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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall, led by Kathmandu

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall, led by Kathmandu on profit warning

By Suze Metherell

June 24 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares, led by Kathmandu Holdings after the retailer said annual earnings may slide 15 percent. Pacific Edge fell to an eight-month low. Serko debuted on the NZX while Hirepool withdrew its initial public offer.

The benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 4.959 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5121.205. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 18 rose and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $121.3 million.

Kathmandu fell 12 percent to a two-month low of $3.15 after the outdoor apparel and equipment retailer said full-year earnings before interest and tax will probably fall by 10 to 15 percent in the 11 months ending June 30, as sales during the company's winter sales promotion were "significantly below expectations" in its main markets of Australia and New Zealand. Warmer weather crimps sales of its cold weather products such as down jackets, fleece and thermals.

"It's quite a warning, but Kathmandu does have a history of quite significant surprises on the upside and downside, which is driven by the nature of its sales-driven model," said Matthew Goodson, who helps manage $650 million of equities and property holdings for Salt Funds Management. "The great bulk of their earnings do occur in the three or so sales they have each year. Probably a not complete shock in some ways given the weather in Australia in particular had been very warm, but the market, prior to this had been perhaps ignoring this."

Xero rose 0.1 percent to $25.92, paring a decline after the stock market regulator issued a 'please explain' notice to Xero over a 22 percent slide in its share price since June 16 to an eight-month low of $23 at 11 am today. The Wellington-based cloud accounting software firm has "historically been subject to significant volatility as a result of its tightly held share price," and Xero complies with continuous disclosure rules, the company's chief financial officer Ross Jenkins said in a letter to the regulator.

Dunedin-based biotech company Pacific Edge declined 2.5 percent to an eight-month low of 79 cents and has plunged 49 percent in the past three months. Outside the benchmark index, security software firm Wynyard Group dropped 3.7 percent to $2.10, and search engine developer SLI Systems fell 1.2 percent to $1.60.

"All the growth stocks continue to be chasing the same pool of investors with all the new listings coming on the market as well," said Bryon Burke, head of equities at Craigs Investment Partners. "The issue with the growth stocks is, what are they worth when they're coming down when there is no yield and no PE (price to earnings ratio)?"

"There are a lot of growth stocks around and they seem to be losing favour at this stage and there are more coming onto the market and that seems to be where the money is heading, to the new ones," Burke said.

Serko slid 14 percent to 95 cents in its debut on the NZX from the $1.10 initial public offer price, having listed at $1.13. The online business travel booking company raised some $17 million selling 15.5 million of new shares, while a further 4.5 million existing shares worth $5 million were sold into the offer.

Gentrack, which develops utilities and airports software, lists tomorrow in a $99.1 million initial public offer, selling shares at $2.40 apiece. Other companies set to list on the NZX include, Scales Corp on July 26, while IkeGPS released its prospectus yesterday.

Meanwhile Hirepool, which was due to list on the NZX stock exchange next month, pulled its listing after 64 percent owner, Australian private equity firm Next Capital, abandoned plans to sell shares in a $262 million float after concern from institutional investors that on market support for shares of the unprofitable equipment rental company wouldn't be strong enough.

Warehouse Group rose 1.7 percent to $3.08, paring an intraday decline to an 18-month low of $2.99. Last Friday New Zealand's largest listed retailer, said it expects adjusted full-year profit of $59 million to $62 million, down from its March forecast for $67 million to $71 million, and lower than last year's $73.7 million. Today it emerged James Pascoe, the retail group owned by David and Anne Norman, has taken advantage of a slump in Warehouse Group shares to nudge its holding up to 5.15 percent.

Diligent Board Member Services fell 1.4 percent to $4.19 after holding its first annual meeting since completing the restatement of its accounts.

Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, rose 1.5 percent to $8.95. Telecom, New Zealand's largest telecommunications provider, slipped 0.2 percent to $2.66.

Pumpkin Patch rose 2.3 percent to 44 cents after saying it's considering changes to its store footprint, stock management, and an upgrade to IT systems as part of an ongoing strategic review.


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