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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares up, Tourism Holdings hits record

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares up, Tourism Holdings hits record with Auckland Airport, Fletcher Building gaining

By Sophie Boot

Feb. 16 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rallied as Tourism Holdings hit a record and Auckland Airport gained on its first-half earnings.

The S&P/NZX50 Index rose 61.98 points, or 0.8 percent, to 8,125.31. Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 14 were unchanged and 13 fell. Turnover was $98 million.

Tourism Holdings led the index, up 6.5 percent to a record $6.09. It has formed a joint venture with Thor Industries, the world's largest manufacturer of the vehicles, to develop a single platform to connect a wide range of services in the growing market for RVs.

Auckland-based Tourism Holdings will contribute assets and cash worth an estimated US$46.9 million to the Cincinnati, Ohio-based TH2connect LLC joint venture, while Elkhart, Indiana-based Thor will contribute US$47 million in cash. The business is expected to lose money in the first two years of operation as it focuses on growing customer numbers.

"Digitisation of some of their services was always seen as something of huge potential, but the fact they've brought in an expert and joint venture model is being applauded by the market," said Greg Easton, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.

Auckland Airport gained 2.8 percent to $6.46. The company, which is New Zealand's biggest listed company by market value, posted a 17 percent gain in first-half profit to $165.9 million and said its strong performance gave it the confidence to tighten the range of its full-year guidance for underlying earnings. Full-year underlying profit will be in a range of $250 million to $257 million, a narrower range than the $248 million-to-$257 million estimate it gave at the time of its 2017 results.

Fletcher Building rose 0.6 percent to $7. Today's gain means the stock has dropped 9.9 percent in the three sessions it has traded this week, after the company took a further $486 million provision for project losses at its B+I unit and said 14 of the unit's 73 projects, worth $2.3 billion, are loss-making or 'on watch'.

"It has fallen about equal to the scale of the losses being announced, which suggests the market had priced in absolutely no value for the building + interiors unit, it's just taken the losses at face value," Easton said. "The rest of the business had been pretty much fine. Perhaps not performing optimally, because of so much attention and energy being applied to B+I. Those distractions probably led to the other units floundering along in amazing conditions where they could have been absolutely smoking it."

Ebos Group was the worst performer, down 1.1 percent to $17.30, with Summerset Group falling 1.1 percent to $5.62 and Genesis Energy down 0.9 percent to $2.33.

Outside the benchmark index, Hallensteins Glassons jumped 10.5 percent to $4.75. Its first-half profit rose about 63 percent to between $14.75 million to $15.25 million on a strong rise in sales and improving gross margin. In December the company said it expected net profit to rise by more than 50 percent as it sold more clothing at full price and reduced its levels of promotions and discounts.

"Margins being up is really surprising, bucking the trend of traditional retailers," Easton said. "The new management and governance team are putting on a really confident face and delivering."

(BusinessDesk)

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