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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares dip

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares dip as SkyCity result continues steady reporting season

By Paul McBeth

Aug. 14 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares dipped as the local reporting season continued to meet expectations with SkyCity Entertainment Group posting a small increase in underlying earnings and signalling growth in the current year.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index decreased 5.01 points, or 0.05 percent, to 10,849.76. Within the index, 18 stocks fell, 25 rose, and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $137.6 million.

SkyCity decreased 1 percent to $3.97, with 570,000 shares changing hands, less than its 90-day average of 789,000. The casino operator reported a 1.9 percent lift in normalised earnings, which smooths out the impact of big wins by its high rollers. Those wealthy international players had a good year at the casino operator's expense, helping push down net profit 15 percent.

"It was okay - there were no major surprises in there and the guidance for next year was for some growth," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners.

"It's reasonable. It looks like the new financial year has started pretty well with most of the properties trading in line with expectations."

Fletcher Building fell 1.3 percent to $4.63 on a volume of 2.5 million shares, more than twice its 1 million average. SkyCity today said it has withheld $39.5 million of payments from Fletcher over the delayed construction of its downtown Auckland convention centre and hotel.

Precinct Properties New Zealand, which reports on Friday, rose 0.6 percent to $1.83 on a volume of 2.5 million, almost three times it 893,000 average. The commercial landlord also has a dispute with Fletcher over the construction of its Commercial Bay development in the Auckland CBD.

Lister said company results so far have been in line with expectations, but most firms will report in the coming two weeks. Of those that have reported so far, Contact Energy rose 0.7 percent to $8.38 on a bigger volume than usual of 2 million shares, Summerset Group increased 0.5 percent to $5.90 and NZX climbed 2.5 percent to $1.23, its highest close in almost five years.

Heartland Group Holdings advanced 1.3 percent to $1.62 ahead of its annual result tomorrow.

Infratil led the market lower, down 2.4 percent at $4.82 on a volume of 541,000 shares, down on its 733,000. Sky Network Television fell 2.4 percent to $1.22 and Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units dropped 2.2 percent to $3.53.

Spark New Zealand was the most traded stock on a volume of 4.3 million shares, more than its 3 million average. It rose 0.4 percent to $4.07. Of other companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Kiwi Property was unchanged at $1.64, Meridian Energy decreased 0.8 percent to $4.84 and Goodman Property Trust increased 0.2 percent to $2.14.

Gentrack posted the day's biggest gain, up 2.6 percent at $5.60 on a volume of 52,000 shares, about half its 90-day average. The stock was upgraded by a broker this week, and Lister said some investors may be seeing it as a better-valued growth option than the likes of Vista International Group - up 2.4 percent at $5.60 today - and ASX-listed Xero, which rose 1.1 percent to A$62.70 in late trading. Xero holds its annual meeting in Auckland tomorrow.

Property For Industry increased 1.1 percent to $2.30 after saying it finalised an agreement to buy a site in Mangere, Auckland for $34.2 million.

Outside the benchmark index, Colonial Motor Co was unchanged at $9.10 after reporting a 12 percent decline in annual profit, ending nine years of growth. The board declared a final dividend of 30 cents per share, taking the annual payment to 45 cents, down from 50 cents a year earlier.

PGG Wrightson fell 6.1 percent to $2.16 after yesterday reporting a decline in earnings from continuing operations on the lingering malaise in the rural sector.

The Local Government Agency's 2033 bond paying annual interest of 3.5 percent was the most traded debt security on a volume of 2 million. The notes closed at a yield of 1.99 percent, down 2 basis points.

Heartland Bank's 2024 bonds paying 3.55 percent traded on a volume of 1.3 million, closing at a yield of 2.64 percent, up 2 basis points. Chorus's 2021 bonds paying 4.12 percent traded on a volume of 1 million, closing at a yield of 2.1 percent, down 9 basis points. Chorus shares fell 0.5 percent to $5.57, a dividend yield of 3.95 percent.


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