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A2, Air NZ lead shares up but investors continue to hold back

Within the S&P/NZX 50 index, 25 stocks gained, 14 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was about $124 million.
Within the S&P/NZX 50 index, 25 stocks gained, 14 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was about $124 million.

New Zealand shares rose, led by milk marketer A2 Milk and Air New Zealand, although the value of trading continued to be relatively light as volatility in world markets and commodities kept some investors on the sidelines. Hallenstein Glasson dropped after posting weaker first-half profit and most retailers fell.

The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 16.09 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 6153.80. Within the index, 25 stocks gained, 14 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was about $124 million.

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Volatile world markets have weighed on the New Zealand bourse so far this year, with the NZX 50 down almost 3 per cent.

Stocks held for their relatively attractive dividends have been among the least affected, including property companies such as Goodman Property Trust - up 0.4 per cent to $1.265 on the day and up 2 per cent this year.

Xero is the worst performer this year, falling 18 per cent, although it gained 0.4 per cent to $16.25 yesterday.

"This year a pretty common market theme has been very low volumes," said David Price, a broker at Forsyth Barr.

I'd like to say it is quiet ahead of earnings season but there's been so much material damage in markets, in commodities, that people are more of a view to just wait. The expectation is there will continue to be a lot more volatility this year.

Excluding NZ Refining, Forsyth Barr is forecasting dividend growth of 10.5 per cent this earnings season for New Zealand's biggest listed firms, and earnings per share growth on an aggregated basis of 9.7 per cent. "The problem is our market is not cheap," he said. "On a price-to-earnings basis it is above its long-term average."

A2 gained 5.1 per cent to $1.85 and Air New Zealand rose 3.8 per cent to $2.90. Stock exchange operator NZX rose 2.9 per cent to $1.05.

Hallenstein dropped 8.4 per cent to $2.95 after the clothing retailer said first-half profit fell about 20 per cent, and it will trim its interim dividend because a weaker New Zealand dollar and competition reduced margins.

Among other retailers, Kathmandu Holdings declined 1.3 per cent to $1.56, Briscoe Group fell 2 per cent to $2.88 and Warehouse Group was down 1.1 per cent to $2.70.

Ryman Healthcare rose 1 per cent to $8.08, Chorus was up 1 per cent to $3.87 and Mainfreight rose 1.1 per cent to $15.16.

Among stocks held for their dividend yield, Kiwi Property Group rose 1.1 per cent to $1.37 and Mighty River Power gained about 1 per cent to $2.625.

- BusinessDesk

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