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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall on Iraq worries; Gentrack gains

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares slide on Iraq worries, Gentrack rises on debut

By Suze Metherell

June 25 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares followed a global sell-off as investors were spooked by rising tensions in the Middle East. Diligent Board Member Services, Air New Zealand and Trade Me Group paced the decline. Gentrack Group rose on its debut.

The NZX 50 Index fell 16.664 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5104.541, a two-month low. Within the index, 21 stocks fell, 13 rose and 16 were unchanged. Turnover was $121.7 million.

Stocks fell across Asia, following Wall Street lower, as violence in Iraq escalated into cross-border hostilities with Syria, fuelling investors' fears over the Middle East's stability. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent in afternoon trading, matching Japan's Nikkei 225 Index 0.6 percent decline, while China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite index was down 0.4 percent.

"The US was weaker overnight and it's weaker across the board," said Michael Milne, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "That Middle East political situation won't be helping things."

Diligent Board Member Services, the governance app maker, slid 2.9 percent to $4.07. Air New Zealand, the national carrier, declined 2.6 percent to $2.21 while Trade Me, the online auction site fell 2 percent to $3.45.

OceanaGold was the worst performer on the day, down 5.9 percent to $3.36. Fletcher Building fell 1.3 percent to $8.83. Xero slipped 1.2 percent to $25.62.

Gentrack Group, which develops utilities and airports software, rose 3.8 percent to $2.49 from its initial public offer price of $2.40 in its first day on the NZX, paring a 7.5 percent stag to $2.58 in its first minutes of trading.

"It is good if it doesn't shoot away too much on listing - it shows the pricing was about right in terms of the IPO," Milne said. "They weren't too greedy on price or giving it away cheaply."

Serko rose 6.3 percent to $1.01 in its second day of trading, but is still below its IPO price of $1.10. 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.

The listings come at a rocky time for companies looking to go public. Hirepool yesterday abandoned plans for what would have been the year's second-biggest IPO on the NZX as investors baulked at the offer.

Milne said the glut of IPOs in the pipeline, allowing investors to be a bit more "picky". Mobile measuring device maker ikeGPS and Scales Corp, the fruit and vegetables logistics group, both currently have prospectuses in the market and there's talk that MetroGlass, Orion Health, Vista Entertainment Solutions and Eroad are considering going public.

Kathmandu Holdings was the day's best performer on the benchmark index, rising 2.5 percent to $3.23 and recovering from yesterday's 12 percent slide to a two-month low. The retailer yesterday 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.

"After a big sell down you do see value investors come back in. I think with Kathmandu it is probably a bit seasonal as well, not something critically wrong with the business, they're always going to have these seasonal swings," said Milne.

Warehouse Group fell 1.3 percent to $3.04. Last Friday New Zealand's largest listed retailer issued a profit warning saying 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, raising concerns about the outlook for both its core business and the success of its acquisition strategy.

Outside the benchmark index, Hallenstein Glasson Holdings rose 0.3 percent to $2.93 after the clothing chain said it managed to underpin seasonal sales, with growth of 2 percent in the almost-five months ended June 22, despite a warmer-than-expected winter, which would tend to crimp sales of coats and gloves.

Telecom Corp rose 1.1 percent to $2.69. Today New Zealand's largest telecommunications provider detailed its new internet television plans, Lightbox, including luring customers with popular American primetime shows, as part of its business change as it chases earning growth.

Contact Energy rose 0.2 percent to $5.21 after the energy retailer and generator announced a six-year contract with Genesis Energy to buy its gas while extending its steam and electricity supply contract with Fonterra Cooperative Group at its Te Rapa plant by eight-years. Genesis was unchanged at $1.77.

Skellerup Holdings was unchanged at $1.76. The industrial rubber maker said it settled an historic claim with Marley New Zealand over alleged faulty seals supplied for irrigation systems, with a net after-tax impact on the rubber goods and farm equipment of $1.58 million, which will reduce previous guidance of $22 million to $24 million for this financial year.

NZAX-listed Foley Family Wines, which is majority owned by American businessman and vineyard owner Bill Foley, rose 6.9 percent to $1.55 after it said it plans to move to the main board of the New Zealand stock exchange following its takeover of Martinborough Vineyards and the sale of $10 million of shares to institutional investors.

(BusinessDesk)

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