Money Editor for NZ Herald

Stock Takes: Cyprus scare

New Zealand can't be too complacent about the woes of Cyprus, warns one analyst. Photo / AP
New Zealand can't be too complacent about the woes of Cyprus, warns one analyst. Photo / AP

The situation in Cyprus has been a blunt reminder that the world is still working through debt problems which could lead to more global market wobbles.

While the island's economy is tiny, there are concerns the bailout deal could set a precedent.

European markets soared after the bailout agreement, then stumbled when Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the euro area group of finance ministers, suggested the Cyprus deal offered a template for resolving the debt crisis - and then quickly recanted.

Craigs Investment Partners' Mark Lister said the backtrack gave a worrying indication of the thinking behind the bailout and reeks of dysfunction.

"It is a stark reminder that while everything had gone quiet, that Europe is an absolute basket case. They haven't fixed the problems. It's a timely reminder we can't be too complacent."

While the bailout has done little to dent New Zealand's soaring sharemarket, if the same action was taken in Spain or Italy it could create havoc and put a major dent in confidence, Lister said.

"We are insulated as much as you can be. But if this goes sideways New Zealand would not be immune to the side-effects of hits on global confidence."

The Government will surely be watching the European situation closely, hoping nothing big blows up and unsettles investors before the SOE floats.

News vacuum

It looks like the 440,000 people who pre-registered to buy Mighty River Power shares will have a bit of a wait before they get any more information.

The Government is sticking to its timeline of mid-April for the investment statement to become available. The release date is expected to be announced on Tuesday, when the Cabinet meets.

The statement will be available online only once it goes to the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) for approval in mid-April, but given that it's likely to be 100 pages-plus, it won't be easily digestible in a digital form.

The Government is hoping it will only take a week for the FMA's tick of approval, but legally the regulator has up to two weeks to go through the document before it can be printed and posted.

The proposed share bonus scheme is likely to be announced the same day the investment document becomes available, to prevent it being perceived as talking up the offer and breaching securities law.

Me next

Meridian Energy boss Mark Binns made his desire to be the next state-owned enterprise to list very clear at an investor day held by broker Craigs Investment Partners last Thursday.

Stock Takes hears Binns told attendees the company was "ready to go" and that it made sense for Meridian to go next because it is the biggest of the SOEs for partial sale.

One person who attended said people either really liked Binns' direct approach or felt he was being arrogant and were put off buying shares in the company under his management.

In January the Government valued Meridian at $6.58 billion, making the value of its partial float about $3.2 billion.

A second SOE float is expected in September or October.

Ryman rally

Retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare has rallied in recent days, shooting up 21c since Monday to close yesterday at an all time high of $5.01.

There hasn't been any news out of the company but several recent broker reports include strong valuations. Forsyth Barr's Jeremy Simpson has a "buy" recommendation on the stock with a target price of $5.55, while Stock Takes hears that First NZ also rates it a "buy", with a valuation of $5.85.

But not all are convinced: Morningstar's Nachi Moghe is reviewing his position and said he would value Ryman at $4.50 and retain a "reduce" recommendation.

Moghe said the valuation was based on 17 times future earnings before interest and tax - already higher than the historic average for Ryman. "It's a good company but at the end of the day something could go wrong."

Tower takeover

All eyes are on the shakeout from Fisher Funds' takeover of Tower's investment business. The $79 million deal is due to be settled on Tuesday.

Stock Takes this week heard chatter that Tower investment boss Sam Stubbs is on a three-month contract and will then depart.

But Carmel Fisher said that was not so, and no decisions have been made. "We haven't really made much more progress. We haven't had any access to staff yet."

One industry source said the expectation was that Tower's business would be converted to Fisher Funds' investment style, so some of Tower's equities team would be let go. Combined, the two teams would total about 21 people, making one of the largest investment teams in the country, if not the biggest.

Perhaps some Tower people will pop up at the NZ Superannuation Fund, which is looking for New Zealand equity analysts?

Super fund stalwart Tim Mitchell moved into managing the fund's new active equity strategy last month. A replacement for his previous role as GM corporate strategy has already been found and is to start after Easter.

- NZ Herald

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Money Editor for NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor. A business journalist for ten years, she has worked in the UK and NZ for the New Zealand Herald, the National Business Review and a specialist publication on investment products for financial advisors. She is passionate about helping readers learn more about to make their money work for them.

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