BUSINESSDESK: New Zealand shares fell, having rallied to the highest level in about 4½ years, amid perceptions recent gains mean stocks are now fair value rather than under-valued. Fletcher Building and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare paced the decline.
The NZX 50 index fell 6.7 points, or 0.2%, to 3983.78. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 17 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was a lower-than-average $80.3 million.
Fletcher Building, the nation's biggest construction company, dipped 1.3% to $7.12. F&P Healthcare, which gets more than 50% of sales in US dollars, dropped 1.7% to $2.36 as the kiwi held near 82 US cents.
NZ Refining slid 2.9% to $2.72 and Pumpkin Patch, the children's clothing retailer, fell 0.8% to $1.23. Australian wealth manager AMP dropped 4.1% to $5.66, leading stocks lower.
"Stocks are now looking fair value," says Mark Warminger, a portfolio manager at Milford Asset Management. "To move higher from here we have to see better earnings growth from companies."
He says the recent earnings season shows many companies have good cashflow and good dividend yields "that continue to look attractive".
Freightways, the courier and logistics group, fell 1.6% to $4.40, having climbed to a five-year high this week after posting quarterly earnings growth.
Restaurant Brands New Zealand, the fast food operator, fell 1.6% to $2.42 after forecasting a flat annual profit after reporting a mixed first-half result which included higher costs ahead of the startup of Carl's Jr stores.
Net profit rose 2.4% to $8.8 million in the six months ended September 10 on a 0.2 rise in group revenue.
Turners & Growers was unchanged at $1.55 after the company said it has removed about 20ha of kiwifruit orchards in the Kerikeri area after the bacterial vine disease Psa-V was detected on a single male "baker graft" vine in one of its orchards in the area.
Kerikeri is the 11th region to be infected since PSA was first discovered in New Zealand two years ago.
Postie Plus Group, the clothing retailer, was unchanged at 25 cents after announcing it had renegotiated its banking covenants with the Bank of New Zealand because there was a possibility it would breach them in October.
"Although it was not clear to Postie Plus Group whether a breach would in fact occur, the company advised BNZ and has now reached agreement with BNZ for a change to the company's banking covenants," the retailer says in a statement to NZX.
Marlin Global, the listed investment company that buys international stocks, rose 1.4% to 72 cents after defending the renewal of its management contract with Fisher Funds, saying there were no grounds to ditch the fund manager ahead of next week's annual meeting where it faces a resolution to cash up its portfolio.
Vector rose 0.7% to $2.77. The company's 's credit rating may come under the gun after the Commerce Commission's draft rules to set the default price-quality paths for gas pipelines would impose a sharp price cut for the Auckland lines company, Moody's Investors Service says.
Sanford, the listed fishing group, fell 2.3% to $4.25. Profit in the year ended September 30 is likely to be $20 million to $21 million, down from $22.3 million last year, the company said today.
Revenue was about 1% behind the year earlier as the high dollar eroded the value of export returns.
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