New Zealand shares fell as a large order of Contact Energy shares weighed on rivals Mercury NZ and Meridian Energy; Genesis Energy gained on a better result than expected.

The S&P/NZX 50 decreased 41.66 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 9,281.47. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 19 gained, and six were unchanged. Turnover was $302.4 million, or which Contact accounted for $129.9m.

Electricity generator-retailer Contact was the most active stock, with a volume of 20.8 million, more than 20 times its 90-day average. The shares fell 2.3 per cent to $6.28, having hit a four-year high last week.

Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management, said a large pre-market order "put a little pressure on the other gen-tailer stocks", with Mercury down 1.1 per cent at $3.56 on a volume of 334,000, half its three-monthly average. Meridian fell 2.9 per cent to $3.65 on a volume of 2.7 million, almost twice its average. Trustpower decreased 0.5 per cent to $6.40 on 16,000 shares, less than half its average.


Genesis was the exception, up 0.4 per cent at $2.78 after reporting a dip in first-half earnings - from a record a year ago - while raising its annual guidance. Some 537,000 shares changed hands, more than its 354,000 average.

"Genesis is up on a solid result that was ahead of some analysts' forecasts," Goodson said. "It particularly featured good cost control."

Gentrack led the market lower for a second day, down 3 per cent at $4.55 on volumes of 423,000, about six-times its 70,000 average. The utilities software developer yesterday warned first-half earnings will be lower due to increased spending on staff.

Trade Me increased 0.2 per cent to $6.38 on a volume of 1.9 million shares. It reported an 8.1 per cent increase in underlying first-half earnings in what will probably be its swansong as a listed company. British private equity firm Apax Partners is offering $6.45 a share in a $2.56 billion takeover, and shareholders are expected to get their notice of special meeting next month.

The software firm's board didn't declare an interim dividend, which needed sign-off by Apax, because it would have negative tax implications for some investors. However, it will consider a special dividend if the deal falls through.

Scales Corp rose 1.5 per cent to $4.79 after beating earnings guidance, with a 44 per cent gain in net profit. Goodson said it was a very solid result, although investors were already prepared for the agribusiness to beat guidance.

Outside the benchmark index, T&G Global was unchanged at $2.81 after the fruit exporter reported an 11 per cent decline in annual profit, in line with guidance.

Foley Wines jumped 6.5 per cent to $1.65 after lifting first-half profit more than five-fold, and saying it is working to integrate its Mt Difficulty acquisition to boost annual earnings.


Michael Hill International climbed 7 per cent to 61 cents after posting a smaller decline in first-half earnings than anticipated and maintaining its interim dividend. The jewellery chain's new chief executive Dan Bracken also identified tweaks to the firm's restructuring plans.

PGG Wrightson was unchanged at 53 cents after reporting a 24 per cent decline in first-half earnings from its continuing operations, although the year-earlier result was a record.

Veritas Investments fell 3.7 per cent to 13 cents after reporting a four-fold increase in first-half profit and raising its annual earnings guidance on the acquisition of the Citizen Park pub in Auckland's Kingsland.

New Zealand Oil & Gas declined 1 per cent to 48 cents after reporting a $7.3m first-half loss after the yesterday's close. That was largely due to write-downs on its Kisaran development asset in Indonesia and the Kohatukai well in Taranaki.

Allied Farmers was unchanged at 7.9 cents. It also reported its first-half result after trading closed yesterday, lifting profit more than four times on a stronger performance in its livestock division.

Tourism Holdings posted the biggest increase on the NZX50, up 4.4 per cent at $4.51 on an average volume of 155,000. The rental RV operator was among the weaker performers yesterday after reporting a decline in first-half earnings.

Spark New Zealand rose 1.8 per cent to $3.705 on a volume of 12.4 million shares, compared to its 4.2 million 90-day average.

Among other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Precinct Properties New Zealand increased 0.3 per cent to $1.495, Fletcher Building fell 1.6 per cent to $4.89, Vista Group International gained 0.2 per cent at $4.51, Air New Zealand fell 2.3 per cent to $2.56, Auckland International Airport increased 1.2 per cent to $7.70, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare fell 0.8 per cent to $14.33, Heartland Group was unchanged at $1.41, and Kiwi Property Group was also unchanged at $1.41.