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Current as of 25/10/16 11:59AM NZST

Chorus, Spark lead stock index lower

By Pattrick Smellie

 Spark New Zealand  fell 2.2 per cent to $3.84. Photo / Nick Reed
Spark New Zealand fell 2.2 per cent to $3.84. Photo / Nick Reed

New Zealand shares fell after Chorus said profit growth stalled and chief executive Mark Ratcliffe will step down next year. A2 Milk and Genesis Energy also declined, while Auckland International Airport and Air New Zealand gained.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 24.04 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 7367.26. Within the index 27 stocks fell, 15 rose and nine were unchanged. Turnover was light at $84 million.

Chorus dropped 1.7 per cent to $4.55 after its full-year results, having risen to a record high $4.65 last week. The telecommunications network operator said lower regulated pricing for access to its copper services were to blame for full-year profit stalling, although it sees a resumption of growth in 2017. Ratcliffe, who steered the company through its demerger from Telecom to become chief executive in 2011, will step down in the middle of next year.

Some of the stock's decline "might be to do with the CEO stepping down because they were relatively positive on growth going forward", said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hinden Greene.

"There was maybe a bit of profit-taking after the result."

Spark New Zealand fell 2.2 per cent to $3.84. A2 Milk fell 3.4 per cent to $1.98, leading the index lower. Kathmandu declined 2.5 per cent to $1.96 and Skellerup Holdings fell 2.1 per cent to $1.43.

Genesis Energy fell 2 per cent to $2.175 and Sky Network Television fell 1.9 per cent to $4.73.

The NZX 50 has fallen 1.5 per cent from its record high of August 23 and Williamson said a correction isn't surprising in the wake of earnings season.

"The reporting season has certainly been acceptable but expectations were extremely high," he said. The sell-off isn't likely to herald a major correction "because you keep coming back to the interest rate environment" where low interest rates make the stock market a stand out in terms of yield.

Auckland Airport rose 1.4 per cent to $7.30 after posting a 17 per cent gain in net profit as the nation's busiest gateway benefited from a boom in tourism and inbound migration that's driving passenger growth. It will pay a final dividend of 9c a share, fully imputed, making 17.5c for the year, a 19.9 per cent increase from 2015.

Air New Zealand rose 2.5 per cent to $2.275 as investors were lured to the airline's special dividend of 25c on top of an ordinary final dividend of 10c announced on Friday.

Among smaller companies, Intueri Education Group ended the day unchanged at 30c after posting a 43 per cent decline in first-half profit, on a gain in revenue that wasn't enough to offset the benefit of finance and other income in 2015, which wasn't repeated in the latest year.

Wellington Drive Technologies jumped 9.1 per cent to 12c after the maker of energy efficient motors for commercial refrigerators said revenue rose 38 per cent in the first half, driven by demand in the US and Canada ahead of the adoption of new regulatory standards next year.

Airwork Holdings was unchanged at $4.50 after the specialist aviation company delivered a 58 per cent boost in full-year profit to $24.6 million.

- BusinessDesk

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