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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares hit record; Synlait, a2 gain while Sky TV, Z Energy drop

Monday 27th August 2018

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New Zealand shares hit a record, led higher by Synlait Milk and a2 Milk Co while Sky Network Television continued Friday's decline.

The S&P/NZX50 Index rose 46.79 points, or 0.5 percent, to 9,206.42. Within the index, 28 stocks rose, 18 fell and four were unchanged. Turnover was $114 million.

Synlait led the index higher, up 6.2 percent to $12.20, while a2 Milk rose 3 percent to $12.18. A2's shares have risen 9.4 percent since it announced its full-year results last week. It more than doubled net profit to $195.7 million in the June year as it widened margins and increased infant formula sales. Synlait is due to announce its full-year earnings on Sept. 19.

Vector rose 2.5 percent to $3.34, Auckland International Airport gained 2.5 percent to $7.12 and Skellerup Holdings advanced 2.4 percent to $2.17.

Metlifecare rose 1.6 percent to $6.35. New Zealand's second-largest listed retirement village operator reported a stronger underlying profit on improved revenue in 2018. Its headline profit weakened because of the smaller revaluation gains it made on its property portfolio as the housing market moderated.

Underlying profit before tax was $87.5 million, from $82.1 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 7 percent to $115 million. 

"It forecast underlying earnings about $82 million, and it came in at $87 million so there was a reasonable beat on that," said Grant Davies, investment advisor at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Overall most investors are going to be quite pleased with those numbers and the development margin."

Chorus was unchanged at $4.41. The telecommunications network operator's annual profit fell 24 percent to $85 million, as it slowed the number of customers switching to different providers or technologies in an increasingly competitive market. Revenue slipped 4.8 percent to $990 million. 

Sky TV was the worst performer, down 4.3 percent to $2.45. Last Friday, the pay-TV provider wrote $360 million off its value, resulting in a $240.7 million annual loss. 

Davies said there had been two research reports released on the stock. Credit Suisse lifted its target price on the stock 3.1 percent to $2.35; Macquarie Group dropped its target 7.1 percent to $2.60.

Meridian Energy dropped 2.1 percent to $3.215.

Z Energy fell 1.5 percent to $7.29. The country’s biggest fuel retailer has agreed to acquire a 70 percent stake in spot-based electricity retailer Flick Energy as part of its strategic investment in alternative fuels and mobility.

It will invest $46 million in the four-year-old power retailer, injecting $15.6 million of new equity for a 22 percent interest and paying an additional $30.4 million for 48.1 percent of the existing shares.

Outside the benchmark index, Michael Hill International was unchanged at $1.07. Its full-year profit tumbled 86 percent to A$4.6 million on Emma & Roe and US closure costs but the retailer says its new strategy has it positioned for growth. 

Michael Hill's one-off costs - including the write-down and disposal of assets and lease settlement costs - were A$25.5 million. Stripping out those costs, earnings before interest and tax fell 17 percent to A$40.1 million. 


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