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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares inch higher

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares inch higher as investors eye upcoming AGMs

By Paul McBeth

Sept. 25 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares edged higher as investors wait for the upcoming round of annual meetings for a clearer steer on company outlooks.

The S&P/NZX 50 index increased 8.45 points, or 0.1 percent, to 9,345.96. Within the index, 22 stocks gained, 20 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $157.5 million.

Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said a number of companies held off providing earnings outlooks at their annual earnings, preferring instead to wait for the AGM.

"After a few months of trading under the bridge you should have a clear idea on providing some earnings guidance," he said.

Air New Zealand fell 1.6 percent to $3.07 ahead of tomorrow's annual meeting in Christchurch. The national carrier told customers over the weekend it plans to pare some international routes, blaming engine issues with some of its Dreamliner fleet among the challenges it's faced. Other annual meetings tomorrow include Turners Automotive Group, which gained 1.8 percent to $2.90, and NZ Windfarms, which was unchanged 12.3 cents.

Mercury NZ gained 1.5 percent to $3.365 ahead of its Friday AGM. Future Mobility Solutions was unchanged at 11.6 cents ahead of its meeting on the same day.

Orion Health Group also holds its annual meeting on Friday where shareholders will vote on whether to back a restructuring of the group into three distinct firms. The shares rose 5 percent to $1.06.

Williamson said the software developer has been "pretty badly managed" since it listed in 2014. Shareholders will probably lose value on the stock once the transaction is completed.

A2 Milk Co fell 0.3 percent to $11.80. The stock was added to the FTSE index last week, but the sale of shares by CEO Jayne Hrdlicka to cover a tax bill caused some dismay among investors. Williamson said the share sale showed poor judgement.

"It's not what investors wanted to see from the head of the company," he said.

Port of Tauranga led the benchmark index higher, rising 2.8 percent to $5.20, followed by Restaurant Brands New Zealand, up 1.9 percent to $7.70.

Sky Network Television fell 2.2 percent to $2.20, the biggest decline on the day, while Chorus slipped 1.8 percent to $4.76.

NZME fell 1.5 percent to 67 cents after the Court of Appeal upheld earlier rulings rejecting a planned merger with rival Stuff.

New Zealand Oil & Gas increased 0.9 percent to 58 cents after it started drilling an exploration well near New Plymouth. Contact Energy gained 1 percent to $5.88 after announcing former Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment chief David Smol will join its board next month.

Among blue chip stocks, Meridian Energy increased 1.2 percent to $3.37, Spark New Zealand advanced 0.5 percent to $4.02, Auckland International Airport gained 0.4 percent to $7.45, Mainfreight fell 0.4 percent to $29.82 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare declined 0.8 percent to $7.25. Fletcher Building was unchanged at $6.35.


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