CONFESSION SEASON

The next two weeks will be key for investors looking out for any early warning signs ahead of results season.

Listed companies have a window where they must alert the market to any significant up or downside impact on their results.

Already there have been some early confessions.

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Mark Lister, head of research at Craigs Investment Partners, said there had been some positive news with Tourism Holdings adjusting its guidance before Christmas on the back of US tax cuts.

Mercury Energy also lifted its earnings guidance this week on the back of high amounts of rain in the Taupo area.

But not all news has been on the upside with Z Energy revealing on Monday a drop in guidance on the back an "unexpected series of disruptions to fuel supply" in December and a sustained rise in crude oil prices since September 30.

Lister says there is every chance we will see more surprises between now and when companies start reporting although the closer it gets to early February the window narrows.

First off the mark of the big companies to report is expected to be Sky City Entertainment Group on February 9, followed by Contact Energy on February 12.

Spark and Fletcher Building are set down to report on the same day - February 21.

Fletcher Building will come under close scrutiny as investors watch for signs the company has pulled itself back out of the doldrums after last year's profit down-grades.

On watch

Lister said he would be looking to see how the domestic-focused listed stocks were faring with talk of a slow-down in the economy on the back of lower migration and a slow-down in the property market.

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Meanwhile exporters could face a boost from global growth picking up although it may depend on which markets they target.

Exporters to the US will have seen a headwind from the strong Kiwi dollar versus the greenback while those exporting to Australia and the UK may have faced more currency tailwinds.

James Smalley, a client adviser with Hamilton Hindin Greene believes there could be some downside risks to the strong Kiwi against the US dollar with the temptation for foreign investors to use the favourable rate to pull some money out of New Zealand companies.

Smalley said retail investors would also do well to pay attention to US Federal Reserve rate increases as ongoing hikes could impact how much it costs Kiwi companies to borrow and flow on to valuations.

"The real elephant in the room is the potential for Fed rate rises and has the market priced that in?"

He is picking more volatility in the markets this year although he said if there were any surprise down-turns New Zealand's utility-centric market was well placed to weather that.

"Our market is probably well placed if there is a big surge in volatility around the world - what we can't control is foreign investment."

Xero off

Wednesday will be Xero's last day of trading on the NZX as it ditches the local exchange in favour of a consolidated listing on the ASX.

Xero is hoping the move will widen its investor base and help it to attract more interest from fund managers and analysts in the global market.

The consolidation is expected to make it big enough to make it into the all important ASX200 and possibly the ASX100 as well.

Smalley said the market would be watching very closely what happened to the stock but it would probably take a good year to 18 months to see if the move paid off.

"It will be interesting to see, particularly the trading volume and whether their desire to lift it pans out."

Smalley said the move could clear the way for Xero to also list in the US in the future as three share market listings would have been a tougher challenge.

Xero has indicated a Nasdaq listing is not currently on the radar.

Smalley said the company probably needed to increase its penetration in the US market before going down that route.

Xero shares closed on $34.40 yesterday and have recovered from the $30.74 they hit in the days after the initial announcement that it would de-list from the NZX.