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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed; Sky City, Kathmandu gain, GPG falls

Monday 15th March 2010

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New Zealand shares were mixed in light trading. Sky City Entertainment Group rose after reiterating its profit forecast and Guinness Peat Group fell after warning that rising raw material costs will dent the recovery at its Coats unit.

The NZX 50 Index rose 6.01, or 0.2%, to 3231.14, its second daily gain. Within the index, 22 stocks fell, 18 rose and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $52 million.

Sky City gained 2.5% to $3.28. The casino company, in its interim report, reiterated that full-year earnings, excluding the one-time impact of the sale of its cinema chain, would climb 10% to 15%. It expects a “continuing challenging environment” in New Zealand in the second half, while Australia will reflect the tailing off of fiscal stimulus measures and the impact of a smoking ban on its Darwin casino.

Kathmandu, the outdoor equipment chain, gained 1.4% to $2.25 ahead of the retailer’s interim results on Thursday. EBIT is forecast to rise 15% to $50.6 million in the full year as sales rise 11%, according to the company’s prospectus.

Guinness Peat Group fell 1.1% to 89 cents after releasing a briefing note on Coats, the thread-maker that constitutes its biggest investment. While the worst of its trading slump is over, the recovery may be hampered by rising raw material costs.

“It’s not all plain sailing yet” for GPG, said Alan Moore, who helps manage $400 million at Milford Asset Management Limited., including GPG shares.

Salvus Strategic Investments climbed 2.8% to 74 cents after Milford Asset Management disclosed it had acquired a 17% holding in the investment company from a firm associated with Timaru-based businessman Allan Hubbard. The Milford Aggressive Fund purchased 3,445,100 shares at 70 cents apiece from the Hubbard Churcher Trust Management Ltd. last Friday, according to a filing.

Michael Hill International, the jewellery chain, fell 2.7% to 71 cents, and Ebos Group, which distributes medical supplies, dropped 2.2% to $6.30.

Warehouse Group, the biggest retailer on the NZX 50, rose 1% to $3.90, recouping part of its decline on Friday, when the company posted a 17% gain in first-half profit which mainly reflected costs in the year-earlier period that weren’t repeated. Full year earnings, adjusted, wouldn’t rise from 2009 levels, it said.

Wakefield Health climbed 3.6% to $7.50, adding to Friday’s 3.4% gain. The private hospital operator is bidding for control of Grace Hospital in Tauranga and last week said it has ample strength of its balance sheet and commitments for 51% of Norfolk, which owns Grace.

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