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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall; GPG drops on pension woes

MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks fall; GPG drops on pension woes, SkyCity climbs on hotel plans

By Suze Metherell

Aug. 13 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell as Guinness Peat Group detailed its ongoing battle with the UK pension regulator. SkyCity Entertainment Group gained after announcing plans for a new Auckland hotel with its full-year results.

The NZX 50 Index slipped 1.104 points, or 0.02 percent, to 5054.704. Within the index, 19 stock rose, 18 rose and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $116 million. The index has moved within a range of less than 200 points since April after rallying in the first three months of the year.

"It's very much investors taking a 'wait and see' approach at the moment," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "We're really waiting on more earnings to give the market further direction."

Guinness Peat Group, which generated about $1.4 billion from the asset sales programme it embarked on in 2011, fell 2.2 percent to 66.5 cents after announcing it is still grappling with its UK pension liability, while its sole investment, the Coats threadmaker unit reported a near trebling of profit to 11 million pounds in the six months ended June 30.

"It's a large company and it is still only earning relatively small profit," Williamson said. "And it still has no solution to its pension issues."

SkyCity snapped five days of declines to advance 2 percent to $3.62. New Zealand’s only listed casino company added hotel plans to its Auckland convention centre development while it posted a 23 percent drop in full-year profit to $98.5 million in the 12 months ended June. An improved performance at the company's flagship Auckland facilities and relatively steady returns from Darwin and Adelaide were masked by the impact on Australian earnings of a kiwi dollar that averaged 90.49 Australian cents in the latest year, up from an average cross rate of 80.03 cents in 2013.

"The share price had been relatively weak leading into the result and the market pretty much expected what came out," Williamson said. "There seemed to be some positives in the result, mainly being a good start to the 2015 financial year and the planning for the 300 bedroom, five-star hotel is a positive for the company in the medium term."

Nuplex Industries fell 2.4 percent to $2.89, ahead of reporting full-year earnings tomorrow. Forsyth Barr forecasts profit will fall 17 percent to $47.1 million. Vital Healthcare rose 0.4 percent to $1.40, ahead of reporting full-year earnings tomorrow which Forsyth Barr forecast will rise 9.3 percent to $30.9 million.

Property For Industry rose 0.7 percent to $1.365, after the industrial property investor lifted first-half profit 21 percent to $14.42 million, a year on from its merger with Direct Property Fund which increased its portfolio by two-thirds.

Precinct Properties New Zealand dropped 2.7 percent to $1.095 after the property investor said annual operating profit, which excludes some non-cash items and is used as the basis of dividend policy increased 9.4 percent to $63.8 million, as its Auckland rentals continued to strengthen and Wellington occupancy remained static.

Property investment stocks are "a sector that's outperformed the rest of the market over the last month or two," Williamson said. The NZX Property Index has advanced some 12 percent since the start of the year, nearly double the 6.8 percent gain of the benchmark index.

Argosy Property rose 1 percent to 99.5 cents. DNZ Property Fund lifted 0.3 percent to $1.68. Goodman Property Trust fell 0.9 percent to $1.065. Kiwi Income Property was unchanged at $1.165.

Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, rose 0.6 percent to $8.95. Spark New Zealand, formerly known as Telecom Corp, rose 1.3 percent to $2.81.

Goodman Fielder fell 3.6 percent to 67 cents after the food maker under takeover offer from Wilmar International and First Pacific Co posted a full-year loss of A$405 million after writing down the value of its baking and grocery businesses and recognising costs to exit businesses.


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