Tamsyn Parker 's Opinion

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Stock Takes: Global recognition for NZ IPOs

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Kathmandu's share price has more than doubled in the past year. Photo / Natalie Slade
Kathmandu's share price has more than doubled in the past year. Photo / Natalie Slade

GLOBAL RECOGNITION

So we couldn't take the Auld Mug off the Yanks but at least our sharemarket is getting recognition for punching above its weight.

New Zealand's raft of initial public offers has been noted by the Wall Street Journal.

According to data provided by Dealogic to the Journal New Zealand is in sixth place among the Asia-Pacific region's top IPO markets behind Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Thailand, and is 14th worldwide so far this year based on the amount of money raised.

Those figures don't include the soon-to-be-listed Meridian Energy which will be New Zealand's largest sharemarket float.

Meridian could potentially raise up to $2.3 billion, nearly doubling the $2.78 billion already raised this year.

MERIDIAN MISTAKE?

Activist fund manager Brian Gaynor reckons the Government has made a mistake in putting a retail cap on Meridian Energy's shares which could result in the Government getting less money for the asset.

Retail investors who buy into the float will pay a maximum of $1.60 a share but Gaynor says setting that target will mean institutional investors are unlikely to want to pay more for the shares.

The Government has given an indicative range of $1.50 to $1.80 but institutions may bid higher or lower than that range.

Gaynor said institutional investors did not like the idea of paying more for something than someone else. He reckons retail investors should have been promised a discount to whatever price was set in the institutional bookbuild to ensure they got a good deal.

It's hard to please everyone as retail investors criticised the Mighty River float because they didn't have any price certainty until after the institutional bookbuild.

If Gaynor's prediction is followed through the float may raise just $2 billion instead of its potential $2.3 billion maximum.

While investors might be left happy it's not such good news for the taxpayer.

MIGHTY REBOUND

Shares in Mighty River Power have rebounded in the last week indicating the power company could be past its low point.

Mighty River hit $2.17 Wednesday a week ago - just two days after the Government confirmed the timetable and dates for the sharemarket listing of Meridian Energy.

Since then it has risen to $2.25, touching the bottom of the range specified in documents for its initial public offer, although still a way off its $2.50 issue price.

The stock also appears to have won over analysts.

According to Bloomberg five analysts now have a buy rating on the stock and three have hold recommendations. There are no sell recommendations.

First New Zealand Capital analyst Nevill Gluyas released his first research report on the company last week with a buy recommendation and a 12-month target price of $2.60.

Gluyas, a new hire for First NZ, is expected to have a strong understanding of the energy industry. He left Meridian Energy last month where he was a member of its strategy team.

Mighty River Power shares closed up 1c on $2.26 yesterday.

CLIMBING PRICE

Shares in outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu soared to a new high after the company released a strong profit result this week.

Kathmandu's share price has more than doubled in the last year and the stock is now the second best performer on the NZX this year after Xero despite the retail environment remaining tough. One market source said the big question around Kathmandu was if it is still a weather stock and should be priced like other weather-sensitive stocks.

But analysts seem to believe the share price still has room to go up. According to Bloomberg the average 12-month target price across all analysts is $3.53.

Yesterday its shares closed down 2c on $3.43.

The stock has six buy recommendations, three holds and one sell.

AIRLINE FLOAT

The Government has yet to spell out any detail on its plans to sell down its stake in Air New Zealand but one market source suggests it could happen either before Christmas or early next year ahead of the Genesis Energy float.

Meridian Energy is due to list on October 29, which would potentially leave around a six-week window to get the Air New Zealand sell-down done before investors head away for their holidays.

The Government, which wants to reduce its share from around 73 per cent to 51 per cent, has indicated Air New Zealand will be done much faster than the Mighty River Power or Meridian Energy floats.

Positive market conditions suggest it could easily be done through a block trade sale to institutional investors but that would negate political promises to put mum and dad investors at the front of the queue for the Government's mixed ownership model programme.

Air New Zealand shares have been trading well of late but are still about 10c behind the recent high hit back in June.

Yesterday they closed up 2c on $1.455.

NO NEW MONEY

Milford Asset Management's Active Growth Fund has been closed off to new investors - one of the few funds in New Zealand to make that move.

Milford managing director Anthony Quirk wrote to investors last week to tell them it was making the decision to stop taking new money because it had achieved significant growth and now had a material holding in several companies listed on the New Zealand sharemarket.

"Recognising the limitations of how large we can be in the New Zealand sharemarket we have made the decision to close the fund to new investors from September 16, 2013."

The $650 million fund is run by Brian Gaynor and has had an average annual return of 13.5 per cent for the last five years to June 30, according to research firm Morningstar.

Quirk told Stock Takes the decision to close the fund did not signal any retirement intentions for its star fund manager.

Existing investors will still be able to put more money in and new investors will be able to access it via Milford's KiwiSaver plan and the Milford Balanced Fund. Milford is launching a fund called the Milford Dynamic which will invest in small to medium sized Australasian companies.

NEW ADVISERS

Ian Witters, the former head of Macquarie's New Zealand private wealth division, has set up a financial advisory business.

Witters left Macquarie in June after nine years at the firm - the last four as managing director. Last night Witters officially launched his new firm S.A.G Private.

S.A.G, which stands for Strategic Advisory Group, is promising independence with no affiliations to product suppliers, no multinational ownership and financial advisers who are paid by salary not commission.

The firm also has a panel of advisers that includes Paul Mersi, a former PwC tax partner, former Fisher Funds chief investment officer Warren Couillault and former Russell Investment managing director Ed Schuck.

- NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker

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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