Market close: NZ shares rise, how about a ‘Santa rally’?

Ebos Group provided the bright spot, breaching $39 for the first time, on a quiet day on the New Zealand sharemarket that is moving into holiday mode.

Apart from a lunchtime dip, the S&P/NZX 50 Index traded consistently and closed up 8.34 points or 0.06 per cent at 12,865.22, after hitting an intraday low of 12,794.82.

There were 81 gainers and 56 decliners across the whole market, with just 28.37 million shares worth $111.49 million changing hands.

The index ignored another big rebound on Wall Street, with investors looking for “bargains” after recent falls. The technology stocks came alive as the Nasdaq Composite rose 2.4 per cent to 15,341.09; S&P 500 gained 1.78 per cent to 4649.23; and Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 560 points or 1.6 per cent to 35,492.7.

Greg Smith, head of retail with Devon Funds Management, said trading on the local market was soft ahead of Christmas.

“It will be interesting to see if we get a Santa rally as people head off to the bach and beach. Last year the index rose 3 per cent over the last two weeks of December, but maybe Omicron will spoil it,” said Smith.

“Pushing out the phased reopening of the border won’t help and not a lot will be happening in the early stages of next year.”

Ebos Group, the leading transtasman distributor of healthcare and animal care products, climbed $1.42 or 3.76 per cent to a new high of $39.17 on trade worth $6.7m.

Ebos is expanding with its $1.23 billion purchase of medical devices distributor LifeHealthcare which will contribute $116m-$120m in operating earnings in 2022.

On a day with few major movements, market leaders Fisher and Paykel Healthcare was down 3c to $32.96, and Mainfreight was up 40c to $90.

The Colonial Motor Company increased 21c or 2 per cent to $10.71 after telling the market that trading remained strong and half-year net profit was ahead of the record achieved last year for the same period.

Vista Group, up 6c or 2.75 per cent to $2.24, confirmed its full-year revenue guidance of $95m-$100m, telling the market that the global box office continued to rebound strongly over the second half of the year. The blockbuster releases of Spiderman: No Way Home and James Bond: No Time to Die exceeded industry expectations.

Freightways gained 18c to $12.87; a2 Milk increased 10c to $5.90; Chorus collected 5c to $7.01; AFT Pharmaceuticals rose 19c or 4.42 per cent to $4.49; PGG Wrightson was up 21c or 4.47 per cent to $4.91; and Delegat Group collected 14c to $14.39.

Financial services group AMP, which is delisting from the NZX in February, gained 3c or 3.13 per cent to 99c.

Spark is buying back 50 per cent of the shares in infrastructure provider Connect8 to support acceleration of its 5G rollout and increase in Internet of Things connections. Spark will again wholly own Connect8 and Spark’s share price declined 6.5c to $4.535.

Contact Energy was down 4c to $7.86; Ryman Healthcare decreased 13c to $12.07; and fellow retirement village operator Summerset Group Holdings declined 17c to $12.85.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand lost 5c or 2.14 per cent to $2.29; Tourism Holdings was down 4c to $3; and Pacific Edge shed 3c or 2.22 per cent to $1.32.

The property companies were weaker. Property for Industry fell 7c or 2.35 per cent to $2.95; Investore was down 3c to $1.92; Vital Healthcare Property Trust declined 4c to $3.12; Stride shed 2c to $2.05; and Precinct Properties decreased 1.5c to $1.

Air New Zealand slipped 0.005c to $1.505 after delivering its November operating statistics, with passengers carried falling 50 per cent to 345,000 and loading down 10.1 points to 48.6 compared with the same month last year. For the year to date passengers carried are down 18.4 per cent and loading 8.7 points.

Allied Farmers climbed another 6c or 6.9 per cent to 93c after upgrading its gross profit to $1m-$1.2m for the six months ending December – after reporting $546,000 for the same period last year. Veal processing returns have improved, and the latest result will include the first contribution from the NZ Rural Land Management partnership.

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