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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain with Ebos; Trade Me falls

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain on Ebos, Meridian earnings, Trade Me disappoints

By Suze Metherell

Feb. 19 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand stock rose, as Ebos Group and Meridian Energy met profit guidance. Trade Me Group sank to an 18-month low during trade, as investors questioned the auction sites growth prospects.

The NZX 50 Index rose 19.045 points, or about 0.4 percent, to 4914.142. Within the index, 25 stocks rose, 17 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $152 million.

Ebos shares rose 2.6 percent to $9.95, paring an earlier gain to $10.05 as investors digested its first-half results, which showed the impact of the strong kiwi dollar against the Australian dollar. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $96.2 million, were below the $103.6 million the company used in its prospectus, while net profit of $49.4 million beat its forecast $48.7 million.

"They restated their numbers for the currency movements and missed slightly at the EBITDA level, although they got there at the net profit level." said Matthew Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management.

Meridian Energy rose 0.5 percent to $1.04. Underlying net profit for the government controlled energy company was $83 million, beating its prospectus forecast by 28 percent, the company said today.

“That whole energy sector is in a holding pen until Genesis comes on the market,” said Rickey Ward, who manages about $450 million of equities for Tyndall Investment Management. “It’s the unfortunate side effect of giving a good result in a tough sector.”

The government plans to sell down its holding in Genesis Energy ahead of the elections this year.

Trade Me fell 5.4 percent to $3.83 The online auction website disappointed investors with only 2 percent growth in first-half earnings, compared to 2 percent for the same period a year earlier.

“The domestic market was expecting a poor result from Trade Me, and it delivered on that,” Ward said. “It has limited growth over the next 12 months so does it deserve to trade on a growth multiple?”

New Zealand Oil & Gas declined 0.6 percent to 78 cents. It reported static earnings today as it spends big on further exploration.

Fletcher Building climbed 1.3 percent to $9.72. The company is due to report first-half earnings tomorrow.

“People have looked through a potentially soggy result,” Ward said. “We are expecting results which would be reflective of the high kiwi against the Australian dollar, but we have had confirmation of the Australian environment definitely improving.”

Other NZX 50 companies due to report earnings tomorrow include Auckland International Airport which rose 1.5 percent to $3.64, while Port of Tauranga slipped 0.7 percent to $13.85. Nuplex Industries, which makes specialty chemicals, climbed 2.4 percent to $3.48 and Steel & Tube was unchanged at $3.10.

Sky Network Television gained 1.2 percent to $5.84 while Telecom climbed 1.7 percent to $2.43. Sky City Entertainment Group fell 0.3 percent to $3.74 and cloud-based accounting software company Xero slid 0.5 percent to $39.60.


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