NZX wants to boost its exposure to agriculture and commodities and the company is on the hunt for bolt-on acquisitions less than $5 million, says chief executive Tim Bennett.
“We continue to look for small add-on acquisitions,” Bennett told shareholders at their annual meeting in Wellington. “Ultimately, of course, we would like to offer a broad range of soft commodity risk management products.”
Results have been mixed to date. Clear Grain Exchanges in Australia and the NZX Dairy Futures had “mixed results” over the past six to 12 months.
Bennett says the Grain Exchange’s performance was hurt by the dynamic of the harvest, which was smaller, while prices were higher earlier in the season.
The Dairy Futures haven’t sparked yet. Some potential US investors face regulation at home preventing them from investing in the market, Bennett said.
“There’s a lot of positioning in the physical market but we have not seen that flow through into the futures market,” he told BusinessDesk after the meeting.
None of that has dissuaded NZX from betting on the sector for growth.
“We continue to believe the growth upside is substantial,” Bennett said at the meeting. “We are therefore spending a disproportionate amount of resources in growing these businesses.”
Last week, the stock exchange announced plans to extend its dairy futures trading hours to capture the Northern Hemisphere trading session. It offers futures on whole milk powder, skim milk powder and anhydrous milk fat, and options on whole milk powder. There were last around 10 offers to buy or sell the five whole milk futures being bid.
The firm’s shares fell 0.8 percent to $1.33 on the NZX today and have gained 12 percent this year.
NZX today said 2013 is the last year in which it will be tied to a formula of cents per share growth in dividends, and payments in 2014 will depend on conditions at the time.
Sales in the first quarter rose 4.3 percent to $14.3 million, led by gains in securities clearing and market operations, up 23 percent to $1 million and 26 percent to $3.05 million respectively.
Sales of securities information fell 8 percent to $2.1 million and sales of Agri information declined 8 percent to $2.7 million, which it said reflected a drop in rural advertising caused by drought. Listing revenue rose 4 percent to $2.3 million.
Total trade in the cash market rose 14 percent to 232,141 trades in the first quarter from a year earlier, while the value of trading surged 54 percent to $10.1 billion.