Thursday, 26 July 2018, 8:46 pm Article: BusinessDesk
By Paul McBeth
July 26 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares edged lower as a weak earnings result from Facebook cast a pall over global equity markets while investors prepare for the local earnings season. Property For Industry and Heartland Bank declined, while Sky Network Television extended its recovery.
The S&P/NZX 50 index decreased 1.41 points, or 0.02 percent to 8,932.48. Within the index, 24 stocks fell, 19 gained and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $102.7 million.
Stocks across Asia were mixed after a weak result from Facebook led to a regionwide sell-down in growth-orientated stocks, offsetting earlier optimism of a cooling in trade tensions between the US and European Union after President Donald Trump's meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker.
"The Facebook result after the market closed in the US really dragged down some of these very high multiple growth-type names," said Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management. "The New Zealand market is in that period of school holidays cautiously coming to an end and ahead of the results season."
Property For Industry led the market lower, down 1.2 percent to $1.72, matched by a 1.2 percent decline for Heartland Bank to $1.72. Contact Energy fell 1 percent to $5.79 and a2 Milk Co declined 0.9 percent to $10.75.
Sky TV rose 1.9 percent to $2.65. The pay-TV operator has climbed more than 25 percent from a trough in March, helped in part by a poor streaming video experience by Optus for football fans in Australia during the recent world cup finals. Still, Morningstar Research analyst Brian Han said in a note this week that it was too early to re-rate the stock given the uncertainties facing it.
Mainfreight gained 1.5 percent to $28.20. Chief executive Don Braid told shareholders at today's annual meeting the June quarter registered strong revenue growth and is "quietly positive" that momentum will hold through the rest of the year.
Ryman Healthcare rose 1.4 percent to $12.27. The country's biggest listed retirement village operator and developer told shareholders at today's annual meeting first-quarter trading was satisfactory, and it had boosted nurses' pay beyond the increase in government funding for aged care.
Among blue-chip stocks, Air New Zealand fell 0.6 percent to $3.23, Auckland International Airport declined 0.6 percent to $6.69, Fletcher Building was unchanged at $7.08, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare gained 0.4 percent to $14.70, Meridian Energy slipped 0.2 percent to $3.135, and Spark New Zealand fell 0.8 percent to $3.80.
Outside the benchmark index, Oceania Healthcare gained 1.8 percent to $1.11 after beating earnings guidance and increasing the pace of development. The aged care company's chief executive Earl Gasparich said controlling shareholder Macquarie will probably start reducing its 57 percent stake now a trading restriction has lifted.
Goodson said the result was "quite strong and got a positive initial reaction" on the prospect of accelerating future development, although there were negatives in the care earnings.
Evolve Education jumped 11 percent to 62 cents after the National Business Review yesterday reported the early childcare education provider may be the subject of a takeover.
NZME was unchanged at 84 cents. Heightened interest in Australian media stocks after Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media Group announced a merger didn't spill over into New Zealand.