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US BlackRock takes 5% stake in Fletcher Building

24 Mar 2015

US fund manager BlackRock, which manages more than US$4.7 trillion in assets worldwide, has built up a 5 percent stake in Fletcher Building.

The US fund manager declared it held 34.4 million shares, or 5.005 percent, of the Auckland-based construction and building supplies firm through various related companies, according to substantial shareholder notice lodged with the NZX. The notice covers trading in the shares starting in November, and includes purchases at prices ranging from $8.04 to $8.97.

Last year, the fund manager's Australian subsidiary, BlackRock Investment Management (Australia), declared a 5 percent stake in casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group, and now sits at about 7 percent, according to NZX data.

In February, Fletcher posted a 26 percent drop in profit to $114 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 on a 1 percent increase in sales to $4.3 billion. The cost of goods sold climbed 2.2 percent to $3.3 billion, resulting in a 1.5 percent decline in gross margin. The company flagged that operating earnings for the full year would be toward the lower end of the $650 million to $690 million guidance it gave in October, "due to the rapid deterioration in the mining and infrastructure sectors in Australia". That would still be up from 2014's $624 million.

Shares of Fletcher last traded at $8.85 and have gained some 6.6 percent since the start of the year. The stock is rated an average of 'hold' according to 10 analysts surveyed by Reuters, with a median price target of $8.80.

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