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Current as of 29/03/17 12:39PM NZST

NZ shares rise, Contact, Port of Tauranga gain

By Sophie Boot

Photo / File
Photo / File

New Zealand shares gained, with Port of Tauranga, Metlifecare and Contact Energy rising, while stock market operator NZX dropping after posting its earnings.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 15.39 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 7,150.89. Within the index, 26 stocks rose, 17 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $126.93 million.

"It's a bit of a continuation of a theme - some good strong days offshore, we've followed most of the day, so it's a broad-brush rise today," said David Price, broker at Forsyth Barr. "It wasn't particularly large, the real brunt of reporting season is next week. You tend to get a bit of a flurry in the morning off the back of the results, conference calls and meetings following on."

Port of Tauranga rose 2.3 per cent to $4.45, Metlifecare gained 1.7 per cent to $5.50, and Vista Group International advanced 1.6 per cent to $5.59.

Contact Energy rose 1.2 per cent to $4.93. Yesterday, it posted a 12 per cent gain in first-half underlying profit to $82m while holding its dividend unchanged and trimming capital spending the face of weaker sales.

Sales fell to $1.04 billion from $1.12b, and net income was $96m compared with a loss of $116m a year-earlier, which reflected impairments.

"They're continuing up after yesterday's result - I think that's probably more a relief rally than anything, there was probably a bit of fear that result could disappoint, and it was pretty much in line with what people expected," Price said.

NZX was the worst performer on the index, dropping 2.6 per cent to $1.11. The stock market operator's annual profit dropped 62 per cent to $9.2m as it faced mounting costs from the protracted Ralec litigation and a new regulatory environment, and was compared against a 2015 result flattered by the gain on the sale of its Link Market Services division. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 8.4 per cent to $22.5m, as operating expenses climbed 13 per cent to $55m, outpacing a 6 per cent gain in revenue to $77.5m.

"It's had a really strong run so it needed a decent announcement, and unfortunately as we've seen out of most NZX results, it's a continuation of a theme," Price said. "Revenues are growing, we see markets and listing fees going strongly, but unfortunately it's outpaced by cost. Guidance was softer than expected, we were talking $30m ebitda for the following year, they've got a range of $27 to $30 - a five percent decrease at the midpoint for us."

Trade Me Group fell 1.7 per cent to $5.11, Skycity Entertainment Group dropped 1.5 per cent to $3.87, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp declined 1.4 per cent to $8.97.

Outside the benchmark index, New Zealand Oil & Gas was unchanged at 63 cents. The Wellington-based company, which is on the prowl for new investment opportunities, has sold its 27.5 per cent stake in the Tui oil fields off the coast of Taranaki for US$750,000.

- BusinessDesk

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