NZ shares fall as Gentrack paints grim earnings outlook

New Zealand shares fell today with Gentrack leading the market lower as the software company painted a grim picture for future earnings.

Monday, January 20th 2020, 6:49PM

by BusinessDesk

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 53.26 points, or 0.5 percent, to 11,746.95. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, eight held steady and 17 rose. Turnover was $81.1 million.

Gentrack sank 13.6 percent to $2.35, below the $2.40 price the shares were sold at in a 2014 initial public offering. The utilities software developer said annual earnings will drop by as much as two thirds as tighter regulation in Australian and British energy markets has weighed on its sales pipeline.

Grant Davies, an investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said further confirmation from Gentrack about the recent run of losing clients had sellers “reaching exhaustion point.”

Davies said the string of bad results could be indicative of further trouble, and while the business fundamentals were sound, investors needed reassurance to stem losses.

“I’m not surprised the blood is on the street with Gentrack. They have a long way to go with recovery from here. But there is definitely a good business in there and they will live to fight another day, but from a share market perspective they will be looking for a few solid results just to steady the ship a little bit."

Energy stocks were also weaker, with Meridian Energy closing 1.6 percent down at $5.24 and Contact Energy down 2.7 percent at $7.35. However, a low volume of trading today meant that may not be indicative of an ongoing trend.

Davies said the market was quiet with much of the country still on holiday, and with Wellington Anniversary today and Auckland Anniversary next weekend, traders may be holding off until earnings start to appear.

Genesis Energy attracted more attention, trading on a volume of 2 million shares as the stock fell 1.2 percent to $3.22. The stock’s 90 day average is 461,000.

Among other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Spark New Zealand fell 0.3 percent to $4.52, Metlifecare was down 0.2 percent to $6.88 and Kiwi Property Group declined 0.2 to $1.58.

Kathmandu Holdings also fell today, down 1.5 percent at $3.24, Davies said this may be due to shareholders getting nervous about Christmas retail numbers.

“Usually the longer you wait for those things the less chance it has of being positive. So I think the market would be interested to see how they got on with their Christmas trading,” he said.

ASX-listed Super Retail Group today reported soft sales through the Christmas trading period, due in part to the Australian bushfires. Super Retail Group owns Kathmandu rival Macpac, which posted a 7 percent decline on a same stores sale basis. 

Fletcher Building slipped 0.9 percent to $5.60. The annual Demographia housing affordability survey showed New Zealand houses were "severely unaffordable" in 2019, despite a dip in Auckland property prices. Among other building related companies, Metro Performance Glass fell 3.7 percent to 26 cents and Steel & Tube Holdings rose 1.2 percent to 82 cents.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund units were unchanged at $4.04 ahead of the Global Dairy Trade auction on Tuesday. Economists expect dairy prices to edge higher in the next couple of auctions. Smaller rival Synlait Milk decreased 0.5 percent to $8.71, while A2 Milk increased 0.6 percent to $15.25.

Outside the benchmark index, Comvita fell 1.3 percent to $2.98. The company today announced the outcome of a strategic review, and will create an operational separation between its honey supply and branded product businesses. David Banfield officially took over as chief executive today.

NZME rose 5.3 percent to 40 cents on an unusually large volume of 3.6 million shares, compared to its 24,000 average. Refinitiv data showed a single trade of 3.5 million shares at 38.5 cents, or $1.3 million.

Serko rose to a record $5.80, and ended the day at $5.60, up 3.7 percent, valuing it at $515.7 million. The online travel management platform developer has attracted support and some investors anticipate it will be added to the benchmark index at Gentrack’s expense.

Tags: Market Close

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