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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed, weighed by A2 Milk

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed, weighed by A2 Milk, Tourism Holdings

By Rebecca Howard

Aug. 1 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares were mixed, weighed by some profit-taking in the A2 Milk company and a slide in Tourism Holdings.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 3.07 points, or 0.03 percent, to 10,860.82. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 19 rose and eight were unchanged. Turnover was moderate at $90.1 million with only a handful of stocks trading on more than a million shares.

A2 Milk shed fell 1.9 percent to $17.67 on volume of 555,000 compared to its 90-day average of 706,000 and Forsyth Barr broker Suzanne Kinnaird said it was likely on some profit-taking as the stock has had a strong run of late. Year to date, A2 Milk is up about 61 percent.

Heartland Group was the biggest decliner in the index, down 2.4 percent at $1.60. Volume of 380,700 shares was a little higher than average.

Tourism Holdings fell almost 2 percent to $4.02 on a volume of 65,770 shares, less than half its usual volume. The stock is still trading at a premium to the $3.88 paid in a shortfall bookbuild last month on the remaining shares not sold in a rights offer at $3.40 a piece.

Spark New Zealand fell 0.3 percent to $3.97 and continued to be one of the more heavily traded stock on the day. Just over 2 million shares changed hands, against its 3.1 million three-month average. Sentiment may have been weighed by news that Vodafone New Zealand, owned by Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management, will be ahead of the pack as it plans to switch on a 5G network in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown in December.

Spark has been pushing for access to the 5G spectrum in order to have a network up and running by July next year.

In the other direction, Z Energy lifted 0.3 percent to $6.51. Earlier it said it will use the strength of its two brands and its increasing data capability to better target different customer segments and counter the threat from new outlets being built by smaller competitors.

Electricity companies also fared well on the day. Mercury NZ led the market higher, up 4 percent at $4.75 on about a third of its usual volume. Meridian Energy rose 2.7 percent to $4.83.

“I would attribute that to the on-going yield focus for investors,” said Kinnaird. She noted yield becomes more critical in a low interest rate environment.

Earlier today the US Federal Reserve cut rates by 25 basis points, as expected, for the first time in a decade, upping the ante on the Reserve Bank to cut rates next week. Economists are widely expecting the RBNZ to cut rates by 25 basis points to 1.25 percent.

“I do think that when you see rates being cut, it doesn’t actually send a great signal about the economy,” she said.

Among infrastructure companies, Auckland Airport lifted 2 percent to $9.495, while Infratil rose 0.5 percent to $4.675.

The Warehouse Group rose 0.9 percent to $2.29. Earlier the company announced the launch of its new e-commerce venture TheMarket as it looks to tap into growing online spending.

Goodman Property Trust added 1.2 percent to $2.075 on volume of 1.67 million shares, while Augusta Capital added 0.7 percent to $1.49.

Earlier, Augusta told its annual shareholders’ meeting it wants to increase assets under management to $3 billion by its 2022 financial year while J arden analyst Owen Batchelor said the value of New Zealand’s listed property stocks has risen 60 percent on average since they bottomed in 2012 and they are now trading about 18 percent above their net tangible asset backing.

That suggests the market expects the value of their properties to rise further, he said.

Pacific Edge was unchanged at 21 cents after it said it may achieve the key third element for reimbursement by private and public US health insurers for its Cxbladder cancer diagnostic tests within a year.

Kinnaird said investors will now be looking ahead to the upcoming earnings season.

“The market is now waiting for those reports to come through,” she said.

(BusinessDesk)

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