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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall today, led lower by Sky TV and Tourism Holdings, but gain 4.4 percent in August

Friday 31st August 2018

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New Zealand shares dipped, led lower by Sky Network Television and Tourism Holdings, but gained over 4 percent in the month after a busy earnings season.

The S&P/NZX50 dropped 26.68 points, or 0.3 percent, to 9,313.2. Within the index, 24 stocks fell, 14 rose and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $152.2 million.

While the benchmark index fell today, it is up 4.4 percent for the month and hit a record high Wednesday. Gains have been led by the largest stocks with the NZSE10 index up 6.9 percent to 9178.8 in August. 

"It has been quite a remarkable month with this earnings season," said Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management. "It's really been led by the likes of Fisher and Paykel Healthcare which has continued to surge despite a result which saw downgrades from analysts, Ryman, Spark. It's been very narrow leadership of what's been a strong month for the market."

Sky Network Television was the worst performer, down 6.5 percent to $2.15, the lowest it has closed since mid-May. Last Friday, the pay-TV operator wrote down its value by $360 million at the end of its financial year, resulting in a $240.7 million annual loss.

"You're seeing continued selling on that structural fear about their place in the market over the next couple of years, and there will be some index changes affecting it as the company becomes smaller," Goodson said. "In particular, there's a FTSE index - the changes don't occur for several weeks yet, but it's likely to fall out of it."

"Passive indices tend to act as fuel on the fire when a stock is going up, and then put the knife in when things aren't going so well. A lot of people try to look at the methodology of these indices and figure out what will happen," Goodson said. 

Tourism Holdings dropped 3.6 percent to $5.60. It reported a record June year net profit of $62.4 million on Tuesday, of which $23.1 million was an accounting gain on setting up its TH2 joint venture with RV maker Thor Industries. The company said it will step up investment in the JV which will stop it from repeating another year of record profits.

Today, the Overseas Investment Office announced it had cleared THL's campervan manufacturing business to acquire a new site to expand its operations in Hamilton. In July, the OIO allowed Action Manufacturing, of which THL owns half, to acquire a leasehold interest in 1.5 hectares of land at Te Rapa for $8.6 million. 

"The result was a little disappointing, the stock has had a stellar run and is giving back some of those gains really," Goodson said. "Theoretically it's a beneficiary of a weak kiwi dollar. Their business in the US was perhaps a little behind expectations."

Synlait Milk fell 2.3 percent to $12.80, Fletcher Building dropped 2.2 percent to $6.36, and Scales Corp declined 2 percent to $4.85.

Ryman Healthcare was the best performer, up 1.4 percent to $14.09. Trade Me Group rose 1.1 percent to $5.37 and Air New Zealand gained 0.9 percent to $3.30.

Units in Fonterra Shareholders Fund dropped 0.6 percent to $5.01. Fonterra Cooperative Group cut its forecast payout to farmers by 25 cents per kilogram of milk solids, blaming increased supply in Europe and the Americas,  and appetite for dairy products in emerging markets cooling. 

Outside the benchmark index, Warehouse Group was unchanged at $2.04. It now expects its full-year adjusted net profit to be approximately 10 percent higher than it previously forecast and announced plans for a $25.6 million impairment of goodwill related to Torpedo7 as it expands into physical stores.  

It now expects 2018 profit of $58 million to $59.5 million versus the $50 million to $53 million range it forecast in March. The result is 12 percent to 15 percent lower than the prior year. 

"It's a better end than they'd expected to the year, but that said they had downgraded earnings quite sharply earlier," Goodson said. "The stock hasn't reacted particularly strongly at all to this. The upgrade has to be seen in the context of their earlier dialing-back of expectations."

Cooks Global Foods was unchanged at 8.5 cents. The company, which owns the master franchise rights for the Esquires Coffee chain outside New Zealand and Australia, says its planned $19 million purchase of Mojo Coffee Cartel will boost its earnings and expand its reach to the United States.

(BusinessDesk)

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