Tamsyn Parker 's Opinion

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Stock takes: Mining and camping

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Anyone fancy tramping or camping in an open cast mine? Not quite the image Kathmandu would be happy with. Photo / APN
Anyone fancy tramping or camping in an open cast mine? Not quite the image Kathmandu would be happy with. Photo / APN

Kathmandu's marketing people may have been left scratching their heads at comments made by non-executive director John Harvey in the Herald's Mood of the Boardroom business survey.

Asked what his one big change to improve New Zealand would be, Harvey said: "We need to step up the search for natural resources that can be mined or harvested for the benefit of all New Zealand."

Anyone fancy tramping or camping in an open cast mine? Not quite the image Kathmandu will be using to sell its latest range.

Shares in Kathmandu closed down 3c at $1.56 yesterday.

NZX UNDER PRESSURE

The Financial Markets Authority says it is "interested" in the announcement made by stock exchange operator NZX on Monday but won't be making any other comments at this stage.

The NZX surprised investors by revealing a fall in half-year earnings and an increase in expenses.

Its half-year net profit was $4.5 million in 2011 but the company has said it will be between $3 million and $4 million for the six months to June 30.

It has blamed an increase in costs on a transition to the new chief executive, litigation costs relating to the Clear Grain exchange and other one-off expenses.

The announcement took the market by surprise, sending the share price down 14c to close at $1.18. At one point the stock fell to $1.14.

If the FMA does take its interest any further, one person who sits in a difficult position is James Miller. He is on the board of the NZX and the FMA.

Shares in the NZX closed up 4c at $1.19 yesterday.

TOO GOOD?

Forsyth Barr analyst Andrew Harvey-Green has retained his reduce view on accountancy software firm Xero.

In a note this week Harvey-Green said Xero's customer growth had exceeded his expectations but the company was still at least 12 to 24 months away from breakeven.

"Xero's momentum to date has been highly positive and we expect news flow to remain positive in the near term."

Harvey-Green said customer and revenue growth for the company was expected to more than double in financial year 2013 but the company was overvalued.

"It is our view that the current share price reflects too high a probability of success and overlooks the downside risks."

Shares in Xero closed up 6c at $5.31 yesterday.

DILIGENT DEBATE

Now that Diligent Board Member Services has joined the NZX 50 index more fund managers are having to consider it.

One manager spoken to recently said it was hard to know what the company was worth given its rapid share price rise.

There are some concerns about the company's rate of growth in North America - its main market - where sales haven't increased much in the past nine months as well as what its long-term growth prospects might be.

But one investor who remains confident is Milford Asset Management's Mark Warminger. Milford recently increased its stake in the company from 7.62 per cent to 9 per cent.

Warminger said the business model was not all about new customers in the US but quality growth by stages.

He said Diligent was at present focused on growth in the European market where its margin was higher. Warminger said Diligent had strong cashflow growth and looked cheap for the type of growth it was generating. "We conservatively value it at $6. It is also an attractive takeover target for one of the large US software companies."

Shares in Diligent closed up 1c at $3.96 yesterday.

DOUBLE BLOW

Broking firm Macquarie has lost a second member of its research team. Last week Stock Takes noted Macquarie's Stephen Ridgewell was moving on to a role at Craigs Investment Partners.

Now it seems fellow analyst Brooke Bone will also leave the firm in about a month to head to fund manager Milford Asset Management.

The double departure in such a short time raises questions about what might be going on at the firm. Macquarie, like all broking firms, has had its revenue streams squeezed in recent years with global uncertainty driving investors away from the markets. Investment banking deals have also been few and far between.

One market source said there had been a lot of uncertainty about the New Zealand operation although he scotched talk of any plans for the company to pull out of New Zealand.

The source said it was more about what size its operations here needed to be, given more and more decisions were being made from Australia. "It certainly makes it a lot harder for staff here."

The company's investment banking team has shrunk in the past five years and the firm's retail broking is no longer done in house but through Direct Broking.

- NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor. A business journalist for ten years, she has worked in the UK and NZ for the New Zealand Herald, the National Business Review and a specialist publication on investment products for financial advisors. She is passionate about helping readers learn more about to make their money work for them.

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