Market lower as reporting season fails to spark activity

Sky TV dropped 2 per cent to $4.41. Photo / Greg Bowker
Sky TV dropped 2 per cent to $4.41. Photo / Greg Bowker

New Zealand shares fell, led lower by Sky Network Television and Spark New Zealand, while Auckland International Airport gained after its first-half profit rose 19 per cent.

The S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 6.46 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 7093.52. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 15 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $139.9 million.

"I'd have to say reporting season so far hasn't done much for the market, though it's still early days," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "There's still a bit of nervousness around and I'd say we're going to have to start seeing some pretty reasonable results to see the sharemarket start to trade significantly higher."

Spark led the index lower for a second day in a row, down 2.3 per cent to $3.48. It fell on Thursday after lifting first-half earnings 3.5 per cent to $178 million and affirming its annual earnings outlook.

Sky TV dropped 2 per cent to $4.41. The shares declined on Thursday after Sky said it would not delay a merger with Vodafone NZ to give other telecoms companies, including Spark, time to appeal in court if the transaction is approved by the Commerce Commission. Williamson said the uncertainty was driving the share price lower.

SkyCity Entertainment Group was the best performer, up 1.8 per cent to $4.04. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group rose 1.5 per cent to $32.87 and Summerset Group advanced 1.2 per cent to $4.90. Auckland Airport rose 0.6 per cent to $6.79. The airport posted a 19 per cent gain in first-half profit to $123.5m.

Outside the benchmark index, Steel & Tube Holdings dropped 2.3 per cent to $2.56. The NZX-listed steel products distributor reported a 33 per cent drop in first-half profit to $10.6m, hurt by a decline in non-residential construction, but expects things to pick up in the second half.

IkeGPS rose 8.6 per cent to 38c while Cavalier Corp dropped 3.2 per cent to 61c. The carpet maker and wool scourer posted a sharply lower first-half profit and continues to forecast no earnings growth for the full year.

Abano Healthcare gained 1.2 per cent to $8.80. The company has recommended investors continue to reject a partial takeover bid for the medical investor after Healthcare Partners raised its offer price on Thursday. Abano also refused to allow access to its books to pave the way for a potential full takeover offer.

AFT Pharmaceuticals dropped 1.5 per cent to $2.66 and Veritas was unchanged at 24c. It has granted a further extension for Gosh Holding to complete purchase of the business and assets of its Nosh supermarkets to February 24.

- BusinessDesk

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