Air NZ, A2 help push index to new high

Sky TV’s bleeding subscriber list sees company stay on its downward track.
Sky TV shares fell a further 2.1 per cent yesterday to $4.21, after falling almost 22 per cent in the previous two trading days. Picture / Sarah Ivey
Sky TV shares fell a further 2.1 per cent yesterday to $4.21, after falling almost 22 per cent in the previous two trading days. Picture / Sarah Ivey

New Zealand shares rose, pushing the S&P/NZX 50 Index to a record high as Air New Zealand and A2 Milk gained while Sky Network Television extended its slide.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 24.35 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 6,909.41. Within the index, 26 stocks fell, 15 gained and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $151.5 million.

Air New Zealand rose 2.6 per cent to $2.36. It's fallen 22.2 per cent this year, tracking lower after it hit a 13-year high in January when oil prices hit record lows.

Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management, said weaker oil prices were probably the key to the airline's rise yesterday.

A2 Milk Co gained 5.7 per cent to $1.87, Genesis Energy rose 2.2 per cent to $2.14, and Metro Performance Glass advanced 1.7 per cent to $1.75.

Sky TV stayed on its downward track, down 2.1 per cent to $4.21, having tumbled almost 22 per cent in the previous two trading days after saying subscriber numbers were expected to fall further this financial year, causing earnings next year to miss analyst estimates.

The pay-TV operator forecast it would have 830,000 subscribers at the end of its financial year on June 30. Subscriber numbers dropped 1.5 per cent last year to 851,561.

It expects to lose 45,000 core residential pay-TV subscribers this year and gain about 25,000 subscribers for its online services such as Neon and FanPass.

"It's still very much under pressure but you have to remember it's about where it started from when the exchange traded funds-related buyers started," Goodson said. "A fair bit of that move into the high fours and low-to-mid fives was driven by, if you like, machine-driven buying by exchange-driven funds rather than buying focused on the fundamentals of the company. It might start to find some stability sometime soon, but the valuation is very sensitive to assumptions around future subscriber loss."

Dual-listed banks gained on both sides of the Tasman, with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group up 2.7 per cent to $26.80 and Westpac Banking Corp gaining 2.4 per cent to $34.16.

Spark New Zealand slipped 1.3 per cent to $3.69. It will take over the naming rights for Auckland's 12,000-seat Vector Arena starting next April, renaming the venue the Spark Arena. It declined to say what the cost of the contract was, citing commercial sensitivity. Vector, which had held the rights for 10 years, fell 0.6 per cent to $3.48.

Comvita rose 1.7 per cent to $12.20.

The manuka honey company boosted annual profit 68 per cent as Australian sales soared, overtaking NZ as its largest market. The shares have tripled in the past year, hitting a record high $12.40 last month, on demand for products such as manuka honey and olive leaf extract.

APN News & Media, which is listed on the ASX and NZX, remained halted at 72c.

The trading halt was put in place ahead of APN's annual meeting today, and reflects a potential material transaction involving the New Zealand assets, the company said this week.

- BusinessDesk

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