Index gains on upbeat outlook

18 stocks up on $169m turnover.
Spark rose 2.2 per cent to $3.90. Picture / Greg Bowker
Spark rose 2.2 per cent to $3.90. Picture / Greg Bowker

New Zealand shares rose, led by Ebos Group, Comvita and Spark New Zealand on optimism the earnings season is heralding a favourable outlook. Exporter F&P Healthcare fell as the kiwi dollar traded above US73c.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 16.98 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 7427.28. Within the index, 26 stocks fell, 18 rose and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $169 million.

Ebos rose 2.4 per cent to $17.60 after posting a 20 per cent gain in full-year profit on revenue that reached $7.1 billion. The health consumables and pet products company raised its dividend, repaid debt and announced acquisitions as cash flow soared.

"It was a solid result and a positive surprise on the dividend," said David Price, a broker at Forsyth Barr. The final payment came in at the top end of the targeted range at 70 per cent of profit.

The earnings season "on balance has been better, with more upgrades than we were expecting. Certainly we've had a little bit of revenue growth. Dividends have been overs and unders".

Spark rose 2.2 per cent to $3.90. Last week the country's biggest telecommunications company posted a 1.3 per cent decline in full-year profit but also said it will make another special dividend payment.

Comvita rose 6.4 per cent to $10.35, leading the index higher. The company changed its balance date and this week reported 15-month profit of $18.5m. That's broadly in line with the profit of $17.2m in the 12 months ended March 31, reflecting an extra three months which tend to be its quietest.

Genesis Energy gained 2.1 per cent to $2.24. The state-owned power company reported this week that full-year earnings fell 2.7 per cent, reflecting a combination of lower electricity, gas and oil prices combined with ongoing retail market competition.

Summerset Group, which is adding more retirement village units as demand rises, gained 1.9 per cent to $5.47.

A2 rose about 1 per cent to $2.12, clawing back a bit of the 8.7 per cent it shed on Wednesday. This week it reported a return to profit that met its guidance in June and posted a 127 per cent gain in revenue. Price said it ran up strongly ahead of its results, which met many estimates.

Orion Health Group fell 2.3 per cent to $4.35 while F&P Healthcare dropped 2.1 per cent to $9.74.

"The underlying business of Healthcare is getting better but it is being undermined by the currency," Price said.

Hellaby Holdings rose 1 per cent to $2.93 after reporting a 30 per cent decline in full-year profit. The results were in line with its guidance. "FY 2016 was a difficult year and not one we expect to be repeated," said chief executive Alan Clarke. "We do expect to see a stronger performance in FY 2017 as our new strategic plan takes effect and we focus on building scale and market share in our automotive and resource services groups."

Metlifecare fell 1.1 per cent to $6.27. Infratil chief executive Marko Bogoievski said he was happy with the 80 per cent gain the value of the infrastructure investor's stake in the retirement village operator but doesn't expect the minority interest will be a long-term hold.

Methven rose 6.1 per cent to $1.39. The shower and tapware maker booked a $2.7m gain in its full-year net profit adjustments after cancelling an earnout agreement with the owner of the Chinese manufacturing facility it bought in 2014.

SLI Systems rose 7.5 per cent to 86c after the e-commerce software seller narrowed its annual loss, reflecting cost containment during a restructuring after losing three major customers. The loss shrank to $162,000 in the year to June 30, from a $7.55m loss in the previous year.

Scales Corp fell 6.3 per cent to $3.28 after the fresh fruit company said it lifted first-half profit 3 per cent and raised earnings guidance as its Mr Apple unit delivered a record crop and met its 2020 export volume target four years early.

- BusinessDesk

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