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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks mixed as investors wait on earnings

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks mixed as investors wait on earnings, NZX gains on 1H lift

By Suze Metherell

Aug. 11 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand share were mixed as investors waited on earnings season to justify the relatively high valuation of companies. NZX rose after reporting first-half earnings while SkyCity Entertainment Group fell ahead of reporting on Wednesday. Vista International Group rose in its NZX debut.

The NZX 50 Index fell 5.569 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5049.633. Within the index, 15 stocks fell, 25 rose and ten were unchanged. Turnover was $84.3 million.

"Its just a bit of waiting for results before we do much, so volumes are quite low today," said Anthony Halls, who helps manage $200 million at Mint Asset Management. "The market has had a pretty good year so far and now we're waiting to see the earnings to justify that, so there is a bit of marking time, if you like, until we get those results."

NZX rose 0.8 percent to $1.28 and has gained 2.4 percent this year. The stock market operator is the first benchmark index constituent to kick off earnings season, reporting first-half profit rose 8.6 percent to $6.97 million from the same period a year earlier, but was below Forsyth Barr's estimate of $7.1 million. Sales rose to $31.2 million from $30 million.

SkyCity Entertainment Group fell 1.1 percent to $3.60. Forsyth Barr forecasts its annual earnings will fall 12 percent to $124.1 million in the year ended June 31. Summerset Group Holdings rose 1 percent to $2.98. The retirement village operator is expected to report a 4 percent increase in first-half earnings tomorrow, according to Forsyth Barr.

Vista rose 8.5 percent to $2.55 from its offer price of $2.35 in its first day of trading on the NZX. The cinema software and data analytics firm raised $92 million in its float, which was three times oversubscribed at its institutional bookbuild. Unlike some other high-tech companies that are forecasting losses in a push for global growth, Vista expects to be profitable, though it has suspended its dividend plan for at least the next two years.

"It's gone very well on the day," said Halls. "Most investors didn't actually get what they asked for in the original bookbuild, and were caught a little bit under what they were hoping to get so they've followed it through today."

Vital Healthcare Property Trust rose 1.5 percent to $1.37 after New Zealand’s largest listed medical and healthcare property investor said it bought a 31-bed psychiatric hospital in Perth, Western Australia, for A$13.5 million, as it looks to beef up its exposure to the resources-driven state economy.

A2 Milk was the day's best performer on the benchmark index, up 3.1 percent to 66 cents. The milk marketer, which is facing copycat health claims about the A2 beta-casein protein variant in its largest market of Australia, released a study suggesting the protein doesn't provoke digestive discomfort the way the more common A1 variant does.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting software firm, led the benchmark index lower, falling 3.8 percent to a nine-month low of $22.71.

Spark New Zealand, the rebranded Telecom Corp, fell 0.4 percent to $2.81. Fletcher Building, New Zealand’s largest listed company, rose 0.6 percent to $8.81.

Off the bourse, shareholders in Renaissance Corp have backed a resolution to wind-up the failed retailer and education group, and have appointed a liquidator to the company. The company lost its monopoly on Apple products sold in New Zealand, has been selling businesses for the past two years. Trading in the shares was suspended on Aug. 5, and they last traded at 14.6 cents, valuing Renaissance at $6.37 million.

(BusinessDesk)

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