Stock Takes

A closer look at the markets by Tamsyn Parker

Stock takes: Double trouble

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The popularity of the bun-less burger hurt KFC's profits as higher-margin items went unordered. Photo / Supplied
The popularity of the bun-less burger hurt KFC's profits as higher-margin items went unordered. Photo / Supplied

In early May last year TVNZ news presenter Rawdon Christie made the following comments on Twitter: "Wish I'd bought shares in Restaurant Brands last week. The KFC Double Down is getting unprecedented attention. Well done KFC marketing team."

Indeed, the release of the limited edition bun-less chicken burger may well have helped drive the 10 per cent rally that took place in the fast-food operator's stock during May.

But if he was imagining becoming a long-term shareholder, Christie was probably better off not buying.

Restaurant Brands shares hit a high of $2.72 on May 27, but since then the stock has shed around 30 per cent of its value, suggesting the Double Down effect was very shortlived.

The company's chief financial officer, Grant Ellis, said this week that the massive sales of the bun-less burger hurt KFC's profits as higher-margin menu items went unordered.

"They probably didn't get the pricing right on it [the Double Down] considering the level of demand," said BT Asset Management's head of equities, Paul Harrison.

Shares in Restaurant Brands, which will release its full-year profit announcement on April 3, closed down 1c at $1.91 yesterday.

THE SHEEP'S BACK

Timaru may have started out as a sheep station but come July new kid on the NZX Chorus will be rolling into town to begin work on the ultra-fast broadband (UFB) network. Chorus (CNU) revealed further details of its fibre rollout yesterday and said during the second year of its build it will start construction of its network in Invercargill, Nelson, Oamaru, Queenstown, Timaru and Whakatane, as well as continuing to deploy fibre in areas where work is already under way.

As one of the Crown partners in the Government's $1.35 billion UFB scheme Chorus is already building the network at a rate of 50km of fibre a week in Auckland, Ashburton, Blenheim, Dunedin, Napier-Hastings, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Taupo and the greater Wellington region.

By 2019, Chorus hopes fibre will reach more than 830,000 urban homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and medical facilities - providing them with internet speeds of 100 megabits per second.

Chorus shares closed up 8c at $3.40 yesterday.

JOINING THE CHORUS

While Chorus has already begun putting down fibre cables (mostly) in the posher parts of Auckland, the infrastructure company also revealed yesterday what suburbs of New Zealand's biggest city it plans to hook up by June next year.

The new list includes: Lonely Track area of Albany, Rosedale, Glenfield, Wairau Valley, Takapuna, Henderson, Freemans Bay, Ponsonby, Westmere, Newmarket, Gladstone Road and parts of Parnell, Woodbine Road area of Greenlane, Otahuhu, the remaining East Tamaki industrial area, Wiri and the George Bolt Memorial Drive area of Mangere.

Punters can check out the rollout plans at: chorus.co.nz/fibre-rollout-map.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS

The $2 million internalisation at NZX-listed Kermadec Property Fund is ruffling feathers.

"Having read the PwC independent report recently I am at a loss to understand why the industry seems to be just letting this transaction sneak under the radar.

"Did everyone go to sleep over Christmas or does everyone think that this is a sweetheart deal for the shareholders?" asked one angry party.

But some institutional investors reckon Kermadec will be better under the new structure and they are happy about it.

Everyone will get their say next week at a meeting.

Kermadec advised yesterday this would be at 2pm at the Northern Club on Wednesday.

DISPUTE SETTLED

Devon Funds Management and Macquarie-owned Brook Asset Management have reached a settlement over a dispute that dates back to 2010, when Devon set up shop as a rival "boutique" fund manager to Brook.

The dispute centred on a decision by three staff members - Mel Firmin, Chris Gaskin and Slade Robertson - to leave Brook to take up roles at Devon.

At the time, Devon Funds principal Paul Glass said the decision by Brook to take legal action against its departing investment team was "corporate sour grapes".

In this week's statement, the parties said: "Brook Asset Management and Devon Funds Group today announced that the court case involving both of them has now been resolved."

The statement went on to say: "The terms are confidential and no further comment will be made by either party."

Glass set up Brook with Simon Botherway and the pair sold 49 per cent of the business to Australia's Macquarie in 2004.

The rest was sold to Macquarie at the end of 2008.

In 2010, Glass set up Devon Funds Management after a year-long restraint of trade agreement following the sale of the other half of Brook to Macquarie.

The trouble started when former Brook stalwarts Firmin, Gaskin and Robertson opted to jump ship, with a number of former Brook investors following suit.

Botherway is now general manager of investment for ANZ Wealth.

- NZ Herald

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