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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall, led by CBL, retirement stocks

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall, led by CBL, retirement stocks; CropLogic drops 23% in ASX debut

By Sophie Boot

Sept. 12 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell as CBL Corp extended its decline while retirement stocks Arvida Group and Metlifecare were sold on pre-election jitters.

The S&P/NZX50 Index slipped 11.34 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,840.41. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 16 rose and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $134 million.

Blue-chip stocks weighed on the benchmark index with Z Energy falling 1.7 percent to $7.48, Auckland International Airport down 1.4 percent to $6.47 and Contact Energy declining 1.3 percent to $5.33.

"Most of the large-cap stocks are a bit weak, that's part of the reason the index is down today relative to what has happened offshore," said Craig Stent, head of equities at Harbour Asset Management. "Don't forget we're still seeing pretty strong performance returns and valuations are pretty lofty, we're up 14 percent year-to-date. There's obviously increasing uncertainty related to the election, and what that's likely to mean. It just seems that New Zealand's out of favour today a little bit."

CBL Corp led the index lower for the second day in a row, down 2.4 percent to $2.85, the lowest it has closed since August 2016. On Friday, the stock gave up rights to a 1.5 cents per share interim dividend.

"Management are doing the rounds with investors at the moment, but they had quite a downgrade in their most recent result," Stent said. "That's largely related to changes in assumptions by actuaries, the core underlying business seems to be going okay but some investors may not be up to speed."

Arvida Group dropped 2.3 percent to $1.26. It plans to raise $77 million in a discounted rights issue at $1.15 apiece to help pay for three new retirement villages which it says will boost annual earnings by 8 percent. The acquisitions will add another 451 retirement units and 315 aged care beds to Arvida's existing 26 retirement villages, and add 110 consented units to its development pipeline.

"You're seeing a selling of other stocks within that sector to potentially fund the purchase of those rights," Stent said. "Election jitters are also starting to come through a little bit. If migration's turned off completely that is not a positive influence for the property market as it has been in the last few years. The retirement sector is influenced by people having to sell the place before they buy one of the units, there's a flow-on effect of that if the days to sell go up or the price goes down."

Metlifecare dropped 1.2 percent to $5.80, while Summerset Group was unchanged at $4.97, dropped as low as $4.92 in intraday trading. Ryman Healthcare rose 0.7 percent to $9.01.

In late trading on the Australian stock exchange, CropLogic, the agricultural technology company, dropped 23 percent to 15.5 Australian cents on its debut.

The company, which counts Powerhouse Ventures and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund as shareholders, raised A$8 million in a fully subscribed share offer last month. Christchurch-based CropLogic issued 40 million ordinary shares at an issue price of 20 Australian cents per share, with A$5 million of the capital raised underwritten by Hunter Capital Advisors.


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