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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as investors remain wary of Sky

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as investors remain wary of Sky TV

By Paul McBeth

July 26 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell, led lower by Sky Network Television, as investors remain wary of the pay-TV operator's plans to get into online streaming. A2 Milk's sheen also came off in a regional sell-off.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 90.67 points, or 0.8 percent, to 10,807.61. Within the index, 36 stocks fell, eight rose, and six were unchanged. Turnover was $101.9 million, with just three companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares.

Sky TV led the market lower, down 3.2 percent at $1.22 on a volume of 681,000 shares, in line with its 90-day 670,000 average. Chief executive Martin Stewart yesterday unveiled plans to use premium sports rights to attract and retain customers with new sports channels and a dedicated sport streaming service. Broking house Jarden has set an 'outperform' rating on the stock and a target price of $1.74.

"The move into streaming was a strong one by the new CEO but the market doesn't agree," said Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets. "It is turning around a little bit for them."

Spark New Zealand, which is going head-to-head with Sky in premium sports content, fell 0.8 percent to $3.89 on a volume of 2.8 million shares. It was the most active stock, but was still short of its 3.2 million average.

Fletcher Building rose 1.8 percent to $5 with 2.2 million shares changing hands, more than twice its 958,000 average. SkyCity Entertainment Group declined 0.5 percent to $3.96 on a volume of 1.3 million.

A2 Milk fell 1.4 percent to $17.23, having hit an all-time earlier this week in the wake of upbeat port cargo data and several broker upgrades. The country's biggest listed company is one of the more volatile on the exchange, and often follows wider regional moves. Stock markets across Asia were down in late trading as weaker global manufacturing indicators and ongoing geopolitical tensions weigh on investors.

Smith said A2 remains the "glamour stock" on the local market, shrugging off concerns about tighter Chinese regulation of informal Daigou sales channels, although next month's earnings will be closely watched.

Utilities, infrastructure and property stocks have been a favourite in recent weeks among investors who have sought out reliable dividends in a low interest rate environment. Some of those yield plays were weaker today, with Auckland International Airport down 2.2 percent at $9.39, Investore Property falling 2.1 percent to $1.86, Chorus declining 2 percent to $5.40 and Genesis Energy down 1.4 percent at $3.46.

Contact Energy increased 0.4 percent to $7.98 after releasing its June operating statistics, which Smith said were fairly solid.

Skellerup Holdings posted the day's biggest gain, up 2.1 percent at $2.9 on a volume of 117,000 shares, less than its 160,000 average.

Outside the benchmark index, Metro Performance Glass dropped 5.1 percent to 37 cents after providing subdued earnings guidance and saying it plans to cut debt at a faster rate.

"Investors are getting a bit restless with the company's efforts to turn things around," Smith said.

Blis Technologies jumped almost 14 percent to 4.2 cents after it told shareholders a strong first quarter underpinned expectations for it to remain profitable this year.

Warehouse Group rose for a second day, up 3.6 percent at $2.29, its highest close since March 2017, after it yesterday raised earnings guidance.

Infratil's 2022 infrastructure bonds paying annual interest of 6.85 percent were the most traded debt security on a volume of 727,000. The notes closed at a yield of 3.25 percent, up 9 basis points. Infratil shares fell 1.3 percent to $4.63.

(BusinessDesk)

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