MARKET CLOSE: NZ’s benchmark NZX 50 charts new record

March 8 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand shares rose, extending the NZX 50 Index’s gain to a new record, as investors piled into Diligent Board Members Services and rewarded Warehouse Group earnings growth and bigger dividend.

The NZX 50 rose 20.54 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4354.02, the highest since the index it was created in 2003. Within the index, 25 shares rose, 15 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $154 million.

“From all indications the market is a bit more expensive than normally but when you compare it to the bond market it does offer some value,” said Paul Harrison, head of equities at BT Funds Management.

Diligent jumped 11 percent to a record $6.35.

James Schofield at First NZ Capital, who analyses Diligent, said the company’s “storming run” reflected investors realising Diligent had “reached critical mass” and would start “throwing off a lot of cash.”

BT’s Harrison said some people are buying the company “because they think it is going to be taken over by somebody else” following M&A activity in the US.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting company, climbed 5.9 percent to $9.10 having seen its market value exceed $1 billion this week, even though it hasn’t yet turned a profit.

Warehouse Group, the biggest retailer on the NZX 50, rose 8.3 percent to $3.79 after posting first half profit that almost doubled on the sale of properties as part of leaseback arrangements. It will pay a bigger interim dividend, 15.5 cents, than analysts had expected.

Among other retailers, Michael Hill International rose 2.3 percent to $1.35. Restaurant Brands declined 0.4 percent to $2.81 and Kathmandu fell 0.8 percent to $2.54.

Infratil rose 1.1 percent to $2.415 after saying that along with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund it would look to float between 40 percent and 60 percent of Z Energy on the NZX in the third quarter of this year.

Sky Network Television slipped 0.2 percent to $5.19 though it remained the most heavily traded stock by value since New Corp sold its 44 percent stake at $4.80 a share at the start of the week, with $52 million of stock changing hands.

Telecom was unchanged at $2.35, with $24 million of stock traded. Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the NZX 50, rose 0.4 percent to $9.30, as $21 million of shares changed hands.

Contact Energy, the biggest power company on the bourse, rose 1.3 percent to $5.46.

(BusinessDesk)

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