MARKET CLOSE NZ stocks continue upward New Year march

Jan 15 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares rose today, with strong gains among stocks exposed to the Auckland economy and more strong sales figures from software-as-a-service firm Diligent Board Services, which pushed its share price to new highs.

The NZX 50 Index rose 17.038 points, or 0.41 percent, to 4170.955. Within the index 24 stocks rose, 19 fell, and seven were unchanged on turnover of $104.79 million.

While carrying a weighting of only 1.1 percent in the NZX50, Diligent hit an all-time trading high of $5.61 during the day, according to Reuters, and closed up 0.9 percent at $5.54, capping an increase of 151.8 percent in the last 12 months.

The company reported sales for the 12 months to Dec. 31 of US$26.3 million, a 66 percent increase over the previous year, greater than all its trading years since listing in 2007 combined.

The report to the market also disclosed a decline in the rate of sales growth, but an equities vice-president at NZ First Capital, James Schofield, said retention rates of 97 percent and the company's banked cash of US33.4 million indicated Diligent's potential for strong, high margin growth.

The company markets software that allows company board papers to be digitally organised and presented for directors.

"SAAS companies generally have very high margins once they hit critical mass," said Schofield. "Diligent is right in the top range."

Elsewhere in the index, Auckland-centred companies Vector, Auckland International Airport and Sky City were all strong performers as a business confidence survey and real estate figures indicated a more buoyant year for the country's largest city and the New Zealand economy generally.

Vector was up 3.65 percent to $2.84, to lead the index higher, while SkyCity was third strongest riser for the day, up 2.6 percent to $3.95, followed by AIA, up 1.82 percent to $2.795.

Outdoor equipment chain Kathmandu recovered ground lost yesterday, up 2.86 percent to $2.16, for the second strongest gain of the day.

The biggest loser on the day was Restaurant Brands, down 2.7 percent to $2.85, with only Telstra and Pumpkin Patch also exceeding a 2 percent fall, closing at $5.56 and $1.45 respectively.

(BusinessDesk)

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