Market close: Late burst drives NZ shares higher

The New Zealand sharemarket had a late burst of trading to etch out another promising gain – with blue chip stock Auckland International Airport calling for the vaccine roll-out to be speeded up.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index traded in a very narrow range before pushing forward in the last half hour and closing at the day’s high of 12,683.63, up 29.02 points or 0.23 per cent.

There were 81 gainers and 56 decliners, with a solid 60.57 million shares worth $219.70 million changing hands.

Greg Smith, head of research with Fat Prophets, said there was a shortage of corporate news, and the market was in a holding pattern.

“The pause in the transtasman travel bubble hasn’t helped,” Smith said. “The New Zealand market is more reliant on the borders re-opening as we don’t have the (growth) resource stocks like in Australia.

“Really, our market hasn’t done a lot since mid-October apart from that burst in January – even though the economic news has been quite positive. The latest US non-farm payroll figures will be keenly watched.”

Over the past 12 months to the end of June, New Zealand’s leading index has risen 11.5 per cent compared with the Australian All Ordinaries Index which has had its best year since 1987 with a 45 per cent rise.

The main highlight was a trading update from Auckland International Airport, which was down 5c to $7.22. Air New Zealand was up 2c to $1.57.

Auckland airport told the market that passenger confidence was dented by the recent Covid outbreaks in Australia and the risk posed to a largely unvaccinated population. The airport is expecting a recovery in international passengers early next year, and its full-year earnings guidance is unchanged with a loss of $35m-$55m.

Smith said Auckland airport’s comments were reasonably positive, all things considered. It was a brave call to say passenger numbers and business will pick up in 2022. “The airport was one of the first companies to raise capital at the start of the pandemic with a view of battening down the hatches till the end of the year.”

Fisher and Paykel Healthcare was down 41c to $30.71; Port of Tauranga slipped another 3c to $7; SkyCity Entertainment fell 6c or 1.71 per cent to $3.45; and Scales Corporation declined 10c or 2.09 per cent to $4.69.

The milk companies Synlait increased 9c or 2.47 per cent to $3.73, and a2 Milk rose 19c or 2.95 per cent to $6.63.

Retirement village operators Ryman Healthcare picked up 12c to $13.25; Summerset Group Holdings gained 12c to $13.53; and Arvida increased 4c or 1.96 per cent to $2.08.

Spark gained a further 3c to $4.83. Spark, a strong dividend stock, has crept over $4.80 after sitting at $4.425 on May 19.

Another quiet riser has been carpet maker Cavalier Corporation, gaining 2c or 4.08 per cent to 51c. It has put on 20 per cent since June 22 when it was priced at 40c, and it has risen 108 per cent over the past 12 months.

Among the energy stocks, Mercury rose 17c or 2.55 per cent to $6.84; Genesis was up 6c to $3.46; Trustpower gained 6c to $8.15; and Contact was down 3c to $8.25. Meridian had its corporate credit rating of BBB+/Stable/A-2 reaffirmed by S&P Global Ratings, and its share price slipped 0.005c to $5.325.

The $3 billion takeover of Tilt Renewables, at $8.10 a share, by Powering Australian Renewables has been approved by the Overseas Investment Office and Australian Foreign Investment Review Board. Tilt’s share price was unchanged at $8.03.

Serko was up 12c to $7.62; Vital Healthcare collected 7.5c or 2.42 per cent to $3.17; Enprise Group rose 30c or 10.17 per cent to $3.25; TIL Logistics increased 10c or 10 per cent to $1.10; and Harmoney collected another 7c or 4.29 per cent to $1.70.

Property companies Argosy gained 7c or 4.49 per cent to $1.63 and Stride also 7c or 2.93 per cent to $2.46 respectively.

Westpac Banking Corporation has completed the sale of its general insurance and services businesses to Allianz for $725m. Westpac’s share price fell 32c to $27.50, while ANZ Banking Group was down 34c to $30.03

TruScreen Group has received its first order from Serbia for six cervical cancer screening devices, and its share price increased 0.005c or 7.69 per cent to 7c. Serbia has a target screening market of about three million women.

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