August 20, 2014 / 2:45 AM / 3 years ago

Australia shares dip as investors dump BHP on spin-off fears

* ASX 200 dips 0.1 percent, BHP posts biggest one-day fall since March on spin-off fears, missed expectations

* Media sector, food and beverage companies have mixed results

* 100 shares higher, 77 shares lower, 23 shares unchanged (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Australian stocks slipped on Wednesday as investors dumped shares of BHP Billiton after the global miner missed earnings expectations, though an upbeat finish on Wall Street helped temper losses as investors digested a raft of earnings.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.1 percent or 7.6 points at 5,616.24 by 0238 GMT. The benchmark added 0.7 percent on Tuesday, its fourth consecutive session of gains.

BHP Billiton Ltd lost 4 percent, its biggest one-day fall since March 10, after it reported an 8 percent rise in second-half underlying attributable profit to $5.69 billion, which was just below forecasts.

Analysts said investors also were wary of BHP’s plans to spin-off businesses worth an estimated $16 billion.

“That’s taking a big chunk off the market, even though people really didn’t change their valuations much after their report, it’s been sold off on the back of how that spin-off is going to work,” said Chris Kimber, managing director at Kimber Capital.

Among other miners, rival Rio Tinto Ltd slipped 0.7 percent, while OZ Minerals Ltd lost 1.4 percent.

Elsewhere, MacMahon Holdings Ltd rocketed 25 percent to A$0.1375, its highest since February, after the mining contractor swung to a full-year profit despite shrinking sales revenue.

Among food and beverage stocks, Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd tumbled 3.3 percent after it reported a 16 percent fall in first-half net profit and warned full-year profits would be “materially lower” than last year.

Wesfarmers Ltd gained 2 percent to an all-time high of A$44.88 after it reported a 19 percent rise in annual net profit.

Elsewhere, Transpacific Industries Group Ltd tumbled 5.2 percent to $0.92, its lowest since Sept. 13, as it said it is undergoing a voluntary grounding of its entire fleet following a fatal accident in South Australia on August 18.

New Zealand stocks shrugged off early weakness to post a second day of solid gains, with the benchmark NZX-50 index rising 0.6 percent to 5,147.94 amid a flow of leading company results.

Top-stock Fletcher Building Ltd was up 0.6 percent at NZ$9.14, after reporting a modest lift in full year profit at the bottom end of its guidance, as a strong New Zealand dollar overshadowed underlying earnings growth.

It said it expected further earnings growth on stronger construction activity.

Online trading and marketing operator Trade Me was up 0.6 percent to NZ$3.54, although its full year profit rose only 2 percent and it warned of subdued earnings.

Medical equipment maker Fisher and Paykel Healthcare Ltd jumped 2.3 percent to a life-time high of NZ$4.94 as it raised its profit guidance on solid first-half growth. (Editing by Kim Coghill)

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