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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; F&P Healthcare jumps

MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; F&P Healthcare jumps on modest earnings upgrade

By Paul McBeth

Aug. 28 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose, led higher by Fisher & Paykel Healthcare on a modest increase in forecast earnings. Port of Tauranga rose as record cargo volumes underpinned its profit gain.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 113.01 points, or 1.1 percent, to 10,626.17. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 23 fell, and three were unchanged. Turnover was $120.7 million.

Salt Funds Management managing director Matt Goodson said a number of blue-chip stocks bounced back today from yesterday's MSCI index reweighting which had "more downs than ups" and was out of step with recent reweightings.

"Part of today's strength is a bit of a rebound from some of that," he said.

F&P Healthcare led the market higher, up 6.1 percent at $16.07 on a volume of 679,000 shares, compared to its 90-day average of 517,000. The breathing mask respirator maker increased its annual earnings forecast by $5 million to $245-$255 million on the assumption of a weaker kiwi dollar.

"It's a surprisingly strong reaction to a fairly modest and somewhat one-off upgrade, but the stock was part the weakness with the MSCI changes yesterday," Goodson said.

Meridian Energy, the country's biggest listed company, climbed 4.8 percent to $5.03 on a volume of 1.6 million shares, while Auckland International Airport - the NZX's second-largest stock - rose 4.2 percent to $9.59.

Port of Tauranga was up 2.1 percent at $6.25 after reporting a 6.7 percent increase in annual profit on record cargo volumes. It warned log volumes will be weaker in the year ahead but said it will continue to pay special dividends having completed its major capital spending programme in 2016.

Scales Corp decreased 0.7 percent to $4.50 after reaffirming annual guidance. It reported a record first-half profit due to one-off gains on asset sales but said sales were stronger across all divisions in the period.

Genesis Energy fell 1 percent to $4.30 after reporting a 16 percent increase in underlying earnings. The electricity company's stronger retail earnings offset a flat performance from the generation arm and weaker oil production from its interest in the Kupe field.

Goodson said the result was in line with expectations but that the guidance was "a touch weaker" than what analysts had predicted.

The domestic earnings season is coming to a close at the end of the week. Goodson said it's largely met expectations, with domestic-focused companies exposed to the economic cycle such as Fletcher Building and Freightways reporting flat results. Freightways rose 0.8 percent to $8.01.

Fletcher posted the day's biggest decline, down 2.7 percent, or 12 cents, at $4.32. However, it shed rights to a 15 cent dividend. Some 2.8 million shares changed hands, more than twice its 1.2 million average. Contact Energy fell 2.4 percent, or 20 cents, to $8.28 after shedding rights to a 23 cent dividend.

A2 Milk dropped 2.2 percent to $14.11. ASX-listed rival Bellamy's Australia reported weaker sales and earnings for the 2019 financial year, which Goodson said weighed on investor sentiment for A2.

Sky Network Television was the most traded stock on a volume of 7.9 million shares, more than 13 times its 90-day average of 588,000. The stock fell to a record low $1.08 and closed at $1.13, down 0.9 percent. Refinitiv data show three major trades at the close of trade - 3.6 million, 1 million and 1.1 million shares - at $1.13 a share.

Spark New Zealand decreased 0.3 percent to $4.38 on a volume of 2.5 million shares, and Air New Zealand was up 0.4 percent on a volume of 2.5 million. Chorus increased 0.2 percent to $5.03 with 1.8 million shares changing hands.

Outside the benchmark index, Allied Farmers was unchanged at 68 cents after reporting a decline in annual earnings of about 10 percent as the rural economy was hit by declining confidence and the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak and response.

NZ Windfarms rose 2.1 percent to 14.9 cents after returning to profit and declaring a first-quarter dividend.

Tower rose 1.4 percent to 74 cents on an unusually large volume of 3.5 million shares, its biggest day since March 15.

Insurance Australia Group's 2043 notes paying annual interest of 5.15 percent were the most traded debt security on a volume of 340,000. The notes rose 9 percent to $1.07 per $1 face value.


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