MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares down, NZX and Xero drop on de-listing news

New Zealand shares dropped, led lower by NZX and Xero after the latter announced it will de-list from the local stockmarket in favour of Australia.

The S&P/NZX50 Index fell 19.33 points, or 0.2 percent, to 8,021.09. Within the index, 27 stocks fell, 19 rose and four were unchanged. Turnover was $167.4 million.

NZX led the index lower, down 2.5 percent to $1.17.

"Xero de-listing means less fees and less trading, and it's a high-profile business and certainly one of the most high-profile shares," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "It's not the sort of headline the stock exchange wants, to have big companies like that decide to go elsewhere."

Xero itself dropped 1.9 percent to $33.41. The stock has surged 95 percent this year, the third-best performance on the S&P/NZX 50 Index behind A2 Milk and Synlait Milk. Today it said net loss was $21 million in the six months ended Sept. 30 from a loss of $43.9 million a year earlier, and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation turned to a $5.4 million gain from an ebitda loss of $25.9 million a year earlier.

"The result was reasonably solid, they've made good progress but that was overshadowed by the news they would de-list off the NZX completely. It's going to be really disappointing for the local stock exchange," Lister said. "It's been a great story, we want to see more companies coming onto the market not disappearing.

"It's definitely bad news and the NZX will be disappointed, as will many of the local market players. It's not the end of the world for investors, they can still buy it on the Australian stock exchange, but it's a loss for the stock exchange."

Synlait Milk fell 2.2 percent to $6.84. Lister said this was a natural pull-back as the stock had become over-heated, and investors may be cautious ahead of the company's annual meeting.

Heartland Bank was the best performer, up 3.2 percent to $1.95. It plans to raise up to $59 million at $1.70 apiece in a discounted rights offer to shareholders to help fund an expanding loan book, which rose at an annual pace of 16 percent in the September quarter.

Sky Network Television rose 2.4 percent to $2.60 and Arvida Group gained 1.7 percent to $1.18.

Trade Me dipped 0.2 percent to $4.32. The company has pared back its expectations for how much revenue property listings will deliver in the current financial year as the country's real estate market keeps slowing but still anticipates annual earnings growth.

Lister said that while the company's property sales business has been weaker than expected, overall guidance being maintained suggests that something else within Trade Me's set of businesses has been doing a bit better than expected.

Z Energy fell 0.4 percent to $7.17. It lifted first-half profit 10 percent to $80 million as the acquisition of Chevron New Zealand's retail network swelled sales, even as retail margins shrank from what the transport fuels company described as the top of the cycle.

Precinct Properties New Zealand fell 0.8 percent to $1.285. It is considering a seven-year bond offer to repay bank debt, and said it would pay a 1.45 cent per share first-quarter dividend, up 3.6 percent on a year earlier.

Goodman Property Trust was flat at $1.32. The NZX-listed commercial and industrial property investor saw first-half profit drop more than 40 percent as valuations fell on its investment properties.

Vital Healthcare Property Trust rose 0.5 percent to $2.215. It expects to meet the conditions attached to buying two private hospitals in Wellington from Acurity Health Group in the next few months. The board declared a first-quarter dividend of 2.125 cents per unit, payable on Dec. 18 and affirmed annual guidance for a cash distribution of 8.5 cents in 2018.

Outside the benchmark index, Warehouse Group gained 0.5 percent to $2.11. Its first-quarter sales were weaker than the year-earlier period after the retailer changed the pricing strategy at its flagship 'red shed' discount department stores to "everyday low pricing".