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CORRECT2: NZX doubles first-half profit on listings, trading

CORRECT2: NZX doubles first-half profit as listings, trading make up for drought-impact on Agri

(Corrects markets revenue in seventh paragraph to $11.6 million, updates shares)

Aug. 19 (BusinessDesk) - NZX, the market operator, doubled first-half profit as it benefited from new listings, a surge in trading activity and fees for running market operations, more than making up for a drought-impacted NZX Agri division.

Profit rose to $6.4 million, or 2.51 cents a share, in the six months ended June 30, from $3.2 million, or 1.27 cents, a year earlier, the Wellington-based company said in a statement. Sales rose 14.3 percent to $30.3 million. Profit was just below First NZ Capital's estimate of $6.7 million.

NZX has benefited from a revival in companies company to market, topped in the first half by the government's sell-down of MightyRiverPower and including SLI Systems, the reverse listing of Mad Butcher and compliance listing of Snakk Media.

That's continued in the second half with Synlait Milk and Wynyard Group, Z Energy's listing today and the potential listing of Meridian Energy in the fourth quarter. NZX said today that the listing of a $1 billion sized company would generate annual revenue of about $150,000.

"Capital markets activity in New Zealand was the strongest it has been in a decade," said chief executive Tim Bennett. "Trading activity has seen a strong start with year-to-date volume and value up 19 percent and 51 percent respectively, with growth expected to continue, although at a lower rate."

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The biggest revenue contribution came from market operations, which includes fees to run the Fonterra Shareholders' Market and Electricity Authority market operations. Sales jumped 49 percent to $8.6 million. Securities clearing rose 29 percent to $2.2 million, contributing to total sales for its infrastructure division of $8.6 million, up 43 percent from a year earlier.

The markets division posted a 20 percent gain in sales to $11.6 million, driven by a 37 percent jump in listing fees to $5.6 million. Securities trading sales climbed 33 percent to $2 million. Revenue from commodities trading fell 33 percent to $800,000.

Sales of securities information, which includes data vendor licenses, royalties on data terminals and subscription products, fell 4.3 percent to $4.4 million and Agri information sales fell 8.1 percent to $5.7 million.

NZX's wage bill rose 11 percent to $9.8 million, reflecting a lift in workers to 182 from 140 a year earlier, and contributing the biggest share of a 7.7 percent increase in overall expenses to $18.2 million, the company said.

Sales at Agri Publishing fell about 10 percent to $3.88 million as the drought eroded advertiser confidence and trimmed subscriptions. Sales of Agri Data were little changed at $1.82 million.

The company said Agri information sales are expected to rebound following the end of drought and forward advertising booking has improved though the sector remains cautious and revenue is forecast to be flat in the full-year compared to 2012.

The second half will benefit from an increase in listing fees effective July 1.

Trading activity was strong in the first half, with volumes up 18 percent and value up 56 percent. NZX said growth would continue in the second half though "at a lower run rate." Electricity Authority market development work generated $1.3 million in revenue in the first half and would continue "at a much reduced level" in the second half.

NZX shares rose 0.7 percent to $1.40 and have gained 15 percent this year. The company will pay a second-quarter dividend of 1.25 cents a share on Sept. 13, with a record date of Sept. 2


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