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Midday Update: NZ$ falls, F&P beats guidance

Midday Update: NZ$ falls, F&P beats guidance

May 24 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar climbed from a six-month low as European Union leaders met amid talk Greece could leave the euro zone and ahead of the budget locally which is expected to chart the route back to fiscal surplus.

The New Zealand dollar fell to 74.88 just before midday from 75.15 cents at 8am. That's the lowest since Nov. 24.

Investors are awaiting the outcome of the European Union summit in Brussels, where speculation is mounting that Greece will leave the euro.

The prospect of the indebted nation leaving the shared currency increased after it failed to form a government, following its May 6 elections. Fresh elections will now be held in June. Several of Greece's main political parties remain opposed to the terms of the nation's second bailout fund from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

"People are squaring up prior to the meeting," said Stuart Ive, currency strategists at HiFX. "I don't think that the market is completely convinced that Greece will leave the euro but there is a massive fear factor out there."

New Zealand Finance Minister Bill English will deliver his fourth Budget this afternoon. English is expected to unveil a path towards getting the government’s books back into operating surplus in 2014/15, promising a second successive ‘zero’ budget.

"In New Zealand and Australia budget cuts are widely known before the budget," Ive said. "There are no real surprises in them - there will be no fireworks."

The New Zealand dollar to fell to 59.73 yen from 59.91 yen after the Bank of
Japan left its asset-purchase fund unchanged after a better-than-expected 4.1 percent annualised increase in gross domestic product for the final three months of last year. The BOJ now regards asset purchases as its key monetary easing tool.

New Zealand’s second-largest export market China, will release its HSBC flash purchasing manufacturing index, the nation’s unofficial measure of PMI, this afternoon.

F&P Appliances beats FY guidance

Fisher & Paykel Appliances Holdings beat its full-year guidance. However it posted a decline in earnings and warned that the outlook for 2013 was for soft retail markets with weaker demand in Australia.

Net income dropped 45 percent to $18.4 million in the 12 months ended March 31, from $33.5 million a year earlier, the Auckland-based manufacturer said in a statement. Sales fell 7.4 percent to $1.04 billion.

F&P Appliances flagged a weaker full-year result when it released its interim results in November, when profit tumbled on tough economic conditions, high raw material prices and depressed white goods spending in Australasia, North America and Europe. The company singled out Australia as a particular concern because the market deteriorated in the second half and said there are signs the “slight improvement” in the US “might not be sustained."

Full-year operating revenue from appliances fell 7.6 percent to $891 million, which the company attributed to “weaker retail market conditions, rebalancing for profitable sales and unfavourable currency translation.”

The company won’t pay a final dividend. While directors intended to restore payments to shareholders “as soon as possible”, they have opted to take cautious approach given that “conditions in our key markets remain very uncertain.”

There were glimmers of hope in the outlook. Starting in 2013, the company will benefit from two contracts to supply motors, one for major shareholder Haier of China. It also has a pipeline of new fridge, laundry and cooking products to release in the coming year.

NPT lifts earnings on Christchurch insurance payout

NPT, the property company formally known as National Property Trust, reported a 12.5 percent increase in fiscal year profit as an insurance reimbursement payment from the Christchurch earthquakes made up for a decline in gross rental income.

Trading profit was $9.94 million in the year ended March 31, up from $8.80 million, the company said in a statement.

Gross rental income fell 15 percent to $20 million from $23.5 million. Net rental income rose 6.9 percent to $16.5 million on higher insurance rental recoveries.

NPT said it narrowed its first-half net loss after tax to $2.29 million from $14.67 million, a year earlier.

The company is still awaiting an insurance settlement on its material damage at Natcoll House.

NPT has spent $13.8 million on earthquake repairs and reconstruction of the Eastgate shopping centre and in March accepted a full and final insurance settlement of $18 million. In April, the Canterbury Earthquake Authority confirmed the shopping mall met the new stricter seismic standards.

“The 2012-13 year looks encouraging,” said Kerry Hitchcock, acting chief executive, adding that “most of the challenges of the last financial year are behind us.”

The Christchurch-based company will pay, on July 4, a final dividend of 1.75 cents a share for the quarter ended March 31, for a total 2011-2012 distribution of 4 cents. That compares with an earlier forecast of 3 cents for the year.

(BusinessDesk)

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