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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain slightly

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain slightly, Tegel bounces while Air NZ drops on new competition

By Sophie Boot

Oct. 3 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares gained slightly in light trading, led by Tegel Group Holdings and Meridian Energy while Air New Zealand dropped.

The S&P/NZX50 Index rose 11.4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,372.49. Within the index, 27 stocks rose, 16 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $100.5 million.

Tegel Group Holdings was the best performer on the index, up 5.3 percent to $1.59. The poultry group, which was taken public by private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners in May this year, rose 9 percent in its NZX debut and traded as high as $1.78 in August, but dropped to $1.50 yesterday. Across the Tasman, Ingham Group, which is the largest chicken producer in Australia and the second-largest in New Zealand, is heading for an initial public offering and ASX listing.

"Obviously Inghams is looking to float on the Australian index, potentially some institutions are making some room on their books to take a bit of Inghams," Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said. "Over the past two weeks in particular, it came in for a bit of selling, possibly so institutional investors could take up on a new float."

Metro Performance Glass gained 3.7 percent to $2.22, Meridian Energy rose 3.1 percent to $2.68, and Westpac Banking Corp advanced 1.8 percent to $31.75.

Early in the day, the index had seen some profit taking, but the Australian index was strong leading the local index to claw back some losses, Williamson said.

"We have seen a bit of a turnaround particularly this afternoon. Fletcher Building and Air New Zealand are holding the index back a little bit today while the other blue chips are trading quite nicely, and the electricity stocks are mostly higher, particularly Meridian which has seen a little bit of a rebound this afternoon as investors are looking for stocks which have been sold off."

Air New Zealand was the worst performer, down 2.2 percent to $1.82. Hainan Airlines today became the latest international airline to announce a new route to New Zealand, with a service to Auckland from the Chinese city of Shenzhen. On Friday, Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon reiterated his warning to shareholders that increased competition would lead to a fall in revenue in the current financial year.

Auckland International Airport was unchanged at $7.35, and has gained 28 percent this year, benefiting from the increased competition, while the national carrier has declined 30 percent, contending with a recovering oil price as well as new competitors.

Fletcher Building fell 1.4 percent to $10.58, NZX dropped 0.9 percent to $1.05, and Scales Corp dropped 0.9 percent to $3.20.

Outside the main index, ERoad fell 8.6 percent to $1.70. The logistics and fleet management software and hardware developer said its first-half sales were overall in line with its expectations, though its US growth market numbers disappointed. ERoad said it will give more details at its first-half results launch in November, and will begin providing total contracted unit data quarterly to keep investors updated.

SLI Systems dropped 8 percent to 46 cents, a record low. Investors remain cool on the prospects for companies chasing rapid growth in foreign markets. The shares have slumped 44 percent since the e-commerce software seller reported a narrower annual loss in August as it overhauled its business in the wake of losing three major customers.

Hellaby Holdings was unchanged at $3.32. The company has appointed independent adviser Grant Samuel to prepare a report to shareholders on what the board says is an "opportunistic" takeover bid that doesn't represent fair value. Victoria-based company Bapcor is offering $3.30 a share, entering into lock-up agreements with Salt Funds Management, Accident Compensation Corp, and Hugh Green Holdings’ Castle Investments, securing almost 30 percent of the NZX-listed firm.


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