MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; F&P Healthcare gains on soft currency
By Suze Metherell
June 5 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand stocks rose, led by Fisher & Paykel Healthcare as a weak currency improved the manufacturer's export earnings outlook. Property stocks paced the gain as investors mull the pace of interest rate hikes this year.
The NZX 50 Index edged up 0.143 points, or 0.003 percent, to 5159.490. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 21 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $136 million.
F&P Healthcare led the benchmark index higher, climbing 2.2 percent to $4.60 and matching its high of last week. The breathing apparatus manufacturer, which exports 98 percent of its product, last month said profit rose 26 percent to $97.1 million in the year ended March 31 but expects 2015 earnings growth to stall as it struggles against a high kiwi dollar. The kiwi fell to a three-month low this week.
"The company came out with a very good result in the market and confirmed its robustness as a business,"said Shane Solly, portfolio manager at Harbour Asset Management. "The weaker currency and some of the pressure coming off there is helpful."
Property stocks, which typically offer investors a strong dividend yield, paced gains ahead of next week's Reserve Bank monetary policy meeting, where governor Graeme Wheeler may lower the forecast track for future interest rate hikes.
DNZ Property Fund climbed 1.9 percent to $1.63. Kiwi Income Property Trust advanced 0.9 percent to $1.18, while Property For Industry gained 0.8 percent to $1.335. Goodman Property Trust rose 0.5 percent to $1.065 and Precinct Properties New Zealand lifted 0.5 percent to $1.08.
High growth and tech stocks fell. A2 Milk Company, the milk marketer which has gained 63 percent over the past two years, fell 2.6 percent to 75 cents. Xero, the cloud-based accounting software, fell 0.9 percent to $29.80. Diligent Board Member Services, which makes a governance app, slipped 1 percent to $4.11. Pacific Edge, the Dunedin-based biotech company whose shares soared 150 percent in 2013, was unchanged at 81 cents.
"We have seen just a little bit of enthusiasm fall out of the market," Solly said. "We're still seeing some of the heat come out of those higher priced high growth stocks. That's not unique to New Zealand, its continued to happen in other markets as well."
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.
"The current tranche of new IPO offerings is taking people's attention, and in some cases people may be making space for those assets to come in," Solly said.
NZX rose 0.8 percent to $1.31 after the stock market operator said the volume of share trading snapped 20 months of growth in May, falling from the same month a year earlier when the government listed the first of its partially privatised power companies.
MightyRiverPower fell 0.2 percent to $2.25. The state-controlled energy company's metering business Metrix will be Trustpower's preferred provider to supply its 225,000 customers with smart meters. Trustpower fell 0.1 percent to $7.04.
Telecom rose 0.2 percent to $2.74. Ryman Healthcare climbed 1.3 percent to $8.35 and Infratil advanced 1.7 percent to $2.43.
Nuplex Industries was the worst performer on the day, dropping 4.6 percent to $3.34. Sky Network Television declined 2.1 percent to $6.54. Fletcher Building fell 0.1 percent to $8.92.
Outside the benchmark index, Hellaby Holdings rose 1.8 percent to $2.84 after the diversified investor's board appointed independent director Steve Smith to take over the chair when John Maasland retires at this year's annual meeting in October.