Market close: NZ sharemarket plunges late despite travel stocks boost

The New Zealand sharemarket plunged late in the day, falling nearly 1.5 per cent despite a boost for travel and tourism stocks with the imminent arrival of a transtasman bubble.

The late surge in trading and big falls in the leading energy stocks saw the S&P/NZX 50 Index slide 186.12 points or 1.49 per cent to 12,329.09, after reaching an intraday high of 12,515.22. There were 63 gainers and 74 decliners over the whole market on volume of 44.8 million share transactions worth $161.23 million.

The Government will announce the start date of the transtasman travel bubble on April 6, most probably beginning with a state-by-state bubble.

Dan Stratful, investment adviser with Forsyth Barr, said the bubble will certainly help the travel, hospitality and tourism sectors – even for those companies not listed on the sharemarket, it will be a lifeline.

“The market has been waiting for travel bubble news – but the energy stocks continue to be so volatile. Meridian is down more than 6 per cent and Contact more than 4 per cent, and there are still a lot of shares to be sold by April 16 when the global clean energy fund rebalances their weightings,” he said.

Online travel provider Serko climbed 29c or 4.77 per cent to a new high of $6.37 after telling the market that transaction volumes were increasing, so far this month 68 per cent of the amount recorded for the same period in March last year before the Covid lockdown.

Cinema software firm Vista Group continued its strong run, rising 8c or 3.74per cent to $2.22; and SkyCity Entertainment gained 7c or 2.06 per cent to $3.46.

An A$8.02 billion ($8.66b) takeover of Melbourne-based Crown Resorts by US private equity firm Blackstone also helped SkyCity’s share price. Blackstone, which has a 10 per cent stake in Crown, is offering A$11.85 a share and Crown surged 21 per cent to A$11.935.

“People get excited about a takeover like this, and they start to feel good about a stock like SkyCity,” said Stratful.

Market leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare down $1.04 or 3.37 per cent to $29.80; Ebos Group fell 50c to $28.80; and Spark declined 12.5c or 2.71 per cent to $4.48.

Among the energy stocks, Meridian fell 35.5c or 6.34 per cent to $5.245; Contact was down 32c or 4.53 per cent to $6.75; and Mercury lost 35c or 5.34 per cent to $6.20.

Synlait Milk 30c or 7.44 per cent to $3.73 following the resignation of director operations Mark Toomey who is returning to Australia. Returning Matthew Foster has been appointed acting general manager manufacturing for Synlait.

Freightways was one of the day’s biggest movers, climbing 29c or 2.69 per cent to $11.07; retailers Hallenstein Glasson gained 10c to $7.50 and The Warehouse Group 12c or 3.47 per cent to $3.58; and apple exporter Scales Corporation increased 20c or 4.6 per cent to $4.55.

Z Energy rose 3c to $2.87 after confirming it will be resuming its final dividend of 12-14c a share for the 2021 financial year. Stratful said Z Energy has shown its balance sheet is in good shape – and as a yield stock it got hammered price-wise when it wasn’t paying a dividend.

Turners Automotive had another good day, rising 14c or 4.22 per cent to $3.46. “When I last heard, car sales were going good,” Stratful said. “If people can’t travel, then they buy a new car or renovate their home.”

Well-supported new listing My Food Bag continues to disappoint, falling 2c to $1.60 – well below its initial public offering price of $1.85.

“Someone didn’t like it on opening and was looking for a stag (quick profit) and started selling,” said Stratful. “My Food Bag needs some good news such as reaffirming its prospectus forecast to move above its IPO price.”

Oceania Healthcare has appointed chief financial officer Brent Pattison as its new chief executive after his predecessor Earl Gasparich moved to rival retirement village operator Metlifecare. Oceania’s share price slipped 2c to $1.39, while rivals Ryman Healthcare was up 11c to $15.69, and Summerset Group Holdings was down 26c to $12.74.

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