MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise after outage, Port of Tauranga extends gain
By Suze Metherell
June 27 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose in a shortened session after technical difficulties halted trading for three hours. Port of Tauranga extended yesterday's gain on news it had secured a minimum volumes across its wharves in a deal the Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms-led Kotahi Logistics.
The NZX 50 Index rose 14.092 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5144.246. Within the index, 27 stocks rose, 18 fell and five were unchanged. Turnover was $153 million.
Port of Tauranga, the nation's busiest export port, led the benchmark index higher, climbing 3 percent to a 13-month high of $15.45 after the announcement that Kotahi members had agreed to push 1.8 million containers across its wharves in the next 10 years and send more cargo to its half-owned Timaru Container Terminal. To cement the deal, Kotahi will take a 1.5 percent stake in Port of Tauranga and a half share of the Timaru terminal.
"It was a very positive announcement for them yesterday," said James Smalley, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "It is the sort of thing investors like because they can see if you are looking at future cash flows it is locking those in and giving certainty a number of years out."
Trading in all stocks was halted trading between 10:30am to 1:30pm as a technical glitch at NZX, the stock market operator, saw the bourse lose connection with participants. That was the second trading halt and the third IT issue this month. Within the first 10 minutes of resumed trading, 20 million of today's 43.9 million traded shares changed hands. Shares in NZX fell 0.7 percent to $1.34.
"It happens around the world, you get these things, but it is happening too often with the NZX and I think it dents confidence in the way the organisation is run. It shouldn't have these kind of problems," said Brian Gaynor, the executive director of Milford Asset Management. "They really need to scrutinise and investigate what's wrong, and what they can do to improve it."
Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, fell 0.5 percent to $8.79. Telecom Corp, the nation's largest telecommunications provider, rose 0.9 percent to $2.72.
On the NZ Alternative Index, GeoOp, whose software allows mobile businesses such as builders to manage their workforce, dropped 8.7 to a record low of $1.05, below its debut price of $2.40 in October last year and has plunged 76 percent from its high of $4.49 in November. The company raised $10 million at $1 a share in a private offer before listing, which it said at the time was more than three times oversubscribed.
"It's simply a reflection of a bit of caution creeping into that whole space with those tech companies," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "Those sorts of stocks can power ahead pretty aggressively when things are going well and when people are really upbeat on their prospects, but because of their volatile nature and because they don't really have any earnings or profit behind them, when things turn cautious they fall harder as well."
Growing geopolitical risk including increased conflict in Iraq, rising interest rates, and global markets trading at all-time highs had investors more cautious across the world, while upcoming listings of tech-based companies had investors pulling cash from the stocks to fund new investments, Lister said.
Xero, the cloud-based accounting software firm, rose 0.4 percent to $26, but has slipped 43 percent from its March high of $45.99. Pacific Edge, the Dunedin-based biotech company, advanced 1.2 percent to 82 cents, less than half its February high of $1.76. Diligent Board Member Services dropped 2 percent $3.91, and is 43 percent below its June 2013 high of $7.06.
"All of those stocks which are really exciting growth stories, but at the moment aren't very profitable, are the ones that have been star performers over the last couple of years, and have had a pull back lately," Lister said. A more cautious tone was in the market after what had been a turbo-charged first-half, which saw the NZX 50 Index reach all-time highs, he said.
Smiths City Group, the Christchurch retailer, rose 8 percent to 54 cents, after it said full year profit from operations, excluding interest and tax, rose 45 percent to $5.5 million.
GuocoLeisure, the diversified investment company once known as Brierley Investments, will leave the NZX today after more than 40 years on the local stock exchange, in a long-heralded move which leaves its sole listing in Singapore. The NZX-listed shares halted trading on Wednesday ahead of today's delisting. The stock first listed in March 1970.