Market close: shares rise on Contact profit, Fletcher gains before earnings

New Zealand shares rose as Contact Energy met expectations for first-half earnings growth and Fletcher Building gained on optimism its interim results tomorrow will show some recovery in Australia and more activity in Christchurch.

The NZX 50 Index rose 29.73 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4244.21. Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 17 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $113 million.

Contact, the biggest power company on the NZX 50, gained 3.4 percent to $5.25 after reporting a 29 percent jump in interim profit to $88 million as the impact of low wholesale electricity prices offset flat demand and shrinking margins on retail electricity sales.

"Demand in the electricity sector is way down yet they've managed to come up with growth in a very tough environment," says Greg Easton, an adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "It really is a great result."

Fletcher, the building products and construction group, rose 3.6 percent to $9.32. Reported profit before one-time items may rise 0.9 percent to $160 million as sales eased 4.1 percent, according to a Forsyth Barr forecast.

"It's a story that more and more people are buying into: the impact of Christchurch and a pick-up in Australia," Mr Easton says. "There's still a lot of money flowing into the stock market and an overwhelming 'buy' bias. Conditions are fantastic."

Steel & Tube Holdings, which supplies steel building products, rose 1.9 percent to $2.71.

Heartland Bank rose 2.8 percent to 74 cents and outdoor equipment retailer Kathmandu gained 2.1 percent to $2.39.

Ebos Group gained 1.1 percent to $8.90. Late today the healthcare and pet products company lifted first-half profit by 29 percent on the contribution of its Masterpet business, acquired a year earlier. The first-half dividend has been bumped up 30 percent.

Ebos says it is evaluating new acquisitions and anticipates "a strong full-year result".

Freightways, the courier and data management company, rose 1.1 percent to $4.50, recovering from a same-sized decline yesterday, when it posted 11 percent gain in first-half profit.

NZX rose 0.8 percent to $1.28, gaining back some of the ground shed yesterday when it reported a 32 percent decline to $9.86 million in full-year profit, missing some estimates, and gave little indication of the outlook for 2013.

Telecom gained 1.1 percent to $2.28 and Telstra rose 1.2 percent to $5.78 after the rival phone companies said they would team up with Vodafone to build a new trans-Tasman communications cable.

Hellaby Holdings fell 4.9 percent to $3.10 after the diversified investment company posted a 21 percent drop in first-half profit on weaker earnings from its shoe stores and higher corporate costs and forecast a decline in annual profit.

Precinct Properties New Zealand, formerly known as AMP NZ Office, fell 1.9 percent to $1.02 after reporting a 1.5 percent decline in first-half net operating income as costs rose and occupancy fell. It lifted its first-half dividend for the first time since 2008.

Comvita, which sells honey-based healthcare products, dropped 11 percent to $3.46. The company said today it expects a 15 percent fall in annual profit because of expensive honey, supply shortages and tough trading conditions in the UK and Australia.

(BusinessDesk)

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NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7842 -0.0078 -0.98%
AUD 0.8914 -0.0023 -0.26%
EUR 0.6203 -0.0015 -0.24%
GBP 0.4896 -0.0010 -0.20%
HKD 6.0810 -0.0622 -1.01%
JPY 85.2860 -0.3520 -0.41%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1229.0 2.000 2014-10-28T00:
Oil Brent 86.0 -0.650 2014-10-28T00:
Oil Nymex 81.4 0.410 2014-10-28T00:
Silver Index 17.2 0.065 2014-10-28T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5338.3 5367.6 5338.3 0.33%
NASDAQ 4551.4 4564.4 4564.3 -0.33%
DAX 9139.0 9157.6 9068.2 0.16%
DJI 17005.1 17065.5 17005.8 -0.18%
FTSE 6402.2 6475.4 6402.2 0.81%
HKSE 23704.0 23855.7 23520.4 1.27%
NI225 15442.4 15595.3 15329.9 1.46%