Market close: Mainfreight soars past $90, Z Energy surge push NZX to big gain

A $2 billion takeover bid for Z Energy and renewed buying from overseas passive investment funds, as three stocks entered world indices, pushed the New Zealand sharemarket to a significant gain of nearly one per cent.

On an eventful day that also included extending the nationwide lockdown, the S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 123.58 points or 0.96 per cent to 13,064.07, after reaching an intraday high of 13,108.5.

There were 88 gainers and 54 decliners over the whole market, with 60.9 million shares worth $199 million changing hands.

Transport and logistics operator Mainfreight soared above $90 after being included in the FTSE All-World Index. Mainfreight picked up $4.26 or 4.97 per cent to $90.10 on trade worth $20.98m.

Online travel provider Serko rose 78c or 10.88 per cent to $7.95 and Stride Property increased 11c or 4.42 per cent to $2.60 after joining the FTSE Global Small Cap Index.

Matt Goodson, managing director of Salt Funds Management, said it’s remarkable the impact passive funds have on the market when they have to rebalance their holdings and buy (new) stocks at any price. “There’s plenty of cash chasing stocks over the whole market.”

Fuel supplier and petrol station operator Z Energy surged 43c or 14.1 per cent to $3.48 on trade worth $24.32m after receiving an improved takeover offer from its Australian contemporary Ampol, at $3.78 a share.

Ampol, which owns Gull NZ, has been given four weeks to complete due diligence after making its fourth offer to Z Energy. Ampol was down 4.66 per cent to A$26.24 ($27.44) on the Australian ASX market at 6pm NZ time.

Goodson said the final decision of the takeover was in the hands of the Commerce Commission and no doubt will be dependent on Ampol divesting Gull. But Gull will have to be owned by someone with the wherewithal to be competitive – putting Gull with Waitomo, for instance, would be questionable.

Other big movers were publisher and broadcaster NZME, up 6c or 6.9 per cent to 93c; and Pacific Edge increasing 8c or 6.3 per cent to $1.35.

Pacific Edge recently disclosed its Cxbladder Monitor and Patient-in-Home sampling system was useful in managing patients outside the clinic during the Covid pandemic, as published in the American Journal of Urology.

Ebos Group rose $1.09 or 3.36 per cent to $33.50; Auckland International Airport was up 14c or 1.96 per cent to $7.29; Ryman Healthcare gained 18c to $14.932; Meridian picked up 19c or 3.73 per cent to $5.28; Briscoe Group increased 14c or 2.25 per cent to $6.35; Turners Automotive collected 10c or 2.38 per cent to $4.30; and My Food Bag was up 6c or 4.35 per cent to $1.44.

Decliners included Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, down 29c to $33.50; Heartland Group Holdings falling 6c or 2.78 per cent to $2.10; PGG Wrightson decreasing 9c or 2.56 per cent to $3.43; Port of Tauranga shedding 8c to $7.22; and Tourism Holdings down 4c to $2.27.

Freightways increased 1c to $13 after meeting analysts’ expectation with its 2021 financial result. Revenue increased 27 per cent to a record $800.53m, with the express package and refrigerated division making up $572.6m, a rise of 35.8 per cent.

Net profit was up 4.8 per cent to $49.63m, but this was impacted by an increase in the final payment to Big Chill Distribution, from $27.2m to $51.3m, because of stronger than expected performance. Freightways is paying a final (net) dividend of 18c a share on October 1.

Chorus was down 21c or 2.94 per cent to $6.93 after reporting a small drop in profit and revenue for the year ending June, and investors began worrying about its future earnings in a regulated world, particularly its dividend.

Chorus’ net profit fell 10 per cent to $47m on revenue of $947m, down 1 per cent, and it is paying a dividend of 14.5c a share on October 12. Chorus now has 871,000 fibre connections and its ultra-fast broadband rollout is 95 per cent complete.

Pushpay Holdings, which developed an online donor management system, is buying live streaming company Resi Media LLC for US$150m ($219.28m) to extend its reach to American churches. Pushpay will issue US$40m new shares and pay the balance in cash. Its share price increased 3c to $1.68.

Retail jeweller Michael Hill International, gaining 1c to 88c, put in a strong showing after losing 10,447 store trading hours in the last financial year because of the Covid pandemic. Revenue rose 13.1 per cent to A$556.5m and net profit soared from $3.1m to $45.3m.

Michael Hill said in the first seven weeks of the present financial year it has lost 2755 store trading days, representing 2 per cent of total store sales or $5m. It is paying a dividend of A3c on October 24.

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