MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares down in calm before earnings storm

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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares down in calm before earnings storm; Metlifecare, Sky TV drop, Argosy, Air NZ gainMARKET CLOSE: NZ shares down in calm before earnings storm; Metlifecare, Sky TV drop, Argosy, Air NZ gain

By Sophie Boot

Aug. 21 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand shares edged lower ahead of a busy week of corporate earnings, with Metlifecare and Sky Network Television dropping while Argosy Property and Air New Zealand gained.

The S&P/NZX50 Index dropped 5.77 points, or 0.07 percent, to 7,867,78, Within the index, 20 stocks fell, 20 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $107 million.

“Today’s a bit of a quiet day in terms of the earnings season, there was obviously lots going on last week and for the rest of this week every day is a big day, today’s probably the quietest day – we haven’t had much in the local calendar, which is probably reflected in the way that the market is pretty much flat,” said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners.

“It’s been so far so good in terms of the reporting season, most companies have met expectations and it has been generally pretty upbeat, which is probably why last week the index had its best week in four months and hit new record highs,” Lister said. “It’s a bit of a waiting game ahead of the swag of results due out through the rest of the week – waiting to see if some of these eagerly anticipated ones can deliver, and so far they have for the most part.”

Metlifecare led the index lower, down 1.7 percent to $5.81, while Sky Network Television dropped 1.6 percent to $3.18.

CBL Corp continued last week’s selling, down 1.5 percent to $3.35. The stock dropped nearly 10 percent on Friday after the company said first-half operating earnings fell 36 percent, largely due to a $16.5 million increase in CBL Insurance’s reserves to cover future claims, although revenue growth was still strong.

“They obviously had a bit of negative news last week which saw them sold off, they report this week as well so the market will be looking for any insights into how they’re going,” Lister said.

Vista Group International was unchanged at $5.52. It has bought a 60 percent stake in Mexico’s Senda Direccion Tecnologica, giving it control of the Latin American reseller of the cinema analytics firm’s services. The Auckland-based company issued 115,764 shares, or about 0.1 percent of Vista, at a nominal price of $5.91 apiece as a partial payment for the 60 percent stake in Senda.

Argosy Property was the best performer, up 1.5 percent to $1.05, while Scales Corp gained 1.4 percent to $3.62 and Air New Zealand rose 1.2 percent to $3.43.

Heartland Bank gained 1.1 percent to $1.88. It is offering up to $150 million of five-year fixed rate bonds to institutional and New Zealand retail investors and the funds will be used for general corporate purposes.

Outside the benchmark index, Michael Hill International was unchanged at $1.33. The jewellery retailer founded by its namesake boosted annual profit by two-thirds as its Michael Hill chain grew steadily in its main markets of Australia and New Zealand and recorded stronger growth in Canada. Still, it posted wider losses in its troubled US business and its fledgling Emma & Roe chain.

Profit rose to A$32.6 million, or 8.45 cents per share, in the 12 months ended June 30, from A$19.6 million, or 5.09 cents, a year earlier, the Brisbane, Australia-based company said in a statement. Revenue increased 5.8 percent to A$583 million. When store changes were excluded, same-store sales lifted a more modest 1.6 percent.


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