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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall as Pushpay follows Aussie software firms lower

Friday 18th October 2019

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(Oct. 17, 5:52 PM) New Zealand shares fell, led by Pushpay Holdings, as the payments app developer got dragged down by pessimistic analyst reports on ASX software firms Wisetech Global and Afterpay. 

The S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 36.78 points, or 0.3 percent, to 11,141.86. Within the index, 22 stocks fell, 20 rose, and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $106.6 million. 

Pushpay led the market lower, down 3.1 percent at $3.15 on a volume of 1.5 million shares, more than twice its 90-day average of 620,000. Investor sentiment for trans-Tasman software firms soured after J Capital Research issued a report questioning WiseTech's growth. Yesterday, UBS researchers started covering Afterpay and issued a 'sell' rating due to the threat of regulation.

WiseTech was down 10.2 percent at A$30 before trading was halted, while Afterpay was down 5.7 percent at A$31.985 in afternoon trading. 

Markets across Asia were generally down in afternoon trading, following a weak lead on Wall Street. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 0.7 percent in late trading, South Korea's Kospi 200 Index fell 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent. 

Domestically, Sky Network Television's annual meeting was the major focus, with shareholders signing off on plans to secure New Zealand Rugby's broadcasting rights and allowing the equity component of the up to US$40 million RugbyPass acquisition. However, chief executive Martin Stewart's share rights issue faced stiff opposition, with 25.6 percent opposition. 

Grant Davies, an investment advisor at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said Sky needed to secure the rugby rights and shareholders "pulled the trigger." 

"At the end of the day, shareholders were well aware that enabling Sky to pay for those rights was a necessity," he said. 

The pay-TV operator's shares were again the most traded stock, with 3.2 million shares changing hands, more than its 1.1 million average. They were unchanged at $1.07. 

Spark New Zealand, which has been aggressively competing for sports broadcasting rights, fell 2.3 percent to $4.44 on a volume of 1.5 million shares, less than half its 3.1 million average. 

Meridian Energy rose 1.2 percent to $5.40 after updating shareholders at its annual meeting, in chair Chris Moller's swansong. 

SkyCity Entertainment Group declined 1 percent to $3.93 ahead of tomorrow's annual meeting. Davies said the update will give a good steer on how the company has performed given the notes of caution about the economic outlook when the firm reported its annual result in August. The casino operator today hosed down union claims about the number of jobs that might go due to the delayed opening of the international convention centre. 

Fletcher Building, which is building the convention centre, rose 3 percent to $4.84 on a volume of 1.7 million shares. 

Trustpower posted the day's biggest gain, up 3.3 percent at $8.48 on a typically small volume of 70,000 shares, in line with its 66,000 average. 

Kathmandu Holdings rose 1.6 percent to $3.18 with just 97,000 shares changing hands. The retailer's shareholders will meet tomorrow to vote on whether to approve the $368 million Rip Curl acquisition. 

Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Contact Energy fell 1.4 percent to $8.55, and Kiwi Property Group was down 0.3 percent at $1.665.

Outside the benchmark index, Comvita increased 3.8 percent to $3.30 in light trading of 9,000 shares, after holding its annual meeting. 

After trading closed, Augusta Capital appointed two independent directors - Fiona Oliver and Jonathan Ross - to its board. The shares rose 2 percent to $1.56. 


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