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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed; Fletcher, Diligent gain

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed; Fletcher, Diligent rise, Telecom falls

Nov. 21 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares were mixed, with Fletcher Building pacing gainers after giving an upbeat earnings outlook yesterday, while Telecom and Sky Network Television fell.

The NZX 50 Index fell 1.71 points, or 0.04 percent, to 3971.23. Within the index, 19 stocks gained, 22 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was a higher-than-average $145 million.

Fletcher, the biggest company on the NZX, rose 1.1 percent to a 13-month high close of $7.73, adding to yesterday’s 3.7 percent gain when it said operating earnings will grow by as much as 22 percent in the 2013 financial year as new home construction accelerates and the firm keeps a lid on costs.

“We’re definitely seeing some pretty keen interest” in Fletcher since its announcement yesterday, said Grant Williamson, a director at Christchurch-based brokerage Hamilton Hindin Greene. The market generally has been buoyed by an inflow of funds from retail investors fed up with lowly returns from deposits, he added.

Diligent Board Member Services climbed 2.7 percent to a record close of $4.60. The stock has surged since its announcement last week that revenue soared 145 percent in the three months to Sept. 30 and margins widened as the company's corporate governance product begins to gain scale in key markets.

“It is still a very good growth story,” Williamson said. Media reports that the company is mulling a Nasdaq listing also bode well for the shares since US tech companies tend to trade on higher multiples than Diligent, he said.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting service, rose 4.1 percent to $6.35, I cent below the record reached last week.

Summerset Group gained 3.6 percent to $2.04 after the retirement village operator said it has lifted its long-term annual build rate for new retirement units and agreed to an increase in its bank facilities to help fund the expansion.

The Wellington-based company is now aiming to build 300 units a year by 2015 compared to a target in the prospectus for its initial public offering last year of 250 units a year by 2016.

Comvita, which sells products based on the health and medical benefits of honey, rose about 3 percent to $3.81. While first-half profit fell 7.4 percent in the face of a shortage of Manuka honey, the profit drop mainly reflected restated year-earlier figures. Sales climbed to $45.4 million from $41.8 million and chairman Neil Craig said it expects a repeat of the pattern of stronger second-half trading.

Sky TV, the pay-TV company, fell 1.8 percent to $4.98. Clothing retailer Hallenstein Glasson Holdings fell 2.3 percent to $5.15.


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