Stock Takes: NZ Power prices hit record, Latitude debuts, Just Life invests

Mercury said its hydro generation increased in response to record high spot power prices over the third quarter to March.

The company said its hydro generation increased by 71 gigawatt hours (GWh) to 910GW in the quarter, against the same quarter last year.

This was achieved, despite Waikato catchment inflows being 168GWh below average, through drawing down storage in Lake Taupo which is now expected to be below average by the end of the full year 2021, it said.

Low inflows, coinciding with continued thermal fuel constraints at the Pohokura and Kupe gas fields, saw spot prices lift to record levels.

Average spot prices increased to $206/MWh and $203/MWh at Otahuhu and Benmore, respectively, versus $82/MWh and $52/MWh in the prior comparable period, which was affected by the Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown.

Reduced fuel availability in the approach to the winter months saw the full year 2022 futures price increase by $74/MWh at Otahuhu to $193/MWh and by $76/MWh to $177MWh at Benmore.

Full-year 2023 futures prices also lifted during the quarter from $103/MWh to $143/MWh at Otahuhu with longer-term demand expectations firmed by the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter contract extension announced during the quarter.

Meanwhile, Genesis Energy has brought a third coal and gas burning Rankine at its Huntly power station back into service.

“Huntly Power Station is doing what it was built to do, providing critical back-up to ensure security of supply in the wholesale electricity market,” chief operations officer Nigel Clark in the company’s quarterly report.

Latitude debuts strongly

Latitude Financial – the company behind Gem Visa – debuted strongly on the ASX yesterday after a couple of false starts.

The stock went as high as A$2.99 in early trading on Tuesday, up from its $2.60 listing price, closing 4 per cent higher at A$2.70.

The initial public offer raised A$200m and delivered Latitude a valuation of A$2.6 billion.

Latitude has 2.77 million customer accounts across Australia and New Zealand.

Its retail partners include Apple, Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi.

Latitude was forced to pull its second IPO attempt in October 2019 after it failed to secure enough investor support.

A year earlier, the company pulled its first attempt.

Just Life invests in tanks

Just Life Group said it had acquired 60 per cent of the business of Designer Tanks, which supplies water tanks for Kiwi homes.

The company said the investment was a growth opportunity.

“Although an early-stage business, the future is excellent, and we intend to invest in the brand nationally,” chief executive Tony Falkenstein said.

The move is in line with Just Life Group’s growth plans which has seen it expand into home-technology businesses in recent years including Solatube, a natural lighting system and Unovent, a duct-free ventilation business.

Two years ago, Just Life Group bought Hometech to expand the healthy homes side of the business, which includes installing bathroom ventilation in state housing for Kainga Ora.

Last year they bought hot-water cylinder company The Cylinder Guy and have been keen to add rainwater tanks into the mix.

Designer Tanks was launched a year ago by two Hamilton women, general manager Chloe Barrott and operations manager Ingrid Cook.

With demand coming from the North and South Island, the pair looked for an investor to scale the business.

The tank company would continue to operate from its base in Hamilton, with support from the Just Life Group team.

The acquisition is part of Falkenstein’s five-year target to increase Just Life Group’s turnover from $35 million to $100m by way of acquisitions of cash-positive businesses in growth segments.

With droughts becoming more regular events in New Zealand, conserving rainwater would become increasingly important for households, he said.

Large round tanks were a thing of the past with domestic consumers wanting rainwater tanks that fitted into the environment.

Delegat wine harvest down

Delegat Group said its 2021 wine harvest was down by 2 per cent due to cooler weather.

The group’s 2021 harvest was 37,470 tonnes, compared with 38,129 tonnes in the previous harvest due to unseasonal cool spring weather during flowering in both Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay.

“The vintage outcome will deliver excellent quality wines for the group’s brands with lower than forecast yields resulting in moderation of sales forecasts for the next two financial years,” Delegat said.

The company’s revised sales forecast guidance is 3,419,000 cases in 2022 and 3,783,000 cases in 2023.

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