New Zealand shares were mixed with Orion Health Group and Tower dragging the index lower on their first-half earnings.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 1.22 points, or 0.02 percent, to 6,901.74. Within the index, 31 stocks gained, 18 fell and two were unchanged. Turnover was $168.5 million.

Tower dropped 2.7 percent to 71.5 cents. The general insurer posted a wider annual loss of $22.3 million as it set aside $25.3 million for provisions due to the Canterbury earthquakes, and detailed plans to separate out the claims into a new unit.

Tower's shares are the worst performer on the S&P/NZX50 benchmark index this year as the insurer deals with greater-than-expected new claims related to the Canterbury earthquake in 2010 and 2011, saying today that it has received about 300 new claims in the past year worth $22 million.


"It's yet again a set of numbers dominated by provisions for Canterbury - separating an entity into RunOff and New Tower, it makes sense but there are plenty more hurdles to run through, and I guess that's why the share price is a bit weaker today," Rickey Ward, NZ equity manager at JB Were said. "It appears to need capital to separate the vehicles out, it's a regulatory requirement from the Reserve Bank so a bit of uncertainty remains. It looks like the underlying business is not going too badly - claims ratios are down, they're managing costs pretty well, their managing expenses went down not up. It seems to be coming through, it's just the story is getting blinded by Canterbury still."

Orion Health was the worst performer, down 6.8 percent to $1.91. The health software developer plunged 19 percent yesterday following its first-half results, where it narrowed its first-half loss to $18 million and said it would make a profit in 2018, while sales rose to $104.2 million from $101.7 million.

"The result wasn't great, investors don't like surprises and it was a little bit of a surprise," Ward said. "It might be a bit harsh, but people are saying we've had Wynyard - which showed all the signs of being an okay company - is this another Wynyard? Most people I've spoken to believe that Orion do need to raise equity, I appreciate the company indicated they believe they'll be fine but the market is telling you something quite different, they are concerned. The way to mitigate that is you shore up your balance sheet now, you don't play games - you remove that concern, they haven't done that yet."

Summerset Group Holdings fell 1.8 percent to $4.88, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp dropped 1.7 percent to $8.19, and Trustpower fell 1.6 percent to $4.38.

Scales Corp was the best performer on the index, up 3.6 percent to $3.46. Stride Property gained 2.2 percent to $1.87 and Tegel Group advanced 2 percent to $1.50.

Outside the benchmark index, Trilogy International fell 9.1 percent to $3.28. The skincare and home fragrance company lifted first-half profit 10 percent to $3.5 million and reiterated its 2017 revenue guidance of $100 million to $110 million.

Synlait Milk declined 2.1 percent to $3.25. The South Island dairy products processor has increased its forecast farmgate milk price by $1 to $6 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2016/2017 season, in line with Fonterra's updated forecast this month.