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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, boosted by Sky TV-Spark deal

Wednesday 31st July 2019

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(July 30, 6:01 PM) New Zealand shares rose, boosted by gains in Sky Network Television and Spark New Zealand after they cut a deal that will let the pay-TV operator's commercial customers access the rugby world cup using a Sky decoder.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 27.59 points, or 0.3 percent, to 10,878.95. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 19 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $106.6 million with six companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares.

Sky TV was the biggest gainer, adding 4.1 percent to $1.28 on a volume of 660,990, in line with its 90-day average.

Spark was the most heavily traded stock on the index, adding 1.3 percent to $3.95 on a volume of 1.8 million shares, lower than its 90-day average of 3.17 million shares.

Under the terms of the deal, Sky's commercial customers will be able to access a pop-up channel to access all 48 matches live at a one-off cost.

“The market has taken that quite positively,” said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene in Christchurch. He said investors are also digesting comments from chief executive Martin Stewart who this week said he would bid to keep the right to key sports, regardless of the cost. They will now be waiting to see the annual result on Aug. 22.

“It will be interesting to see what they do with the dividend this time round as they might be trying to build up a bid of a nest egg for when they do need to make these bids,” he said.

Williamson noted that “growth stocks” like Ebos Group, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and A2 Milk fared well today, possibly at the expense of electricity stocks.

Ebos added 1.4 percent to $24.6 on volume of 165,203 versus a 90-day average of 114,381.

F&P Healthcare, which is also benefiting from the weaker New Zealand dollar, added 1.9 percent at $16.8 on a volume of 433,420 versus its 90-day average of 544,901.

A2 Milk ended the day up 0.6 percent at $17.80 on a volume of 277,885, less than its 90-day average of 704,922 as it continued to benefit from news infant formula Bubs more than doubled revenue to A$18.5 million. 

Synlait Milk, which supplies A2 and often moves in lock-step with the milk marketing firm, advanced 1 percent to $10.01. Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units fell 0.5 percent to $3.75 and the farmer-owned Fonterra Cooperative Group shares were down 0.3 percent at $3.76. 

In the other direction, electricity stocks were all in the red.

Mercury NZ shed 2.5 percent to $4.575, Contact Energy shed 0.8 percent to $7.82, Meridian was down 1.7 percent at $4.76 and Genesis Energy fell 1.2 percent to $3.44. Meridian was one of the most heavily traded stock, moving 1.07 million shares but below its 90-day average of 1.4 million.  

Williamson said there was no specific news driving the moves. “It really just depends on where the buyers were lining up and it's obviously not in the electricity stocks today.”

Fletcher Building was down 0.2 percent at $5.09, trading a slightly higher than average 1.19 million.

Outside the benchmark index, Abano Healthcare fell 8.4 percent to $4.05 after its annual net profit dropped 26 percent, reflecting falling margins in both New Zealand and Australia and as it wrote off goodwill on four Australian dental practices. It also slashed its final dividend to 8 cents per share from 20 cents last year, taking the annual payout to 24 cents, down from 36 cents.

Green Cross Health rose 0.9 percent to $1.16 after it said it has had to sacrifice margin to combat increased discounting by “some large foreign retailers,” particularly of the government-mandated charge for prescriptions.

Turners Automotive Group rose 4.2 percent to $2.26 percent after it told investors all its businesses were tracking ahead of budget and ahead of the same quarter a year ago in the first quarter.

Williamson said investors will now be closely focused on the upcoming earnings season which will kick off in full by mid August.

He said the ongoing decline in interest rates is positive for stocks as any funding costs companies have are on the decline.

“It will be interesting to see what a lot of these company directors are going to say about the last six months and the upcoming six months,” he said.

The New Zealand government’s 2023 bond paying annual interest of 5.5 percent was the most heavily traded debt security at 5 million. It closed at a yield of 1.08 percent, down 6 basis points. ANZ Bank New Zealand’s 2021 bonds paying an annual interest of 3.30 percent closed at 1.68 percent, down 14 basis points.


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