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Current as of 27/10/16 07:39PM NZST

Shares mixed as investors seek dividends

By Paul McBeth

Comvita fell after cutting its dividend payment from the year earlier. Photo / File
Comvita fell after cutting its dividend payment from the year earlier. Photo / File

New Zealand shares were mixed as dividend payments weighed on investors' minds, with smaller payments from NZ Refining and Comvita dragging down those stocks and a bigger payment for Fliway Group stoking demand for the logistics company.

The S&P/NZX Index increased 5.17 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7,467.33. Within the index, 27 stocks gained, 19 fell and five were unchanged. Turnover was $155.4 million.

New Zealand's stock market has been trading near record highs as investors in search of yield are drawn to the country's relatively high dividend paying shares in a world where interest rates keep a lid on investment income. That dynamic has seen companies rewarded for increasing their dividend payments, or punished for trimming their returns.

New Zealand Refining shares dropped 7.8 per cent to $2.36 and Comvita fell 6.6 per cent to $9.89 after the two companies trimmed their dividend payments from a year earlier when reporting their earnings.

In the case of NZ Refining, falling refining margins were expected with the global overhang of oil, and the interim dividend of 3c per share was more than what Forsyth Barr was expecting, while Comvita cut its dividend payout ratio to reinvest earnings into growth opportunities.

"If the dividends aren't there, investors can punish a stock somewhat," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene in Christchurch.

Meantime, Fliway, which is outside the NZX 50, jumped 14 per cent to $1.08 after the transport and logistics firm declared a final dividend at the top end of its payout range.

Spark New Zealand fell 2.5 per cent to $3.90.

A2 Milk led the benchmark index higher, up 2.7 per cent to $2.30 after announcing an extension to its supply arrangements with Synlait Milk. Synlait shares increased 0.8 per cent to $3.77. Fletcher Building, which met guidance when posting earnings last week, gained 1.7 per cent to $10.71.

Mercury NZ, the rebranded Mighty River Power, rose 1.6 per cent to $3.09 after the power company reported a 2.3 per cent increase in operating earnings. Meridian Energy rose 0.5 per cent to $2.945 and Genesis Energy increased 0.9 per cent to $2.27 before they report their respective earnings tomorrow.

Tourism Holdings fell 0.7 per cent to $3.02 after reporting a 21 per cent increase in annual profit to $24.4 million and a higher annual dividend payment of 15c per share.

Serko climbed 13 per cent to 68c; Fisher & Paykel Healthcare fell 0.6 per cent to $10.21 after an earnings warning and Kiwi Property Group fell 1 per cent to $1.555.

- BusinessDesk

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