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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise as Tourism Holdings upgraded

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise as Tourism Holdings upgraded; Spark sheds dividend rights

By Paul McBeth

Sept. 20 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares edged higher as Tourism Holdings snapped a seven-day slide on a broker upgrade. Spark New Zealand was among several companies shedding rights to dividends.

The S&P/NZX 50 increased 15.81 points, or 0.2 percent, to 9,360.87. Within the index, 22 stocks gained, 21 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $150.7 million.

Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said the index had teetered between negative and positive territory and largely ignored Wall Street's gain overnight.

"The Dow was quite firm, but it hasn't flowed through to Australia or New Zealand," he said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6 percent.

Tourism Holdings rose 4.1 percent to $5.30 after Forsyth Barr upgraded the stock to 'outperform', saying fears about valuation were overdone. The rental campervan operator had shed 11 percent in a seven-day decline that took the stock to a 10-month low. Forsyth Barr kept its target price at $6.

The power companies mostly gained after government data showed renewable energy generation was at a 37-year high in the June quarter. The Tiwai Point smelter, the country's biggest power user, is close to restarting its fourth potline after a six-year break, Meridian Energy said.

Genesis Energy rose 1.2 percent to $2.575, Meridian increased 1.2 percent to $3.40, Trustpower advanced 0.2 percent to $6.06 and Contact Energy gained 1 percent to $5.90. Mercury NZ was unchanged at $3.35.

Williamson said the energy companies remained in demand with their relatively high dividend yields.

Among the blue-chip stocks, A2 Milk Co rose 0.9 percent to $12.38, Mainfreight increased 0.3 percent to $29.90, Air New Zealand declined 0.2 percent to $3.17 and Fletcher Building decreased 1.4 percent to $6.23.

Spark fell 2.1 percent, or 8.5 cents, to $3.98, after shedding rights to dividends of 12.5 cents per share. Chorus declined 0.5 percent to $4.975. Williamson said both telecommunications stocks hit respective records yesterday and investors were taking some profit on recent gains.

Other stocks to go ex-dividend include Port of Tauranga, which fell 1.4 percent, or 7 cents to $5.08. It shed rights to an 11 cent dividend. Comvita gave up rights to a 2 cent dividend, but rose 2.8 percent, or 18 cents, to $6.65.

Restaurant Brands New Zealand gained 0.9 percent to $7.73 after reporting a 12 percent increase in second-quarter sales. Williamson said the fast food operator was showing good signs of same-store growth as well as benefitting from its international expansion.

Outside the benchmark index, Briscoe Group increased 0.9 percent to $3.53. The retailer increased first-half profit 2.7 percent and raised its interim dividend for an 11th straight year.

(BusinessDesk)

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