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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares edge up as budget, earnings dominate; MetroGlass gains

Thursday 25th May 2017

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New Zealand shares edged higher on relatively small volumes as investors were preoccupied with the government's budget and a slew of earnings, including Metro Performance Glass, which reported a boost in sales on its Australian expansion. 

The S&P/NZSX 50 index rose 12.69 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,434.47. Within the index, 26 stocks gained, 15 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was a relatively quiet $106 million. 

Finance Minister Steven Joyce today unveiled his maiden budget, with stronger economic and tax forecasts giving him room to return money to households through changes to tax thresholds, Working for Families and the accommodation supplement, while also boosting infrastructure spending, a third of which will go into transport. 

Investors were keeping tabs on the government announcement while also contending with company earnings from companies with September and March balance dates, which JBWere New Zealand equities manager Rickey Ward said left trading relatively light and focused on stock-specific news. 

Among those, MetroGlass gained 1.4 percent after reporting a 30 percent boost in sales from the acquisition of Australian Glass Group. Profit dipped to $19.4 million due to costs associated with the acquisition but was in line with revised lower guidance that sent the share price lower in February. 

"It's not a bad result - it's in line with guidance and people are forming a view on it," Ward said. 

Fishing group Sanford rose 1.7 percent to $7.10 after reporting a 25 percent increase in first-half profit, while utilities software developer Gentrack dropped 4.1 percent to $4.65 after posting a 46 percent increase in first-half profit. 

Real estate group Argosy Property rose 1 percent to $1.01 after lifting annual distributable earnings 4.6 percent. 

Comvita led the benchmark index higher, rising 3.8 percent to $5.45, having slumped near a two-year low on earnings downgrades and fears about the impact myrtle rust will have on its manuka honey supply. 

Fletcher Building slipped 0.3 percent to $7.89. Ward said there was still uncertainty zbout whether the country's biggest construction company had fully provided for fixed price contracts where costs had ballooned. 

Trustpower went ex dividend and the share price fell 4.2 percent, or 22 cents, to $5.05 after shedding rights to a 17 cents per share dividend payment. Z Energy fell 2.8 percent, or 22 cents, to $7.78 after shedding rights to a 19.9 cents per share dividend, and Tilt Renewables rose 0.5 percent, or 1 cent, after shedding rights to its 2.25 cents per share dividend. 

Tower slipped 0.9 percent to $1.17, giving up some of yesterday's gain after reporting an increase in underlying earnings. Pacific Edge dropped 11 percent to 48 cents, extending its decline from yesterday when it reported a wider annual loss on attempts to build scale in the US. 

Orion Health Group slumped 9.9 percent to $1, a new record low, ahead of next week's annual earnings when the company is expected to provide clarity on plans to raise new capital. 

Telecommunications network operator Chorus was unchanged at $4.49 after increasing its banking facility and extending its maturity date, while fish oil products maker SeaDragon dropped 17 percent to 0.5 of a cent after confirming its annual loss would widen. Payments firm Smartpay climbed 11 percent to 21 cents after posting a record annual profit of $2.2 million. 


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