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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed; Xero, retirement stocks slip

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed; Xero, retirement stocks slip while Sky TV, F&P Health gain

By Sophie Boot

Dec. 12 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares were mixed, as Xero dropped ahead of its departure from the benchmark index and Metlifecare led retirement stocks lower, while Sky Network Television and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose.

The S&P/NZX50 Index edged up 3.3 points, or 0.04 percent, to 8,280.81. Within the index, 27 stocks fell, 17 rose and six were unchanged. Turnover was $155.7 million.

Retirement village stocks dropped, with Metlifecare the worst performer on the NZX50, down 2.5 percent to $5.95, while Summerset Group Holdings dropped 1 percent to $5.15. Ryman Healthcare fell 0.5 percent to $10.30, having bought land for a new site in Wellington. Real Estate Institute residential housing figures are due tomorrow.

"Despite relatively soft housing market sales and price data over the past several months, the retirement sector has been pretty strong," said Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management. "There's no new information out there, but today they're just having a bit of a breather."

Xero was the second-worst performer, dropping 1.7 percent to $29.80. It's up 73 percent this year but down 11 percent since Nov. 9, when it announced its plans to delist from the NZX in favour of a sole listing on the ASX.

"It's continuing weakness in the lead-up to exiting the index this Friday, there's some possibility it may be removed from other global indices as well," Goodson said. "It's just fascinating, the company itself appeared to have very little understanding of the index implications of their move and of their investor base. The whole thing is rather disappointing for their soon to be formerly loyal New Zealand shareholders."

Pushpay Holdings, which is set to replace Xero on the benchmark index, rose 3.1 percent to $3.68.

"It's a feature of markets at the moment - fundamentals still rule, but in between times inclusions and exclusions are something people keep an eye on because of the impact it does have," Goodson said.

The best performer on the benchmark index today was Sky TV, up 3.5 percent to $2.66. Skycity Entertainment Group rose 2.3 percent to $4.02 and Metro Performance Glass gained 2.1 percent to 97 cents.

F&P Healthcare rose 0.5 percent to $13.59. The company has extended its patent fight with ResMed to Australia, seeking damages and injunctions to halt sales of its rival's products that it says infringed four patents. Last month, F&P Healthcare won a patent case against ResMed in the UK in the ongoing intellectual property dispute for its face and nasal masks across various jurisdictions.

"It's very hard to discern the rights or wrongs of the case, but the key element is legal costs of patent enforcement and will be a permanent feature of the company line going forward," Goodson said. "Perhaps that wasn't really thought about in detail several years ago."

Outside the benchmark index, ERoad is in a trading halt at $3.30 as it looks to raise at least $18 million through a placement and a share purchase plan to fund an upgrade of its back-end systems amid a push into North America


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