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MARKET CLOSE: Shares fall as Kathmandu, Xero give up gains

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as Kathmandu, Xero give up gains; A2 reaches record

By Sophie Boot

Aug. 4 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell, with Kathmandu Holdings and Xero dropping while A2 Milk Co hit a record high

The S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 7.63 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,746.12. Within the index, 22 stocks fell, 18 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $155.5 million.

Kathmandu Holdings dropped 1.8 percent to $2.24. Yesterday, the retailer announced full-year profit rose as much as 13 percent to between $37.4 million and $38 million after a successful winter sales season and increased revenue from Australia. Earnings before interest and tax were in a range of $56 million to $57 million, from $50.9 million in the previous year.

"The week rolling they're down 3 percent despite that guidance to the market - investors still have concerns about online retailing and weather patterns determining how sales mixes go," said Peter McIntyre, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "That retail sector is weaker across the board, on low volume, it's still a very tough environment for retailers out there."

Xero gave up some recent gains, down 1.6 percent to $27.36, with Fletcher Building also seeing some profit taking, dropping 1.1 percent to $7.88.

"Even though we're trading near flat, we've had reasonable volume through the market," McIntyre said. "I think offshore investors have some more comfort about our inflation data and that the Reserve Bank are not going to increase interest rates, that has probably been bothering some international investors on the basis our dollar could get a lot stronger, so the dollar weakening off has probably been a positive for investing."

Summerset Group led the index lower, down 2.2 percent to $4.87, while Trustpower fell 2.1 percent to $5.70.

A2 Milk Co was the best performer on the index, up 3.6 percent to $4.66, while Synlait Milk gained 0.4 percent to $4.57.

A2 and Synlait released a statement today saying the two are confident with the progress of their application to export a2 Platinum infant formula to China from Jan. 2018. Sales of the formula currently comprise about 8 percent of A2's total infant formula sales, it said.

"Confirmation of that is another positive step for A2, a number of brokers have upgraded that stock in recent times and it's had a tremendous run," McIntyre said. "It's a stock which has moved from being one which was high growth and higher risk, to become more of a mainstream style investment for a number of investors and institutions as more and more research comes out on that company."

Outside the benchmark index, Eroad gained 2.3 percent to $2.22. It expects to post record sales in the current financial year as its second generation of technology is embraced by New Zealand firms keen on improving driver safety and as a looming North American compliance regime drives US buyers.

The logistics and fleet management company anticipates New Zealand and the US will be key in reporting record sales in the year ending March 31, 2018, with growth in Australia likely to be more modest, chief executive Steve Newman told shareholders at yesterday's annual meeting in Auckland.


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