Market close: NZX continues to consolidate after weak start to the year

The New Zealand sharemarket continues to consolidate following its weak start to the year – and it is being led by the biggest cap stock, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 29.18 points or 0.24 per cent to 12,388.06, and has clawed back 4 per cent since going into correction territory (a fall of more than 10 per cent) at the start of the month.

There were 67 gainers and 74 decliners over the whole market and trading was steady with 66.83 million shares worth $178.08 million changing hands.

With The Warehouse Group providing a fillip with a record half-year financial result, it is the heavyweight Fisher and Paykel Healthcare that is driving the market after receiving an upgrade from one broker.

A resurgent Fisher and Paykel, making up 14 per cent of the index’s weighting, rose 90c or 2.87 per cent to $32.30 on trade worth $16m, following its 1.95 per cent rise the day before. It sat at $27.34 on March 8.

Nigel Scott, investment adviser with Craigs Investment Partners, said the market is bouncing back from its year’s low (12,085.18 points on March 18).

“Investors are pretty settled with their portfolios and are now looking out six months to see where the market might go. The new housing measures were a major announcement from the Government, wholesale interest rates have fallen, the NZ currency has weakened and the sharemarket may just benefit.

“People will be looking to the March 31 quarterly updates from companies, and are also waiting to see how much selling will take place in Contact and Meridian over the next fortnight or so when the clean energy exchange traded funds rebalance their weightings,” Scott said.

The Warehouse Group surged 13c or 3.56 per cent to $3.78 after reporting a strong six-month net profit to the end of January of $54.96m, up 88.5 per cent, on increased revenue of $1.8 billion.

Online sales growth of more than 50 per cent made up 11.9 per cent of total group sales. The Warehouse is paying an interim dividend of 13c a share on April 22, following its special dividend of 5c a share announced last month.

Scott said The Warehouse, and Kathmandu last week, has done a great job with their financial performances. “The Warehouse was $2.20 on October 9 and it has been restructuring for a long time. It has got its cost structure right, and is this as good as it gets, that’s the question?”

Fletcher Building rose 22c or 3.28 per cent to $6.92; Auckland International Airport picked up 8c to $7.52; Serko which also had a broker’s upgrade, climbed a further 10c to $6.50; and Tourism Holdings was up 3c to $2.58.

Property stocks Goodman Property Trust gained 3.5c to $2.23 and Kiwi Property also increased 3.5c or 2.88 per cent to $1.25.

The leading retirement village and energy stocks were again hit. Ryman Healthcare fell 25c to $14.96; Summerset Group Holdings was down 13c to $11.95; Mercury Energy decreased 14c or 2.12 per cent to $6.45; and Meridian fell another 9c or 1.71 per cent to $5.16.

Chorus declined 12.5c to $7.49; Ebos Group slipped 70c or 2.4 per cent to $28.50; Port of Tauranga shed 12c to $7.50; Scales Corporation, a bidder for Villa Maria winery, lost 10c or 2.18 per cent to $4.48; Synlait Milk decreased 15c or 4.17 per cent to $3.49; and a2 Milk went below $9, falling 17c or 1.88 per cent to $8.87.

Hit by a soft daigou sales channel, a2 Milk’s share price has only increased twice in the last 20 days on the Australian ASX market where it is mainly traded. It reached a high of $21.50 on the NZX in mid-August last year.

Kiwifruit grower and packer Seeka is buying Opotiki Packing and Cool Storage (OPAC) for a total consideration of $59m, made up of 7 million new shares for OPAC shareholders and taking responsibility of $25m debt. Seeka’s share price rose 13c or 2.73 per cent to $4.90.

MHM Automation, a supplier of automated systems for the global food processing and logistics sectors, climbed 5c or 7.14 per cent to 75c, and providing an update on its business and confirming increased profitability for the 2021 financial.

This year MHM has secured a $13m contract for three SSO plate freezers to an Australian meat exporter; an order for three Beta Vac cheese vacuum packers from a US customer; a bin handling system for a local pet food company; and will be delivering stainless silos for the New Zealand dairy industry.

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