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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares down, Mercury and Chorus weaken on international selling, Orion and Trilogy fall on earnings

Tuesday 28th November 2017

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New Zealand shares dropped, led lower by big moves in Mercury New Zealand and Chorus, as Orion Health and Trilogy International dropped on first-half earnings.

The S&P/NZX50 Index fell 34.61 points, or 0.4 percent, to 8,141.49. Within the index, 26 stocks fell, 14 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $239.8 million. 

"There have been a couple of reasonably big block trades that we've seen in the last while coming from offshore," said David Price, broker at Forsyth Barr. "Today we've had Chorus, Mercury, Fletcher Building to name a few. There have been some decent chunky sized trades and you've seen some weakness in the prices as the locals have had their appetites saturated."

Mercury led the index lower, down 2.6 percent to $3.32, while Chorus fell 2.4 percent to $3.905 and Fletcher Building declined 1.5 percent to $6.73.

Investors are waiting for the MSCI reweightings on Thursday, Price said. "It's relatively quiet heading into that, the volumes will be big on the day. Everyone's just poised and waiting for the upshot of Thursday."

Kathmandu fell 2 percent to $2.42. Last week the outdoor equipment retailer said its first-quarter earnings were up despite sales dipping as it widened margins by selling less sale stock.

"At the end of the day, the period they were talking about is largely irrelevant in terms of total sales," Price said. "What they were at pains to tell us was gross margins were up, because they didn't have all the clearance stock they had in the same period, the flipside was not having the clearance stock means you don't get the revenue. The New Zealand numbers looked quite weak on the face of it, so that initially had a bit of a rough time."

Arvida Group was the best performer, rising 2.5 percent to $1.23. Scales Corp gained 2.4 percent to $3.90 and Summerset Group Holdings advanced 2 percent to $5.22.

Outside the benchmark index, Orion Health fell 10.5 percent to 94 cents. The health software developer, whose shares have lost almost half their value this year, widened its first-half loss and lowered its outlook for the full year. The loss was $25.9 million in the six months ended Sept. 30 from a loss of $18 million a year earlier.

Trilogy International fell 8.9 percent to $2.35. The scented candle and beauty products maker lifted first-half profit 17 percent to $4.1 million as it faced lower interest costs and earn-out payments, although the firm's underlying earnings were hit by skinnier margins. 

Smartpay Holdings rose 4.6 percent to 23 cents. It says it has made "significant progress" in the first half of the financial year, as lower wages boosted net profit and offset a drop in sales, while a takeover proposal progresses to due diligence stage. Net profit rose to $900,000 in the six months ended Sept. 30 from $500,000 a year earlier, largely due to lower employment costs, which fell to $3.5 million from $3.7 million.

ERoad dropped 1.8 percent to $3.30. The logistics and fleet management firm widened its first-half loss as it ramped up spending to drive its US business, which it wants First NZ Capital to put under the microscope to see how it can drive faster growth.  

Turners Automotive Group dipped 1.3 percent to $3.12. New Zealand's largest second-hand vehicle retailer said first-half revenue and profit rose and it expects full-year pre-tax earnings to rise as much as 26 percent. Revenue rose 44 percent to $163.8 million in the six months ended Sept. 30, while net profit increased 18 percent to $10 million.

Steel & Tube fell 0.5 percent to $1.99. This afternoon, Radio New Zealand reported the company had pleaded guilty to 24 criminal charges laid against it by the Commerce Commission for misrepresenting its seismic steel mesh. The company was not immediately available for comment.


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