The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Stock Takes: SkyCity fails to boost confidence

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SkyCity's Nigel Morrison will leave on April 29. Photo / Doug Sherring
SkyCity's Nigel Morrison will leave on April 29. Photo / Doug Sherring

SkyCity Entertainment's briefing with analysts and investors failed to bolster Morningstar's confidence on the outlook for the company, whose long-serving chief executive will step down on April 29.

The casino operator held the telephone conference, which media were barred from joining, on Monday after last week announcing the resignation of Nigel Morrison, who has been in the top job for around eight years.

In a note, Morningstar said SkyCity chairman Chris Moller hosed down speculation about a dispute between the chief executive and board during the briefing, while Morrison reiterated that he was leaving the firm for personal reasons.

Moller also said reports around a potential takeover bid from Australian casino operator Star Entertainment had not been correct, according to Morningstar.

In the wake of the briefing, Morningstar said its fair value estimate of $4.40 on SkyCity shares, narrow moat and high uncertainty ratings on the stock remained unchanged.

"We reiterate that the timing of Mr Morrison's departure is not ideal given the company is entering a heavy capital expenditure phase," the research provider said. "However, the personal rationale for his departure can hardly be faulted at the face value, and his shoes will be capably filled in the interim by the New Zealand COO [chief operating officer] John Mortensen."

SkyCity shares closed at $5.01 last night.

Cut the spin

Devon Funds Management has made its views on creative financial reporting and crafty commentary from listed companies crystal clear.

In its submission to NZX's review on corporate governance rules, put out on Tuesday, the Auckland-based investment manager said all announcements and updates need to meet a higher standard of accuracy.

"This is a hard point to document but increasingly companies are issuing profit numbers and accompanying commentary that uses figures that have been adjusted by management to show the company in the best light," Devon said. "This can result in the market being poorly informed and is particularly problematic for retail investors."

The review attracted 45 submissions from listed companies, investors, industry bodies and other groups. NZX is targeting the fourth quarter of this year for implementation of the amended rules.

Orion flies

Five major contract signings in recent weeks have been a boon for long-suffering Orion Health investors.

Shares in the healthcare software developer - the worst-performing stock on the S&P/NZX 50 last year - closed at record low of $2.49 on February 25 - 56 per cent below the firm's 2014 IPO price of $5.70.

But this week's news of two deals in Britain, which followed the announcement of major contracts in the United States and Australia in February and March, sent the shares to an intra-day high of $4.43 on Tuesday. The stock closed at $4.15 last night.

Speaking to the Business Herald last month, Orion chief executive Ian McCrae said he thought the shares in his firm were undervalued. Turns out he may have been on the money.

Tegel is keeping mum on the details of a multimillion-dollar bounty top management are set to enjoy as part of the chicken firm's upcoming initial public offering. Photo / Kenny Rodger
Tegel is keeping mum on the details of a multimillion-dollar bounty top management are set to enjoy as part of the chicken firm's upcoming initial public offering. Photo / Kenny Rodger

Bonus isn't chicken feed

Tegel is keeping mum on the details of a multimillion-dollar bounty top management are set to enjoy as part of the chicken firm's upcoming initial public offering.

The product disclosure statement, released on April 1, detailed an $8 million bonus that will be paid to senior managers on completion of the IPO.

Importantly, the vendors of the deal - namely the company's majority owner, Affinity Equity Partners - will be footing the bill for the bonus, which recognises past service, it said.

But the company won't disclose which managers will be receiving the bonus, or how many staff it will be split between.

A spokeswoman said "they won't be providing more detail, as they are private arrangements with the current owners arising from the work they have done under private ownership".

IPO management bonuses are relatively common, particularly in private equity-backed offers such as the Tegel deal.

The company will raise up to $344 million ahead of its May 3 listing on the NZX and Australia's ASX, valuing the business at up to $636 million and its shares in a $1.55 to $2.50 range.

- NZ Herald

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The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

A business journalist for more than four years, he also writes the weekly Stock Takes column.Christopher’s main focus is the local sharemarket and issues facing Kiwi investors. He covered manufacturing and retail in his previous Herald role and maintains a special interest in New Zealand’s growing trade relationship with China.

Read more by Christopher Adams

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