MARKET CLOSE New Zealand: shares mixed as Fletcher, Telecom fall; Chorus, Summerset gain

 New Zealand stocks were mixed with Fletcher Building and Telecom weighing on the market as investors took the opportunity to take some profit from yesterday's gain. Summerset Group climbed after it delivered a record annual profit.

The NZX 50 Index fell 2.134 points, or about 0.04 percent, to 4967.511. Within the index 13 stocks fell, 27 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $123.2 million.

Fletcher, New Zealand's largest listed company, fell 1.5 percent to $9.72, from a near three month high of $9.87. Last week Fletcher reported first-half earnings were held back by the strong currency, though some investors later became upbeat about its outlook for Australia.

"A mixed bag on the local market, with Fletcher Building being the main culprit that has really weighed on the index," said Grant Williamson, broker at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Fletcher had rallied relatively strongly the two days previous, so we've just started to see a few investors take profit on that stock."

Telecom, the nation's biggest telecommunications company, fell 2.5 percent to $2.39, yesterday it traded as high as $2.455, or a near nine month high. On Friday, Telecom announced plans to rebrand and launch a new internet-based television service from the middle of the year.

"Two of our largest listed companies came under a little bit of selling pressure today," Williamson said.

Summerset rose 3.3 percent to $3.44 after it doubled its annual profit to a record $34 million as sales in its retirement villages reached an all-time high.

Chorus rose 4.9 percent to $1.49 leading the day's gainers. Yesterday the telecommunication provider commissioned to build the government's ultra-fast broadband network reported a 7.1 percent decline in first-half profit and won't pay an interim dividend as it prepares for regulated price cuts on its copper wires in December.

"We are starting to see a few bargain hunters come into the Chorus market, ahead of what's going to be quite a busy year for them with the regulators and other things which are going to come out on that company," said Williamson. "I think investors are probably saying the worst is probably over for the company and surely there's got to be some good news down the track."

Freightways, New Zealand's largest listed courier company, climbed 2.1 percent to $4.80, a seven year high after touching an intraday record of $5. The company reported 3 percent growth in its first-half earnings yesterday.

"It's a stock that's starting to catch the eye of investors, although it's not producing spectacular growth it is very steady growth and investors are quite liking that," Williamson said.

Heartland New Zealand, the bank formed from the merger of the Canterbury and Southern Cross building societies and Marac Finance, rose 1.1 percent to 91 cents. Guinness Peat Group, which owns industrial thread maker Coats, was unchanged at 67 cents. Both companies reported earnings in line with expectations.

Online auction site Trade Me Group rose 2.7 percent to $4.14. The company revised its earnings outlook down 4 percent after a disappointing first-half results.

Auckland International Airport fell 0.3 percent to $3.725. Casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group slipped 1 percent to $3.87, and Sky Network Television rose 0.7 percent to $6.12. Cloud-based accounting software company Xero rose 1.4 percent to $40.50.

Outside of the benchmark index PGG Wrightson, the rural services company controlled by China's Agria Corp, gained 6 percent to 44 cents after reported a 22 percent boost in profit in its first-half.

Bathurst Resources plunged 38 percent to 10 cents. The coal miner announced it is making 29 staff redundant as it hunkers down to ride out the lowest world prices for coking coal in the last nine years and signaled another delay in its Denniston Plateau open-cut mine.

(BusinessDesk)

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