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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares up, Sky TV and Westpac gain while Tegel, A2 fall after earnings

Wednesday 15th February 2017

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The S&P/NZX50 Index gained 29.12 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,180.02. Within the index, 30 stocks rose, 10 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $164.3 million.

Sky Network Television led the index, up 3.4 percent to $4.59, recovering some of its losses from earlier this week when it shed dividend rights. Westpac Banking Corp rose 2.5 percent to $35.70 and Spark New Zealand gained 2.5 percent to $3.71 ahead of its earnings announcement on Friday.

A2 Milk Co dipped 0.4 percent to $2.56, though it traded higher for most of the day. The milk marketer more than tripled its first-half profit to $39.4 million as demand for its A2 Platinum infant formula surged in its key Australia, New Zealand and China markets. The company anticipates adopting a dividend policy after its 2017 full year results.

"It was a pretty decent result, the first-half numbers were better than people were expecting and trading through January looks to have gone pretty well. I think you'll see most of the analysts pushing their numbers up a little bit," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "It had a very strong run into the result and it's been the top performer in the NZX50 this year, so expectations were pretty high anyway. The market was quietly expecting a better result than most analysts had been picking."

Tegel Group Holdings was the worst performer, down 2.3 percent. Australian rival Ingham's Group expects New Zealand's oversupply of chicken to continue this year, keeping prices cheap and crimping its local earnings. Both companies have had to contend with low domestic prices with chicken supply outstripping demand over the past six months.

"They've been a pretty mixed performer, they haven't been able to deliver as strongly as investors would've liked," Lister said. "They've disappointed the market a couple of times since listing and investors will want to see evidence of them improving before they give them the benefit of the doubt. They're not reporting this season, I think the jury will be out over the short term until investors see results."

Restaurant Brands fell 1.8 percent to $5.36, Trustpower dropped 1.1 percent to $4.54 and Auckland International Airport declined 1.1 percent to $6.875.

Outside the benchmark index, cancer diagnostics company Pacific Edge gained 6 percent to 53 cents after undertaking an $8 million share placement to institutional and other select investors in New Zealand in order to shore up its balance sheet.

Pushpay Holdings rose 3.1 percent to $2.01. The mobile app developer has entered a funding agreement for a research and development grant from Callaghan Innovation.

Trilogy International declined 2.7 percent to $2.53. "They're having a pretty weak day and they've been the market darling over the years, it's almost down 50 percent from lofty levels last year," Lister said. "It looks like there's been some selling from one institutional shareholder that's driven this latest bit of weakness. I think there's a few people reconsidering the growth story they've got ahead of them."

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