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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall; Xero drops on tech IPOs

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall; Xero drops on tech IPOs; Fletcher at 4-month low

By Suze Metherell

June 4 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell, led by Xero, as investors reassess their portfolios ahead of two tech company listings set for mid-June, and more rumoured in the pipeline. Fletcher Building dropped to a four-month low.

The NZX 50 Index fell 4.77 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5159.347. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 18 rose and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $140 million.

Investors are mulling the upcoming listings of utility and airport software company Gentrack and online business travel booking company Serko, which are both set to debut later this month. Other tech-based companies reported to be looking at listing include ikeGPS, Fronde, Wherescape, Orion Health, Triplejump and Eroad.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting software company, declined 3.5 percent to $30.06, leading the benchmark index lower. Diligent Board Member Services, the governance app maker, dropped 1.2 percent to $4.15.

"We're in the process of upcoming IPOs and some of those are in the IT sector, I'm drawing a long bow, but there seems to be that there's some reallocation of money from one to another," said Nigel Scott, a director at Craigs Investment Partners. "These ones haven't started yet, but some people might be moving ahead of time."

Fletcher Building, the construction and building supplies company, fell 0.9 percent to $8.93 and has declined 2.8 percent over the past two-weeks since the government announced it was cutting tariffs on imported building supplies in a bid to improve housing affordability. The stock is rated an average 'hold' according to 10 analysts surveyed by Reuters, with a median price target of $9.75.

"They have been drifting lower over a long time," Scott said.

Metlifecare rose 1.8 percent to $4.48 after the retirement village operator was upgraded to a 'buy' by Craigs Investment Partners.

"As the second largest operator of retirement villages in New Zealand, with a strong balance sheet and improved strategy and product offer we believe Metlifecare is now well positioned to participate in the long term growth of the retirement industry," Craigs analyst Stephen Ridgewell said in a note.

Pacific Edge snapped a seven-day decline to be the best performer on the day, advancing 5.2 percent to 81 cents. 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.

Steel & Tube Holdings was unchanged at $3.09 after the steel building products manufacturer was censured by the stock exchange's NZ Markets Disciplinary Tribunal having failed to vote on the election of a director in 2009.

Telecom rose 0.6 percent to $2.735.

Outside the benchmark index, shares of Green Cross Health jumped 9.6 percent to $1.60, matching yesterday's nine-year high, and have advanced 17 percent in the past week after the pharmacy owner said annual profit rose to $18.8 million from $16.6 million a year earlier.

"It's purely in reaction to what was a pretty good result," said James Smalley, a director at brokerage Hamilton Hindin Greene. "There's not a huge amount of liquidity. There's not really any selling at a reasonable level for the buyers to hit so the buyers are still pretty keen. With low liquidity stocks if you are keen to get in, you are normally having to pay a bit more."

Northland Port Corp, which owns half of the Whangarei port operating company, fell 3.3 percent to $2.93 after it said it plans to buy the neighbouring marina and commercial complex for $6.95 million, which it intends to develop in stages.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand, which operates 22 hotels across the country, rose 1.4 percent to 71 cents. After the close of trading today the company said it will distribute its stake in First Sponsor Group to shareholders. For every 1000 ordinary shares held by shareholders, 698 shares would be cancelled and shareholders would receive 327 First Sponsor shares, pricing the cancelled shares at 68 cents, it said. The distribution is subject to shareholder approval.

The administrators of Postie Plus has found a foreign buyer for the retail chain's assets and business, a day after their appointment. The apparel retailer last traded at 7.3 cents, prior to being halted last Thursday pending an announcement, and the stock market suspended it yesterday after the administrator appointment. Its the second-worst performer on the NZX All Index over the past year, having slumped 56 percent.

(BusinessDesk)

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