Market close: Sharemarket sheds another half per cent

It was déjà vu on the New Zealand sharemarket. The blue chip stocks were still volatile, trading was again cautious and the market shed another half per cent – having fallen in seven of the last eight trading days.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index closed down 68.90 points or 0.54 per cent to 12,761.13 after reaching an intraday high of 12,903.46. The index began the year at 13,091.64 points and rushed to an all-time high of 13,558.19 on January 8.

There were 68 gainers and 76 decliners over the whole market on improved trading of 72.6 million shares worth $203.49 million.

Greg Smith, head of research with Fat Prophets, said the local market has under-performed because “we don’t have the technology growth stocks like in United States and the resource companies in Australia.

“Our market is more defensive with a dominance of utilities which can soften a bit by interest rate movements,” he said. “I think you can put the underperformance down to concern about rising inflation and interest rates going up, and the implications of tougher loan-to-value ratios on the housing market.

“The Reserve Bank of New Zealand may be the first central bank to lift rates at some point,” Smith said.

Driving the market down were Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, falling 31c to $32.14 on trade worth $30m; Meridian, which reports next Friday, decreasing 28.5c or 4.36 per cent to $6.245; Contact Energy declining 11c to $7.59; a2 Milk shedding 12c to $10.79; Auckland International Airport falling 7c to $7.09; and Ryman Healthcare losing 38c or 2.48 per cent to $14.95.

There was unusual activity in Z Energy, with nine million shares worth $25.24m changing hands, and its share price slipped 2c to $2.80.

Ebos Group, Australasia’s leading distributor of healthcare, medical and pharmaceutical consumer products, neared a new peak of $30 after rising 30c to $29.80. Fellow Christchurch-based Skellerup Holdings, which supplies industrial and dairy rubber products, hit the $4 mark for the first time in two years after rising 6c or 1.52 per cent.

Mercury Energy gained 19c or 2.75 per cent to $7.09 on trade worth $17.1m; Chorus increased 11c to $8.47; topsy-turvy Restaurant Brands picked up 41c or 3.48 per cent to $12.18; and Sanford recovered 19c or 4.09 per cent to $4.84 despite its Chinese mussel exports from the Havelock processing plant being suspended.

Summerset Group Holdings climbed 26c or 2.02 per cent to $13.15; PGG Wrightson gained 5c to $3.30; and Heartland Group Holdings increased 4c or 2.13 per cent to $1.92.

Wine exporter Delegat Group fell 19c to $14.21 after reaching an intraday low of $13.75; online travel provider Serko decreased 12c or 2.14 per cent to $5.50; and online cinema software firm Vista Group was down 9c or 5.63 per cent to $1.51.

Long-standing financial services company AMP fell 17c or 10.3 per cent to $1.48 after producing a mixed result for 2020. AMP’s revenue was down 12.6 per cent to A$2.33 billion ($2.5b) but it turned around a previous loss of A$2.46b to a profit of A$177m.

The result was overshadowed by the withdrawal of United States-based Ares Management’s takeover offer worth $6b or A$1.85 per share, though AMP said it was still talking with Ares about AMP Capital as part of its portfolio review.

Smith said the shareholders were left disappointed by Ares’ move. “AMP has been a bit of basket case. Management has got the company’s statutory profit back in the black but they still have their work cut out.”

Marlborough Wine Estates Group, which sells the O:TU and Music Bay brands, increased 1c or 1.72 per cent to 59c after reporting a 19 per cent increase in revenue to $2.39m and reducing its net loss from $651,464 to $481,000 for the six months ending December.

Blis Technologies fell 1c or 12.5 per cent to 7c after lowering its guidance for the 2021 financial year. Bliss said operating earnings (ebitda) is now expected to be $1m-$1.3m compared with the previous forecast of $2.1m, which was achieved in the 2020 financial year.

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