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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise as Fonterra Fund rebounds from low

27 Mar 15

New Zealand shares rose, paced by Fonterra Shareholders' Fund as the stock rebounded from a record low. Outside the benchmark index, Hallenstein Glassons advanced after reporting a 40 percent jump in first-half profit.

The NZX 50 Index rose 21.08 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5854.248. Within the benchmark index, 22 stocks rose, 19 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $106 million.

Units of FSF, which give holders access to Fonterra Cooperative Group's dividend stream, rose 1.1 percent to $5.56, rebounding from yesterday's record low close. Earlier this week the world's largest dairy exporter posted a 16 percent drop in first-half profit to $183 million in the six months to Jan. 31, which it said reflected tough conditions in dairy, while also trimming its guidance for dividends to a range of between 20 cents and 30 cents, from a previous 25 cents to 35 cents.

"Fonterra is running around talking to the market today and maybe they're alleviating some of the concerns people might have," said Rickey Ward, head of New Zealand equities for JB Were. "In the last few days you've seen a lot of emotion and confirmation that it is a complex company but it is growing back to normalised levels in my mind. You saw emotion drive the price down."

Outside the NZX50, Hallenstein advanced 6.5 percent to $3.44. The fast-fashion retailer lifted first-half profit some 40 percent to $8.6 million, while raising its dividend to 14.5 cents per share, from 12 cents per share a year earlier as it clawed back market share and widened its margins in a competitive retail environment.

"The reality is it has been a company that's faced some structural headwinds and that has disappointed because of the challenges it is facing," Ward said. "This is an improvement and it's been steadily improving over the last few announcements. Today's move in the share price is possibly a reflection of a little bit of renewed confidence."

Spark New Zealand, formerly Telecom Corp, rose 0.3 percent to $2.98. The telecommunications provider is shifting to become a content, cloud and data company to boost profit growth as its traditional phone lines business shrinks. It is launching Lightbox, an online television streaming product, but has had to cut prices to compete with global service Netflix.

"There's increased competition with Netflix and you've had them having to reduce their pricing as well, so it is clearly becoming a very competitive structural issue rather than fundamentally based," JB Were's Ward said. "It is a company that has been a little bit over valued according to most but offering a pretty healthy dividend."

Vector, the Auckland lines company, was the worst perfomer on the benchmark index, declining 2.9 percent, or 9 cents, to $3.04 as it shed its rights to its 7.5 cents half-year dividend. Meridian Energy, the government controlled energy company, fell 1.4 percent, or 3 cents, to $2.05 as it gave up rights to its 6.2 cents per share interim dividend, which includes a special dividend payment. Precinct Properties New Zealand, the property investor and developer, dropped 0.8 percent, or 1 cent, to $1.18 as it shed rights to its 1.35 cents interim dividend.

Pacific Edge, the biotech firm, led the benchmark index higher, up 8.5 percent to 77 cents.

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