare and serious diseases, influenza vaccines, and iron deficiency and nephrology.
Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
Westpac is one of Australia’s largest banks. Established in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales, it has played an important role in the Australian economy for over 200 years now.
National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB)
Australia’s largest business bank, NAB is a diversified financial services company that serves more than 8.5 million customers. In 2022, it acquired Citigroup’s consumer business in Australia.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ASX:ANZ)
ANZ is a financial services company that serves over 8.5 million retail and business customers. Its goal is to improve the financial wellbeing and sustainability of customers by providing relevant, connected banking services.
Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG)
Fortescue Metals is an Australian mining company. One of the largest and lowest-cost producers of iron ore globally, it is currently in the process of transitioning into a global green energy and metals company.
Woodside Energy (ASX:WDS)
Woodside Energy is the largest independent oil and gas company in Australia. Its goal is to provide low cost, lower carbon energy that the world needs.
Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS)
Telstra is Australia’s largest telecommunications company. Offering a range of services including mobile plans, internet plans, and business services, it aims to build a connected future so that everyone can thrive.
What are the different ways to invest in stocks in Australia?
There are two main ways to invest in stocks in Australia.
The most straightforward way is through an online broker such as Commsec, CMC Markets, or IG. The advantages of investing through an online broker are that you can usually open an account quickly and costs are typically very low. On the downside, you are in charge of making your own investment decisions.
The other way is to use a full-service broker such as Ord Minnett, Bell Potter, or Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. These kinds of brokers offer more services than online brokers do. For example, they will typically provide advice on which shares you should buy and sell. On the downside, their fees are significantly higher than those of online brokers.
Is there a way to invest in multiple Australian stocks at the same time?
In Australia, there are several ways to gain exposure to multiple stocks simultaneously including:
- Exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These are funds that are designed to track stock market indexes. An example here is the Betashares ASX A200 (ASX:A200). This aims to track Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index.
- Actively-managed investment funds. These funds, which are offered by the likes of UBS, Macquarie Asset Management, and Perpetual Group, provide exposure to a range of shares.
- Listed investment companies. These are essentially funds that trade on the stock market. An example here is the Australian Foundation Investment Company (ASX:AFI), which owns a diversified basket of Australian stocks.
Share market investing in Australia is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). An independent Australian government body, it is responsible for protecting investors, ensuring market integrity, and promoting fair and efficient markets.
Where would I invest $1,000 today?
If I had to pick one of the stocks listed above to invest $1,000 in, I’d go with healthcare company CSL.
This is a company with strong competitive advantages. Not only does it offer the broadest range of plasma-derived therapies across the industry, but it also has a world-leading research team.
It’s also a company with an excellent growth track record. Over the last five years, revenue has climbed from USD $6.6 billion to USD $10.6 billion while net profit has risen from USD $1.3 billion to USD $2.3 billion. And its revenues and earnings have been far less volatile than those of the banks and miners, which have fluctuated due to economic forces. Looking ahead, the company is well positioned to benefit from powerful trends such as the world’s ageing population and the increasing prevalence of obesity.
On the downside, the stock is expensive. Currently, its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is around 30. However, I don’t see this as a deal breaker, as its valuation hasn’t stopped it from generating strong returns for investors in the past.