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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, Fletcher, Contact gain; Vista, Comvita fall

Monday 13th February 2017

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 New Zealand shares rose as Contact Energy posted stronger first-half earnings, and Fletcher Building, A2 Milk Co gained, while Vista Group International and Comvita fell.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 31.07 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,135.5. Within the index, 26 stocks rose, 17 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $94.5 million.

Contact Energy rose 1.7 percent to $4.87. It posted a 12 percent gain in first-half underlying profit to $82 million while holding its dividend unchanged and trimming capital expenditure in the face of weaker sales. Sales fell to $1.04 billion from $1.12 billion, and net income was $96 million compared with a loss of $116 million a year-earlier, which reflected impairments.

"Obviously they're looking to continue to find operational improvements, even though sales were broadly in line with what was expected it highlights a tough retail market in that sector," said Peter McIntyre, an investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "The market quite likes it, it's up on a low-volume day, though. It was a reasonable result, within expectations."

Fletcher led the index, up 2.4 percent to $10.30. McIntyre said he was expecting Fletcher to report well, with recent bounces in the share price partly attributable to institutions trimming their holdings. 

A2 Milk gained 2.4 percent to $2.60 while Genesis Energy rose 1.4 percent to $2.17.

Property for Industry gained 0.3 percent to $1.62. The industrial property investor reported a record full-year profit of $123.4 million on higher revenues and lower costs and remained upbeat about the current financial year. Distributable profit, which strips out unrealised movements in the value of the property portfolio, was $34.1 million, or 7.58 cents per share, 8.1 percent higher than the prior year.

"'You'd expect for that quality of result that it would've got a share price uptick, there's been a bit of profit taking in that sector in the past six months or so," McIntyre said. "Their financial position remains strong and the Auckland industrial market remains really positive for them. In a low interest rate environment, where demand for industrial property is strong, they've performed very well."

Vista was the worst performer, dropping 2.5 percent to $5.50, while Comvita fell 2.3 percent to $6.72 and New Zealand Refining Co declined 1.7 percent to $2.83. 

Outside the benchmark index, ASX-listed discount electronics good retailer JB Hi-Fi gained 3 percent to A$29.33. The company's management is keeping an eye on the New Zealand business after first-half earnings halved on this side of the Tasman to $1 million, as rising costs eroded the firm's margins.

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