Sunday, 7 Aug 2022

Market close: Z Energy rises on refinery vote, Briscoe sets new record

Z Energy benefited as plans to convert the Marsden Point oil refinery to an import terminal gained shareholder approval in Whangārei, while Briscoe shares hit an all-time high.

But the refinery vote failed to move the local sharemarket as it continued to tread water before corporate earnings season, which begins next week.

The S&P NZX 50 Index closed up just 15.67 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 12,777 on healthy volume.

There were 80 gainers and 58 decliners over the whole market, with 58 million shares worth $199.8 million changing hands.

Refining NZ shares gained 1c to 86c after shareholders voted to switch to an import-only terminal from mid next year.

The stock has more than doubled from a low of 41c in March this year.

Z Energy, a major customer and 15 per cent shareholder in the refinery, gained 16c, or 5.54 per cent, to $3.05.

Grant Davies, an adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said the vote went as expected.

“I guess time will tell whether it’s a good decision or not but at the moment I think the financial freedom that it affords both companies is probably the reason why their share prices are up today. And the market always likes certainty wherever they can get it.”

Davies also noted renewed speculation over possible takeover interest in Z Energy, sparked by reports it has called in investment bank Goldman Sachs to help navigate any offers.

Z Energy CEO Mike Bennetts last week said there was nothing to disclose in terms of approaches from potential suitors. A spokesman said the company did not comment on speculation.

Meanwhile, the wider market is waiting on corporate results while keeping an eye out for further signs of inflation.

“For a lot of these companies you are going to get six months more worth of data and we’re certainly looking forward to getting some updates as to where they are at,” Davies said. “Most I think will be playing their cards close to their chests in terms of guidance because there’s lots of uncertainty still. But it’s going to be good to get those updates.

“There’s obvious concerns about inflation and how it all plays out. Obviously, there’s huge demand for quality employees out there and businesses are paying well for that. Interest rates are at levels where there are expectations of a number of rate rises over the next 12 months with the market pricing in three at least.”

Retailer Briscoe Group posted a 22.5 per cent rise in sales for the 26 weeks to August 1 to $358.4m and said it expects to post first half profit of $46m, up 64 per cent on the same period a year ago.

The stock gained 25c, or 4.35 per cent, to close at an all-time high of $6.

“Retail is certainly not dead yet,” Davies quipped.

The update rubbed off on The Warehouse, which gained 6c to $3.70, but Michael Hill was down 2c at 88c and Hallenstein Glasson dipped 5c to $7.18.

Plexure Group continued to come under selling pressure after chief executive Craig Herbison resigned with immediate effect on Wednesday. The shares fell another 7c, or 11.67 per cent, to 53c and are now well off their October high of around $1.55.

“Obviously it’s never optimal to have a leadership change as swiftly as that with no replacement as yet, so it’s under a bit of selling pressure and obviously a few investors looking for the exit,” Davies said.

DGL Group continued its good run since listing, adding 20c or 10.26 per cent to $2.15 as the biggest gainer of the day.

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