MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks rise, Fletcher, Trade Me gain on earnings relief
By Suze Metherell
Aug. 20 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose as Fletcher Building and Trade Me Group beat full-year profit guidance. Energy companies fell on weaker political polls ahead of next month's election.
The NZX 50 Index rose 26.126 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5140.338. Within the benchmark, 32 stocks rose, 16 fell and two were unchanged. Turnover was $167 million.
Fletcher Building rose 0.9 percent to $9.17, with more than $47 million worth of shares in New Zealand's largest listed company changing hands. The construction and building supplies company beat market expectations posting a 4 percent gain in annual profit to $339 million. Trade Me rose 2.6 percent to $3.61 after the online auction website said annual profit rose 1.9 percent to $80.1 million.
"The results all came slightly ahead of the expectations for the day, which was a nice surprise," said James Lindsay, who helps manage $400 million in equities for Tyndall Asset Management. "It has certainly been a volatile period, New Zealand has gone through a couple of months of sell off and so with slight relief from few of these results allowing the market to bounce a little bit."
Today marks one month until New Zealand's general election, and although polls largely show the incumbent National-led government returning for a third term led by Prime Minister John Key, recent polls have shown a drop in voter support for the party, while ongoing political scandal surrounding alleged 'dirty tricks' may weigh on voters' minds.
The opposition parties, Greens and Labour, have promised if elected to further regulate the energy sector, including setting up a state-owned single electricity buyer, in a bid to push down prices.
MightyRiverPower, the state-controlled energy company floated by the government last year, slipped 0.2 percent to $2.37, despite posting earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and changes in the value of financial instruments were 1 percent ahead of its April 2013 prospectus forecast at $504 million in the year to June 30.
"Although MRP came out with a good result today, and announced a slightly increased dividend slightly ahead of expectations, that sector has been under a bit of pressure today," Lindsay said. "The polls and the concern about where that might be going and the Labour-Greens single buyer model they have proposed would be on investors' minds as the polls have turned a little on the southside."
Meridian Energy was the worst performer on the day, down 2.3 percent to $1.255. Genesis Energy dropped 1.9 percent to $1.785. TrustPower slipped 1.3 percent to $6.95. Vector was unchanged at $2.58. Contact Energy rose 0.4 percent to $5.49.
Shares of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 0.2 percent to $4.84 after the healthcare products manufacturer raised annual guidance 3 percent due to a weaker currency.
Xero rose 2.8 percent to $23.65 after brokerage Deutsche Bank rated the stock a ‘sell’, saying the US growth prospects have been overvalued.
Shares of South Port New Zealand were unchanged at $3.45 after the Bluff port operator posted a record annual profit on high volumes of stock foods and logs going through the port, while warning next year’s earnings may be slightly weaker.
Colonial Motor Co gained 0.6 percent to $5.50 after the car and tractor deal boosted annual profit 38 percent on growing sales of new vehicles. The company noted this year’s favourable conditions are showing signs of easing.
Shares of Acurity Healthcare Group rose to $6.60 after its independent directors told shareholders Connor Healthcare is reviewing its proposed takeover bid, and that they should wait until they receive the committee’s report on the offer.
Units of Kiwi Income Property Trust increased 0.4 percent to $1.185 after the property investor’s manager appointed Pumpkin Patch chair Jane Freeman to its board.
Units in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund fell 1.1 percent to $6.12 after dairy prices edged lower in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction.