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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain; Sky soars on NZ Rugby deal

Tuesday 15th October 2019

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(Oct. 14, 5:50 PM) New Zealand shares rose, led by a strong recovery in Sky Network Television after the pay-TV operator all-but secured rugby broadcasting rights in a deal that will also bring NZ Rugby on as a substantial shareholder. 

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 102.89 points, or 0.9 percent, to 11,026.60. Within the index, 29 stocks rose, 14 fell, and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $115.3 million, of which Sky accounted for $14.6 million. 

Sky jumped 19 percent to $1.06, unwinding much of last week's savaging, after saying it secured the rights to broadcast domestic and international rugby in New Zealand from 2021 to 2025. The contract will need shareholder ratification at this week's annual meeting and includes a part payment in equity, with NZ Rugby getting 5 percent of Sky's stock. 

"They had to win rugby, but I think no one can really get their heads around where this business model goes. It looks like it will increasingly be around rugby and rugby delivery," said Brad Gordon, an investment advisor at Hobson Wealth Partners. 

Trading in Sky was heavy with 13.7 million shares changing hands, compared to its 90-day average of 855,000. That was almost half the NZX50's 29.5 million volume. 

Spark New Zealand, which outbid Sky for NZ Cricket rights and is currently livestreaming the Rugby World Cup, rose 1.1 percent to $4.51, with just 977,000 shares traded, less than a third of its 3.1 million average. 

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare hit a record $18.38, and ended the day at $18.32, up 7.7 percent on a volume of 1.4 million shares, more than twice its 533,000 average. The company raised earnings and revenue guidance after saying it got early US regulatory approval for its Vitera breathing mask. 

"Growth is getting rewarded in the low interest rate environment and the fact that they're delivering potential growth early is very positive," Gordon said. 

Of other stocks trading on more than a million shares, Goodman Property Trust increased 0.2 percent to $2.225 and Ryman Healthcare rose 2.5 percent to $13.30. 

Stocks across Asia were broadly stronger, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng up 1 percent in afternoon trading and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rising 0.8 percent. The mini-trade deal between the US and China helped quell investor fears over the strained relationship. 

Companies with global operations were among the day's gainers. Ebos Group, which holds its annual meeting tomorrow, was up 1.7 percent at $24.91, Mainfreight increased 1.4 percent to $38.95, and Gentrack Group increased 1.1 percent to $5.31. 

Utilities were among stocks to fall today as investors were attracted to the allure of growth companies. Meridian Energy fell 1.6 percent to $5.225, Mercury NZ was down 1.4 percent at $5.50, Contact Energy decreased 1.2 percent to $8.85 and Genesis Energy declined 1.1 percent to $3.48. 

Restaurant Brands New Zealand posted the day's biggest fall, down 3.7 percent at $11.36, with 25,000 shares traded, less than its 40,000 average. Listed investment vehicle Kingfish, which is managed by Fisher Funds, today said it sold its residual shares in Restaurant Brands after this year's partial takeover, taking advantage of a high valuation in September. 

"Restaurant Brands remains on the fishing pond list and we will potentially re-enter when the levels are more attractive," Fisher Funds portfolio manager Sam Dickie said in his update. Kingfish shares rose 0.7 percent to $1.44. 

Vista Group International was unchanged at $3.74 after saying it bought the remaining half of box office reporting platform Numero for an undisclosed and immaterial sum. 

Outside the benchmark index, Evolve Education rose 10.3 percent to 12.8 cents after buying a Melbourne childcare centre for $2.5 million. The purchase is expected to deliver $600,000 of annual earnings. 


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