South Island companies leading the way

By Ben Chapman-Smith

South Island's listed companies have outperformed the NZX 50 in the past year. Photo / File
South Island's listed companies have outperformed the NZX 50 in the past year. Photo / File

South Island companies listed on the New Zealand stock exchange have rounded out a record-breaking year by posting gains for the fourth straight quarter, according to Deloitte.

The announcement comes on the same day as another South Island company, Canterbury-based milk processor Synlait Milk, made an impressive debut on the NZX.

Deloitte's latest South Island Index - which tracks the performance of 31 listed companies based in the South Island - lifted by $388 million or 6.9 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

That represented growth for the fourth successive quarter and collective gains of $2.16 billion or 47.1 per cent in market capitalisation in the year to June 30.

It means listed South Island companies have outperformed the NZX 50 and the Dow Jones, which posted 30.6 per cent and 15.8 per cent growth in the year, respectively.

In past 12 months, Moa, SLI Systems and Ebos Group have all made their entries onto the stock exchange.

Deloitte's partner Paul Munro said South Island listed companies had "bucked the traditional seasonal winter slowdown period", taking the index to its highest point since starting in 2008.

Munro said the South Island was leading the way in steering the country out of tough economic times.

"The resilience that South Island companies have shown over recent years, in adverse economic conditions, is remarkable," he said.

"That strength underpins the performance over the past 12 months across a number of sectors resulting in investors scrambling for shares in established companies like Ryman Healthcare, Kathmandu and Skyline Enterprises."

Twenty-one of the 31 companies grew during the year, led by Ryman Healthcare with a $1,455 million, or 84.1 per cent, increase in market capitalisation.

Ebos Group held the second ranked position on the index, gaining $232.7 million (58.7 per cent) and Kathmandu grew by $252.5 million (99.4 per cent).

The biggest fall came from mining company Bathurst Resources - down $263.9 million (74.4 per cent) in the year - which is locked in litigation over its plans to mine the West Coast's Denniston Plateau.

Other companies to suffer in the year were Silver Fern Farms and NZ Windfarms, which fell $35.1 million and $23.9 million respectively.

Of the various sectors, energy and mining was the only one to lose market capitalisation and bio-technology had the best performance. Munro said the sector's growth was largely due to the more than 200 per cent gain by Pacific Edge.

No other major index had achieved the same results as the Deloitte South Island Index since its inception, Munro said.

"The investments in the Christchurch rebuild and the resilience of the South Island's primary sector continue to underpin the performance of the wider South Island economy, creating a solid platform for continued growth," he said.

Munro predicted continued growth in the index as the rebuild "finally kicked off" and as the US followed through with its signalled end to quantitative easing measures.

Both Synlait Milk and Meridian Energy would add significant value to the index with their listings this year, he added.

Deloitte's annual review of the quarterly Index report was presented at a function in Christchurch today attended by Finance Minister Bill English and South Island business leaders.

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