14 Mar 2013

Plea for more listings to boost stock market

7:12 am on 14 March 2013

An investment analyst says more listings are needed to boost the size, depth and quality of the stock market.

JB Were strategist Bernard Doyle says new listings averaged 3.5 a year over the past 10 years, half that of the previous decade.

It also failed to compensate for the loss of listed firms to trade buyers and private equity players during that time, with the equity market shrinking to a third of gross domestic product, similar to Greece.

Mr Doyle says the market is now recovering, bolstered by low interest rates, rising inflows from KiwiSaver funds, and high quality listings like Fonterra and Trade Me.

Mighty River Power is expected in May, and others like technology company Arria and Z Energy are on the horizon, but he says about five listings a year are needed to create the savings and investment activity needed by the economy.

Mr Doyle says New Zealand's market needs to be around 50% of GDP to be self sustaining, which would be roughly a doubling in the capitalisation of its market.

He says New Zealand would get there eventually with reasonable share market performance, but it would take 20 - 30 years on performance basis alone.

Mr Doyle says the only other way of getting there is new supply.

"Another reason we think that 50% figure is relevant is when you look at our peers in the advanced economies such as Australia, Canada and the UK, they all have a sharemarket that is roughly, on average, 100% of the size of the economy, so about the same size as GDP."

Mr Doyle says even getting to half way would be a big step for New Zealand.

While success is not guaranteed, Mr Doyle says he's hopeful that changes like KiwiSaver and other local pension funds will spark a virtuous circle.

He says where there is a long term owner as a strategic holder of assets it's very helpful in a small sharemarket.

Mr Doyle says in the past as investors New Zealanders have been guilty of being short sighted owners.