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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall with Asia

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall with Asia on geopolitical concerns; Pushpay, Sky TV sink, Synlait gains

By Jonathan Underhill

April 12 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell, pushing the benchmark index to a week-low, as geopolitical tensions weighed on equities. Pushpay Holdings extended its slide to a 5-week low after its weak sales report. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Sky Network Television declined. Synlait Milk broke with its frequent running mate A2 Milk, chalking up the day's biggest gainer while A2 fell.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 49.50 points, or 0.6 percent, to 8,404.22. Within the index, 28 stocks fell, 16 gained, and six were unchanged. Turnover was $125 million.

Equity markets were generally lower across Asia, although the declines were moderate, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng down 0.2 percent in early afternoon trading. Escalating tensions in the Middle East, where US President Donald Trump has threatened a missile strike of the Syrian regime and a missile was reportedly shot down across Saudi Arabia, have driven up the price of crude oil and sapped risk appetite.

However, Hamilton Hindin Greene adviser James Smalley says the strength of the kiwi dollar is a better signal of whether investors fear the New Zealand economy is at threat from global forces, including a trade dispute between the US and China. "New Zealand is a bit of a bellwether, being an open trading economy," he said. "You would have thought there would be an impact on the currency." The kiwi traded recently at 73.58 US cents, having gained 2.9 percent in the past 3 weeks.

F&P Healthcare, which gets the biggest portion of its revenue in US dollars, fell 2.7 percent to $12.75.

"Some of these growth-related stocks have done pretty well," Smalley said. F&P Healthcare is one of the companies that will be posting March 31 results in the next month or so and there may be an element of "sell the fact ahead of the results". There had been concerns about risks when US President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 because F&P Healthcare manufactures in Mexico, he said.

Pushpay fell 4.8 percent to $3.94. The mobile app payments developer posted its first dip in quarterly revenue, with annualised committed monthly revenue down 19 percent in the March quarter. The market was probably disappointed with Pushpay's update, Smalley said.

Sky TV fell 1.7 percent to $2.33 and is down 16 percent this year. Smalley said the stock has had a precipitous fall on bad news including not being the preferred bidder for the Rugby World Cup but that the Cup was only a six-week show. Consensus was the shares were about fair value around current levels and had found a base.

Spark New Zealand rose 0.4 percent to $3.40. It is reportedly in the running for the World Cup rights in partnership with state-owned Television New Zealand.

Synlait gained 3.5 percent to $9.26. The stock has often traded in sympathy to A2, its infant formula partner but after falling this week some investors "have decided to use it as a buying opportunity." While there had been concern about Fonterra Cooperative Group separately partnering with A2, Synlait's medium to long-term outlook was still favourable, Smalley said.

New Zealand Oil & Gas dropped 3.2 percent after government announced plans to end new offshore oil and gas exploration permits to pursue its zero-carbon by 2050 goal. NZOG said it doesn’t have an immediate material impact, but it will look further afield for new opportunities.

The government said its next block offer will be limited to onshore permits in Taranaki, the centre of New Zealand’s oil and gas sector. New Plymouth-based logistics firm TIL Logistics was unchanged at $2.08.

New Zealand Refining, the country’s only refinery operator, rose 1.3 percent to $2.43, while transport fuels firm Z Energy declined 0.1 percent to $7.12. Genesis Energy, which owns 46 percent of the Kupe gas and oil field, was unchanged at $2.30.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund units slipped 0.2 percent to $5.74 after Fonterra Cooperative Group invested in a new production line at Hawke’s Bay food processor Apollo Foods. The new line will be capable of being used separately by both companies to produce dairy and fruit-based drinks.

Warehouse Group was unchanged at $2.02 after government data showed increased retail spending on credit and debit cards in March, led by greater consumption of grocery and liquor. Homeware and sporting goods chain Briscoe Group declined 0.6 percent to $3.53 and outdoor equipment retailer Kathmandu Holdings fell 0.8 percent to $2.58. Fast food chain Restaurant Brands New Zealand increased 0.1 percent to $7.19.

Michael Hill International gained 1.7 percent to $1.18 after the jewellery chain said its exit from the US will cost US$4.5 million to break leases and pay out redundancies. Separately, the retailer said rose 4.9 percent in the nine months ended March 31.

Contact Energy fell 0.8 percent to $5.28 after director Sue Sheldon said she will retire from the board at the end of August.

(BusinessDesk)

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