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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares up led by Comvita, Summerset

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares up led by Comvita, Summerset; A2 Milk drops

By Sophie Boot

June 13 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares gained to a new record, led higher by Comvita and Summerset Group Holdings, and offsetting the drag of a weaker A2 Milk.

The S&P/NZX50 Index rose 18.5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 8,977.31. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 19 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $134.8 million.

"Markets are pretty subdued across Asia but New Zealand is travelling pretty well considering that A2 makes up over 7 percent of our index," said Peter McIntyre, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "It's weaker in Australia and that's probably where we're getting our funds flow from this afternoon, it was quiet until lunchtime."

A2 Milk was the worst performer, down 2.4 percent to $11.50. The dual-listed banks also weakened, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group down 1.2 percent to $28.35 and Westpac Banking Corp falling 1.2 percent to $29.45.

"A2 has lost ground today and that's potentially profit taking although it's always been a volatile trading stock, it's really no surprise," McIntyre said. A2's share price has been turbulent over the past month since it gave an update with a less positive outlook than many investors had expected, dropping from $13.30 before the announcement to as low as $10.24 in late May, though it has been recovering lost ground since then.

Comvita led the index higher, rising 2.7 percent to $5.75. The stock's still down 15 percent since May 21, when it announced it had pulled out of talks with an unnamed third party looking to take it over when it couldn't reach a deal on price.

Summerset Group was up 2.3 percent to $7.50 and Trade Me Group advanced 2.1 percent to $4.90.

Spark New Zealand gained 1.6 percent to $3.805.

"It's a really strong day for Spark, volume-wise it's a good day as well. There has been a number of broker upgrades, it's a very good yielding stock and their growth plan - Quantum - you've seen a lot of analysts talking about the improvement that's going to make," McIntyre said. "Quite simply, it's more emphasis on exiting copper for fibre, product simplification to drive better customer experiences, and a lower-cost service. It's got a good dividend yield and attracts international investors too. Month-rolling it's up over 7 percent, it's performing very well."

Restaurant Brands New Zealand rose 0.5 percent to a record $8.01. It has signed another master franchise agreement with Yum! Brands for the continued operation of the Pizza Hut brand in New Zealand. The local firm will continue to run marketing and operations for the brand in New Zealand and will step into the position of franchisor to existing independent franchisees, and provide development support to new franchisees.

(BusinessDesk)

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