MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; Mainfreight climbs   30 May 2012

New Zealand shares rose, led by Mainfreight after the nation's biggest road transport company posted record sales and earnings even as its European business struggled. OceanaGold fell as the price of gold declined.

The NZX 50 Index edged up 3.05 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3481.34. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 14 fell and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $92.9 million.

Mainfreight rose 3.2 percent to $9.76 after reporting annual net profit more than tripled to $80.5 million while sales climbed 35 percent to $1.81 billion, driven by trading in New Zealand and Australia. Its Netherlands-based Wim Bosman business missed an earn-out target and Mainfreight wrote back the value, which was 10 million euros.

"They delivered - New Zealand was strong and drove things up," said Shane Solly, portfolio manager at Mint Asset Management. "They have been spending time getting the US business humming along - Europe is also in progress."

Restaurant Brands fell 1.9 percent to $2.11 after the fast-food operator reported a 2.7 percent fall in first-quarter sales to $70.6 million, reflecting the success of the Double Down promotion at its KFC outlets a year earlier. The company said it plans to roll out the Double Down burger later this year, in a bid to replicate the boost to sales.

"It's a little on the slow side but nothing that would surprise people who have been looking at that stock," Solly said.

Construction company Fletcher Building rose 0.2 percent to $6.26 and building products maker Steel & Tube fell 0.9 percent to $2.18 after government figures showed a dip in issuance of new housing consents in April from a month earlier. New building intentions rose 22 percent the same month a year earlier, with Auckland driving demand.

New Talisman Gold Mining climbed 13 percent to 1.8 cents apiece after the gold miner formerly known as Heritage Gold said it will start out with $9.24 million in equity as it prepares to develop the Talisman gold prospect on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Sealegs rose 10 percent to 11 cents after the amphibious boat maker narrowed its annual loss to $1.9 million after boosting sales 38 percent to $13.8 million and slashing its marketing bill by more than half.

Ecoya was unchanged at $1.10 after the scented candle and skincare products company made a maiden operating profit of $204,000. Including the impact of earn-outs on its Trilogy acquisition and non-recurring accounting adjustments, it posted an annual loss of $218,000.

Sanford fell 1.3 percent to $3.90 after the fishing company boosted first-half profit 1.6 percent to $13.3 million and held its interim dividend payment at 9 cents per share. The company expects profitability to improve in the second half provided market conditions don't deteriorate.

OceanaGold, the operator of the Macraes gold field, fell 2.5 percent to $2.34. Spot gold fell to US$1,550.06 an ounce.

SmartPay jumped 39 percent to 12.5 cents after the eftpos terminal company said it raised $13 million in new equity capital and secured $25 million of bank facilities, allowing it to repay costlier existing debt and redeem its capital notes.

SmartPay sold the shares to institutional investors at 11.5 cents apiece, a level it hadn't traded at since November last year. The sale is subject to shareholder approval.

(BusinessDesk)

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