The following article will appear in shortened form in the Australian Financial Review form on Monday online and perhaps in print on Wednesday, presuming it makes the editors cut.

Reporting season for FY23 is over with its usual hit and misses. While results have been assessed against their expectations and significant reporting disseminated, often it is not until some time after when companies can be benchmarked against one another that we can measure how they actually stack up against perceptions.

Being specific, investors, analysts and the market can often have a perception of business in the lead up to their latest report. Is it Good? Cheap? Hot? Or Not?. But once we have a chance to analyse their numbers and benchmark them against their peers, all perceptions are just that. And once we are able to assess and benchmark the Factors that drive a stock's returns, we often have results presented to us that make us double check our biases, to the positive and/or negative.

Below is a list of stocks that have been assessed and benchmarked following this Reporting Season whose results did not match previous perceptions. Looking into the numbers of a company is like looking into its soul and often creates a conflicting narrative.

AMP - AMP Limited

The trials and travails of AMP (ASX:AMP) are well known and require no further explanation. However as the company embarks on a massive business transformation, it was one of the big improvers this reporting season and definitely has thrown up a challenge to previously held opinions on the stock. The company is fundamentally different than it was when it listed. AMP Capital and the Life Insurance business have been sold, the financial advice business teeters on the edge and revenue has cratered from $19B in 2013 to be forecast at $1.3B in FY23.

The company’s Quality rank almost doubled after the latest report, though it is still low at 51. The Improvement however is the clearest sign that the troubles of the past may be behind it as it emerges as a much simpler business that is improving operations and free cash flow per share and seeing a reduction in long term corporate borrowings. Notwithstanding the numerous challenges that are still ahead of it, past perceptions may already be changing as the company’s Momentum score has increased…

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