Market looks to big increases in NZ earnings from reporting season
29 Jul, 2018 7:00pm
There is a wall of company results out next month and with the sharemarket bounding ahead, they will need to be good to justify current share prices, analysts said.
Business confidence surveys have pointed to a cooling off in economic activity over the last few months of the June 30 financial year, but the results should capture buoyant conditions for the bulk of the trading period, they said.
But as the year fades into history, investors will be more attuned to company statements as to what may lie ahead, given the increase in global trade frictions and the substantial weakening of the New Zealand dollar over the last few months.
Meanwhile the sharemarket continues to rally to new highs, seemingly divorced from a string of middling economic surveys and data releases.
"The results should be robust because they will reflect favourable conditions over the bulk of the trading period, but just how they did over the June quarter and what their outlook is will be the critical focus for the market," Salt Funds managing director Matt Goodson said.
As for the recent economic data, Goodson said what happens in the domestic economy does not necessarily reflect what's happening in the sharemarket.
"The one thing I would caution is that this market is not the economy," he said. "There is very little agriculture or banking representation in the sharemarket, so it's a bit different to the composition of the economy," Goodson said.
Then there are those heavyweights like a2 Milk, whose offshore focus means that its domestic exposure is low.
"The market is quite forward-looking, so the questions will be around what the last quarter looked like, and how robust the outlook is," Goodson said.
Josh Wilson, portfolio manager at NZ Funds, said that going on the sharemarket's performance, investors have high hopes for earnings.
"Judged by current share prices, market expectations of companies have almost never been higher," he said.
"Falling business confidence in New Zealand is certainly not dampening the market at present," Wilson said.
Harbour Asset Management portfolio manager Shane Solly said the so-called "confessions" time post balance date, when companies update their earnings guidances, had been uneventful, but said this round of corporate reporting would not be without its surprises.
"While actual results may meet broad market participant consensus expectations, forward outlook commentary from company executives may be subdued," Solly said.
"Slowing economic growth and cost pressure on consumers and businesses may contribute to company executives being more conservative in their outlook comments," he said.
The reporting season faces a logjam on August 22, when Fletcher Building, Meridian, TradeMe, Spark, Tourism Holdings and Cavalier are due to report.
The red ink is set to flow when Fletcher Building reports its result, which is expected to show massive provisions so the market will be looking at the adequacy of those provisions.
On the flipside, market leader a2 Milk is expected to reveal another big lift in its annual net earnings.
The power generator/retailers have had the weather on their side over the year, and Salt's Goodson expects Mercury and Meridian to be the standout performers in that sector.
Sky City (August 8) is traditionally the first cab off the rank in the reporting season. Petrol and house prices are influential on their business, and neither are doing them any favours at the moment, although employment and tourism remain buoyant.
How will they stack up?
Sky City (August 8):
Update on impact of infrastructure construction works on Auckland trading. Progress on Adelaide development.
Fletcher Building (August 22): Expect some red ink to flow from its B+I unit. Updates on key construction projects; NZ economic activity impact; asset sales.
Spark (22 August): Early indications of success or otherwise of the move to an Agile organisation structure.
The a2 Milk Co (late August): Another big lift in earnings expected. Focus on future growth opportunities.
Sky TV (August 24): Impact of ongoing technology-driven competitive changes. Focus on subscriber numbers.
Chorus (August 27): Signs of connection losses stabilising. Focus on UFB spending requirements.