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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed in post-results hiatus

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed in post-results hiatus; Mainfreight down, AIA up

March 22 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand shares were mixed in the post-earnings, ex-dividend hiatus. Mainfreight extended its decline after saying earnings would miss estimates and Auckland International Airport rose after reporting monthly passenger growth.

The NZX 50 Index edged up 0.38 points, or 0.01 percent, to 4342.88. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 16 rose and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $114 million.

Mainfreight, the global transport group, declined 2.7 percent to $10.90. Yesterday it said operating earnings will be flat for the full financial year, with the second half weaker than the first six months.

Mainfreight’s announcement shows “even the best companies can face difficulties,” said Shane Solly, portfolio manager at Mint Asset Management.

Pumpkin Patch, the children’s clothing chain, fell 1.7 percent to $1.18. The retailer announced this week that it returned to profit in the first half as costs to close underperforming stores in the US and UK a year earlier weren’t repeated. Sales fell on tough trading conditions and inventory disruptions.

Profit was $4.7 million in the six months ended Jan. 31, from a loss of about $30 million a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Sales fell 5 percent to $153 million.

Solly said as a high dividend market, the fact that many companies have already paid their dividends has “taken a bit of heat out of the market.”

“We’re in a zone where people are thinking about what potential listings are coming down the line and the hiatus after earnings season,” he said.

Auckland Airport rose 1.4 percent to $2.82. The nation’s busiest gateway said today that domestic passenger numbers rose 6.1 percent in February and international climbed 3.8 percent.

Postie Plus Group rose 10 percent to 16.5 cents after reporting a wider first-half loss. The loss widened to $1.8 million from a loss of $775,000 a year earlier.

OceanaGold, the operator of the Macraes gold field, rose 6.3 percent to $3.40.

Air New Zealand rose 2 percent to $1.52 and A2, the milk company, gained 1.8 percent to 58 cents.

Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the index, fell 0.5 percent to $8.67.


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