New Zealand shares fell, with A2 Milk weaker after an analyst dubbed it overvalued and as weak Chinese sales by Australian supplements maker Blackmores weighed on the dairy company. Heartland Group declined on weaker-than-expected earnings.
The S&P/NZX 50 index decreased 21.18 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 9,224.26. Within the index, 21 stocks fell, 23 gained, and six were unchanged. Turnover was $106.1 million, of which Spark New Zealand accounted for $45.1m.
A2 fell 2.2 per cent to $12.87 on slightly lighter than usual volumes of 989,000. It was caught by negative sentiment over Blackmore's warning over its Chinese business, and was also downgraded by an Australian broker. The milk marketing firm will report its first-half earnings tomorrow and is expected to deliver a 37 per cent increase in underlying earnings.
"An Australian broker said the stock was overvalued and we saw some people take some profit," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Given A2's weighting on our index it does weigh down the index."
A2 supplier Synlait Milk decreased 0.6 per cent to $9.59, while Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units were up 0.2 per cent at $4.62.
Heartland Group fell 1.5 per cent to $1.32 on a volume of 750,000 shares, more than twice the 90-day average. The lender reported a 6.5 per cent increase in first-half profit but trimmed its guidance for annual earnings due to listing, restructuring and foreign exchange costs. Williamson said it was a little bit below expectations.
Precinct Properties New Zealand's shares were halted at $1.54 pending a $130m placement to institutional investors and a $20m offer for retail investors. The proceeds will repay debt and fund some medium-term developments. The property investor announced increased first-half profit largely on revaluation gains.
Trustpower led the market lower, down 2.9 per cent at $6.34 on a volume of 22,000 shares, less than half its average trading volume.
Spark was the most traded stock with 11.1 million shares changing hands, compared to its 3.8 million 90-day average. It fell 0.7 per cent ahead of tomorrow's first-half earnings result. Sky Network Television and Fletcher Building were the only other stocks to trade on volumes of more than a million, shares and both are reporting tomorrow. Sky fell 1.1 per cent to $1.75 while Fletcher gained 1.3 per cent to $5.28.
Of other companies reporting tomorrow, Ebos Group rose 0.3 per cent to $21.96 and Meridian Energy decreased 0.2 per cent to $3.72.
Outside the benchmark index, NZME sank 8.5 per cent to 48.5 cents after reporting a 44 per cent slide in annual profit. That was due in part to extra investment in digital classifieds and online subscriptions, which it's hoping will generate new income streams to replace the structural decline in its cornerstone print operations.
PGG Wrightson fell 5.4 per cent to 53 cents after warning earnings from its real estate, water, and retail rural supplies unit will be lower than a year earlier. Wrightson reports next week, but will eventually book a $120m on the sale of its seeds unit once the transaction is settled.
Hallenstein Glasson decreased 2.1 per cent to $4.28 after chief executive Mark Goddard unexpectedly left to spend more time with his family. The retailer's board has started looking for a replacement.