Construction firm leads market up with purchase of roading operation and move to new divisional structure.

New Zealand shares rose, led by Fletcher Building after the country's biggest construction company bought a roading firm. Summerset Group gained while Mighty River Power and Nuplex Industries dropped.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 5.6 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6180.09. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 20 rose and five were unchanged. Turnover was $151 million.

Fletcher led the index, up 3.6 per cent to $7.25.

It has paid $315 million for Higgins Group Holdings, New Zealand's third-largest road construction and maintenance company, while also announcing it will restructure into five divisions. Chief executive Mark Adamson had signalled a desire to expand into road construction and maintenance which the company sees as a significant opportunity.


"The company's been a bit of a frustrating stock over the last couple of years, and it's perceived that it's trading below fair value," said Robert Garden, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "Its New Zealand business has been performing well, but the international side of things, particularly in Australia, has been holding things back."

The announcements came after brokerage First NZ Capital produced a report arguing for a break-up of the company.

"There's been talk of whether the company would be worth more broken up, this move to the new divisional structure is trying to put more emphasis on the parts of the business that perhaps have been underperforming," Garden said.

Summerset climbed 2.5 per cent to $4.10, a six-month high, and A2 Milk Co rose 2.3 per cent to $1.78, recouping some of Monday's 7 per cent drop.

Warehouse Group advanced 1.9 per cent to $2.72, and Restaurant Brands gained 1.7 per cent to $4.30.

Ryman Healthcare gained 1.3 per cent to $7.99, partly offsetting Monday's fall of 1.9 per cent, with the stock down 7.2 per cent for the year. The retirement village operator will spend $200 million building a site in Melbourne as part of its planned expansion in Australia's second-biggest city, it said on Monday.

Craigs' Garden said investors are waiting for earnings season, with little corporate news before then.

Mighty River Power was the worst performer on the index, down 2.3 per cent to $2.60, and Nuplex fell 1.7 per cent to $4.08.


Australian dual-listed banks fell, with Westpac Banking Corp down 2.1 per cent to $32.84, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group down 1.2 per cent to $26.60.

Heartland Bank fell 1.6 per cent to $1.21, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare shed 1.5 per cent to $8.56.

Trade Me dropped 0.8 per cent to $3.99. The stock was downgraded last week to "sell" from "buy" by brokerage Craigs, which said shares in the online auction site were "fully priced".

Outside the benchmark index, Augusta Capital fell 3 per cent to 96c. The listed property investor and fund manager will buy a A$23-million ($25-million) industrial property in Brisbane, which it plans to put up for syndication, it said.

The Auckland-based company will offer the property to syndicate investors in mid to late March, with a view to raising A$14 million, with the acquisition conditional on Augusta raising at least A$9 million by the end of May.