It's coming up to confession time for those NZX-listed companies with June 30 balance dates and, if recent business confidence surveys are any guide, they could be forgiven for being circumspect about their prospects.
The NZIER's latest quarterly survey of business opinion - released this week - showed a net 16 per cent of respondents reported lower earnings in the three months to June, down from a net 7 per cent in the prior quarter.
A net 12 per cent expected to report lower earnings in the September quarter, signalling a shift in perceived earnings momentum.
"The net measure does suggest some weakness in corporate earnings for the upcoming reporting season," said NZIER principal economist Christina Leung.
The survey came on the heels of ANZ's business confidence survey for June, which pointed to a further slowdown in the economy.
But the increasingly gloomy economic commentary has had no bearing whatsoever on the sharemarket, which this week hit another record - reaching 9053.59 on the NZX50.
In fact, during the June quarter - as businesses were supposedly taking a glass-half-empty view of the world - the NZX50 index rallied by a staggering 7.5 per cent.
Why? Josh Wilson, senior portfolio manager at NZ Funds, said the answer could be that the companies with the big weightings on the index tend not to have high exposure to the domestic market - companies like a2 Milk and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, for example.
Then there is the influence of the high dividend yield power companies - Meridian, Genesis, Mercury and TrustPower - which enjoy support as proxies for bonds in times of low interest rates and whose earnings tend to be influenced more by the weather than by business confidence.
But Wilson said the way in which companies cope with increased costs identified in the latest NZIER survey will be key. "It will be interesting to see, when they report, those cost pressures and how they have started to impact on earnings," he said.
Hg's second foray
Private equity giant HgCapital normally confines its activities to Europe, but this week's deal to buy a majority holding in Orion Health's Rhapsody business, and to invest in Orion's Population Health, will be its second foray into New Zealand's technology sector.
Based in London and Munich, HgCapital has funds under management of about £10 billion ($19.5b), serving some of the world's leading institutional and private investors.
HgCapital was previously owned by Merrill Lynch before its partners and employees bought the company in 2000. It has a stake in the Kiwi utilities software specialist Gentrack and the HgCapital senior partner and head of its technology team, Nic Humpheys, is on the Gentrack board.
Mark Devcich, head of research and portfolio manager at Pie Funds, said HgCapital had been helpful in finding acquisitions - four in total - for Gentrack in Europe.
"With Rhapsody and Population Health, I can imagine they will likely make similar bolt-on acquisitions to get the company to sufficient scale for an eventual exit," Devcich said.
Orion Health went public in late 2014, attracting a $915 million valuation in the initial public offering which sold shares at $5.70 apiece.
In May, Orion said its operating revenue of $170 million was at the bottom end of its revised guidance range of $170-$173m due to the timing of a major contract near the year's end.
While there was a slight increase in its 2018 operating loss to $40.4m, the second half was the lowest half-yearly operating loss in four years at $15.4m, it said.
The stock closed yesterday at $1.12.
Shares of Christchurch-based Ebos hit a record of $20.80 this week before coming off the a boil a little, ending yesterday's session at $20.70.
The company earned an upgrade from Morningstar analyst Chris Kallos after the pharmaceutical and animal health products business unexpectedly won a distribution deal from Australia's Chemist Warehouse.
Kallos said he raised Ebos' fair value estimate to $20 a share, up from $19 a share previously, following "the surprise move" by Chemist Warehouse to switch suppliers from Sigma Healthcare, effective July 1, 2019.
Ebos said its deal with Chemist Warehouse could bring in A$1b of revenue in the first year. Ebos transformed itself in 2013 with the purchase of Australian pharmaceutical wholesaler and distributor Symbion.