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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain, led by Metlifecare on upgrade

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain, led by Metlifecare on profit upgrade

By Suze Metherell

May. 23 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose, led by Metlifecare after the retirement village operator and developer upgraded its profit forecast. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare paced gains after reporting a record annual profit.

The benchmark NZX 50 Index rose 22.534 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5151.374. Within the index, 35 stocks rose, 11 fell, and four were unchanged. Turnover was $113.9 million.

Metlifecare advanced 5.3 percent to $4.40 after the retirement village operator said it expects underlying profit of between $43 million and $46 million for the year ending June 30, as it benefits from higher sales, bigger capital gains on property sales and more income from resales. Rival Summerset Group Holdings climbed 1.5 percent to $3.51 and Ryman Healthcare fell 0.1 percent to $8.39.

"Metlifecare, obviously a positive result ahead of the previous guidance they've previously provided," said Robert Garden, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "There is a bit of a tailwind behind the sector at the moment - the companies are delivering so it is definitely a sector the market has got a lot of focus on."

F&P Healthcare rose 1.4 percent to $4.23. The breathing apparatus manufacturer, which exports 98 percent of its product to the United States, said full year profit rose 26 percent to $97.1 million but flagged earnings growth may stall in 2015 as a high New Zealand dollar continues to crimp its US revenue.

"A few headwinds going into 2015, moving on the back of the continued strength of the currency," said Garden. "If you're focus on the revenue that's coming through it still looks positive for next year as well."

Chorus dropped 0.9 percent to $1.695 after Standard & Poor's, the international ratings agency, affirmed the telecommunications network builder's BBB while changing the outlook to negative from a creditwatch with negative implications. Earlier this week the Commerce Commission pushed out the deadline for the final decision on pricing Chorus' copper lines, meaning the network operator will face at least four months of having price cuts at the disputed level.

Telecom fell 0.7 percent to $2.67. Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, dropped 0.1 percent to $9.16.

Air New Zealand, the national carrier, rose 1.2 percent to $2.195. The airline today appointed Linda Jenkinson to its board, replacing long-serving director Jim Fox who will retire in August.

Auckland International Airport fell 0.3 percent to $3.91. The nation's busiest gateway raised $150 million in a seven year bond offer, with a fixed annual rate of 5.5 percent.

Outside the benchmark index, Intueri, the private education and training provider, rose 11 percent to $2.60 in its debut on the NZX, paring an intraday jump of 15 percent to $2.75. More than 21 million shares changed hands at a value of $56.7 million.

Comvita, which produces health products from manuka honey and olive leaves, rose 2.9 percent to $3.60, after it lifted annual profit 3.3 percent to $7.6 million, as the rising cost of honey squeezed margins, and said revenue and earnings would grow in 2015.

Pumpkin Patch fell 2 percent to 50 cents after the children's retailer warned full year profits after tax but before reorganisation costs would contract to between $1 million and $3 million, compared to $8.5 million the previous year.

Abano Healthcare fell 0.4 percent to $7. Shareholders will vote on whether to dump chairman Trevor Janes on Black Friday next month after the medical investor set the date for a special meeting called by a pair of disgruntled shareholders who own almost a fifth of the company.

Delegat's Group, the winemaker which last year bought Australia's Barossa Valley Estate, was unchanged at $4 after announcing its 2014 harvest will allow it to achieve its forecast future sales growth.

(BusinessDesk)

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