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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise on Summerset upgrade

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise on Summerset upgrade; Synlait gains while Argosy, Strike shed dividends

By Paul McBeth

March 13 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose, bucking a selloff in most stock markets across Asia, as an analyst upgrade for Summerset Group pushed the retirement village operator to a record high. Synlait Milk gained, while Stride Property and Argosy Property fell after shedding dividend rights.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 9.15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 8,473.14. Within the index, 20 stocks gained, 23 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $124 million.

Summerset led the benchmark index higher, rising as high as $6.90 and closing up 5.6 percent to $6.80. First NZ Capital analyst Arie Dekker upgraded the stock to 'outperform' from 'neutral' and raised the target price to $7.37 on the strength of the retirement village operator's development capability. Summerset's annual earnings impressed investors, and the stock has climbed 23 percent so far this year.

The upgrade "flowed through to the market pretty quickly on the back of a pretty good result," said Grant Davies, an investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "It's a pretty low volume day and the market is being dragged along by a couple of reasonable performers."

Synlait increased 4.9 percent to $7.90, extending gains since it announced the construction of a new plant in Waikato's Pokeno, which diversifies the milk processor's supply base and will help meet growing customer demand.

A2 Milk, the country's biggest listed company, rose 0.5 percent to $13.96, while Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units gained 0.2 percent to $6.

Davies said a2 had been a major driver of the NZX 50's gains over the past year, with the stock soaring 73 percent so far this year and 279 percent in 2017.

Pushpay Holdings, rose 2.7 percent to $4.21 and SkyCity Entertainment Group advanced 1.2 percent to $4.07.

Stride Property posted the biggest decline, falling 2.3 percent, or 4 cents, to $1.68 after shedding rights to a 2.07 cents per share dividend. Argosy Property fell 1.9 percent, or 2 cents, to $1.015, after shedding rights to a 1.55 cents dividend.

Among companies shedding rights to dividend payments tomorrow, Investore Property gained 1.4 percent to $1.41, Sky Network Television dropped 1.8 percent to $2.24, New Zealand Refining was unchanged at $2.46, Metlifecare gained 0.2 percent to $5.85 and Vital Healthcare Property Trust was unchanged at $2.13.

Meridian Energy fell 0.4 percent to $2.845 after reporting increased hydro storage after ex-cyclones filled its South Island lakes after a protracted dry spell.

Heartland Bank declined 2.2 percent to $1.77.

Spark New Zealand gained 0.6 percent to $3.63, Fletcher Building slipped 0.3 percent to $6.35, Air New Zealand increased 0.2 percent to $3.28 and Auckland International Airport fell 0.7 percent to $6.26.

Outside the benchmark index, Smartpay jumped 29 percent to 22 cents after the payments system firm signed a deal with Alibaba for 25,000 merchants using its terminals to use the Alipay platform.

Trilogy International fell 1.8 percent to $2.77 ahead of tomorrow's special meeting where investors will decide on whether to accept a $211 million, or $2.90 a share, takeover offer from China's Citic Capital Partners. Cornerstone Trilogy shareholder Business Bakery today said it will pay for some of Citic's transaction costs.

(BusinessDesk)

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