New Zealand shares were mixed yesterday, with as many gaining stocks as decliners on the NZX 50 Index. Port of Tauranga rose after posting record first-half earnings while Fletcher Building extended its decline after profit missed its guidance.

The NZX 50 fell 5.08 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 3323.15, having flitted between gains and losses during the day. Within the index, 18 stocks fell, 18 rose and 14 were unchanged. Turnover was about $110 million.

The earnings season has delivered a mixed bag of beats and misses. Fletcher had warned that first-half profit would drop at least 10 per cent then reported a 13 per cent decline.

Its shares fell 0.8 per cent to $6.46 yesterday, adding to their 2 per cent drop on Wednesday, when the company said weak demand for home building and charges to restructure its Laminex unit dented first-half earnings.

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Mainfreight, the transport group, fell 0.5 per cent to $9.60. Last week the company reported quarterly earnings that disappointed some analysts. Both Mainfreight and Fletcher cited weak demand in Australia among reasons for the results.

"Companies with exposure to the Australian economy have struggled a little bit," said James Lindsay, equities manager at Tyndall Investment Management. "There's not too many times New Zealand looks better than the lucky country. They are cutting rates for only one reason."

Skellerup Holdings, the rubber goods manufacturer, fell 0.7 per cent to $1.42 after reporting first-half profit rose 17.2 per cent to a record despite some worsening market conditions, particularly in Europe and Australia. Net profit for the six months ended December 31 rose to $11.5 million from $9.8 million in the same six months of 2010.

Port of Tauranga rose 0.6 per cent to $10.86, having traded as high as a record $11 after New Zealand's biggest export port posted a record first-half profit that beat estimates. "What a great franchise," Lindsay said. "It shows the management team is really focused and the competitor is sort of in disarray."

Vector rose 1.6 per cent to $2.61 after its result. Cavalier, the carpet maker, was the biggest gainer on the NZX 50, rising 3.8 per cent to $2.18. Fisher & Paykel Appliances declined 6.9 per cent to 40c.

Telecom, which posts its results today, rose 0.7 per cent to $2.15.BusinessDesk