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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, led by Summerset

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, led by Summerset, Metlifecare, Comvita falls after flagging poor season

By Jonathan Underhill

Feb. 23 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose as Summerset Group beat its full-year guidance and revealed a big uplift in net tangible assets, stoking optimism Metlifecare will show a similar improvement when it reports next week. Comvita fell saying it expected a below-average honey season for 2018.

The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 34.84 points, or 0.4 percent, to 8,301.72. Within the index, 24 stocks gained, 17 fell, and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $171 million.

This reporting season is about half-way through and dominated sentiment today. James Lindsay, a senior portfolio manager at Nikko Asset Management, said the reporting season to date had produced "some pretty reasonable numbers" suggesting NZ Inc was in good heart.

Summerset rose 4.3 percent to $6.06 after posting a 44 percent gain in full-year earnings, ahead of guidance, while net tangible assets jumped 39 percent. Metlifecare, which reports its results on Feb. 16, rose 2.5 percent to $6.25.

Summerset "was quite an impressive result," said Lindsay. The market was speculating that "such a substantial uplift (in NTA)" for Summerset may be a signal for the whole sector.

Ryman Healthcare rose 0.8 percent to $10.68.

Comvita fell 2.7 percent to $8.15. The honey products company said today that it had a "positive start to 2018 honey season but a poor finish." Its expectation was for "a lower than average season" with a final assessment in April/May. It returned to profit in the first half at $3.7 million and reiterated its full-year forecast despite bad weather. A2 Milk, which has soared this week, fell 1.9 percent to $12.65.

Port of Tauranga rose 1.8 percent to $5.08 after raising its full-year earnings guidance on a 13 percent gain in first-half profit. Growth was across the board with an upswing of some feedstocks a feature of a jump in imports, while logs made the biggest gains among exports.

Lindsay says the port company is trading at about 39 times forward earnings, based on consensus forecasts which implied a much sturdier rate of earnings growth than it achieved in the first half. Still, the company had completed major capital investment in recent years and was now "ex-capex", he said. "It's winding down to more moderate capex and that's a much better position to be in."

Among other companies, NZX fell 1.9 percent to $1.06. SkyCity Entertainment Group gained 3.4 percent to $4 on solid volumes. Scales Corp rose 2.7 percent to $4.57 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare gained 2.7 percent to $13.30.

Delegat Group rose 2.4 percent to $7.80 after New Zealand’s largest listed winemaker lifted operating profit 9 percent in the first half due to the favourable impact of foreign exchange rate changes and increased in-market pricing and the company is upbeat about the full year.

Steel & Tube rose 0.5 percent to $2.07. The steel building products company posted a 64 percent decline in first-half profit after writing down the value of inventory and bore the cost of restructuring the business, which it anticipates will lead to improved earnings over the next two years.

Pyne Gould Corp was unchanged at 26.5 cents after reporting that it more than tripled first-half profit as the investment firm settled litigation with Australian businessman John Grills' Wilaci unit, offsetting an operating loss on smaller investment gains and skinnier land development margins.


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