Shares rise led by Auckland Airport and A2 Milk

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 12 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 8,647.86. Within the index, 12 stocks rose, 30 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $193 million, of which A2 Milk made up about $50m and Spark contributed $30m.

The local market shook off early selling pressures from overseas which included a sell-off on Wall Street overnight, partly on uncertainty over Italy’s government and US-China trade friction.

Spark rose 1.8 per cent to $3.705, a seven-month high, having gained since the company said last week it was bringing forward restructuring costs and accelerating its ‘Quantum Programme’ to transform the company into the operator with the lowest costs.

“Our market has done extremely well today, given the pressure from overseas,” said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. With Spark, “it has been a continuation since its announcement.”

A2 rose 3.1 per cent to $10.88, leading the market higher, having led the market lower yesterday. The stock had dropped 16 percent in the past month and there was “pretty good buying today once the Aussie market opened,” Williamson said.

F&P Healthcare rose 0.8 per cent to $13.10, having fallen yesterday. On Monday the company posted a 12 per cent gain in 2018 annual profit to the top end of its forecast range and said it expects record earnings in the coming year as it benefits from growing global demand.

Among other blue-chip companies, Auckland International Airport climbed 1.5 per cent to $6.65, leading the market higher.

Gentrack dropped 6.7 per cent to $6.95 after the utilities software developer posted an 80 per cent gain in first-half earnings on returns from new projects and acquisitions made last year and said it had a strong pipeline of opportunities.

“Gentrack is one of the better performing high-tech stocks but maybe is not growing as quickly as what the market wanted”, given the stock’s strength in the past year, Williamson said.

Australian & New Zealand Banking Group fell 2.7 per cent to $29.40 on the NZX today. The lender announced the sale by its New Zealand unit of the OnePath Life NZ business for $700m to NYSE-listed Cigna Corp. But Williamson said the Australian banks fell in line with financial stocks in other markets. Westpac Banking Corp fell 2.4 per cent to $30.15 on the NZX today.

Stride Property rose 0.6 per cent to $1.78 after the group posted flat annual earnings as it beds in a new strategy and reshaped portfolio where it clips the ticket as a property manager as well as directly owning real estate.

Outside of the benchmark index, Plexure shares soared 15 per cent to 22 cents after the mobile voucher firm released figures that showed it is starting to generate positive cash flow after slashing costs and building sales momentum.

Tilt Renewables last traded at $2.08. The company announced it had entered into an agreement with Citigroup Global Markets and Forsyth Barr Group to underwrite an A$300m ($325m) equity raising should it be successful in its bid for a 15-year power contract with the Victorian state government in Australia.

Green Cross Health was unchanged at $1.67 after the medical services provider reported a 15 per cent fall in annual profit as it made up the unfunded shortfall left in the government’s $2 billion pay equity package for aged and residential care workers, overshadowing underlying earnings growth.

“That stock has been on the weak side” amid concerns about the impact on the sector of wage negotiations with district health boards and reports a large Australian pharmaceutical warehouse is looking to expand in New Zealand.

SeaDragon was unchanged at 0.5 cent after the fish oil refiner said its full-year normalised ebitda loss was $4.5m, narrower than the year-earlier loss of $4.7m but not as much of an improvement as it had flagged.

By: Jonathan Underhill

Source: NZ Herald

Link: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12061550

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