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NZX flags smaller 1H earnings on Clear litigation, CEO transition costs

Monday 30th July 2012

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NZX, the stock exchange operator, expects smaller first-half earnings than a year earlier as it stumps up as much as $3 million to pay for its Clear Grain Exchange litigation and to cover the costs of installing a new chief executive.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation, and fair value movements were between $9 million and $10 million in the six months ended June 30, the Wellington-based company said in a statement. That's smaller than the ebitdaf of $11.7 million in the same period last year. Net profit was between $3 million and $4 million, compared to $4.5 million in 2011.

The stock exchange operator's expenses were between $2 million and $3 million higher than last year, with about two-thirds arising from the CEO transition, the Clear litigation and other non-recurring items, NZX said.

The outlook for the next six months "combines a traditionally stronger second-half for NZX's businesses with some significant market developments against he backdrop of a challenging global economic environment," the company said. "The medium-term outlook for the business remains strong."

The stock exchange has had to contend with dwindling trading values on its bourse this year as investors remain nervous with Europe's sovereign debt woes eroding confidence.

It returned about $34.4 million to shareholders in May after the getting the proceeds from its TZ1 carbon trading registry sale.

NZX said it wil launch equity derivatives in the first-half of next year, and plans to embark on a series of initiatives to bolster its global position with dairy derivatives.

"Resources will also be invested in initiatives designed to increase the attractiveness of listing for small and medium-size companies seeking capital for growth," it said.

The company will give a more detailed outlook when it officially publishes its first-half results on Aug. 20.

The stock rose 1.5 percent ot $1.32 in trading on Friday, and has surged 34 percent this year. The stock is rated an average 'hold' based on three analysts' recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median target price of $2.84.

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