31 Dec 2012

NZ shares slip on final day of boom year

3:47 pm on 31 December 2012

New Zealand shares fell on the last trading day of the year, though not enough to prevent 2012 being the best for the NZX50 Index since 2004, with the strongest gains coming from growth stocks and companies making comebacks.

The NZX50 fell 14.389 points, or 0.4%, to 4066.513 on Monday and has advanced almost 25% in 2012, just below 2004's 25% gain.

AAP reports that turnover was a subdued $24.6 million in a shortened trading session, with brokerages on reduced staff over the festive holiday period.

While there was much talk about New Zealand stocks benefitting from a global search for yield, the top three performers on the NZX50 - Diligent Board Member Services, Xero and Pumpkin Patch - didn't pay dividends this year.

Diligent, whose software for company directors can be accessed via an iPad, fell 0.2% to $5.46 on the final day of 2012, bringing its annual gain to 183%.

Xero, which asked investors for more patience on profits while it chases global growth, was unchanged at $7.60 for a 175% annual gain.

Pumpkin Patch, the children's clothing chain, rose 0.8% to $1.34 and has advanced 108% this year.

The biggest company gain on the stock market has been Veritas Investments, formerly known as Salvus Strategic Investments, which was a shell company until the announcement last week that it would buy the Mad Butcher chain for $40 million. Veritas rose 5.3% to 10 cents on the final day of trading.

Ryman Healthcare, a hot favourite among brokers for 2013, was the stand-out blue chip in 2012. It rose 0.9% to $4.55 on the last day of the year for an annual gain of 66%.

Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the benchmark index, fell 0.1% to $8.39 and is up 37% in the year. Telecom fell 1.7% to $2.275 and is up 12% in the year.

Chorus, the network company spun off from Telecom last year, rose 1% to $2.94 on the final day of 2012, and was one of the few decliners in the year, falling 6.7% as the Commerce Commission signalled its intention to clamp down on the prices it can charge for network access.

Mainfreight, the transport group which is also among broker tips for 2013, fell 0.9% to $11.70 and has gained 19% in 2012. Air New Zealand, the national carrier, fell 1.2% to $1.295 and has gained 46% in the past 12 months.