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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; Mainfreight gains on earnings

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; Mainfreight gains on earnings; Telecom, Tower climb

By Suze Metherell

May 28 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose, pushing the NZX 50 Index to,the highest in almost two weeks, after Mainfreight posted a 36 percent jump in earnings and the local bourse joined a global rally sparked by upbeat US manufacturing data.

The benchmark index rose 35.612 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5181.462. Within the index, 30 stocks rose, 12 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $126 million, $26 million of which was shares in Telecom.

Shares on Wall Street rallied,after,the long weekend, climbing on data which indicated a pickup in the world's largest economy. Asia-Pacific stocks followed suit. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.8 percent in afternoon trading, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.5 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose 0.3 percent.

Mainfreight surged 8.4 percent to $14, just short of its $14.08 peak on May 9 after the Auckland-based company lifted net profit to $86.6 million in the 12 months ended March 31. Stripping out the $12.1 million gain from its Wim Bosman settlement and restructuring costs in Europe, earnings rose 14 percent to $77.5 million on a 2.1 percent gain in sales to $1.92 billion.

Mainfreight "came out with a good strong result, seeing the stock up to near all time highs," said Robert Garden, an investment adviser with Craigs Investment Partners. "It's seen as a bit of a bellwether for the general economic environment, so that has had a positive flow on affect as well."

"Wall Street was closed on Monday so last night was the first night it opened back up again," he said. "It's a continuation of recovery, we saw a wobble in the market a couple of weeks ago and now it's recovered, more or less, all of the losses."

Telecom advanced 3 percent to $2.725 as 9.6 million shares changed hands. Tower, the general insurer, climbed 2.4 percent to $1.74. Fletcher Building, New Zealand's biggest listed company, rose 0.6 percent to $9.18.

Units in Fonterra Shareholders' Fund gained 0.5 percent to $6.03 after Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world's biggest dairy exporter, forecast a farmgate milk payout for the coming season of $7 per kilogram of milk solids, down from a revised $8.40/kgMS for the current season. The total cash payout for 2015, including dividends, will be announced in July. The units give investors access to the dividend stream on Fonterra's shares.

Pacific Edge fell 8.3 percent to a seven-month low of 89 cents after the bladder cancer test developer widened its annual net loss by 44 percent to $9.95 million.The stock gained 150 percent in 2013 on news of deals with American healthcare managers, but has given up most of those gains up since it debuted on the NZX 50 in mid-March.

"Its still hard for investors to get a real handle on value until those revenues start coming through," Garden said.

Restaurant Brands rose 1.6 percent to $3.23 after the company which operates KFC, Carl's Jr, Starbucks Coffee and Pizza Hut said first-quarter sales rose 5.9 percent.

Trustpower fell 2.1 percent, or 15 cents, to $7 as the energy company shed rights to its full year dividend of 20 cents per share.

Kathmandu Holdings fell 0.3 percent to $3.74. The outdoor goods retailer announced that chief financial officer Mark Todd has been appointed to the new position of chief operating officer, widening his role at the outdoor apparel retailer to oversee the rollout of a new technology platform.

Outside the benchmark index, Sanford,was unchanged at $4.10 after the fishing company reported a 17 percent drop in first-half profit, driven by lower prices for pelagic species such as skipjack tuna and blue mackerel. It held the first-half dividend unchanged at 9 cents a share.

Energy Mad plunged 9.1 percent to 30 cents after the energy efficient light bulb marketer more than doubled its full-year loss to $5.7 million and signalled it may cede access to $7.7 million of tax losses.

AWF Group was unchanged at,$2.85 after the contract worker company said profit for the year slipped 43 percent to $3.95 million after it invested in staff to prepare for its next phase of growth. The prior year’s result benefited from a $2.2 million gain on the sale of its subsidiary Panacea Healthcare.

NPT fell 0.6,percent to 61.5 cents after the property investor said annual profit rose to $5.986 million from $3.8 million a year earlier.

SmartPay climbed 11 percent to 36.5 cents after the company, which provides eftpos payment systems, made a full year profit of $1.7 million, up from a $5 million loss a year earlier.

(BusinessDesk)

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