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New Zealand shares fell on the final trading day of the year, though not enough to prevent 2012 being the best for the NZX 50 Index since 2004.
The strongest gains coming from growth stocks and companies making comebacks.
The NZX 50 fell 14.389 points, or 0.4%, to 4066.513 and advanced almost 25% in 2012, just below 2004's 25% gain.
Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 13 rose and 14 were unchanged. Turnover was a subdued $24.6 million in a shortened trading session, with brokerages on reduced staff over the Christmas-New Year holiday period.
While there was much talk about New Zealand stocks benefitting from a global search for yield, the top three performers on the NZX 50 - Diligent Board Member Services, Xero and Pumpkin Patch - didn't pay dividends this year.
Diligent, whose software for company directors can be accessed via an iPad, fell 0.2% to $5.46 today, bringing its annual gain to 183%.
Xero, which asked investors for more patience on profits while it chases global growth, was unchanged at $7.60 for a 175% annual gain.
Pumpkin Patch, the children's clothing chain, rose 0.8% to $1.34, a 108% gain this year.
"Heaps has been written about the search for yield and the vast majority of volume this year was for yield but the really high returns have come from recovery stories and growth stocks," says Greg Easton, an adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.
After "a great year for the New Zealand market" in 2012, Mr Easton says he is "cautiously optimistic" for 2013.
"I think there will be consistent flows into the market" with volumes helped by the likely sell-down of state-owned Mighty River Power.
The biggest gainer on the stock market has been Veritas Investments, formerly known as Salvus Strategic Investments, which was a shell company until the announcement last week that it would buy the Mad Butcher chain for $40 million.
Veritas rose 5.3c to 10 cents on the final day of trading, for a 965% annual gain.
Dorchester Pacific, which survived after a complex restructuring of its capital in 2010, rose 3% to 33c and has gained 300% this year. In September, it agreed to buy EC Credit for $18.5 million in cash, stock and earn-outs.
Of start-ups that finally came good in 2012, Pacific Edge rose 1.9% to 54c for a 179% annual gain as it pushed ahead with sales of its bladder cancer test.
A2 Corp, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, was unchanged at 54c and advanced 125% in 2012.
"There's been a good mix of participants in the market - yield-hungry investors and more speculative types," Mr Easton says.
Chatham Rock Phosphate, which is developing ambitious and yet to be government-approved plans to mine phosphate from the sea floor, was unchanged at 33c for a 65% annual gain.
Renaissance, which re-defined its business after losing exclusivity on sales of Apple products, ended the year unchanged at 20c for a 111% annual gain.
Ryman Healthcare, a hot favourite among brokers for 2013, was the stand-out blue chip in 2012. It rose 0.9% to $4.55 for an annual gain of 66%.
Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the benchmark index, fell 0.1% to $8.39 and was up 37% for the year.
Telecom fell 1.7% to $2.275 and was up 12 percent in the year.
Chorus, the network company spun off from Telecom last year, rose 1% to $2.94 and was one of the few decliners in the year, falling 6.7% after the Commerce Commission signalled its intention to clamp down on the prices for network access.
Mainfreight, which is also among broker tips for 2013, fell 0.9% to $11.70 for a 19% rise in 2012.
Air New Zealand fell 1.2% to $1.295 and has gained 46% in the past 12 months.
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