20 Dec 2022

Tough year for local sharemarket - but not all doom and gloom

3:45 pm on 20 December 2022
NZX sign

The NZX 50 index has fallen more than 11 percent since January. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The local sharemarket has had a tough 2022 but an investment analyst says there have been some positives.

The NZX 50 index has fallen more than 11 percent since January as tightening monetary policy, high inflation and the war in Ukraine dented equity markets around the world.

The second half of the year was better, though, with the top 50 up 4.1 percent this quarter.

Despite the headwinds forecast for 2023, Devon Funds head of retail Greg Smith, said he would not be surprised if the local market ended next year higher.

"I think there's a reasonable case in believing inflation will continue to fall away. Just as it rose more quickly than expected in the early stages, it may well fall away more quickly than expected," Smith said.

"If we do get that we could be looking at a bit of optimism around the rate tightening cycle including the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which is a bit of a lone wolf at the moment [and] doesn't seem like it's ready to pivot at all."

Looking back at the year, Smith said among the disappointments was Air New Zealand, which had been slow off the runway compared to Australian rival Qantas.

"We saw a very substantial rights issue [from Air NZ] and the shares have languished a bit. We have seen [earnings] upgrades come through there, more people are obviously flying and ticket prices are very high.

"[Air New Zealand] was one to watch but again it probably hasn't performed as well as it could have, and certainly not as well as the likes of Qantas across the Tasman ... going into a massive upgrade on earnings," Smith said.

But it has not been all market doom and gloom this year.

"We saw some of those pandemic beneficiaries fall away and then recover. We've seen a number of upgrades in recent months, we got that with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and we had good numbers from Mainfreight and some of these big companies," Smith said.

The dairy sector was another highlight of 2022, he said.

A recent market surprise for the year was casino operator SkyCity, which was was heavily affected by pandemic restrictions.

"It then got a lift from the reopening and turnover levels have been very high and then we got the bolt - not quite from the blue - about Austrac investigating the Adelaide casino," he said.

"Not totally surprising given Star and Crown had faced similar investigations, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out."

Another cloud hanging over the company would be whether New Zealand regulators would investigate SkyCity following the anti-money laundering law concerns in Australia, he said.

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