New Zealand shares dipped from a record in busy trading, as investors took profits on Freightways and Ryman Healthcare, while Synlait Milk and A2 Milk found themselves back in favour.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index edged down 2.72 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 8,975.75, after being poised to close at a new record. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 18 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $283.4 million.

"There might be a bit of profit-taking in some stocks today - Freightways and Ryman Healthcare, both those stocks have had fantastic rallies in recent times," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Ebos is another that has come off a wee bit as well. Overall, it is another solid day."

Freightways was the worst performer, down 4 per cent to $7.96, and Ryman fell 1.2 per cent to $11.86. Ebos Group dropped 1.1 per cent to $18.17.


A2 Milk was the most heavily traded stock on the index, with $52.8 million in turnover, and rose 3.5 per cent to $11.90.

A2's share price has been turbulent over the past month since it gave an update with a less positive outlook than many investors had expected, dropping from $13.30 before the announcement to as low as $10.24 in late May, though it has been recovering lost ground since then.

Synlait Milk was the best performer, up 3.5 per cent to $10.92, while Air New Zealand rose 3.4 per cent to $3.31 and Scales Corp gained 2.6 per cent to $4.78. Summerset Group Holdings advanced 1.7 per cent to $7.61 and Westpac Banking Corp was up 1.6 per cent to $29.86.

Mercury New Zealand fell 2.6 per cent to $3.34, Gentrack Group declined 1.1 per cent to $7.27, and Heartland Bank was down 1.7 per cent to $1.74.

Outside the benchmark index, PGG Wrightson dropped 4.3 per cent to 67 cents. It reaffirmed its forecast for annual earnings between $65m to $70m, saying weaker performance from its Australian and South American businesses would be offset by better trading in New Zealand. That's up from $64.5m last year and in line with its February forecast.

In February, the company said 2018 net profit would be about 20 per cent lower than last year's $46.3m, due to one-time gains from property sales in 2017.

Today, chief executive Ian Glasson said net profit after tax from normal trading was forecast to be about 25 per cent lower, reflecting the lack of significant property sales which added $8.7m to earnings last year, an expected loss on currency hedges, and costs associated with potential Holidays Act remediation.