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Travel stocks up as NZ border reopens

Travel stocks rose higher in local trading as the government announced it would begin to reopen the borders, although omicron still threatens to disrupt the sector.

Thursday, February 3rd 2022, 6:02PM

by BusinessDesk

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 45 points, or 0.4%, to 12,335.32. Turnover was $143.7 million.

Investors rushed to buy some travel stocks after the government announced a plan to reopen the border, just as the omicron outbreak is expected to take hold.

Trans-Tasman travel will be the first to open on Feb 27, with borders fully reopened in five steps by October this year.

Arrivals will still have to self-isolate for 10 days and take three rapid antigen tests but will no longer have to spend time in a managed isolation.

Tourism Holdings shot up 4.4% to $2.84 and Air New Zealand was up 3.3% at $1.56.

The airline told BusinessDesk its first Australian flights, on Feb 28, were already almost sold out just hours after the announcement.

However, not every travel-related stock jumped. Auckland International Airport fell 0.3% to $7.55, and travel booking software firm Serko fell 3% to $5.14.

The latter decline was due to a trading update from the software company warning the rapid spread of omicron had cut booking volumes.

Business travel volumes in December and January normally experience a seasonal reduction due to holidays, the company said, and this was exacerbated this year by omicron disruption.

Omicron has only just reached NZ and Serko said demand is beginning to falter in the region with significantly fewer bookings in the last week of January.

The company has hacked millions of dollars from its revenue guidance, resetting expectations between $18m and $20.5m –– down from $21m to $25m.

Stocks in other sectors were mixed as investors sought a new balance after recent volatility and ahead of the earnings season which kicks off this month.

Mercury NZ led the index higher, up 5.2% to $5.90 and Meridian Energy rose 1.3% to $4.66, while Vector fell 0.3% to $3.94.

Vista Group International dropped 3.2% to $2.13, after climbing more than 6% in the previous couple of sessions.

Shares in Skellerup Holdings rose 4.8% at $6.35 after it upgraded its first-half earnings guidance to 18% above the same period a year earlier.

Chair Liz Coutts said today that the forecast had been based on strong demand continuing.

"This demand was sustained throughout the first half, particularly for our potable water, marine, roofing and construction products," she said.

Mainfreight retreated 0.8% to $89.26 after equity analysts trimmed their valuations – partly due to higher discount rates – and noted the company was unlikely to keep growing at the speed it has during recent times.

The kiwi dollar was trading at 66.19 US cents at 3pm in Wellington, down from 66.48 cents yesterday.

Tags: Market Close

« Mainfreight shares hit $90 as market bouncesNZ tech stocks slide on Meta's mega miss »

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