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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall, MetroGlass sinks to record low

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall, MetroGlass sinks to record low, F&P Healthcare, Fletcher, A2 slide


By Jonathan Underhill

March 7 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell as Metro Performance Glass sank to a record low on speculation it may drop out of the S&P/NZX 50 Index. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Fletcher Building and a2 Milk were among decliners while Kathmandu and Z Energy rose.

The NZX 50 fell 43.32 points, or 0.5 percent, to 8,284.34. Within the index, 24 stocks declined, 17 rose and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $184 million.

MetroGlass dropped 2.5 percent to 79 cents, a record low close. They sold in the 2014 IPO for $1.70 a share, allowing private equity owners Crescent Capital and Anchorage Capital to reap about $230 million selling down their holdings. Like Fletcher and Steel & Tube, MetroGlass has grappled with capacity constraints in the construction industry, which has squeezed margins. In October it announced a strategic review after a series of guidance downgrades and chief executive Nigel Rigby stepped down in December. March quarter reweightings for the NZX 50 may be announced as soon as this week.

Investors "are speculating that MetroGlass will be taken out of the 50," said Rickey Ward, NZ equity manager at JBWere. "The market cap has come down and people are repositioning" ahead of the March quarter rebalance.

Fletcher dropped 1.8 percent to $6.49 although Ward said chief executive Ross Taylor "has been talking a very credible story" about trying to ringfence losses at the company's B+I unit while completing a strategic review of the whole group. Steel & Tube declined 0.5 percent to $2.08.

Ward said New Zealand shares also fell today in an environment "where people are a little bit more cautious." Global events including the uncertainty over Italy's elections were "weighing on risk appetite globally." The S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 1.1 percent today.

Investors in New Zealand shares were also digesting the latest earnings season, where a number of companies had retained their guidance but that had led to some analyst downgrades given "valuations have been confirmed to be a little bit stretched at the moment," Ward said.

A2 fell 1.5 percent to $12.56, having soared 58 percent this year. Ward said it has continued to drift after its "extreme run" and also on news that management had been selling shares. Synlait Milk decreased 0.1 percent to $7.49 and honey products exporter Comvita fell 1.3 percent to $7.40.

Westpac Banking Corp declined 2 percent to $31.95 and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group fell 1.9 percent to $30.13, reflecting the lenders' weaker stock across the Tasman.

F&P Healthcare fell 3.3 percent to $13.25 and Ryman Healthcare fell about 1 percent to $10.40. Kathmandu rose 2.7 percent to $2.28 and Z Energy rose 1.7 percent to $7.

Marsden Maritime Holdings was unchanged at $5.60 after chief executive Graham Wallace said he will leave the company at the end of this month.

(BusinessDesk)

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