Restaurant Brands investors might be hoping the Auckland-based fast food operator is keeping an eye on the steps New York-listed Yum Brands is taking to turn around its Pizza Hut business in the United States.

In its fourth-quarter result, Yum said Pizza Hut's US stores increased revenue by 6 per cent as the business benefited from promotions including a US$10 ($12) for any pizza deal and special combination offers.

Pizza Hut has been one of the poorer performing parts of Restaurant Brands' business in this country, which also includes Starbucks and the jewel in its crown - KFC.

In its third-quarter result, released in December, the NZX-listed company posted a 16.8 per cent drop in total Pizza Hut sales to $2.2 million. Same store sales dropped by 1.6 per cent.


Restaurant Brands shares closed up 2c at $1.99 last night.


Combining an ageing population's increasingly sophisticated healthcare needs with an NZX-listed landlord which specialises in owning hospitals and medical centres appears to be working. Vital Healthcare Property Trust turned last year's $3.5 million half-year loss into a healthier $5.1 million gain.

Gross property income from rentals was the star patient, up 80 per cent at $24 million from last year's $13.5 million.

Vital has been given a shot in the arm from what chief executive David Carr attributed to strong underlying population growth, an ageing demographic and relatively stable industry trends. But he fretted about the transtasman divergence of health insurance trends.

"It is forecast that there will be a doubling of the over-65 age group population in the next 20 years in both countries with that age group estimated to use healthcare services at four times the rate of the rest of the population," Carr said yesterday. Vital, run by Canadians, owns Auckland's Ascot Central and Ascot Hospital at Greenlane as well as specialist properties in Melbourne.


A2 Corporation says it does not need to raise more capital as it looks to open up new markets. The NZAX-listed company more than trebled its profit in the six months ended December to $3.1 million and is planning to start selling its milk in Britain and Ireland around September.

The company owns and commercialises intellectual property, with its milk products coming from cows selected to produce the A2 beta-casein protein.

A joint venture has been established with British fresh milk firm Robert Wiseman Dairies and A2 managing director Geoffrey Babidge says a £100 million turnover target for the venture has been discussed in the modelling.

The firm is also looking at expanding into other markets in the not-too-distant future - code for the next year.

Discussions are progressing with parties in Europe and North America, while A2 is also working on developing an infant formula opportunity into Asia.

A2 had about $5.5 million net cash on hand at the end of December and at this stage does not need to raise any more money, Babidge says.

The market minnow looks like it's developing a healthy appetite. Shares have gained 16 per cent this week to close at 29c yesterday.


With January's big risers Mainfreight and Cavalier both taking a dip earlier this month, the league table for top performing stocks of the year to date suddenly has a very different look to it.

Retailer Pumpkin Patch tops the list with year-to-date returns of 23 per cent. That's followed by wood products company Tenon with a 17 per cent return. In third place is Herald publisher APN News & Media, returning 15.8 per cent since January.

While two months into the year is a little early to call a significant turnaround for any of them it is clear that investors have responded well to some big moves they have made this year.

In January, Pumpkin Patch announced it was closing its British stores, a move that will see it concentrate on the online business and save it $5 millon in cash and also eliminate up to $27 million in non-cash costs.

Tenon has purchased an Australian manufacturing business as it looks to expand outside the US market.

Investors have also been impressed by APN's partial sell-off of the Outdoor advertising business which will generate A$190 million in cash.