6 Mar 2023

Cautious mood after first crop of businesses report on financial results

10:00 am on 6 March 2023
A photo taken on August 9, 2021 shows an Air New Zealand plane taking off from Auckland Airport with the national carrier managing to cut its losses by a third in the last financial year

Air New Zealand was among NZX listed companies to report a favourable performance. Photo: AFP

The first corporate reporting season of the year has mostly delivered to expectations though many public listed companies are guarded about the outlook.

About 50 NZX listed companies reported their financial results for the period ended 31 December over the past few weeks, amid catastrophic weather events that also tempered expectations.

"Not all the questions were answered about the outlook, and obviously there's a lot of ambiguity about where things are headed in terms of the economy," Devon Funds head of retail Greg Smith said.

"But on the whole the results season was one of resilience - generally better than feared and we had some positive outcomes from New Zealand's bigger names, which is good," Smith said.

Craigs Investment Partners investment director Mark Lister said many companies were expected to deliver solid results and they did.

"I think there were probably a few more winners than losers this time around. But definitely an element of caution when you look across some of the results and in particular, some of the outlook commentaries," Lister said.

Smith said international facing companies were among the winners including Auckland Airport, Air New Zealand, SkyCity Entertainment and Port of Tauranga, with the return of cruise ships.

"We also had former market darling, a2 Milk, come in with a really solid result, and doing well in the Chinese market," Smith said.

He said the reopening of China was a positive for many companies with it being New Zealand's largest trading partner.

On the losing side of the ledger, Smith said Fletcher Building took a bit of a hammering with a downturn in the property sector and rising construction costs.

"Suppose a silver lining for them will be the rebuilding period, but generally, construction markets are slowing down. We also saw that with the reaction to numbers from Vulcan Steel."

He said others to do well included Freightways and Ebos, as well as the power companies which had generally benefited from strong hydro inflows boosted by heavy rain.

Lister said the downturn in the economy was only just beginning to be felt, as mortgages come up for renewal at higher rates of interest, as well as the damage and disruption caused by the cyclone.

"Many management teams are looking ahead and facing a lot of uncertainty around the inflation outlook, the interest rate outlook, and thinking about the potential challenges that the economy might face over the next six months, 12 months," Lister said.

"No shortage of uncertainty from international markets as well.

"So it's definitely looking to be more of a volatile period than we've experienced, at least over the last year I suspect."

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