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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; Ebos climbs to record

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; Ebos climbs to record; FSF gains ahead of earnings

By Suze Metherell

Sept. 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose, with Ebos Group advancing to a record as investors sought defensive healthcare stocks. Fonterra Shareholders' Fund gained ahead of annual earnings.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 13.27 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5696.79. Within the index, 25 shares rose, 16 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $131 million.

Ebos climbed 2 percent to $11.78. The healthcare and animal care products company posted a 15 percent gain in annual profit to $105.9 million last month led by increased sales and an improved margin from its Australian healthcare businesses.

"Their financial result reported last month was extremely good and this is a continuation of investors buying that stock on the back of that result," Grant Williamson, director of Hamilton Hindin Greene said. "The healthcare sector is viewed as quite defensive, so probably quite appropriate after the recent volatility we've seen in the markets."

Orion Health Group, the healthcare management software developer, led the benchmark index higher up 6.8 percent to $3.60. Outside the benchmark index, bladder cancer test maker Pacific Edge gained 3.9 percent to 53 cents

Units of the Fonterra Fund, which give holders exposure to the Fonterra Cooperative Group's earnings, rose 0.6 percent to $5.20. The co-op is due to report annual earnings on Thursday. The global dairy price slumped through much of this year, prompting Fonterra to slash its forecast payout for the 2016 season to $3.85 per kilogram of milk solids, the lowest level in more than a decade.

"The last two auction prices have shown some positive signs there," Williamson said. "It'll be interesting to hear what they have to say and the dividend is what investors are interested in as well."

Outside the benchmark, Synlait Milk, which counts China's Bright Dairy & Food as its biggest shareholder, climbed 3.6 percent to $2.62. The milk processor posted a 46 percent drop in annual profit to $10.6 million as lactoferrin sales missed expectations and it kept milk payments high enough to ensure supply.

Williamson said management were "quite positive" for the company's outlook which had heartened investors. "The underlying result itself was disappointing but understandable in the environment they've just gone through," he said.

A2 Milk Co, the milk marketing company, rose 1.4 percent to 72 cents.

Z Energy gained 1.3 percent to $6.13. The petrol pump chain is in the middle of a takeover offer for its rival Caltex chain, with the Commerce Commission deliberating whether or not it will make the market less competitive.

Kathmandu Holdings, the outdoor goods retailer, gained 2.7 percent to $1.53.

Metro Performance Glass, the country's largest glass processor, was the worst performer on the benchmark down 1.4 percent to $1.38.


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