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MARKET CLOSE: Shares rise; MRP, Contact, Meridian gain as yield draws investors

New Zealand stocks rose, paced by energy companies, amid polls showing a regulation-prone Labour-Greens coalition won't win power in September. MightyRiverPower, Meridian Energy and Contact Energy, which offer relatively attractive dividend yields, all gained.

The NZX 50 Index rose 12.077 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5130.695. Within the index, 25 stocks rose, 14 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $123.6 million.

Opinion polls are projecting a third term for the governing National Party. A major election policy of the opposition parties Labour and the Greens is to reform the industry, creating a single wholesale electricity buyer to reduce retail energy prices.

MightyRiverPower rose 0.9 percent to $2.145, and has a forward dividend yield of 6.5 percent, according to Reuters. Contact advanced 1.3 percent to $5.29, its forecast yield is 5.9 percent. Meridian climbed 0.5 percent to $1.115. It has a forward dividend yield of 10.4 percent yield, reflecting the fact that investors get the full dividend from their partly paid instalment receipts.

"Investors are pricing in a brighter outlook for the electricity policy landscape on the back of a seemingly stronger National Party in terms of polling," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "They all offer quite attractive dividend yields as well, so they're still seen by investors as a good place to be if you're looking for yield."

"Some stocks have started to look a bit pricey and the electricity sector is one which does stand out as looking decent value," Lister said.

Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, rose 0.2 percent, or 20 cents, to $9.61. The construction business sheds rights to it 18 cents per share interim dividend tomorrow, which will be paid April 16.

Kathmandu rose 0.8 percent to $3.65. The outdoor goods retailer reported a rise in first-half profit yesterday, even as it contended with an unfavourably strong New Zealand dollar against its trans-Tasman counterpart, which makes up two-thirds of its earnings.

"You look across the retail landscape and it looks pretty tough out there for most operators, but Kathmandu seems to be able to buck the trend," Lister said.

Pacific Edge, the non-invasive bladder cancer test developer, led the benchmark index higher up 2.1 percent to $1.49.

Nuplex Industries advanced 1.7 percent to $3.60. Air New Zealand rose 0.5 percent to $1.895. Xero, the cloud-based accounting software firm, lifted 0.1 percent to $44.02.

Among the day's decliners, OceanaGold dropped 8.5 percent to $2.69, to be worst performer on the benchmark index. New Zealand Oil and Gas fell 1.9 percent to 76 cents and Chorus, the telecommunications network provider, slipped 1.2 percent to $2.39.

Telecom declined 0.6 percent to $2.39 and Auckland International Airport rose 1.1 percent to $3.86.

Outside the benchmark index, TRS Investments skyrocketed up 900 percent to 1 cent after Kim Dotcom's Mega Ltd announced plans for a backdoor listing on the NZX using the shell company that would value his data storage and encryption firm at $210 million.

(BusinessDesk)

Comments and questions
1

Can you explain how the 10.4% Meridian Energy forward dividend yield is arrived at?