Market close: shares fall as Telecom, Auckland Airport shed dividends
New Zealand shares fell led by Telecom and Auckland International Airport as a swag of companies went ex-dividend and some investors took advantage of shares at five-year highs to lighten their holdings.
The NZX 50 Index fell 37.61 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4341.14. Within the index, 30 stocks fell, 12 rose and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $165 million.
Telecom dropped 6 percent, or 15 cents, to $2.295 after shedding its 8-cent interim dividend and after the phone company announced a change of strategy at its Gen-I Australia unit, eliminating 120 jobs and reducing the focus to large corporate customers with specific transTasman IT requirements. It will take a charge against 2013 earnings.
Auckland Airport, the nation's busiest gateway, fell 4.2 percent to $2.76. Investors buying the stock today are not entitled to its 5.75 cents interim dividend.
Among other companies going ex-dividend, NZ Oil & Gas declined 3.8 percent to 89 cents, Nuplex Industries slipped 3.2 percent to $3.37, Trade Me Group dropped 2.3 percent to $4.74, Steel & Tube declined 2.2 percent to $2.64, Freightways fell 0.4 percent to $4.52 and Skellerup dropped 2 percent to $1.47. Air New Zealand fell 1.4 percent to $1.465.
Shares in the US came off their highs overnight and equity markets were generally weaker across Asia today.
"People are taking some breathing space to reassess their levels and maybe take a bit of profit," said Karl Williscroft, a trader at Direct Broking.
OceanaGold was the biggest gainer, rising 3.9 percent to $3.22 after announcing the resumption of transport operations from its Didipio gold and copper mine in the Philippines which had been held up by a dispute over its tax status. The company will increase transport capacity to reduce stockpiles at the site.
NZX, the stock exchange operator, rose 2.3 percent to $1.33 amid strong pre-registrations for the government's sale of Mighty River Power, the first of the utilities slated for a sell-down.
Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the NZX 50, fell1.8 percent to $8.94 while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare gained 1.6 percent to $2.62. Contact Energy declined 1.7 percent to $5.38.
Rakon rose 4.8 percent to 22 cents, having tumbled 41 percent this year.
Briscoe Group was up 2.9 percent to $2.50 and Kathmandu fell 2 percent to $2.49.